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Orlando Guardians

XFL WEEK TWO: As Guardians fall, more questions arise

Jae Fortune

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OPENING DAY THOUGHTS

Sports Club Florida’s coverage team was proud to be in attendance for the first Orlando Guardian home game.

orlando guardians vs san antonio brahmas 2023 Camping world stadium

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After our first real opportunity to see the new team up-close, a few observations have become very clear. Local excitement continues to abound, even as the winless Guardians free-fall to the bottom of the standings, with a league worse two losses. But record aside, a jarring lack of consistency in on-field play is most stunning. Personally, I would always recommend patience, especially with a brand new team, but many fans would probably likely not extend such grace (especially in Orlando). So, while Kevyn has a full game breakdown for you, I have thoughts as well.

Several questions need to be answered for Florida’s XFL franchise.


WHO IS QB1?

First and foremost, Paxton Lynch is an incredibly talented quarterback.

orlando guardians vs san antonio brahmas quarterback Lynch

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As evident by Orlando’s most successful drives of the game, Lynch can make all the passes that matter. On Sunday afternoon, he also accounted for the Guardian’s first touchdown connection of the day, a 67-yard drive that concluded with a strike to Eli Rodgers in the back of the endzone. However, those big passes only connect when he has time, and a clean pocket. As the Guardians’ struggle to provide a front line that can consistently protect the ballcarrier, and help extend drives; Paxton Lynch is largely in a no-win situation under center.

That’s why, I’m looking for Deondre Francois to get a real chance. Thus far, Orlando’s most mobile signal caller has only been put into the game as a secondary option. I would love to see what he can do with an early opportunity to get in rhythm, and use his legs. ‘Escapability’ is priceless when offensive line play is suspect, and we’ve already seen other mobile quarterbacks thriving in this league. In Francois I Trust.

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orlando guardians vs san antonio brahmas quarterback Deondre Francois

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WHO IS COACH REPLACING (AND HOW)?

Coach Terrell Buckley is not happy, content or impressed with his team.

orlando guardians vs san antonio brahmas Coach Terrell Buckley

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Orlando’s head coach is already mentioning the need to replace current players with people that want to play, in a campaign that’s only two weeks old. While this may have just been embarrassment-fueled conjecture, I fully expect this team to look very different by season’s end.

“Look at the score board”

One thing we haven’t seen in the new and improved XFL, is the process of talent acquisition. Aside from the draft, how would Orlando attract the new blood that coach is seeking out? How attractive of destination is Central Florida after two no-competitive showings? That’s yet to be seen. But what we do know, as preparation begins for next week’s clash with Houston, there’s plenty of talent on Orlando’s roster to be moved around.

orlando guardians vs san antonio brahmas 2023 #30

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During Sunday’s game, Stephen Guidry, Quinten Dormady, Dontez Byrd, Roman Tatum, Ja’Quain Blakely, and Sunday Deng were unavailable for the Guardians.


CAN THE DEFENSE SCORE?

On a bright side for Coach Buckley, his defense is legit.

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In concert with his head coach, Defensive Coordinator Tony Cater has dialed up many of Orlando’s best plays of the season so far. In the secondary, playmakers like Matt Elam, Marcus Murphy and Mike Lee has made their presence felt, creating opportunities for the Guardians. Meanwhile, in the trenches, it’s Jacoby Jones and Co., that are making the biggest impact for the Guardians. Going into Week 3, if this defense can start converting interceptions into pick sixes, and fumbles into scope-n-scores, Orlando would turn into a threat overnight.


WATCH THIS SPACE

As Coach Buckley mentioned after Sunday’s loss, this is a team that’s addressing way more questions that the ones on this list. These were just mine, but let us know what questions you need answered in the comment section.

Check back here for updates.

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Orlando Guardians

XFL POST SEASON: Guardians sign NFL Contracts; Rookie Draft Day

Jae Fortune

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GUARDIANS HEAD TO THE NFL

This week, Charleston Rambo (WR) and Jordan Thomas (TE) became the first Orlando Guardians to make it to the NFL, following successful pro football debuts in the XFL. Rangy, and flashy during his lone season at the University of Miami, Rambo has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, following his 35 receptions for 430 yards and three touchdowns while playing Orlando.

Meanwhile, Thomas joins the Carolina Panthers. A tall and strong playmaker, you might remember Jordan for going viral while catching touchdowns Orlando’s strong-armed punter. Big plays aside, Carolina gains a consistent and dependable weapon for their young, newly-drafted franchise quarterback.

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In the midst of a post-season that has already seen Orlando Guardians’ stars Cody Letimer, and Caeveon Patton named to all-XFL teams for standout individual performances, NFL scouts have made their interest in Orlando talent clear.


XFL DRAFT DAY IS A MONTH AWAY

A statement from the XFL Communications Department has confirmed the date of upcoming XFL Rookie Draft. Next month, talent prospects who were eligible for this year’s NFL draft are invited to declare, as long as, they are not currently under contract.

Additionally, XFL decision makers have increased team roster limits from 51 to 90, creating more opportunities for potential stars. This news is especially interesting, following the controversy that embroiled the entire NFL draft itself. Talented prospects like Bethune-Cookman’s Kemari Averett, once overlooked by NFL scouts, now look forward to making a positive first impression on pro-football analysis, and commentators alike.

With the the crowning of the inaugural XFL Champions, all eyes now look to June 14th.

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Orlando Guardians

Struggles and Uncertainty: A Recap of the Orlando Guardians’ Inaugural XFL Season

Kevyn Bryant II

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As much as it pains me to say this, it is safe to say that the Orlando Guardians’ inaugural season in the newest version of the XFL was not a successful one at all.  Many fans that witnessed this season may agree that calling the Guardians’s season unsuccessful would be describing it in the nicest way possible.

Led by coach Terrell Buckley, the Orlando Guardians were never able to sustain any sort of momentum.  They ended up being the worst team in a XFL South division that wasn’t so great overall. The division had three teams that finished under .500.   The Orlando Guardians finished with a brutal record of 1-9.

The season got off to an ominous start with a 33-12 loss to the Houston Roughnecks.  The Houston Roughnecks got out to a 21-6 lead at halftime and never looked back.   Another ominous sign of things to come was the fact that there was uncertainty at the QB position.

Even though Paxton Lynch started the game at QB, he would be taken out in favor of QB Quentin Normady that would end up finishing the game.  Normady would actually end up putting up better passing statistics than Lynch overall at the end of the game.

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During the Guardians’ 30-12 loss to the San Antonio Brahmas, Paxton Lynch would be taken out again in favor of DeAndre Francois.  In effect, two major issues were taking shape for the Guardians: Poor defense and uncertainty at the QB position.

It didn’t help that QB DeAndre Francois was caught telling his teammates to shut the f*** up while being mic’ed up.

Things would spiral out of control record-wise for the Orlando Guardians as they would end up starting the season 0-6.  Even though the Guardians’ defense played better in Week 3, Paxton Lynch could not guide the Guardians to victory in a 10-9 loss to the Arlington Renegades.

After the Orlando Guardians were blown out 44-16 by the Houston Roughnecks in Week 4, Terrell Buckley made a switch at QB for Week 5 and ended up giving Quentin Normady the starting job.

Three weeks later, the move would end up being the main catalyst to the Guardians’ 1st and only win of the season.  In Week 7, the Orlando Guardians would pull off a stunning upset of the powerhouse DC Defenders.   It was the biggest upset of the XFL Season.  The Guardians picked up the only win of the season by giving the DC Defenders the only loss of their season.

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In that game, Quinten Dormady had his finest moments of the season and justified Buckley’s move to make him the starter.  He was 27 of 34 for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns.

However, the Guardians would go winless the rest of the season.  Fittingly, the season ended with them being shellacked by the St Louis Battlehawks 53-28.

In terms of what the Guardians need to do, it’s clear that extensive changes are needed on the defensive side of the ball.  The Guardians were last in the league in points allowed as they allowed a league-worst 31.0 PPG.

The Guardians will have to start with improving their secondary.  They were the 2nd worst team in the league with 242.2 yards allowed per game.   Thus, this has to be their greatest priority.   After that, they will need to shore up their defensive line and linebacking corps. The Guardians were ranked near the bottom of the league with regards to rushing yards allowed per game.  Additionally, the Guardians need to shore up their running game. The Guardians were ranked in the lower half of the league in terms of running.

In the not-too-distant future, the Guardians can’t do much worse than 1-9. If the front office places a particular focus on improving the defense and shoring up their running game.  I can see the Guardians improving their record by a few games next season.  Quinten Dormady’s progress as QB will play a big role in terms of how much the teams improve.

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On a league-wide level, the league’s future isn’t looking too bright when you consider the brutal ratings slide over the course of the season.

In Week 1, 3 of the 4 games had over 1,000,000+ viewers.  Unfortunately, the XFL had only 2 games that averaged over 1,000,000 viewers for the rest of the season.  The ratings for the XFL playoffs did not meet expectations either.  Therefore, the ratings for the XFL Championship will play an important role in determining the audience’s current perception of the league.

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Orlando Guardians

“Vegas Strikes Again: A Nail-Biting Recap of the Guardians’ Epic Rally Gone Sour”

Kevyn Bryant II

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The Orlando Guardians put up their highest points of the season with five touchdowns, but were still unable to defeat the Vipers, who took the win with a 35-32 score at Cashman Field. The Orlando Guardians (0-5) are now half way to becoming the first XFL or USFL football team to end up losing every game in a single season. On a positive note one of the biggest improvements was from Latimer with 1TD, and 124 yards and a very positive production from QB Quinten Dormady with 256 yards, 2 TD passes and no interceptions.

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The Guardians started off the game with a 67 yard drive and Quinton Flowers concluding it with a one-yard quarterback sneak. With a successful one-point conversion by Jah-Maine Martin, the Guardians took the lead 7-0.

Vegas answered with their own touchdown from a 35-yard pass from Luis Perez to Jeff Badet and a two-point conversion from Perez to Rod Smith, putting the Vipers ahead 8-7. Vegas increased their lead to 17-7 in the second quarter, with Sean Price catching a three-yard pass from Perez and a 39-yard field goal.

Orlando cut their deficit to 17-13 before halftime with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Quinten Dormady to Charleston Rambo.

Vegas started the third quarter with a 53-yard drive, with Smith scoring a one-yard touchdown to make it 23-13. The Guardians responded with a two-yard rush by Martin, bringing Orlando within four, 23-19. Smith scored another one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend Vegas’ lead to 29-19.

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The Guardians responded with a two-yard touchdown from Devin Darrington and a one-point conversion run from Darrington, narrowing the deficit to 29-26. The Vipers increased their lead to 35-26 with a 25-yard pass from Perez to Badet, but the Guardians responded with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Dormady to Cody Latimer, making it 35-32. Orlando failed to convert a 3-point conversion that would have tied the game, and their final chance for possession was thwarted by a sack and two penalties. Dormady finished the game 22-of-25 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns, while Perez completed 20 of 28 throws for 269 yards.

CAN WE GET A WIN

It’s been a tough first season for the home team. The Orlando Guardians are now the lowest-ranked team in the league. It seems some real magic was figured out in the quarterback position with a successful passing game from Dormady. It’s now time to take all of these losses and come back swinging. Let’s go Guardians!

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