Bears News: Previewing the UFL: DC Defenders

Bears News: Previewing the UFL: DC Defenders

by - Senior Writer -

As we continue to roll through the upcoming UFL team previews, we start to get to the two most dedicated fan bases in the entire league. One of those fan bases had the privilege of making it to the XFL championship game before falling to the Arlington Renegades.

If you haven't guessed it, the DC Defenders are next on our preview list as they enter the inaugural UFL season with unfinished business. Widely known for the Giant Beer snake that the fans put together at Audi Stadium during the season, this Defenders team is loaded from top to bottom on both sides of the ball and is hungrier than ever to break through for the title.

Former NFL WR Reggie Barlow and his experienced staff of masterminds are set to lead the Defenders on the field for a second season. One of those experienced staff members is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who proved throughout the 2023 XFL season that he still knows how to call a defense.

Barlow will be tasked with bringing one of the more talented rosters to the field each week, and that all starts with arguably the best quarterback in the entire league, Jordan Ta'Amu. A veteran of the spring leagues, Ta'Amu has what it takes to play in the NFL if he finds the perfect situation. That situation hasn't come yet, so in the meantime, he can enjoy filling up the stat column in the Spring.

Should Ta'Amu fail or get hurt, the Defenders have two reliable backups in Jalan McClendon and Deondre Francois. Despite having one of the best QBs under center, this team will go as far as their rushing attack will carry them, as Abram Smith will be returning. Coming off a nearly 800-yard season a year ago, Smith signed with the Vikings over the summer only to get hurt before being released. Smith would up back with the Defenders, but will miss some time to start the season as he still recovers from that injury.

In the meantime, look for Pooka Williams to shoulder the load at running back as he can prove his worth. As long as the running game can come close to what it did last season, it should open things up for the passing attack, which Ta'Amu will have plenty of targets to throw to. That all starts with Jazz Ferguson and Chris Rowland at the WR position, with Ty Scott and TE Alex Ellis as other options.

Ferguson was a four-star recruit coming out of high school but was never able to put things together. Rowland is no stranger to the Spring leagues, as he has surpassed 300 yards receiving while playing for the Philadelphia Stars.

Ellis has minimal NFL experience, but that alone should make him one of the most targeted TEs in this league.

Defensively is where this team is scary, as Williams has plenty at his disposal to make things happen. Up front, you have TJ Barnes, Derick Roberson, and Tim Ward, as these three could create the most lethal pass rush in the game. Roberson has 4.5 NFL sacks to his name, while Ward has one, so you can only imagine what they can accomplish together.

Standing at the LB spots will be the defense's leader, Davin Bellamy, who was a dominating force with the New Orleans Breakers last season. He will be joined by Francis Bernard and Jordan Evans, who comes into the season with 117 NFL tackles and 3.5 sacks. While the LB unit could be better than the defensive line, the Defenders' calling card is their secondary, which is loaded with talented players who have plenty of NFL experience.

That starts with former New York Giant Deandre Baker, whose 10 pass deflections and 82 career NFL tackles make him a real threat in this league.

Former Green Bay Packer Kentrell Brice will join Baker to create one of the more experienced DB rooms in the league; they are far from alone regarding the talent on the back end.

Former second-round pick DJ Swearinger, with his 14 career NFL interceptions, has a great case to make as the best defensive player in the league, and he will have a chance to show that this season. Micahel Joseph, who earned all XFL honors last season, is also a player to watch. Either way, the Defenders are primed for big things and could be the favorites to win the title this season.

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