In their inaugural season of the XFL, the Tampa bay Vipers finished with a 1-4 record, which was a huge disappointment considering the expectations that everyone around the league had for the Vipers.
It was also astonishing to see a team lead the league in offense and defense and yet struggle to score points and finish games.
It was not all doom and gloom for the Vipers as they had some good things to look back on the five games that were played.
The big story during the season was the Vipers defense. Jerry Glanville did an excellent of getting the players to buy in into his defensive schemes and it was truly a total team effort, there was not one guy on that defense that really stood out.
They played solid as a unit against the run and the pass and that what creates a dominating defense.
The Vipers were able to move the ball down the field almost at will
The two pronged running attack of De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick proved to be the best in the XFL. Smith and Patrick were the only two backs to rush for over 100 yards each in any XFL game and that came in the 25-0 defeat of the DC Defenders at home.
Taylor Cornelius really struggled out of the gate but got better as the season went along. Cornelius also became a threat not only passing the ball, but running the ball as he was able to make some plays with his legs the last two games.
Some things that did not go well for the Vipers.
Turnovers. This killed the team the first three weeks of the season. The Vipers would dominate offensively and defensively and then turn the ball and give the opposing a team a short field to work on.
Cornelius had one touchdown and five interceptions at one point during the season. These turnovers cost the Vipers at least one win and you could make a case they had they not turned the ball over, they would have have had a chance at finishing the season 4-1.
The handling of Quinton Flowers was an absolute disgrace. Whether Flowers was used as a marketing ploy or not, the fact is he deserved better from the Vipers than what he got.
When Aaron Murray went down with his foot injury during the first game of the season, coach Trestman elected to go with Taylor Cornelius as the starter and that proved to be a poor decision as Cornelius Really struggled in his first two games.
Flowers can beat you with his arm and his legs and although he was put into play in some games, he was never given an opportunity to fully show case what he can do over a full 30-60 minutes.
Every time Flowers made a mistake or the offense stalled he was pulled. This was not the case with Cornelius who was put back out there time after time with the offense struggling only to get another three and out.
The Play calling. With Marc Trestman calling the plays, the team could not get into the end zone. They were good between the 20’s but stalled in the red zone.
Not until offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo took over the play calling duties from Trestman, did the Vipers offense really take off and was bale to get into the end zone.
The XFL will be back in 2021 hopefully for a full season. It was an entertaining brand of football. The kickoff rules were especially good and would like to see those rules implemented at the NFL and college level.
The one foot in bounds for a catch worked well and the this is another little change the NFL should highly consider.
The transparency between the referee on the field and the review official in the booth was good to listen to.
The exchange between those made everything transparent and you knew exactly why the ruling on the field was made.
Here are two things the Vipers should do for 2021 to have more success on the field.
1. Make Elizondo the play caller from game one. He knows how to get the ball in the end zone where Trestman really struggled with his red zone play calling.
2. Give Quinton Flowers an opportunity to play a full game or two providing that he even wants to come back and play for the Vipers. Don’t make knee jerk reactions after one series or a turnover. Give the man a chance.