After a 2-0 start, the DC Defenders are the hottest team in the XFL and head coach Pep Hamilton's no-nonsense approach is one of the main reasons.
The former NFL coordinator preaches the importance of accountability and leads by example. On Tuesday, Hamilton was seen running side by side with his team post-practice.
“We are a team. Everybody will be held to a certain standard," Hamilton said. "Accountability is the foundation of teamwork. A lack of focus at times is on me, it’s on the coach. We have to come out here everyday and understand that every play can be the difference in a game.“
Quarterback Cardale Jones describes the culture Hamilton is building within the locker room as “a tough one, one that is uncomfortable. A tough hardnose blue collar culture.”
Seeing his coach run with the team, Jones believes, sends a clear message: “We will be held accountable for our actions and everything matters. That's why we run extra after practice. We can’t get complacent as a team.”
The former Ohio State quarterback has not only become one of the faces, if not the face, of the XFL but also a leader on the Defenders, according to Hamilton.
“He’s making plays on gameday. He’s helping the team win, and the guys recognize he’s ultimately going to play a major factor into whether we win or lose a game, and he’s done his job up to this point,” Hamilton said.
Despite the hype surrounding his name, Jones humbly describes himself as “a player trying to get better each and every week.”
This week, the Defenders are aiming to go 3-0 as they head across the country for their first road game against the 0-2 Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday. LA's record doesn't reflect the kind of team Hamilton is preparing to go up against.
“We are getting ready to play a really good LA Wildcats team," he said. "Their record is not indicative in the leadership they have in their head coach and/or in the players they have on their team. They have a really good team.”
Jones continued, “We have to be able to run the football. We have to continue to challenge ourselves and honor our technique. Doing the little things right.”
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