Breaking down Orlando’s loss to Arlington
Week 3 of the XFL is in the books, and this may have been the best week yet. Seattle and Vegas played a great game in 50-mile-an-hour winds. DC and St. Louis faced off with undefeated records on the line. Tempers flared, and there was a fight, but DC held on for the win. Houston pulled off the win against San Antonio, with Brandon Silvers recording a record 3 touchdown passes in a half. Finally, Orlando faced off against Arlington and gave me exactly what I thought this game was gonna be.
This game was a defensive struggle throughout. Paxton Lynch scored on a scramble with 11:00 left to take the lead, but Orlando failed on the conversion. The way this game was going, this touchdown looked like enough. However, Slotter lead a drive down the field that resulted in an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns. De’Veon Smith converted to take the lead 10-9 and that is where we finished. There’s a lot I want to talk about in this game, so without any further ado, let’s go into it. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from week 3
Paxton Lynch (*)
I want to be very clear about this. Paxton Lynch’s performance was by no means great. He went 19 for 31 for 218 yards. He also added 43 yards, and their only touchdown, on the ground. While this performance was far from great, it should have been enough to take home the victory. Throughout the past weeks, we have been very hard on Paxton. His week one performance merited a spot on the bad list. Last week, the entire passing game was called out. The inclusion of Paxton on the good list is an acknowledgment that the passing game is improving, but still leaves much to be desired.
Once again the Orlando defense played lights out. There is an old adage about when you only give up 10 points you would expect to win the game. This rings very true here. Orlando’s defense sacked Slotter twice and had 7 tackles for loss. They held the renegades to only 170 total yards and only 60 on the ground on nearly 30 attempts. Arlington was only able to manage 2.5 yards per rush. Defensive Coordinator Tony Carter has to scratch his head wondering what else he can do to help Orlando get a win.
The man continues to live up to his billing. At the start of the season, I had him projected to be a top TE in this league, and so far he has been. Cody had 6 cates for 66 yards in this game and seems to be the only bright spot in the Orlando passing game. No other receiver in the game had more than 3 receptions.
It feels a little weird to put him on this list this week. In weeks 1 and 2, he was the under-utilized weapon. He showed flashes of what he could be in blowout losses. This week was quite different. I understand Arlington has an extremely talented defense, however, Jah-Maine was only able to manage 25 yards on 8 carries. Not to mention he was responsible for both of Orlando’s turnovers. His First fumble, in the first quarter, was deep inside Orlando territory. This paved the way for Arlington to tie the game at 3-3. His second fumble happened when Orlando was on the Arlington 23-yard line well within field goal range. These two turnovers represent at least a 6 point swing in this game.
The Offensive Line
I feel like this has been a recurring theme this year. The offensive line is one of the weak points on this team this year. Orlando was only able to manage 3.2 yards a carry this game. Paxton Lynch was the leading rusher in this game with 42 yards. The Orlando offensive line surrendered 4 sacks in this game. One of which in the third quarter, put Orlando behind the chains, and forced a punt. While I do feel that the offensive line was much better than their penalty-plagued week 2, there is still much room for improvement.
Miscues and Mistakes
This was a very winnable football game. Quite honestly looking at the stat lines, Orlando should have won this game by multiple scores. Orlando had more first downs than Arlington, 18-14. The much-maligned Orlando offense outgained Arlington 271-178. The defense held Arlington to 110 yards passing and 2.5 yards per carry. All of this begs the question, what happened? Well, two turnovers, one giving points away, and one taking away a golden opportunity happened. Nine penalties happened. Inopportune sacks, killing drives happened. The sheer inability to finish drives and play disciplined football ultimately cost Orlando their best shot at winning number one.
It’s always unfortunate when something happens throughout the course of the week that takes away from the game. Quinten Dormady was unceremoniously released from the team early in the week. There were accusations that he had provided playbook information to other teams for money. In the beginning, nothing was said, and many of us were just left to speculate. On Saturday, it would be announced that he was reinstated after an investigation. The whole series of circumstances is unfortunate, as it cast a further disparaging image on an organization still finding itself.
Ultimately, as we close the door on this game, it represents yet another chance Orlando has had to get its first win of the season. This one definitely hurts the most, Orlando did many things right in this game, however, mistakes, miscues, and turnovers ruined another fine defensive performance. The only thing that can be done is to work on these, learn from them, and get ready for this weekend. Unfortunately, things do not get easier from here. Week 4 sees a rematch with the Houston Renegades on Saturday at 7 pm.