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XFL takeaways from Week 1: Tweaked rules, surprising fun make new football league worth watching

first_imgThe XFL needs to make sure it won’t fail because of football reasons, and there were some interesting quirks about the presentation and gameplay that caught our attention:XFL POWER RANKINGS:Roughnecks, Defenders established at the top entering Week 2KickoffsThe kickoff — which requires that the ball go past the 20 after being kicked and features the return team and kickoff team separated by five yards, at the 30- and 35-yard lines, respectively — is a good alternative to ditching the kickoff altogether. It’s also worth noting that players cannot move until the return man touches the ball.First kickoff ✅📺 @ABCNetwork🖥 https://t.co/Y3eyIb9PfX pic.twitter.com/8uco6BzRDI— XFL (@xfl2020) February 8, 2020It reduces the risk of full-speed collisions, but is also better than watching obligatory touchbacks. In Week 1, there were just three penalties for procedure on kickoffs. There were no holding, clipping or illegal hits on kickoffs. This is an innovation that looks unorthodox but might end up being the norm in the NFL down the line in some variations. It’s a good call by the XFL. XFL WEEK 1 HIGHLIGHTS: Saturday | SundayConversion gameThere are no extra points in the XFL, and it was fair to wonder how that would play out with a system that ditched the traditional extra point and allowed teams to go for one point from the 2-yard line, two points from the 5-yard line or three points from the 10-yard line.There are similar rules in youth flag football leagues, but it works.*whispers*don’t forget a 12-point deficit can be erased with a score and a field goal in the #xfl— XFL (@xfl2020) February 8, 2020On Day 1, teams converted 5 of 14 extra points — with two 1-point conversions and three 2-point conversions. On Day 2, teams were two of five on conversions, and both were 1-point plays. That’s 7 of 19 for the weekend with no 3-pointers, but those will come. It’s definitely more exciting than moving the extra point back and blaming the kicker.MORE XFL: Rules | Schedule | Uniforms | RostersLive micsThe presentation of the league is user-friendly, with live mics and sideline interviews throughout the game.Putting live mics on the coaches and replay officials offers transparency. For example, you could follow along with Seattle coach Jim Zorn. For the casual fan, that allows for learning formations and play calls. It took you inside the huddle.The sideline interviews were nothing new, but they took you to the player right after the touchdown:”It’s a bunch of dogs out here.”@twll3 after taking one to the 🏠📺 @ABCNetwork🖥️ https://t.co/Y3eyIb9PfX pic.twitter.com/9QjVkseW3E— XFL (@xfl2020) February 8, 2020″It’s XFL football,” Seattle’s Trey Williams said. “It ain’t no slouch league. There are a bunch of dogs out here.”The XFL also has a good Twitter account that followed along with the action.Was the football good enough?Houston’s P.J. Walker became the league’s first breakout star with a four-touchdown performance against Los Angeles. Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones — who led the Buckeyes to a College Football Playoff national championship in 2014 — played well for the D.C. Defenders. St. Louis’ Jordan Ta’amu and New York’s Matt McGloin led victories in Day 2. These quarterbacks were recognizable names on the college level who had little playing time in the NFL. They need to emerge as star players in this league in order for it to have long-term success. That said, the XFL showed a little more polish then the AAF in terms of game play, and the preparation has paid off since the XFL Draft. It was better than average. MORE XFL:XFL salary breakdownXFL names you’ll recognizeWhat does the XFL stand for?What’s the spread?The XFL is embracing gambling (FoxBusiness.com details the bettor-friendly environment the league seeks to create). The spread is right there on the ticker, another reason why this league has a chance to stick around. Both home-team favorites covered Saturday, and the league will continue to promote that aspect.At least, they should. It will pull more bettors in. The XFL’s opening weekend could not be described as cheap, salacious or tawdry.It was just football — and the early returns for Vince McMahon’s latest venture were favorable. It might not pull down the same massive ratings as the original XFL in 2001, but this league showed earmarks that there could be more staying power if this momentum continues. Granted, we said the same thing about the Alliance of American Football last year, but that league crumbled for financial reasons. Keep it going?Like the AAF, the XFL had a better-than-expected debut. McMahon relied more on the football than the gimmicks this time, and it’s clear the presentation angle was well thought out.Ratings are going to be good this week, but some of that was borne out of the fascination factor. The league needs to promote its stars — Walker and Jones are a good start — and continue to build on that first week.We’re ready for Week 2. Will you be coming back?last_img

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