Shake-up in Vipers’ offensive staff ahead of D.C. rematch
The Vipers will have a new play-caller when they take the field Sunday in Washington, D.C., for a rematch against the Defenders.
When the Vipers return to the field Sunday in search of their first win of the season, the offense could have a different look.
Duane Taylor has been removed as the team’s offensive coordinator in a “football operations” decision made by the league. League officials declined comment on what led to Taylor’s removal.
The Vipers are fifth in the eight-team XFL in scoring (17.3 points per game) and total yards (260.7 per game).
Plays are expected to be called by wide receivers coach Ray Sherman, who has been promoted in Taylor’s place. Sherman served as offensive coordinator for the Steelers in 1998 and the Vikings in 1999. He coached in the NFL almost continuously between 1988 and 2019.
The 71-year-old will make his debut in a 4 p.m. road game against the D.C. Defenders. It’s a rematch of a game the Defenders won 18-6 at Cashman Field on Feb. 25.
In his new role, Sherman is tasked with keeping the momentum of a unit that had its best game last week. The Vipers racked up 343 yards of offense only to fall to 0-3 when the Seattle Sea Dragons scored a late touchdown on a deep fourth-down throw.
Former Packers quarterback Brett Hundley made his first start of the season and threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, adding 66 yards and another score on the ground.
Hundley, however, was limited all week in practice and is questionable with a thigh injury.
The most positive development for the Vipers against Seattle was finding some semblance of success after halftime. In their first two games, they were held to six total points after the break.
In the first meeting against the Defenders, the Vipers were shut out in the second half and managed just 179 total yards and seven first downs in the entire game. Defenders quarterback D’Eriq King torched the Vipers in the second half of the first meeting when he was inserted into the game to run a read option the Vipers couldn’t figure out.
The Vipers had a bit more success on both sides of the ball last week against Seattle and even scored 17 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
Now they must deal with a shake-up in the offensive coaching hierarchy.
When he accepted the job with the Vipers, Alabama A&M announced Taylor would remain in his role as offensive coordinator and return to the college when the XFL season ended. It’s unclear at this time whether that’s still the plan.
Contact Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.
Who: Vipers at Defenders
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Audi Field, Washington, D.C.
Line: Defenders -6; total 41½