Roughnecks 28, BattleHawks 24

5 thoughts from the Roughnecks'  thrilling win over the BattleHawks

Getty Images

Sunday night's game between the Houston Roughnecks and the St. Louis BattleHawks was a thriller to say the least. The BattleHawks rallied late and almost mounted a comeback, but it was too little too late. Houston relied on its high-powered offense and some timely defense to remain undefeated. There were many positive and only a few negative takeaways from the Roughnecks' 28-24 victory.

1) P.J. Walker is a legit Star

Walker had his second great start at quarterback for the Roughnecks and could be on his way to earning some MVP consideration. He looks calm, cool and collected under pressure, and his game is starting to mirror that of Deshaun Watson's. On multiple instances, Walker would elude tackles and extend plays using his legs. Walker's first touchdown pass was a side-armed throw to a tightly covered Cam Philips that was similar to something you would see high caliber NFL quarterbacks do. If he continues to play this way, the Roughnecks' offense will be hard to stop the rest of the season.

2) Cam Phillips has become the number one receiver

If P.J. Walker is the face of the team, Cam Phillips has become the second star that's starting to shine bright. He had three touchdown catches and led the team in receiving yards for the second week in a row. Phillips now leads the XFL in touchdown receptions. Walker and Phillips have developed a Batman and Robin like tandem that is shredding defenses week after week.

3) More star players are starting to emerge for the Roughnecks

To start the season, the most notable name in the entire Roughnecks' organization was Coach June Jones. That's all starting to change now. Besides the aforementioned Walker and Phillips duo, more Roughnecks' players are starting to get praise from their fans and the media. Running Back James Butler has become the go-to running back for the Roughnecks and is playing a great supporting role in Jones' Run N Shoot offense. On defense both Cornerbacks Cody Brown and Jeremiah Johnson nearly had touchdown returns after their interceptions and have shown they can be lockdown cornerbacks when needed. Another emerging defensive star is Linebacker DeMarcus Gates, who has become one of the best tacklers on the team in my opinion. Winning draws fans, and the more you win the more people will watch. I'm not saying these players will start appearing in car commercials, but soon more player's names will become recognizable as the season progresses.

4) The Run N' Shoot is weak against the blitz

The BattleHawks went in to halftime needing to make key adjustments on defense. They did just that for the 3rd quarter and the majority of the 4th quarter as well. The Roughnecks only had one offensive possesion in the 3rd quarter which was a quick three-and-out. They didn't score after halftime until nine minutes left in the 4th quarter to go up 28-18. Their offense started struggling once the BattleHawks started blitzing. The O-line did their part and played well, but in a typical Run N' Shoot style offense, there isn't a tight end or a blocking running back in most plays. This made it easier for St. Louis' defense to get Walker under pressure and force him to try and escape the pocket multiple times. Adjustments made by Coach Jones,Walker and the Roughnecks were able to counter this strategy and win the game. Walker was able to elude the rushers multiple times and extend plays with his legs forcing the BattleHawks to stop blitzing after the Roughnecks scored their final touchdown. I tried to have one negative takeaway, but I would be nitpicking. The offense's lone weakness seems to be blitzing defenses. If that's their only weakness, they surely have one of if not the best offenses in the league.

5) The XFL in Houston works

Nearly 1,000 less people showed up to the second Roughnecks' game of the season, but that didn't seem to matter to the fans who did show up. TDECU Stadium once again had a lound party like atmosphere, and the Roughnecks still outdrew the Defenders and the Wildcats this weekend. Houston fans love them some XFL football. So much so that XFL Commissioner & CEO Oliver Luck announced that TDECU Stadium would host the inaugural championship game. As previously mentioned, if you keep winning fans show up, and it looks as though the Roughnecks are starting to from their own niche in the busy sports scene that is Houston.

The Roughnecks look to remain undefeated as they play their first road game of the season against the winless Tampa Bay Vipers. The early odds show the Roughnecks as a big favorite against the worst team in the league, but could also be a potential trap game if they are not careful.

xfl

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome