This Weekend in the XFL

by Joe Torosian
March 2, 2001 - XFL (XFL)

This Weekend in the XFL

by Joe Torosian

Heading into week five the XFL has reached a crossroads sooner than it thought it would.

Ratings are dropping, sponsors are grumbling, bad weather sabotaged games in Los Angeles, and Chicago and the all access media concept took a hit last week when Hitmen head coach Rusty Tillman refused to speak to Jesse Ventura.

Still the football is good to watch, and if all the glitz is taken away guess what you still have?


Saturday, March 3, 2001

Los Angeles (2-2) at New York/New Jersey (1-3)

The rain fell and the Hitmen got into the win column. The Enforcers were without John Avery and NY/NJ quarterback Wally Richardson didn't have to do too much. If the sun shines this week, things will be different.

Defensively the Hitmen have only allowed 882-yards of total offense but have gained just 814.

While Rusty Tillman has been looking for somebody to throw the ball he may have someone to run it in fullback Michael Blair. It was Blair's running that keyed the offense in the mud at Soldier Field last week.

The Xtreme can pass the ball but their running game has been non-existent.

If runningback Rashaan Shehee's can't find running room Xtreme quarterback Tommy Maddox will be running for his life.

Maddox has put up decent numbers (80-157 862-yards, and six touchdowns), but up to now he's been the entire offense along with receivers Jermaine Copeland (29-catches) and Darnell McDonald (15-catches).

Defensively they should be able to keep enough pressure on Richardson and thwart the Hitmen attack.

As long as they don't beat themselves, look for the Xtreme to get the win 20-7.

Birmingham (2-2) at San Francisco (2-2)

The Bolts were doing well until they met the Rage last week in what was supposed to have been an Eastern Division show down.

Instead it was a blowout for the Rage.

Orlando held James Bostic, the Bolts leading rusher, to a mere 12-yards. Quarterback Casey Weldon and wide receiver Stepfret Williams are an effective tandem, but Birmingham needs Bostic to regain form if they are going to beat the Demons.

Frisco on the other hand has its own problems. They have the XFL's best passing attack but their triggerman, quarterback Mike Pawlawski, is gone for the next three weeks with a neck injury.

NFL journeyman Pat Barnes will get the nod this week and immediately be asked to put the ball in the air. The Demons rushing attack is about at effective as the Polish Calvary was in September of '39.

Birmingham defensively ranks last against the rush but they do boast the league's top tackler in middle linebacker James Willis, who's wrapping 11-ball carriers per-game.

If the Bolts suffocate Barnes and the Demons air game they should be fine.

The Demons play well against the pass, third in the league, but they'll need to prevent Bostic from being a factor.

The Demons Eric England will need to get pressure on Weldon for his team to have a chance without Pawlawski.

The Bolts 21-14.

Sunday, March 4, 2001

Orlando (4-0) at Memphis (2-2)

When the rain started to fall in Los Angeles last week there were only two ways to score, by canoe or on the ground.

Small craft boats as of now are still illegal in the XFL, so the Maniax turned to the legs of Rashaan Salaam.

If the weather is fair in Memphis it's going to take more than a reborn Salaam to stop the unbeaten Rage.

Orlando took the Bolts a part last week using the judicious passing of quarterback Jeff Brohm and the rushing committee of Michael Black, Derrick Clark, and Brian Shay.

Everything is clicking for the Rage right now. They have the second best offense in the XFL and their defense picked it up against Birmingham, and are now a Plus-3 in the give-away/take-away department. Defensive back Stephen Fisher is tied for the league lead with three interceptions.

Memphis is first in the league in offensive yardage, but Orlando leads the XFL in scoring.

Most of the Maniax yardage however, came courtesy of Marcus Crandall who is still out with a bad foot.

Without a deluge and the skies opening Memphis won't be able to stay with the Orlando offense.

And if there isn't a rainstorm, then quarterback Jim Druckenmiller, making his second start, will be exposed and forced to do more.

Brohm and the Rage stay undefeated. Orlando by two touchdowns.

Las Vegas (3-1) at Chicago (0-4)

The Enforcers are hurting. They're ranked dead last in defense and offensively they can't seem to get over the hump and Las Vegas won't make things any easier for them.

The Outlaws are giving up just 64-yards a game rushing, and Chicago's John Avery is nursing a bad quad that kept him out of last week's game against the Hitmen.

On the other side of the ball Las Vegas got just enough from new quarterback Mark Grieb, 105-yards and a touchdown, to beat the Demons at home last week.

It doesn't take rocket science or a salary cap manager to know what makes things work for the Outlaws.

Their offense needs to take care of the ball, eat up the clock, and let their defense do the rest.

Rod "He Hate Me" Smart broke through last week with 88-yards and a touchdown.

The Outlaws Kelvin Kinney leads the XFL with six sacks, Antonio Edwards has four, and Brandon Sanders is tied for the league lead with three picks.

Chicago, without a healthy Avery, doesn't have enough to beat Vegas.

Quarterback Tim Lester, solid at the beginning of the season has been able to generate any offense the last two games and has been picked off five times.

The Outlaws by ten.

Joe Torosian covers ABA2000 and the XFL for OurSports Central.

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