XFL struggles to gain foothold amid ratings slump

Braden Simmons is a senior statistics major and news editorial minor from Katy.

By Braden Simmons | Reporter

As the XFL wrapped up week two, much of the early hype with the newness of the league has died down. The question is raised: can the XFL survive? The answer seems to vary by region and is contingent on the team’s play.

As the Houston Roughnecks finished off their new cross-state rivals, the Dallas Renegades, in a sloppy 27-20 victory, there was one blaring sign that the XFL may be in trouble: quarterback play.

In a game where Houston forced five total turnovers, bad quarterback play has been a trend that has created some mediocrity in the league. Only one quarterback, P.J. Walker, has risen above the rest to gain traction toward possibly being considered to join an NFL roster for next season. Other quarterbacks have had an inconsistent play, like DC Defenders’ quarterback Cardale Jones, who started the season strong but was shut out against the Tampa Bay Vipers this past week and posted an abysmal quarterback rating of 30.9.

In a league that has hyped-up quarterbacks such as former Oklahoma signal-caller Landry Jones, who has struggled with turnovers, bad QB play shows the weakness that the league needs to address in order to stay afloat in a competitive market.

Overall, attendance is still averaging 14,000-18,000 fans, but TV ratings have plummeted for a third straight week. The on-field production has a big part in the dip of ratings, as the quarterback play, even with of Houston’s P.J. Walker, needs to be better for this league to survive past the incubation period.

In the stadium, the environment is electric. Baylor senior Matt Webb attended the Houston Roughnecks’ second home game, which was against the St. Louis Battle Hawks, and said he enjoyed the environment.

“It was a lot of fun being at the XFL game and it was more family-friendly and not as rowdy as I thought,” Webb said. “It had fewer people than a Baylor football, but it was very energetic and lively, and I am excited to go back for another game.”

Webb added that the atmosphere in person is a lot more exciting than just watching it on TV. This would follow the statistics as the attendance has dropped a bit but has been more consistent than the drastic drop in TV ratings.

According to the Sporting News website, if you take out Walker’s statistics, the rest of the league averages 211.4 passing yards per game with 28 touchdowns to 28 interceptions. Jones and the St. Louis Battlehawk’s Jordan Ta’amu are the only quarterbacks who have started in all three games and average more than 200 passing yards per game outside of the Roughnecks’ star.

Based on research done by the XFL news hub, the attendance has gone up every week until this past week where it dipped 14 % from week three. This seems rational as only two of the teams have winning records after last week’s matchups (Houston and St. Louis.)

Every team in the XFL has had two home games through week four and only one team, the Dallas Renegades, has improved their attendance from week one to week two.

The drop in attendance is natural as no one wants to watch a losing team, especially in a league fighting to stay afloat in a competitive market. As the fifth week approaches, the attendance for home teams will be easy to predict. The Houston Roughnecks and Dallas Renegades will have a decent number of fans while the LA Wildcats and D.C. Defenders will struggle to boost game attendance.

As we approach the midway point for the league, the future is uncertain. Commissioner Oliver Luck wanted the XFL to come out with a sense of urgency and come out of the gate playing good football, but after week one, the product on the field has seemed to decline as the wear and tear of the season progresses.

A popular solution being thrown out by some fans is the possibility of the NFL adopting the XFL as a developmental league for players, similar to the minor league system implemented in baseball. This would help teams scout talent when injuries arise as well as give players on the bubble of making a roster a chance to make a living while also playing the game they love.