Two drives into the D.C. Defenders’ game against the St. Louis BattleHawks on Sunday, Cardale Jones threw his league-leading seventh interception of the season and was promptly benched for the rest of the game by head coach Pep Hamilton.
But after the game, Hamilton told reporters that was his plan along. He wanted to give Jones two drives to make something happen before turning things over to backup quarterback Tyree Jackson, who threw a touchdown pass on his first drive and ultimately led the Defenders to a 15-6 win.
Jones has cooled off considerably since getting off to a scorching start to his XFL career. In his first two games, he threw for a combined four touchdowns with one interception. Over his last three contests—including Sunday’s, when he didn’t play past the first quarter—Jones has six picks and no scores.
Despite his recent struggles, Jones will be the Defenders’ starting quarterback for their next game against the Dallas Renegades in Week 6, Hamilton said. D.C. is 3-2 and tied for the top spot in the XFL East even after being blown out in back-to-back weeks to close out February.
Even though Jones is being given the benefit of the doubt by his coaching staff for now, Jackson’s surprising performance in relief should put more pressure on Jones to perform.
"It's good to have two very capable quarterbacks that we feel like we can put in in any situation and they give us a chance to win," Hamilton said.
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One month after filing for bankruptcy, the XFL is reportedly seeking new ownership in an attempt to save the league, according to Axios.
Axios obtained documents that show an investment bank, Houlihan Lokey, managing the process, with letter of intent due by June 12 and formal bids due on July 6.
The XFL claims to have been on pace to generate $46 million in revenue during its inaugural season. According to Axios' report, the league also had an average game attendance of 20,000 and 1.9 million average broadcast viewers for the nationally distributed games.
But the pandemic forced the league to cancel the rest of the season, suspend operations and lay off employees.
It was an abrupt move that left players, coaches and other team and league personnel wondering what's next. Some players parlayed XFL success to opportunities in the NFL, and former D.C. Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton landed on his feet with a professional gig with the Chargers. But that's not the case for the vast majority who were involved.
If investors chose to revive the league, it would be done in the uncertain times currently swirling during the pandemic. Complicating matters is the indefinite timetable of the pandemic's duration.
Dan Primack of Axios spoke to industry investors who are skeptical of somebody stepping forward to buy the entire league. But, those sources also acknowledged that sports can be unpredictable.
"There are lots of people who are very rich but not rich enough to own an NFL team, so maybe someone will see this as the next best thing at a bargain price," one source said.
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Former XFL Defenders coach Pep Hamilton is heading to the Chargers to be the team's new quarterbacks coach though the deal is not yet official, a source with knowledge of the situation told NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson.
Hamilton led the Defenders to an exciting start in their inaugural season in Washington before league ceased operations earlier this month due to the effects of the COV-19 virus.
Before his stint at the Defenders, Hamilton worked in various roles around the NFL, most recently as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns. Immediately before coming to D.C., he was the passing game coordinator and assistant head coach at the University of Michigan.
He started his career at Howard University, where he played quarterback as a student and returned as a quarterbacks coach.
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