Houston Roughnecks P.J. Walker

XFL Mid-Season Awards: Picking the XFL’s Best Through Five Weeks

  • XFL
By Jereme Jones March 11, 2020 0 Comment
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It’s hard to believe, but we are already at the half-way point of this inaugural XFL season. Here are our picks for the XFL award winners after five weeks.

MVP: P.J. Walker (Houston)

Other Candidates: Josh Johnson (Los Angeles), Jordan Ta’amu (St. Louis)

MVPJ has been a revelation this season. Walker was a star at Temple and spent two years learning from Andrew Luck on the Colts’ practice squad, but never made an active roster with Indianapolis. Walker did enough in Indianapolis to impress Luck, which led to Luck telling his father, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, that he should give Walker a chance in the XFL. Walker has made the most of that opportunity.

Through 5 games, Walker has thrown for 1,338 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has accounted for more touchdowns than six XFL teams. Walker has become one of the, if not the most, exciting players in the league with his ability to scramble and make off-platform throws. He’s been called by some the Patrick Mahomes of the XFL. There is no more questioning Walker’s abilities, the only question now is will he continue on next season as the face of the XFL, or will he join Mahomes in the NFL?

CFL Offensive Player of the Year: Cam Phillips (Houston)

Other Candidates: Donald Parham (Dallas), De’Veon Smith (Tampa Bay), Cameron Artis-Payne (Dallas), Tre McBride (Los Angeles)

It is wasn’t for his teammate P.J. Walker, Cam Phillips would be a front-runner for the MVP. Phillips has caught 31 passes for 455 yards and 9 touchdowns. He currently leads the XFL in all three receiving categories. He has shown good hands, the ability to run after the catch, and might be the best deep threat in the league. Last week, with the Roughnecks down in the fourth quarter to Seattle, Phillips caught two touchdown passes to give Houston the win. I don’t think it’s a question of if Cam Phillips will be in the NFL next season, the question is on which team.

XFL Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarquis Gates (Houston)

Other Candidates: Steven Johnson (Seattle), Jamar Summers (New York), Dexter McCoil (St. Louis), Will Hill (St. Louis)

There are a lot of good linebackers in the XFL, including on the Roughnecks, but no one can match the play-making ability of DeMarquis Gates. For the last three weeks, it has been Gates who has come up with the game-winning turnover. Against Tampa Bay, he intercepted a Taylor Cornelius pass with 1:19 left. Versus Dallas, he recovered a fumble on the two-yard line with two minutes remaining. Last week against Seattle, it was another fumble recovery, this time with 2:05 left in the game. On the season, Gates has 32 tackles (25 solo), 1 interception, and 2 sacks.

Coach of the Year: Jonathan Hayes (St. Louis)

Other Candidates: June Jones (Houston)

It would be easy to give this award to the coach of the team with the best record in the league, June Jones. Jones came into this league with an impressive head coaching resume, including stints in college football, the CFL and the NFL. People expected the Run-and-Shoot guru to have success in the XFL.

Jonathan Hayes did not come into the league with a lot of buzz, but he has done an incredible job with the BattleHawks. Hayes, who spent 16 seasons as the tight end coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, has built a team based around a physical run game and an aggressive defense. That’s not a surprise given his playing experience under coaches Hayden Fry, Marty Schottenheimer, and Bill Cowher.

The surprise is how well this BattleHawks team, with rookie Jordan Ta’amu at quarterback, has performed this season. A lot of that has to do with the way Hayes has allowed Ta’amu to play to his strengths, the read option and a passing game based around the RPO, without putting the pressure on him to be the entire offense. The BattleHawks are the favorite to make it to Houston to represent the East Division in the XFL Championship Game, and Hayes is a big reason why.

All-XFL Team:

Offense

QB: PJ Walker (Hou)

RB: De’Veon Smith (TB)

RB: Cameron Artis-Payne (DAL)

WR: Cam Phillips (Hou)

WR: Tre McBride (LA)

WR: De’Mornay Pierson-El (StL)

TE: Donald Parham (Dal)

OL: Brian Folkerts (StL)

OL: Avery Gennesy (Hou)

OL: Martez Ivey (TB)

OL: Jordan McCray (TB)

OL: Terry Poole (Hou)

Defense

DL: Cavon Walker (NY)

DL: Bunmi Rotimi (NY)

DL: Cedric Reed (LA)

DL: Nikita Whitlock (TB)

LB: Steven Johnson (Sea)

LB: Dexter McCoil (StL)

LB: DeMarquis Gates (Hou)

CB: Jamar Summers (NY)

CB: Josh Hawkins (Dal)

S: Will Hill (StL)

S: Ahmad Dixon (LA)

Special Teams

K: Matt McCrane (NY)

P: Hunter Niswander (DC)

KR: Austin Walter (Dal)

PR: Austin Duke (NY)

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