Roughnecks vs Battlehawks

XFL Week 2 preview

Photo courtesy of Houston Roughnecks

Your Houston Roughnecks take on the St. Louis Battlehawks this Sunday at 5pm at TDECU Stadium.

A few things to expect from St. Louis this week.

  • QB Talk. They don't have a PJ Walker but the Battlehawks DO have Jordan Ta'amu. The former Ole Miss QB isn't just going to throw the ball around. He's a runner… And pretty good at it. He also avoided throwing any interceptions in his XFL appearance last weekend.
  • RUN. Speaking of running, this team played more conservative in their game against Dallas. Unlike most of the teams in this league, the Battlehawks offense avoided airing the ball out too much. Instead, they stuck to the run game... SUCCESSFULLY. They racked up the most rushing yards in the leagues' debut. Look to see a few different backs attack the ground.
  • DEFENSE. The secondary in particular stood out last week. DB Darius Hilary and Safety Dexter McCoil combined for 13 tackles and 4 assists. LB Terence Garvin caught fans attention with his 6 tackles and 2 assists.
  • PENALTIES. No this is the Tampa Bay Bucs BUT St. Louis did rack up their fair share of penalties in game one. Most were due to false starts. (One would assume this was a key issue to work on in practice this week but it's worth noting.)

Yesterday I spoke with Roughnecks Offensive Coordinator, Chris Miller. Here's what he had to say about last week's game.

"PJ Walker was obviously the hot topic of the week, was the transition to this offense as easy as PJ made it look?"

Chris Miller: "Well, I think PJ obviously did a nice job. He played very well in the game, managed it well. Got out and made some plays with his legs outside of the pocket. I think you have to give June Jones a lot of credit with the amount of reps we've put in since early December. In training camp we probably worked more than most, I know we had a few two a day sessions. In terms of the install and what June put in, what PJ's been able to grasp. A lot of its due to how many reps he's got. We've been able to hit the ground running."

"The XFL has this new offense the fans are really into. The DC Defenders showed out with their new trick plays last week. Do we have any big surprises in the playbook?"

Chris Miller: "Well we have a few wrinkles hidden up our sleeve, but if I told ya I'd have to kill ya. I can't do that... I think that's a move line. I'm just kidding but we've been reppin' a few things and working. We have some in our repertoire, we'll see if we will need to pull them out and you'll be one of the first to know."

"I noticed we're going for a lot of 2pt conversions, is there a thought process behind the PATs? Is it all situational?"

Chris Miller: "Well I think right now we're all learning about it. It's kind of going by feel right now. If you score first, you're thinking let's go for one and be up a conventional 7-0, but LA scored first and I think they missed their conversion or they may have gone for 1 so then you try to either match them or maybe go up 8 to 7. So my theory is, if you go for 4… if you go for two 2 point plays form the 5 and you hit them, that's 4 points. And if you go for four 1 point plays from the 2 and you only get two out of four then you're only getting 2 points for that. So it's kind of mathematical theories but I think as the game goes along, it's more situational how many points you want to be up at that time. There's no exact science to it so I think right now it's kind of new and we have to feel it out. It's interesting."

"How much improvement do you expect to see from your team and league wide in game 2?"

Chris Miller: "We've all got one week under our belt, one game. I think there was a lot of good football put on from what I watched. At the end of the day, it was new and there was a lot of uncertainty as to what we would see and what we would put out there. I think you just trust in your training and then it becomes football. STL is a very good team. They have a big defense, they're a physical bunch. It's a good group. I think it'll be a good challenge for us but maybe some of the areas we were a little bit rough in or didn't execute well we hope to see improvement in those areas."

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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