Editor Note: This piece has been in the pipeline pre-Apollo launch. This will be a recurring piece by @lilbrotaylor that will go over the Houston Roughnecks. His week 3 recap and week 4 preview will drop on Friday.
I’m aware this blog is posting late, but with just two weeks of XFL football under their belts, I’d like to break down exactly how the Houston Roughnecks already appear to be in mid-dynasty form. They’ve improved to 2-0 after a Week 1 domination of the LA Wildcats 37-17, followed by a close Week 2 Sunday night 28-24 thriller vs. the St. Louis BattleHawks. Houston has a gritty, electric, star-studded roster & they’re sitting at number one in the power rankings, so everyone in this city needs to be hopping aboard this gravy train right tf now. Hell, it only took me watching seven quarters of Roughnecks football until I was ready to go tailgate outside of TDECU stadium in full body paint. It’s sexy football & I’m in, here’s why you should be too.
Houston is putting out a STOUT defense, spearheaded by a tough-nosed front seven led by linebackers Demarquis Gates & LaTroy Lewis, who respectively lead the league in tackles (11) & sacks (2.0). An unexpected consistency of reliable man coverage from cornerbacks such as Jeremiah Johnson has allowed safeties like Cody Brown to flash their ball-hawking ability & produce more turnovers than a British bakery. Over two weeks, they’ve proven themselves to be the league’s best defense, having recorded: 15 TFL, eight sacks, 4 INTs & a forced then recovered fumble. I love demoralizing other teams with suffocating defense. It’s so fun to watch. Knowing your team can take the ball away at any time is just like watching the dealer has to hit on 16; you know the other guy’s fucked from the get-go.
The man responsible for constructing this creative defense would be the schememister himself, Head Coach June Jones (I know, what a fucking name). I’ve been studying this cat on the sidelines & I can’t keep but drawing resemblance to Mack Brown in the 2000s; pass-heavy offense complimented by a scheme-driven defense that’s cemented in the D-line. 50+ games coached in the NFL has provided June with a level of experience that keeps him cool as January when clutch time rolls around. He’s an old general who still has the balls to go for it & I feel more than confident with him steering our ship.
We all know the importance of defense & coaching, but nobody is winning shit without a QB, and boy o’ boy do we have a STAR lining up for us under center. PJ Walker is a dual threat guy who can escape the pocket like Deshaun Watson & nearly looks like Patrick Mahomes with his crazy acrobatic throws; ranked second in passing yds (449), first in QBR (107.4) & first in passing TDs (7) (which is more than several teams have scored total all season). The man also has a full endorsement from Andrew Luck, which I don’t give a shit about, but if you do, it’s there! All in all, if this man keeps balling out the way he is, he’ll undoubtedly win the MVP & maybe even get us a championship!
June’s got himself a nice Lil utility piece at RB in James Butler, a dude who’s already made noise to the tune of 3 TOTD over two weeks. He’s a good runner, with great vision, who’s pass-catching abilities make him a perfect fit for this offensive scheme. Yes, there’ve been tons of passes thrown in this offense, but these wide receivers have been snagging! Cam Phillips is an absolute stud, dude has a knack for plucking footballs out of midair; he leads the league in receiving TDs (4), 3rd in catches (12) & 4th in receiving yds (130). The rest of the receiving core has looked pretty damn good too; Kahlil Lewis has made some waves, ex-Steeler Sammy Coates has displayed some professional-level route running & Nick Holley, who had a monster game in week one, has provided us all with some motivational inspiration with his story of fighting back from THREE separate ACL tears AND a broken back to come back & play the game he loves.
When you think about Holley’s fantastic story, PJ’s MVP run & the inaugural XFL championship being played in Houston… don’t look now, but fate may be on our side. The only other team playing in the same ballpark as the Roughnecks right now are the DC Defenders, who’re led by former Ohio State QB Cardell Jones. However, they’re in the East & we’re in the West so that we won’t be concerned with them aside from WEEK 7, and then perhaps the championship. But we can’t look at the ship just yet; we have to focus on week three, a game where we’ll probably roll over an abysmal Tampa Bay Vipers squad. This should be a shitpumping, no real notes on this one – we’re good, they suck, I’d bet the over.
Editors note: WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER
This will mark the 1st piece in a season-long series of Roughnecks football coverage brought to you by Apollo Media, and I’m so excited to finally get to provide this kind of content to all you guys & gals! For the past two years, I’ve been in cahoots with Josh Ledesma in creating this incredible site, and my inspiration to embark on this journey of helping create Apollo Media has been fueled by two main factors: the emergence of a new opportunity created by social networking that’s gifted startups like Apollo the chance to compete with the once untouchable force of institutional media, and having to endure over two decades of neglect & disrespect towards Houston sports on the national scene. There is a gaping void in the middle of Houston sports, and we’re here to fill it because I’ve said it, and I’ll say it a million more times: HOUSTONIANS DESERVE BETTER. We at Apollo Media want to bring you entertaining content, created by talented people who’re all pledged to the same allegiance of H-Town fandom as you. Why should everything you watch, hear or read about YOUR teams in YOUR city be dished out by people halfway across the country who deep down don’t give a shit about us? *hard pill to swallow alert* No one in the sports world cares about Houston, except for Houston. But you know what? FUCK EM! We live in the greatest city in the world – all we need is us. However, we’re not in the same happy-go-lucky state as we were when I first joined this company, fresh off a World Series title, and amid a James Harden MVP season – the tides have turned dramatically. With the Texans & Rockets continued struggles in getting over their respective humps, paired with the whole world villainizing the Astros, it’s never been more Houston vs. the world. We’re at war, and it’s time for us as a city to band together and remind everyone who they hell they’re dealing with. The Apollo launch in 1969 issued the famous words “that’s one small step for man…”, but the Apollo launch of 2020 will prove to be one GIANT leap for Houston mf Texas.