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Houston QB P.J. Walker dominates Los Angeles in XFL season opener

Houston quarterback P.J. Walker had a monster performance in his XFL debut. We recap the Roughneck’s season opening victory.

Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker passes the ball against the LA Wildcats on February 8, 2020 at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas. Thomas Campbell/XFL

Day one of the XFL’s 2020 season has come to a close, as the Houston Roughnecks topped the visiting Los Angeles Wildcats 37-17 in Saturday’s second game. Houston opened as six-point favorites, with the point total closing at 50.5 at game time. The Roughnecks covered the spread handily and the game went over, as the XFL is looking like a league with tons of scoring potential.

We’re starting to figure out what to expect from XFL games. Here’s what we took away from the second of the season.

P.J. Walker is going to air it out

Walker was a stud for Houston from the get go and showed that he’s not scared to take shots down the field early on. His first touchdown pass came on a 50-yard strike in the first quarter, and he continued to throw the long ball throughout the game. He attempted 39 passes and converted those into 272 yards and four scores. The Roughnecks’ running backs only combined for 12 rushing attempts. Walker could put up a lot of fantasy points this year if he keeps it up.

It’s too early to make anything of the Wildcats’ QB situation

Josh Johnson will assume the starting job in Los Angeles once he returns from his thigh injury, and that could make a big difference when it comes to the Wildcats’ offensive productivity. Johnson drew attention from NFL teams as recently as 2019, as he signed with the Detroit Lions for a time last season. He should be a significant upgrade from Charles Kanoff and Jalan McClendon.

Kanoff started off strong by rushing for his team’s first score of the day. He managed to keep his team within striking range at the half before tapering off. He tallied 214 passing yards before being removed from play after taking a big hit in the fourth quarter. McClendon got his first shot under center early in the fourth and threw an interception on his second throw. Los Angeles failed to put a single point on the board after the break, and it’ll need a consistent signal caller for the rest of the season.

Houston’s pass rush is a force to be reckoned with

Teams have been able to put up plenty of points in the XFL so far, and defensive back play hasn’t looked great. However, the Roughnecks did a great job of getting after Kanoff and McClendon throughout the game. Houston finished with 16 quarterback hits and five sacks. It’s hard for any quarterback to overcome that. We’ll have to see how the Roughnecks perform against other offensive lines to see how good they really are defensively, but they had an impressive coming out party.