Defenders vs. Guardians: 3 Matchups to Watch
Two of the four unbeaten teams in the XFL square off Saturday, Feb. 15 as the DC Defenders play host to the New York Guardians at Audi Field at 2 p.m.
What can we expect from the tantalizing showdown between the Defenders and Guardians in Week 2?
Here are three key matchups to follow ahead of Saturday's clash at Audi Field.
MORE: Scouting the Guardians
1. Cardale Jones vs. Guardians secondary
The Guardians compiled a dominating defensive performance in Week 1.
New York's defense grabbed two interceptions and forced three fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown. While one game is a miniscule sample size, it's entirely fair to say New York boasts an opportunistic group of players on defense.
Both Guardians interceptions came when the Vipers were inside the opposing 30-yard line. In addition to terminating the drive's progress, the Guardians zapped any momentum the Vipers were building.
Additionally, both picks came on passes that were forced into tight windows.
Turnovers didn't plague the Defenders in the slightest in their season opener. Cardale Jones never put the ball in harm's way, and nobody on the Defenders lost a fumble.
Jones will once again need to be cautious with the football on Saturday - especially when the team is in the red zone.
2. WR Rashad Ross vs. CB Bryce Jones
Despite not scoring a touchdown, the Vipers still managed to find success through the air.
Vipers receiver Dan Williams (6-3) finished the game with six receptions and 123 yards. Most of Williams' production came against cornerback Bryce Jones, who plays exclusively on the right side of the Guardians' defense.
Jones should see a healthy dose of Rashad Ross on Saturday, as Ross was flanked out left for a majority of his snaps vs. Seattle.
During the Guardians' win over the Vipers, Jones typically played about six yards off the receiver. It will be intriguing to see how Jones decides to play against Ross, who's already displayed his impressive speed this season.
Ross is fresh off a 52-yard performance vs. the Dragons, including a crucial 39-yard touchdown.
3. LB Jonathan Massaquoi vs. RT John Kling
The Guardians kept their quarterback clean and upright in Week 1, which helped contribute to the team's victory. Behind an offensive line that allowed zero sacks, Matt McGloin manufactured an efficient, albeit unspectacular outing (15-29, 182 yards, one touchdown).
When given a clean pocket, McGloin possesses the ability and football IQ to lead his offense down the field. Disrupting McGloin should be a chief priority for DC's defense. With a group of ball-hawks patrolling the back end, forcing McGloin intro throws would be a big advantage for the Defenders.
Jonathan Massaquoi recorded DC's lone sack in Week 1 but was in the opposing quarterback's face on a handful of occasions. John Kling, a former University standout who spent time with the Redskins and Bears, is well-versed at using his hands to maneuver around offensive tackles.
And when he gets to the quarterback, he knows how to deliver a big hit.