The XFL kicks off on Saturday, and we know very little about what these teams will bring to the table. Trying to get a feel for the eight XFL teams’ offenses before Week 1 can be tricky, as they’ve only gone through a few scrimmages as a team. But, we do have plenty of data from teams where head coaches and offensive coordinators have worked in the past.
The XFL has upped the pace by making the play clock 25 seconds rather than the NFL’s 40 seconds, so no matter an offensive play-caller’s preference, his team will need to get the play in and be ready to roll quickly. But that doesn’t force you to throw or run the ball. There are a few pass-heavy minds in the league, as I’m sure the XFL brain trust rather their league be a passing one, but some will be more pass heavy than others and talent will of course come into play.
Here, we will give you some CliffsNotes on the offensive tendencies of the coaching staffs for each XFL team.
Head Coach: Bob Stoops, Offensive Coordinator: Hal Mumme
Stoops coached with Oklahoma for 16 years where he went 190-48 and won a National Championship. Stoops brought in Mike Leach and the Air Raid offense when he started at Oklahoma and has brought Mumme in to Dallas, who many call the inventor of the Air Raid offense.
I won’t go into the details of the Air Raid, but I think you can get the gist by reading the words air and raid. On average, 65 to 75 percent of all plays end up being passes coming from a fast-paced no huddle. Quarterback Landry Jones (when healthy), who played under Stoops, will have plenty of opportunity to throw to Jazz Ferguson and company.
Head Coach: June Jones, Offensive Coordinator: Chris Miller
Jones is known for the Run and Shoot offense, which he used in the early 90s while coaching under Jerry Glanville in Atlanta. Jones’ offensive coordinator will be his old quarterback from Atlanta, Chris Miller, so it looks like Jones’ pass-first system will continue in Houston.
Jones’ coaching career hasn’t gotten far away from the pass, as every stop he’s made as a coach features the pass over the run. As of this writing, the team hasn’t chosen a starting quarterback. P.J. Walker and Connor Cook are competing for the job and whoever wins, should get a bunch of pass attempts. (UPDATE: Walker will start Week 1)
Los Angeles Wildcats
Head Coach: Winston Moss, Offensive Coordinator: Norm Chow
Winston Moss was a defensive player and a defensive coach in the NFL, while Norm Chow has been an offensive coach since the dawn of time. Chow has roots in the BYU passing attack but on average his teams have run more than passed. If you add that to a defensive minded head coach, we may truly see a run-oriented offense in L.A.
With a good running quarterback in Josh Johnson, a bruiser in Elijah Hood and a scat-back in DuJuan Harris, we could see plenty of running back touches in Chow’s system.
New York Guardians
Head Coach: Kevin Gilbride, Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Gilbride
Gilbride was the New York Giants offensive coordinator from 2007-2013 but has spent many a season in the coaching ranks, mostly as an offensive coordinator with the Steelers, Bills, Chargers, Jaguars and Oilers. Gilbride’s play-calling has leaned toward the pass, as he was Warren Moon’s coordinator early on and that team threw the ball early and often, leading the league in pass attempts four straight seasons. With the Giants, he had Eli Manning as his quarterback and the team was run heavy with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw and a strong defense.
Gilbride appears to use the talent around him to dictate his pass/run ratio. Unfortunately, the Guardians aren’t flush with talent. Matt McGloin, Justin Stockton and Mekale McKay lead at QB, RB and WR, and the depth behind them isn’t great.
St. Louis BattleHawks
Head Coach: Jonathan Hayes, Offensive Coordinator: Chuck Long
Both Hayes and Long worked under Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, so they have experience with the Air Raid offense. But, Hayes spent the bulk of his time coaching under Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati as their tight ends coach — Hayes being a former NFL tight end himself. Long was the offensive coordinator in Oklahoma under Stoops. He will likely run a pass-heavy offense in the Air Raid style with Ole Miss alum Jordan Ta’amu leading the way as a multi-dimensional quarterback.
Head Coach: Jim Zorn, Offensive Coordinator: Mike Riley
Zorn has been out of the coaching ranks for eight years but has a long resume, including a two year NFL head coaching stint with Washington. His offensive philosophy is west coast in origin, with a strong run game and heavy use of tight ends, while Mike Riley tends to favor the passing game, but has had seasons where his teams have run more than passed.
There is a good chance we see a balanced attack from these two, but the Dragons do have a strong receiving corps with Keenan Reynolds, Kasen Williams and Austin Proehl, and a quarterback in Brandon Silvers who showed well in his two games in the AAF. That’s not saying much, but he did complete 64 percent of his passes and throw four touchdowns to two interceptions while he outplayed Christian Hackenberg and others.
Tampa Bay Vipers
Head Coach: Marc Trestman, Offensive Coordinator: Jaime Elizondo
You probably know Trestman from his head coaching stint with the Bears, but he has won three Grey Cups in the Canadian Football League with an offense that mixes multiple styles and usually produces. In the NFL, he’s been the offensive coordinator for five teams, most recently the Ravens, where the team led the league in passing attempts both seasons he coached. Elizondo will be Trestman’s offensive coordinator after three season as an OC in the CFL — where he helped his quarterback to a 5,000 yard season. A pass-heavy approach will be the norm for the Vipers.
Head Coach: Pep Hamilton, Offensive Coordinator: Tanner Engstrand
Hamilton has coached quarterbacks his whole career, including Andrew Luck in Stanford and agains in Indianapolis. In 2014 the Colts led the league in pass attempts and yards, as Luck threw for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns. Hamilton’s experience as a quarterbacks coach and guru, should help him get the most out of Cardale Jones and Tyree Jackson, two quarterbacks with a lot of talent, but not a lot of success in the NFL.