With the XFL, like many sports, cancelling the remainder of its season due to the coronavirus, it’s time to recognize those who excelled in the abbreviated inaugural season of the league. Due to the shortened season, all awards come with an asterisk.
Champions: Houston Roughnecks*
While the history books will never officially record the Houston Roughnecks as the 2020 XFL champions since the coronavirus cut short the inaugural season, the Roughnecks were undoubtedly the league’s best team.
When you review all the statistical categories, the Roughnecks stand out above the other seven teams in the league in multiple categories, including the most important one—team record—finishing undefeated at 5-0.
The Roughneck victories included three home wins and a pair of wins on the road. The team, led by former Temple University quarterback P.J. Walker, came out of the gates strong opening the season with a 37-17 victory over the Los Angeles Wildcats. In that game, Walker guided the offensive attack completing 23 of 39 passes with four touchdowns and 272 yards. It was a sign of things to come.
In the team’s five games, the Houston offense mirrored its head coach June Jones and his history as an offensive guru with a penchant for airing it out. The Roughnecks led the league in passing averaging 259 yards per game. The offense scored 21 touchdowns and averaged 31.6 points per game, leading the league in both categories.
The Roughnecks toughest test of the season came in week 5, a win over the Seattle Dragons, although that game did end in controversy. The Dragons held leads of 14-0 and 23-14 before the Houston offense came to life, ultimately winning 30-23.
Most Valuable Player:
P.J. Walker*, Houston Roughnecks QB
Walker started the season fast and never relented. His effectiveness both throwing and running the ball in Jones’ offense, allowed Walker to quickly become the face of a league looking for an identity in its first season.
If you ever watched XFL postgame highlights, there was always a highlight or two of Walker directing the Roughnecks offensive attack. All those highlights added up to a five-game stretch where he led the league in passing with 1,338 yards and scored 16 total touchdowns.
The performance of the dual-threat quarterback, who was an undrafted free agent that played on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad, should get him another opportunity to catch on with an NFL team this upcoming season.
Coach of the Year: June Jones*, Houston Roughnecks
It helps when you have the league’s best offensive player in Walker, but Jones once again displayed his offensive expertise throughout the season and showed why he is a perfect fit for the XFL.
Jones, who has coached in the NFL, college, and CFL, has always been known for his aggressive approach and basic disregard for situational down-and-distance football. This high-tempo, aggressive strategy paid off with Walker in control and resulted in the club leading the league in most offensive categories on its way to an undefeated record.
While the XFL, like all sports, abruptly ended midseason, there’s no denying in that short five-game stretch the league made an impression on fans both in the stands and watching on television. If the league can continue showcasing talent like Walker and hiring coaches like Jones, which fit the style of the XFL, the future looks bright.