Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2018

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Outlaws top XFL with seven players on all-league 1st team

The Las Vegas Outlaws may have tied the New York/New Jersey hitmen for the second-worst record during the inaugural season of the XFL, but based on the number of Outlaws who made the all-league first team, the team is capable of more.

A league-best seven Outlaws were named to the 24-man team on Thursday as voted by players and coaches at the end of the regular season.

Four members of the Outlaws' top-ranked defense, nicknamed the "Dealers of Doom," were honored. They are defensive end Kelvin Kinney, defensive tackle Angel Rubio, linebacker Joseph Tuipala and safety Brandon Sanders.

Though the Outlaws ranked last in total offense at 204.3 yards per game and last in average passing and rushing yardage, running back Rod Smart, who was third overall in rushing with 555 yards, tight end Rickey Brady and a former UNLV star, offensive tackle Lonnie Palelei, made the team.

"I'm extremely happy for them," Outlaws head coach Jim Criner said. "(But) for me it brings back all the frustrations I had during the season.

"What's my goal for next season? To get a quarterback. That's my goal."

The Outlaws' projected starting quarterback, Chuck Clements, who played in the NFL for Philadelphia and the New York Jets, missed the entire season due to shoulder surgery.

Then, in the second game of the year at Birmingham, former Miami quarterback Ryan Clement, playing in place of Clements, separated his throwing shoulder. That left the team to use its third option, Mike Cawley, who was later released.

After a 2-0 start, the Outlaws lost five of their last six games.

Criner blamed the slide on the team's quarterback situation.

"The reason why we were last on offense is, you can't play this game without a quarterback," Criner said. "If Ryan stayed healthy, I think he could have gotten us into the playoffs.

"I'm not saying we would have won, but we would have been in there. When Ryan got back his arm was never better than 85 percent. Playing under those handicaps, he was never able to get anything going.

"We had young running backs and young receivers that needed to be developed and our receivers never got an opportunity to develop because of inconsistency with the passing game."

Criner returned to Las Vegas earlier this week after attending a head coaches meeting. He will travel to Connecticut May 8 to meet with XFL officials, including founder Vince McMahon.

"We were brainstorming on things we need to do to improve for next year," Criner said. "We've got a million ideas.

"In May, we'll see if we can finalize them."