By Anthony Vieira, Jr.
Football season is often described as a marathon—not a sprint—and the DC Defenders are showing us exactly why. After jumping out to a promising 2-0 start, the team now finds itself sitting at 2-2 with a growing sense of urgency.
The cause for alarm isn’t just because the team has lost two in a row, but rather for the way in which it has lost. The Defenders have been blown out in consecutive weeks by teams that were previously winless—and Sunday night’s 25-0 shutout loss to the Vipers is the most recent example of DC’s poor play.
It’s a stark contrast from the team we saw dominate the New York Guardians back in week 2. While I’m not quite ready to call that game a mirage, it’s pretty clear now that the Defenders have some glaring issues to fix on both sides of the ball.
DC’s defense, which looked like an elite unit through the first two weeks, has been a major disappointment of late. The defense has given up a ton of points—64 through two games—and has allowed opponents to methodically drive down the field and win the time of possession battle.
The Defenders’ ability to generate game-changing turnovers has seemingly diminished as well. After recording six turnovers, including a pick-six against the Dragons and Guardians in weeks 1 and 2, respectively, the Defenders have forced just two turnovers which have led to zero points.
But as bad as the defense has been, the offense has been much worse. In his first two games, Cardale Jones appeared to be a worthy contender for the XFL MVP award; however, in recent weeks he has been absolutely dreadful; Jones has completed just 45 percent of his passes for 175 yards, 5 interceptions and only 9 points of offense.
For whatever reason, the Defenders haven’t been playing inspired football lately. But the talent is definitely there, we’ve seen flashes of it this season. Perhaps Sunday’s shutout will serve as a wake up call and help get this team back on track. With the 3-1 St. Louis BattleHawks coming to town this week, the time to step up is now.