Ranking Every XFL QB After Two Weeks of Action

Ian Hartitz

The QB is almost always the most-important player on the field at pretty much any level of football. This trend persists in the XFL, as we've already seen several signal callers elevate their respective offenses to great heights.

Of course, not every QB is created equal. Some are able to make things happen thanks to their play-making ability with their legs, while others utilize a mix of brains and arm talent to beat defenses from the pocket over and over again.

What follows is a ranking on the XFL's top-10 QBs after two weeks of action. These rankings are based on both statistical performance as well as my own opinions after watching every game this season. Special thanks to Pro Football Focus for the statistical information.

1. Cardale Jones

  • Biggest strength: The play is never over
  • Biggest weakness: The play is never over
  • Most-telling stat: Has completed league-high 8-of-12 passes (67%) thrown at least 20 yards downfield ... and has two drops

D.C. Defenders games have been an early bright spot of the XFL, as pretty much anything can happen with Jones under center.

The former National Championship winning QB probably deserves to have more than one interception based on some ill-advised throws that were dropped by the defense, but either way Jones has offered an incredibly entertaining blend of play-making ability and never-quit attitude. Underrated mobility, combined with massive size (6-foot-5 and 253-pounds), has made the prospect of getting Jones to the ground a headache for defenders across the league.

Coach Pep Hamilton has been magnificent in enabling this passing game so far, utilizing play action on a league-high 30% of Jones' dropbacks. The scary part about the passing game's performance through two weeks is the reality that this talented group of WRs haven't helped the cause with some fairly-brutal drops.

The best could still be yet to come for Jones and this offense as the players continue to build more chemistry.

2. P.J. Walker

  • Biggest strength: Offensive scheme is a perfect fit
  • Biggest weakness: Struggles when forced to get rid of the ball quickly
  • Most-telling stat: Has a league-best 108.5 QB Rating 

It's truly tough to nitpick a major flaw in Walker's game at the moment. Sure, there have been some missed passes that he'd probably like to have back, but this offense has been an absolute machine when he's been clicking.

The only "problem" is that the Roughnecks offense has been significantly less efficient when Walker has been forced to get rid of the ball in a hurry:

  • When throwing in less than 2.5 seconds: 63% completion rate (8th), 70.2 QB Rating (11th)
  • When throwing in more than 2.5 seconds: 61% completion rate (2nd), 132.7 QB Rating (1st)

Coach June Jones has put together a wide-open offense that accentuates both Walker's dual-threat ability as well as his willingness to test defenses downfield. Walker has proven to be an incredible game-changing talent when the play breaks down, but improved ability to pick apart defenses with quick passes should result in easier gains for everyone involved.

Look for Walker and company to only get better as long as their offensive line continues to ball out. Currently only Jordan Ta'amu (17%) has been under pressure less than Walker (19%).

3. Jordan Ta'amu

  • Biggest strength: Rushing ability
  • Biggest weakness: Taking care of the football
  • Most-telling stat: Has completed 50-of-64 passes (78.1%) while averaging a league-high 7.7 yards per attempt

The St. Louis BattleHawks have featured the league's fastest-moving offense to this point, as Ta'amu has regularly snapped the ball with 10-plus seconds remaining on the play-clock. This, combined with potentially the league's best offensive line, has made them one of the league's intriguing dark-horse contenders despite the team's run-first nature.

Ta'amu is the main reason why the BattleHawks have found so much early success on offense. He's demonstrated elite dual-threat ability through two weeks, racking up a position-best 61 rushing yards on designed carries while posting the league's second-best QB Rating.

The key problem has been turnovers and negative plays: Ta'amu has thrown two interceptions and taken a league-high five sacks. I'm not convinced the St. Louis coaching staff has done the best job in enabling Ta'amu (please stop bringing in Nick Fitzgerald in short-yardage situations), but either way the former Ole Miss QB needs to do a better job at avoiding mistakes.

An improvement in this area would make this offense very difficult to stop.

4. Josh Johnson

  • Biggest strength: Experience
  • Biggest weakness: Health
  • Most-telling stat: Has a league-high average of 5.6 seconds from snap-to-sack

The L.A. Wildcats were thoroughly dominated by Houston in Week 1, but just narrowly lost to Dallas in Week 2. Johnson was the clear reason for the improved performance, as the former-NFL QB regularly put the offense in a position to succeed using both his arm and legs.

It's clear that Johnson's presence under center elevates the entire offense. Backup QBs Jalen McClendon (71.4% pressure rate) and Charles Kanoff (50%) were largely unable to even give this passing game a chance to succeed in the team's season opener, but Johnson (24%) proved far superior in both extending the play as well as getting the ball where it needed to go.

Johnson's debut wasn't all great; he threw an interception and averaged a pedestrian 5.3 yards per attempt on 36 passes. Still, the performance would've been much better if he'd managed to connect on more than one of his seven passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield. Rust was clearly a factor in Johnson's first game back from his thigh injury.

Look for the Wildcats to continue to improve their offensive performance as Johnson has more reps in both practice and game situations with his new teammates.

5. Landry Jones

  • Biggest strength: Accuracy
  • Biggest weakness: Coverage recognition
  • Most-telling stat: Has averaged 16 yards per attempt on play-action passes – the second-highest mark in the league

Jones provided the Renegades with a legit downfield threat in Week 2, as his 15% deep ball rate far surpassed backup QB Phillip Nelson's Teddy Bridgewater-esque 4.7% mark from Week 1. Of course, Jones and company weren't perfect; he threw two fairly ill-advised interceptions and was fooled on multiple occasions in terms expecting man-coverage only for the defense to drop back into zone.

Still, Jones clearly has a better grip on this Hal Mumme offense than Nelson. He became the first XFL QB to throw for at least 300 yards in a game during Dallas' Week 2 win over Los Angeles.

Jones is painfully slow on the move and needs to limit mistakes in order for this Dallas offense to reach their potential. With that said: There's a reason why the Renegades were the near-consensus favorites to win the XFL back in January.

Jones has plenty of talent at his disposal and enough arm strength to help this offense reach it's full potential underneath one of the brightest minds the modern passing game has ever seen. Improved chemistry for everyone involved should come as the season goes on. 

6. Brandon Silvers

  • Biggest strength: Gunslinger mentality
  • Biggest weakness: Accuracy
  • Most-telling stat: Has completed just 2-of-13 passes (15%) thrown 20-plus yards downfield

The Seattle offense has left more yards on the field than just about anybody this season. Silvers has struggled mightily on his deep shots, and has completed just 49% of his passes when operating out of a clean pocket.

And yet, there have been signs that Silvers can be a productive QB in this league. Nobody has been better under pressure this season, as Silvers ranks among the league's top-two signal callers in QB Rating (1st), touchdowns (1st) and passing yards (2nd) when under duress.

This ranking is more indicative of what he could provide compared to what he has produced to this point.

Silvers' downfield mentality has helped enable this rushing attack to some solid efficiency thus far, and more snaps with these receivers *should* help the passing game cash in on some more of their chunk plays that have been available.

7. Quinton Flowers

  • Biggest strength: Mobility
  • Biggest weakness: Opportunity
  • Most-telling stat: Averaging a robust 3.57 yards after contact per rush attempt

Somehow Marc Trestman still hasn't figured out that his No. 3 QB is usually the best player on the field for the Tampa Bay Vipers. Sure, Flowers hasn't exactly demonstrated a consistent ability to work from the pocket and thrive as a pure passer, but his unique talent at creating plays out of thin air with his legs far surpasses whatever it is that Aaron Murray or Taylor Cornelius bring to the table.

It's fair to cut Flowers some slack considering he hasn't had many (if any) practice reps as the offense's true No. 1 QB. Even so, this Vipers offense has only looked good when Flowers has been under center through two weeks.

It seems unlikely that Murray (foot) will be on the bench if healthy enough to suit up, but perhaps a continued failure to win football games will force Trestman's hand sooner rather than later.

8. Marquise Williams

  • Biggest strength: Mobility
  • Biggest weakness: Opportunity
  • Most-telling stat: Average rate of 3.41 seconds between snap-and-attempt is the highest mark in the league

The Guardians are apparently sticking to Matt McGloin for at least another week. It's a shame considering Williams offers exceptionally better mobility behind what might be the league's single-worst offensive line. Williams, who once upon a time kept Mitchell Trubisky on the bench at North Carolina, also failed to earn a consistent starting job during his stint in the AAF last season despite stellar play and mostly-meh performance from the team's starter.

This is part of the problem with a QB that is so reliant on their legs and making things happen when the play breaks down: It's very difficult to replicate that type of performance in practice situations that usually consist of a quick whistle. Coaches prefer when players orchestrate plays as they're drawn up compared to going off script.

Williams has displayed a willingness to test defenses downfield and is undoubtedly more entertaining than McGloin due to his ability to extend plays. Still, it might be awhile until we see old-school coach Kevin Gilbride make this much-needed switch.

9. Aaron Murray

  • Biggest strength: Experience
  • Biggest weakness: Pretty much everything else
  • Most-telling stat: Has completed just 12-of-25 passes (48%) from a clean pocket

Murray is dealing with a foot injury at the moment and should be considered questionable for Week 3. Still, he'll need to play much better moving forward in order to hold off QB/RB Quinton Flowers. Murray couldn't get the offense into the end zone in Week 1 despite driving the Vipers inside the opponent's 10-yard line on four (!!!) separate occasions, displaying a mix of inaccuracy and bad-decision making once the field was compressed.

None of this should be particularly surprising considering Murray was largely out played by Matt Simms in the AAF last season.

The Vipers' underwhelming offensive scheme, combined with this injury, makes Murray a low-ceiling option as long as he continues to demonstrate little ability to make pretty much anything happen.

10. Matt McGloin

  • Biggest strength: Experience
  • Biggest weakness: Pretty much everything else
  • Most-telling stat: Has been pressured on 45.1% of dropbacks – the highest mark among all starting QBs

McGloin complained at halftime in Week 2 that the Guardians needed to come out with a brand new scheme. Give me a break.

Pretty much the only saving grace for McGloin this season is the idea that his performance has suffered due to extreme pressure. Still, both pressure and sacks are more of a QB stat than indicative of a porous offensive line. Regardless: McGloin has the league's third-worst QB rating when operating out of a clean pocket this season.

The Guardians left far too many yards on the field in Week 2 to feel comfortable with McGloin under center moving forward. A bad attitude certainly doesn't help matters.

A switch to Marquise Williams would seemingly elevate both the floor and ceiling of this offense.