STILL UNDEFEATED: 5 observations from Houston Roughnecks 33-12 drilling of the Orlando Guardians

Feb 18, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Roughnecks quarterback Brandon Silvers (12) throws a touchdown pass against the Orlando Guardians in the first quarter at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

STILL UNDEFEATED: 5 observations from Houston Roughnecks 33-12 drilling of the Orlando Guardians

These are the five things that most stood out from the Roughnecks’ dominant performance in a 33-12 victory over the Orlando Guardians in their season opener.

Wade Phillips is still a defensive genius: Phillips, 82-64 as an NFL head coach, had his team disciplined and ready. Defensively, they quickly figured out a Guardians offense that featured several former NFL starters like Paxton Lynch, Cody Latimer, and Eli Rogers. After struggling early at the line of scrimmage, the Roughnecks took over in the trenches, and Trent Harris will be haunting Lynch’s dreams. Phillips figured out the Orlando offense in less than a quarter. Even the Guardians touchdown was controversial, as it appeared Sean Davis had intercepted the pass in the end zone, but officials ruled Cody Latimer had taken it away from him at some point as they fell to the ground. The Phillips 3-4 defense generated plenty of pressure and led to five sacks of Lynch. Lynch was eventually benched for Quinten Dormady, and he was sacked twice as well. The defense had eight tackles for loss and intercepted both quarterbacks, totaling three interceptions on the night. It was a very auspicious debut for the Roughneck defense.

Trent Harris- Sack King: Before the season started, Coach Phillips said of Harris, “He might be the sack king of this league.” Harris made a living in the Guardians backfield, sacking Orlando quarterback Paxton Lynch three times and his replacement Quinten Dormady once for a total of four sacks. The former Patriot, Dolphin, Giant, Raven, and Raider was an unstoppable force. When he wasn’t getting sacks, he was harassing the opposing quarterbacks, getting them off their spots, forcing them to hurry their throws, and forcing check downs to shorter and safer routes rather than letting plays develop. He also had four tackles for loss. Bow down to the King.

The offense will go as far as Brandon Silvers can take them: Silvers is an intelligent quarterback who makes the right reads. He isn’t going to outrun anyone, but he has functional mobility in the pocket. What he doesn’t have is a big-time arm. Both of his interceptions in the game resulted from his inability to put enough on the ball to make the throw past an underneath defender. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Fitzpatrick in that he knows the right read but just can’t always make the throw. He needs to be aware of his limitations, so his mistakes don’t ultimately cost the team wins. Houston has several players who can make plays and make guys miss. Silvers doesn’t have to win games; he just can’t blow them. Silvers finished 26-for-42, 265 yards, 2 TD, and 2 INT.

All kickers are not created equal: This isn’t fantasy football where you can just wait until the last round to grab a kicker. Kickers matter in real football, and they mattered in this game. Roughnecks kicker Hunter Duplessis drilled a pair of 33-yard field goals and a 22-yarder and executed the game plan perfectly on kickoffs. The same could not be said for his counterpart, Guardians kicker Jose Borregales. Borregales made a pair of critical gaffes, once not making the 20-yard line on a kickoff (giving the Roughnecks the ball at the Orlando 45), and he banged a 40-yard field goal attempt off the upright early in the game when the Guardians were still in it.

No kicking point after attempts makes the game more fun: There are no kicks for point after attempts in the XFL. Teams can go for a 1-point conversion with a play from the 2-yard line, a 2-point conversion from the 5-yard line, and a 3-point conversion from the 10-yard line. It makes every conversion attempt more interesting. Neither team converted an extra point attempt in this game, but the plays instead of kicks made it far more exciting.

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  • Silvers looked very good until the 2nd half. Those 2 INTs were terrible. To say the team will go as far as he takes them is premature at best. He was not that good in the USFL, and when the dust settles Cole McDonald may be the starter if Silvers continues to give the ball away. McDonald was lights out fir a Hawaii team that was worse that Silvers’ Troy team – and Cole is likely the fastest QB in the entire XFL. He’s a real gunslinger. Not trying to stir up a controversy but if Silvers gives the ball away again horrendously next week I think Phillips better start thinking about another direction. McDonald is a dual threat game changer; Silvers is not. I wish him the best though while he’s in there as Houston’smy team.

  • Check that – not that good fir Seattle I meant. In fact, not really good at all.

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