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BattleHawks knock off favored Renegades in Week 1 XFL action

The underdog St. Louis BattleHawks closed out Week 1 of the 2020 XFL season with a defensive upset of the Dallas Renegades. We break it down.

St. Louis Battlehawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu hands off to running back Matt Jones during the first quarter against the Dallas Renegades in an XFL football game at Globe Life Park. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Renegades kicked off the year as favorites to win the XFL title and were favored by 9.5-points against the St. Louis Renegades on Sunday, but fell short in a 15-9 loss. Dallas played without their top signal caller and didn’t look nearly as good as most thought they would. The game fell well short of the 52.5 over/under for total points, similar to Sunday’s first game. There’s still a lot to dissect regarding XFL gameplay, but here’s what we took away from this matchup.

The Renegades are far from being a finished product

Dallas didn’t have Landry Jones (knee) at its disposal against St. Louis., so it stayed conservative offensively. Philip Nelson was efficient throughout the night and had a 79% completion rate, but he didn’t seem comfortable enough throwing the ball to take shots down the field. Most of the deep throws he did attempt to make were shaky and inaccurate. The Renegades should be a very different team with their top option available, so you shouldn’t count them out from the championship race too soon.

Jordan Ta’amu is better than you think

Ta’amu put together a solid stat line in his first professional start. He threw for 209 yards and ran for an additional 77, showcasing that he’s the dual-threat quarterback we thought he’d be be ahead of the season. No other quarterback we’ve seen so far has the same upside as a runner. Ta’amu’s athleticism is simply on another level.

St. Louis isn’t afraid of the run

The XFL has shied away from the run game so far, but the BattleHawks are unique in that they trusted one running back to carry a heavy workload. Although Christin Micael was first on St. Louis’ depth chart in the game, Matt Jones let all players with 21 carries and tallied 85 yards on the ground. The BattleHawks ran the ball more than three times as much as the Renegades in this contest, but still made use of 10 different pass catchers as well. Not having a definitive top dog at wide receiver has forced St. Louis to take a different offensive approach than most teams, and that’s paid off early.