The LA Wildcats of the XFL had themselves an interesting 2020 season to say the least. A 2-3 record, a true NFL journeyman at QB and a defense that went through some hurdles during the year. The Wildcats inaugural season was one for the history books in the revamped XFL. Below I’ll examine all of that and much more.
The Season started with a lopsided 37-17 loss to the Houston Roughnecks in week one. Two days after the loss, the Wildcats fired their Defensive Coordinator Pepper Johnson. The Wildcats went on to finish 2-2 in their final four games, in part to a more disciplined defense and quarterback Josh Johnson taking the reigns of the offense.
Players lost to the NFL:
Storm Norton – LA Chargers
Kahlil McKenzie – Cincinnati Bengals
Josh Johnson – San Francisco 49ers (Practice Squad)
Johnny Stanton – Cleveland Browns (Practice Squad)
Giorgio Tavecchio – Tennessee Titans (Practice Squad)
Wildcats Players who Made an Impact:
Josh Johnson – 81 of 135, 1,078 Passing Yards, 11 Touchdowns, 2 Interceptions
Nelson Spruce – 20 catches, 256 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
Tre McBride – 16 Receptions, 271 Yards, 4 Touchdowns
Storm Norton – Highest graded Offensive Linemen according to PFF, 82.6 PFF Grade against the run
Ahmad Dixon – 44 combined Tackles, 1 Interception
Cedric Reed – 13 combined Tackles, 3 Sacks, 5 QB Hits
Jack Tocho – 18 Combined tackles, league leading 2 Forced Fumbles, 2 Interceptions
Here’s what to Look Forward to:
Despite the LA Wildcats defense being below average, the offense was about as prolific as you could ask for. Quarterback Josh Johnson had the passing attack humming once he took over as the starter in week two. So much so that an NFL team expressed interest in signing the veteran thrower to a deal. The Wildcats denied the team’s attempt and Johnson thrived under Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow in 2020. Johnson finished as the top rated QB in the XFL in 2020 according to Pro Football Focus.
LA finished second in passing yards per game, points scored and touchdowns in 2020. Although the running game struggled, the Wildcats had no issues moving the ball and putting points on the board. The offense was successful in the Red Zone as well, scoring on 76.5% of their trips inside the 20. We know the defense played sub par, but, LA managed 12 takeaways, tied for first in all of the XFL. The Wildcats also boasted 11 sacks in 5 games. What does this all mean for 2022? Head coach Winston Moss and Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow have clearly figured out the XFL from an offensive standpoint. If this team can shore up the defense, the Wildcats could be a serious contender when XFL resumes action.
LA was the worst team in the league when running the football in 2020. 60.6 yards per game just won’t cut it. The Wildcats gave up the most average yards per game and allowed the most points this past season. Rectifying the defense should be priority number one as LA heads into 2022. Behind that, the field goal unit was the worst in the league, connecting on just 2 of 6 kicks in 2020. 4th down conversions saw the Wildcats coming out successful on just 3 of 9 attempts.
The Wildcats wrapped up their season with a 41-34 win over the Tampa Bay Vipers. Despite a 2-3 record before the 2020 season was cancelled dude to COVID-19, one couldn’t help but think LA was finally putting things together. As mentioned above, shoring up the defense and executing in key situations will be important in the growth of the Wildcats in 2022. If the team can correct these deficiencies, the Wildcats could easily be considered the best team in the XFL come 2022.