The Tampa Bay Vipers finished as the worst team in the XFL in 2020. With a 1-4 record, they left much to be desired. Below I’ll examine the ups and downs of the season, as well as what to look forward to when action returns in 2022.
Former Georgia QB Aaron Murray was the opening game starter for the Vipers. Week One proved to be a challenge as he threw 0 TDs, 2 INTs and was sacked 3 times in a 23-3 loss to the New York Guardians. Vipers QB Taylor Cornelius replaced Murray after the opening week. Cornelius showed he belonged finishing the season with 7 total Touchdowns.
The Vipers 3rd QB, duel threat thrower Quinton Flowers, requested a trade from the team following Week 3. Flowers had wanted an expanded role in the Offense.
Players lost to the NFL
Colin Thompson – Tight End (Carolina Panthers)
Nick Moore – Long Snapper (Baltimore Ravens)
Jacques Patrick – Running Back (Cincinnati Bengals)
Vipers players who made an impact
QB Taylor Cornelius – 4th in Passing Yards in the XFL with 858 Yards.
RB De’Veon Smith – XFL’s Leading Rusher with 365 yards.
RB Jacques Patrick – Finished 3rd in Rushing Yards with 254 yards.
WR Dan Williams – Finished 2nd in the XFL in Receiving Yards with 338 yards.
DT Nikita Whitlock – Finished tied for 2nd with 5 QB Hits, best among Defensive Tackles
CB Anthoula Kelly – An XFL best 8 PBUs
K Andrew Franks – 8 FGs made
Here’s what to look forward to:
Vipers head coach Marc Trestman knew what he wanted to do on offense. Tampa bay finished with a league high 391.8 total Offensive yards per game. Trestman’s crew lead the XFL in Rushing Touchdowns in 2020 with 6. They also finished 3rd in points with 98.
This team was no slouch in the analytics department either. Tampa Bay finished with a league best 64% Extra Point Success Rate. The Vipers finished 2nd in the league with 44.6% 3rd down conversion rate as well.
The Tampa Bay Vipers bring a high powered offense into 2022. The backfield duo of De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick, paired with former Oklahoma State QB Taylor Cornelius gave opposing defenses a fit each week. Defensively, the Vipers gave up the least amount yards per game.
However you want to slice it, Tampa Bay still finished the season at 1-4. Not getting enough turnovers on defense, turning the ball over 11 times on Offense, or giving up a total of 115 points made some games impossible to come back from. One of the biggest concerns going forward is running game in 2022. Having lost RB Jacques Patrick along with blocking TE Colin Thompson, finding replacements will be a challenge.
When action kicks off, the Vipers will need to figure out ways to come away with wins. Making sure the defense is sound will be the key to the Vipers success. If the Vipers can show growth and improvement, the rest of the XFL has better have some anti-venom on deck. Tampa Bay could strike the rest of the league and be a true contender in the XFL in 2022.
Header Pic Credit
Credit: (SEATTLE, WA – FEBRUARY 15: Reggie Northrup #52 of the Tampa Bay Vipers speaking to members of his team before the game against the Seattle Dragons at CenturyLink Field on February 15, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Joe Nicholson/XFL via Getty Images)