3 keys to a Defenders' win against the Vipers

February 25, 2023 / By Brayden Nazarian

Analyzing the best ways for the Defenders to come out on top against the Vipers.

Today, the Vegas Vipers host the D.C. Defenders at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. Before kickoff, let's take a look at how the Defenders can leave Sin City with a win.

Key #1: Get QBs involved in the run game

The Defenders have a unique advantage over every other team in the XFL: they have two dynamic quarterbacks. In their Week 1 win over the Seattle Sea Dragons, both Jordan Ta'amu and D'Eriq King saw playing time, and many expect this week to be no different. While neither QB has shown much in the passing game, both can make plays outside the pocket and in the run game. Offensive coordinator Fred Kaiss drew up a number of designed runs last week; both QBs combined for 13 carries and two rushing touchdowns

On the other side, the Vipers' defense allowed the third-most rushing yards in the XFL during Week 1. If the Defenders can take advantage of the Vipers' front seven, by way of QB runs and play action, they'll likely find themselves in the driver's seat for most of the game. 

Key #2: Blitz more, take away the deep ball

One thing about the Vipers: they like to push the ball down the field. Quarterback Luis Perez's 249 passing yards in Week 1 were third-most in the league behind Houston's Brandon Silvers (272) and Seattle's Ben DiNucci (282). Perez also led all QBs with 11.3 yards per completion. That is not good news for a Defenders team that allowed the most passing yards in the league to Seattle a week ago.

If the Defenders' secondary steps up their game, they'll have a much better chance. Now that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams knows what he has in his defense, he can scheme them up in different ways. Last week, their conservative game plan allowed Ben DiNucci to complete 36 passes. This time around, they may have to rely on blitzing get the ball out of Perez's hands quicker. That way, they keep their seal over the top and force everything underneath, while hopefully getting to the QB more. If they give Perez too much time in the pocket, he'll let it rip all day.

Key #3: Control the clock

Clock management is arguably one of the most important factors in having a good day on offense. Teams that do it well can dominate the flow of the game, while those that don't are often fighting an uphill battle. The Defenders have the second-lowest time of possession in the XFL at 24:30. Not good, especially for a team built to run the ball.

OC Fred Kaiss needs to get his offense in a rhythm early. Establish the run, call plays sequentially and keep the sticks moving. The Defenders don't need to score 30+ points to win this game. They just need to keep the ball out of Luis Perez's hands. If they can hold the ball for closer to 30 minutes of game time--preferably more--then they'll be in good shape.

Featured image courtesy of the Getty Images