Written By: Roy Countryman @Blitzalytics @PreacherBoyRoy
David Connors @DConBlitz
Graphics By: Pat Pryor @patpryorgraphic
Offensive Player of the Week
P.J. Walker: QB, Houston Roughnecks
Stats: 23/39, 272 passing yds, 59% comp, 50 long, 4 TD, 1 INT.
4 rushes, 26 rush yards, 6.5 avg, 13 long.
The first week of XFL action is in the books, and I have to say I am impressed with the product that was put on the field. It exceeded my expectations, and I think the same thing can be said about P.J. Walker the QB of the Houston Roughnecks. He put on a dynamic show of elusiveness and playmaking ability that will have fans wanting to tune in to week 2. He showed patience within the pocket on a number of plays, but when needed he would break contain and let his athleticism shine by either running for hidden yardage to maintain drives, or delivering dimes to his playmakers.
Walker’s exploits in week one shouldn’t come as a surprise to everyone in the football world. He was one of Matt Rhule’s first recruits as Head Coach at Temple, and he went on to have a decorated career that includes being the program’s all-time leader in victories, passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, attempts, total yards, and total touchdowns. He also had the distinction of leading Temple to their first conference title in 49 years as well as their first-ever back-to-back bowl appearances in school history. After his career at Temple, he caught the attention of the Indianapolis Colts and has bounced back and forth off of their active roster and practice squad since 2017.
Walker has a valued skill set in this day and age of football. He has the terrific arm talent and ability to vary his throws by velocity and touch, as well as the ability to throw on the move and off-platform which is a highly sought out trait at the next level. He also has the speed to break contain and scramble downfield to pick up key first downs to continue drives and make defense take account of where he is at. He is shorter than ideal at 5’11”, but in this day and age that will not be a major detriment. I can see him having the upside like that of a Tyrod Taylor of the Los Angeles Chargers. If he keeps putting on these kinds of performances I think you will definitely be seeing him in an NFL Training camp upon the completion of this season of the XFL
Defensive Player of the Week
D’Juan Hines, LB, New York Guardians
Stats: 12 Tackles, (7 Solo), 2 PD, 1 FF
The Week 1 XFL Blitz Defensive Player of the Week goes to D’Juan Hines, Linebacker from the New York Guardians. He played a vital role in the Guardians’ defense, keeping Marc Trestman’s Vipers offense to only 3 points. Hines played sideline to sideline to contain the run as well as knocking down two passes while in covering Vipers TE, Nick Truesdell. Hines was rarely out of position exerting exceptional football IQ which should not surprise anyone considering Hines was a 4-time Academic All-American at the University of Houston.
Hines was recruited to the University of Houston as a Wide Receiver. During his Redshirt Freshman year, he was transitioned to Safety where he then served the next two years primarily as a Special Teams player. In 2016, Hines moved to Linebacker and earned his way to the Cougars starting Linebacker. His Senior season, Hines racked up 171 Tackles, 8 Tackles for a loss, 3 Forced Fumbles and a pick earning 1st Team All-AAC honors. Hines is a decent athlete, but his play recognition and football IQ make him a menace on the field. D’Jaun can be a team’s QB on defense.
Hines will continue to be a key cog in Jim Hermann’s defense. His versatility in run and pass defense make him a highly effective as the team’s Weak Side Linebacker. Whether it’s containing a tailback, covering A Tight End, or dissecting trick plays, offenses need to realize quickly that they need to be aware of where 45 is lining up on every play when playing the New York Guardians.