Houston 27, Dallas 20

The Houston Roughnecks are officially Texas' team

The Rockets aren't the only team in town playing "small ball."

With dynamic playmaking abilities, athleticism and instincts - the -5- foot-11 Temple prodigy PJ Walker has thrown for 987 yards and is responsible for 13 touchdowns [12 passing, one running] to just two interceptions, in the first four weeks of the XFL's inaugural season. Affectionately nicknamed, "Walker Texas Ranger," he has taken the league [and Houston] by storm and been labeled "The face of the XFL."

That "Face" faced off against the Dallas Renegades Sunday afternoon; throwing for 239 yards, 2TDs, 1INT and added another 17 yards rushing on the ground as the Roughnecks moved to 4-0 with a 27-20 win over the Dallas Renegades.

The XFL may be brand new, but Sunday's matchup of the Houston Roughnecks vs. the Dallas Renegades already had all of the ingredients necessary for a stellar rivalry game:

- XFL hype

- Media hype

- A nickname [The XFL labeled it the " #TexasThrowdown " - but I'm calling it the " #TeXFL ." Better, right?]

- Big name Quarterbacks

- Well Known Coaches [who used to rival each other in College]

- Conference rivals

But most importantly, it's simply: Houston VS Dallas... 'nuff said.

#TexasThrowdown HYPE VIDEO www.youtube.com

While the game definitely lived up to the hype, the Roughneck victory didn't come in the fashion that Roughneck Faithful probably expected...

Here are my 5 Takeaways:

#1.] Don't sleep on the Defense!

Sure, PJ Walker did PJ Walker things... but the defense had just as much to do with the win as the quarterback did.

The premise of this article is supposed to be, "My 5 takeaways from the Roughnecks VS Renegades game"... well, that's ironic, because the Roughnecks actually HAD 5 takeaways [turnovers] off the Renegades!


The first four turnovers came off of Landry Jones, who threw three picks and was also stripped of a ball on a sack that was returned for a Roughneck Touchdown by LB Edmond Robinson. The fifth and final TO came off of backup quarterback Phillip Nelson. His pass got deflected and ended up in the paws of DeMarquis Gates to seal the game.

5th Turnover of the game!#TeXFL www.youtube.com

All in all, the Roughnecks Defense racked up a sack, six quarterback hits, five tackles for loss, four Interceptions, one Forced fumble, one touchdown.


We've given props to the Roughneck defense for causing five Turnovers... but how in the world does a Defense gift their offense 5 extra possessions and yet the team only walks away with a 7-point margin of victory? [Sounds like something the Houston Texans would do - NOT the Roughnecks.]

A championship team makes the most out of every opportunity. So, moving forward, the Roughnecks need to capitalize on turnovers and turn them into TDs. And while I wasn't present at the post-game presser to ask him - I can almost guarantee you that Coach June Jones agrees.


The Roughnecks actually came out of this game losing the Time of Possession "war" by -16 seconds. [29:52 to 30:08]
Do I need to remind you how absurd this is, given that the Roughnecks defense literally gave their offense 5 Renegade turnovers?!

In a perfect world, the Roughnecks WOULD have had a big lead and bled the clock out, running the ball....

But they didn't.

In a game that the Roughnecks never trailed in, the Renegades still ran the ball five more times than Houston did. Even in victory, a close game like this shows you the importance of running the ball: it wears out an opposing defenses, increases ball security, lessens risk of injury to the QB and [most importantly] keeps the ball out of the opposing QB's hands for a longer amount of time.

And that's not all... The Roughnecks lost more battles than just Time of Possession. They also lost at:

1st Downs [ 19 HOU / 21 DAL ]

Plays Ran [ 60 HOU / 66 DAL ]

Penalties [ 6 Penalties for 57yds - HOU ] [ 3 Penalties for 43yds - DAL ]

The main thing that really saved the Roughnecks from potential defeat was their third down efficiency. They were on point, at a 63% on 3rd Down Conversion rate, to the Renegades meager 27%.

If Houston can clean these things up, they'll certainly increase their future margins of victory - which is currently a solid 10 points on average.

#4. Everybody Steps Up!

PJ Walker's favorite target, WR Cam Phillips, was basically cut out of this game [1 REC / 9 YDs] as he was doubled the entire game, by a corner and a safety... but no worries! Between the Defense and Nick Holley, the Roughnecks offense didn't skip a beat.

NHolley has had some big catches in the past 4 weeks, but Sunday, he had a career game, catching eight passes for 97 yards and one TD.

Kahlil Lewis also came up big, catching six for 53yds - as well as Blake Jackson, who caught two for 26yds and 1TD.

#5. Dallas Unstable at the Quarterback Position...

Thoughts and prayers go out to Renegades QB, Landry Jones, who reinjured his knee late n the fourth quarter. The injury looked gruesome, as Landry appeared to violently twist his left knee under Roughneck DE Caushaud Lyons.

While Landry has not yet been ruled out officially for the rest of the season, he limped off of the field and proceeded to cry on the sideline for the remainder of the game - thus furthering some assumptions that Landry may not return this season.

In the post-game press conference, Head Coach Bob Stoops said, "Fortunately, he had a brace on it and hopefully that minimized the damage." Landry stated that he hopes the injury is an MCL injury, which has an expected recovery time of 5 - 6 weeks. The Dallas Renegades Twitter account [@XFLRenegades] is reporting that Jones will undergo an MRI tomorrow morning

If Jones is out for the remainder of this season, eyes will turn to QB Eric Dungey, who left the team earlier, to mourn the passing of his Father.

If Dungey is not available, the team may potentially look to trade for a QB.

Some names circulating are Tampa Bay Vipers QB Quinton Flowers and Houston Roughnecks QB Connor Cook.

Flowers [USF] and Cook [Michigan State] were both extremely successful at their respective colleges. Flowers believes he should be starting and thus, it's no secret that he wants out of Tampa, as a result of a lack of playing time. Cook was drafted in the first round of the XFL Draft by the Roughnecks and was expected by many to start this season. However a lack of mobility/versatility with his legs would inevitably cause him to lose the starting role to PJ Walker.

Renegade QB, Landry Jones re-injures left knee www.youtube.com

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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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