News & Politics

Could the DC Defenders Beat the Washington Redskins?

Image courtesy the XFL.

Despite Sunday’s blowout loss, the DC Defenders are off to a promising start in the inaugural season of the re-formed XFL. With former Ohio State standout Cardale Jones at quarterback, the Defenders won their first two games at Audi Field and emerged as one of the new league’s teams to beat. The Defenders’ impressive performance—in their first two games, at least—and the stadium’s buzzy atmosphere has come as a welcome surprise to a football fanbase that’s increasingly fed up with Dan Snyder’s two-decade-long ownership of the Washington Redskins. It took the most recent iteration of the Skins 11 games to notch as many Ws as DC’s XFL team has achieved in its first three. Does that mean the Redskins are so bad that the upstart Defenders might have a chance against them? To find out, we ran this (admittedly far-fetched) notion by some experts.

Chad Millman

Chief Content Officer, the Action Network, a media company focused on sports betting

Winner: Redskins by a multi-touchdown margin

No one’s a bigger fan of the XFL than me and the folks at the Action Network. We have a deal with the XFL, so we’re their betting content provider. [The Redskins versus Defenders scenario] is a little bit like when a terrible NFL team is being compared to the best college team. Even the worst NFL team is still going to be a multi-touchdown favorite against a really good college team. I think it’s the same thing here. A lot of [XFL players] have been on NFL rosters, but they are not in the NFL. They can look really good in an XFL game. [Cardale Jones] can look amazing and no doubt he is probably the most skilled played in the XFL. And if you put it together, the team in DC is probably the most well rounded, [has the] best roster top to bottom. But they are still not going to ever come close to being anything less than significant, double-digit underdogs against an NFL team. The Redskins won games last year—it’s not like they don’t have real NFL players on the roster. So there is no world that exists in which the XFL team would be within a reasonable amount of points as an underdog. I wish I could be more encouraging.

Joe House

Bill Simmons’s “wingman,” DC sports nut, House of Carbs host

Winner: Redskins by at least 34 points (assuming game is played using XFL rules)

The biggest differences are the defensive speed. An NFL-level defense would have an easier time defending an XFL offense than vice versa. I think the offensive line [would also be a distinguishing factor]. The Defenders have guys that played at top, division one schools. And they’re big. They have, 350, 360, 370-pound guys. 6’3’’, 6’5”, 6’6”. But [they don’t have the] technique part of it. So I think the NFL defensive rushers, guys like [Montez] Sweat and all the Alabama guys the Deadskins have drafted, those guys I think would have a field day. And I think they’d be able to get to the QB pretty quickly.

But, super fun. There’s absolutely nothing to be cynical about with the Defenders. The name is great. The logo is great. The fan experience is great. It’s interactive. Nobody has any baggage with respect to any ownership. Or any missteps by the league. And it’s fun football. People are saying out there on the Tweeters that the first two Defenders games were more fun than the last two seasons of Deadskins home games. And it’s a DC-based team that plays in DC. It’s easy to get to the stadium, they’re filling up the stadium. You don’t have opposing fans in there. But the actual, what’s going to happen on the field? I think the Deadskins would kick their ass.

Joe Theismann

Former Redskins quarterback

Winner: Redskins. “I wouldn’t see it as close.”

It’s an interesting question, but definitely I would say the Redskins would certainly be the ones there. You’re talking about guys that weren’t able to play in the NFL versus guys that play in the NFL. I don’t know how else to say it: we’ve got better players. If the guys in the XFL were that good they wouldn’t be in the XFL. They’d be in the NFL.

Charley Casserly

Former Washington Redskins General Manager and current NFL Network analyst

Winner: Redskins. “Decisively.”

History shows that there will be some guys that will make the NFL off of these rosters, and quite possibly maybe develop [into NFL regulars]. But it’s going to be a small group of players. And I know [Defenders Head Coach] Pep Hamilton, and I like him. Pep’s got a lot of ability and potential as a head coach. Pep deserves to be interviewed for an NFL head coaching job. But I think the Redskins or any NFL team would win. The score is hard to tell. But any NFL team would beat any XFL team decisively.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.