Week 3 of the XFL experiment is in the books, and the answers are inconclusive.
Two home games down for the Seattle Dragons, and the future remains nebulous.
I know what I observed in the team’s 24-12 loss to the Dallas Renegades Saturday, but I still don’t know what I’m watching. Is this a legitimate winter-sports filler, a sustainable niche sport or a novelty whose expiration date is fast approaching?
We can start with a glance at the attendance, although I’m not sure what that reveals, either. The official tally Saturday was 22,060, down about 7,000 from last week’s total.
Depending on how you view the glass’ fluid levels, that could be a damning dip that foreshadows a major drop-off as the season progresses, or a respectable follow-up to the Dragons’ home debut.
Yahoo Sports posted a story with similar questions earlier in the week, as it acknowledged that a ratings decline was expected from Week 1 to Week 2, but thought Week 3 ratings would paint a clearer picture of what to expect. I think the same is probably true of the third home game for the Dragons (1-2), slated for March 15 vs. Los Angeles.
Another crowd like the one on Saturday, and we might have something here. But another several-thousand-figure drop, and, well … at least baseball is starting soon?
Credit to those who were at the CenturyLink Field, though. There wasn’t a larynx in the stadium that took the day off.
The Renegades (2-1) were clearly having trouble hearing the play calls in the red zone, which is a problem usually reserved for the Seahawks opponents.
Said Dragons defensive end Marcell Frazier: “Great crowd noise. It was a super-electric feel in the stadium.”
Do you feel like you’re playing to keep those fans in the seats?
“Oh yeah,” Frazier followed. “This is literally a startup company, so every time you put a product out on the field, you want it to be the best it can.”
But that product remains suspect through this point of the season. There were certainly moments that got the crowd amped Saturday, such as Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers’ touchdown passes to Austin Proehl and Kenneth Farrow in the first half. But Seattle’s offense went stagnant — and scoreless — in the second half, as deep passes were borderline anomalous.
A league can have all the rule changes and in-game interviews in the world, but if you don’t have quality football, fans’ attention won’t hold. And though there seems to be a hunger for this sport regardless of the level, the XFL has to make up for in entertainment what it lacks in talent.
“The fans out here do a great job. We let them down today,” said Dragons linebacker Steven Johnson, whose team led 12-6 before giving up 18 unanswered points. “We just gotta get back to work.”
No doubt some of the XFL rules proved to be fan-friendly Saturday. Perhaps most notable was the allowance of two forward passes behind the line of scrimmage.
In the first half, Johnson batted a pass back into the hands of Dallas quarterback Landry Jones, who then completed a 15-yard pass to Lance Dunbar. You’re not going to see that it any other league, and it is the type of play that could lure fans into the seats.
Or maybe it depends on the fan.
There are some, such as Amanda Land, who can’t afford Seahawks tickets but enjoyed the fact that she could take her son to a game. And there are others, such as Jim Stewart Allen, who dresses in a jump suit and dances with two heads of broccoli in his hands throughout the game.
There are an array of reasons why people might want to attend an XFL game. The question is how this will look a few weeks from now.
Saturday was a loss for the Dragons on the field and a TBD beyond that. The atmosphere was fun, but not overwhelming. The game had its moments, but wasn’t inundated with them.
The XFL experiment is certainly alive. Whether it’s well remains to be seen.