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XFL unveils Tampa Bay nickname “Vipers” and logo

Florida Football Insiders

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Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

With the opening to its reboot now six months away, the XFL unveiled their team nicknames and logos Wednesday afternoon. And, that included the franchise placed in Tampa Bay, which will be known as “the Vipers.”

XFL Commissioner and former NFL quarterback, Oliver Luck, hosted the unveiling on the XFL website and social media with the assistance of ESPN TV personality, Laura Rutledge and Fox Sports host, Colin Cowherd.

Tampa Bay will play games in Raymond James Stadium and earlier this year the league announced that former Bears and CFL Grey Cup winning coach, Marc Trestman will be the inaugural head coach of the franchise.

Although he has no real ties to Tampa Bay, Trestman has an extensive background as an offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach, as well as, then head coach throughout college, NFL and CFL football.Trestman was actually a quarterback coach all the way back in the early 1980s for Howard Schnellenberger with the Miami Miami Hurricanes, including tutoring Bernie Kosar and helping them win a National Title. He later moved on to being an NFL assistant, and that included a stop in 1987, as the Buccaneers quarterbacks coach under Ray Perkins.

Trestman rose to prominence in the late 90s and early 2000s is an offensive coordinator with several teams, including helping the Oakland Raiders reach the Super Bowl in 2002, where they lost to the Buccaneers.

Trestman was hired by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2008 and won back-to-back Grey Cups Championships in 2009 – 10 with them. That eventually led to him getting the Bears head coaching job in 2013.

After winning his first two games, and the Bears seemingly a playoff contender with Jay Cutler at quarterback, the team faltered and ended up only 8-8. The following season spiraled downward with Chicago finishing 5-11 and Trestman and GM Phil Emery, who had hired him, were both fired in January of 2015.

The seven other cities also learned their nicknames and logos from the league simultaneously, Wednesday afternoon. Those included: the New York Guardians, the Washington D.C. Defenders, the St. Louis Battlehawks, the Houston Roughnecks, the Dallas Renegades, the Seattle Dragons and the L.A. Wildcats.

The XFL played one ill-fated season back in 2001 and wrestling promoter Vince McMahon’s league did place a franchise then in Orlando known as, “The Rage.”

However, the league was hemorrhaging money after just a few months of existence and shut down after that one season. McMahon has had plans to reboot the league for over a year and it will launch and begin playing in February of 2020.

Earlier this year, the XFL announced its television agreements with ESPN and Fox to televise regular season and post season games help give them Spring football notoriety.

Of course, Central Florida already experienced Spring football trying to have a rebirth, when the now-defunct Alliance of American Football played it’s inaugural season earlier this year. However, it shut down eight weeks into their season and with two games remaining before their playoffs were to begin due to mounting financial debt.

Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollo’s were 7-1 at the time of the shut down and have been declared as the Champions of the one and only season of the AAF.

Tampa Bay is no stranger to Spring football as the wildly successful Tampa Bay Bandits (also with Spurrier as coach) played in the United States football league in the mid-1980s. The Bandits made the playoffs all three seasons and regularly played in front of 50,000 or more fans at old Tampa Stadium.

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XFL unveiled new rules for reboot season Tuesday morning

Florida Football Insiders

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Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The reboot of Vince McMahon’s eight team XFL Spring football league is coming in 30 days, including with the Tampa Bay Vipers franchise. And on Tuesday, the league unveiled new rules designed to create more excitement and speed up the game.

The short version is: the XFL has new and exciting rules for kickoffs, punts, faster clock/timing and other variations or wrinkles for the games.

Former NFL Head of Officiating, Dean Blandino, is now overseeing the XFL officials and their new rules/ policies.

And Blandino did a online and on social media tutorial on Tuesday for the rules that are different from college and NFL football. And, he gave the rationale behind them. An example, of probably the most intriguing one is the kickoff, as he explained here:

As Blandino laid out, unlike their first XFL playing in 2001, when opening possession was determined by two players on opposite sides of a football running at a sprint and trying to grab it first, there will be an actual kickoff, but with changes from what you are used to.

Now, the XFL will try something innovative to not only create excitement, but also help with player safety on the kickoff. Instead of allowing the kicking team to run full sprint at the receiving blockers and returner, the coverage team will line up at their own 30 with the kicking team lining up only five yards in front of them at the 35.

However, the only players who are allowed to move are the kicker, kicking off and the returner until he has either caught the ball or the ball has been live on the ground for at least three seconds. That’s when the blocking players between the 30 in the 35 can move or try to make the tackle.

Also, if the kicker kicks the ball out of the end zone or out of bounds it will automatically come up to the 35-yard line or to the out-of-bounds spot if it’s greater than the 35 for the receiving team.

Teams may also a traditional onside kick under the NFL rules, but they must designate that to the officials  prior to, and then teams will traditionally lineup for the onside try.

As for punts and returns, the XFL will not allow the punting team to leave the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked and the defenders over the top of gunners will not be allowed to go into the backfield until it is kicked. This is to give a much bigger advantage to the returner to make a big play

Just as with the kickoff, if the punt team kicks out of bounds inside the 35-yard line it will come back to the 35 or will go to the spot, if it’s greater than the 35-yard line for the receiving team.

If the ball lands in the end zone or is all the way out of the endzone on a punt it will also come to the 35 yard line. Clearly, the XFL is trying to encourage more excitement with punt returns and a fair catch will be allowed, although it is greatly de-emphasized, now.

Also, they want teams to think more about going for it on fourth down, as the punt favors the return team so greatly.

Next, Blandino made clear that an XFL receiver will, just like in college, only need one foot down or an equivalent for a catch. This differs from the two feet necessary in the NFL.

The XFL also announced that there will be no coaches challenges for replays, however, again like college, all plays will be under review. And, the replay official has the right to initiate certain reviews, even if the officials didn’t rule it on the field like fumble / no fumble,  or out of bounds or not, etc.

The XFL also has interesting “running clock” timing rules that will differ from the NFL and college, in that incomplete passes, penalties and plays out of bounds will not stop the clock at all until the final two minutes.

Further the XFL will use a 25 second play clock only and designate one specific official whose sole job it is to make sure that the ball is spotted quickly,

Once inside the 2-minute warning if a play ends in the field of play the clock will only stop for that official to spot the ball and once five Seconds runoff the play clock, it will start again.

To increase scoring chances, on an incomplete or out of bounds play inside of 2 minutes, the clock will stop just like it does for the NFL and college football.

The new Spring league will allow field goal attempts, but not have kicking extra points.

Instead, the offensive team will have a chance to run one play (conversion) but choose to run the play from the 1, 5 or 10 yard line. They will receive 1, 2 or 3 points depending on where the play started. Also, the defensive team would be able to score 1, 2 or 3 points on a fumble or INT return.

Finally, the XFL will also take another very interesting idea to playing out their overtimes.

Instead of the college rule of each team getting a possession from the 25-yard line to score a touchdown or field goal. Or, the NFL “modified sudden death rules” that don’t guarantee that both teams touch the ball. if the first team scores a touchdown (like what happened to the Saints Sunday when the Vikings scored a TD on the opening possession), the XFL will give both teams chances to possess it in a 5 round OT.

The XFL will utilize a format like the NHL post-overtime “shootout” where each team will have the ball spotted on the 5-yard line with the offense getting to run one play.

No kicks will be allowed.

If there is a defensive penalty on the play that is unsuccessful, then ball is moved to the 1-yard line for re-try. If there is a second defensive penalty in overtime, then the offensive team will automatically be awarded it’s two points for that round. And any subsequent defensive penalty, will again be the automatic awarding of two points during the overtime to the offense.

And, importantly, the defense cannot score, even if there is a possible fumble or interception return. The play in the XFL will be ruled dead or over.

The two teams will continue playing the five round OT until one has an insurmountable lead over the other. If the two teams are tied after five rounds, it’s essentially sudden death of two point rounds until there is a leader / winner.

Some of these rules will create excitement and also, controversy, and that’s what McMahon, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck (above), and Blandino are intending to have.

The Vipers are coached by former Bears coach Mark Trestman and will be playing home games at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

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Colts Kicker Adam Vinateri out for Bucs game

Abbey Radeka

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts are traveling to Tampa Bay but will likely take on the Bucs without their future Hall of Fame Kicker, Adam Vinatieri.

Before the matchup last week against the Titans, Vinatieri had began to experience a bit of pain in his left knee, the leg he plants to kick with his right leg. He told reporters that the pain began to increase through the week which led him to be placed on the Colt’s injury report for the first time this season.

Later Friday afternoon, Indy made Vinatieri’s “out” status official:

Vinatieri who is currently the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, has struggled to be consistent this season and has made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts. He’s cost the Colt’s a couple of games in his missed eight field goals and six extra points.

Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Vinatieri saw some doctors and got scans to figure out the severity of the problem. From there, they’ll consult with doctors and make a decision, which could potentially end his career. He’s currently sitting at 599 made FGs in his 24 seasons, just one shy of the 600 mark.

Earlier this week, Indianapolis secured rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and the 45 year old Pro Bowler had said on Thursday that if he got the go ahead from everyone, he’d take the field on Sunday.

“Docs and trainers and everybody will put their two cents in and we’ll see if we can go,” Vinatieri said. “If I can go, I’ll go.”

Obviously, he did not get good news, and that means the rookie McLaughlin is in to kick at Raymond James Stadium.

The Colts are looking to stay in the race for the AFC wild card spot, in a similar situation as the Bucs, so this Sunday (and really every Sunday from here on out) is a do or die for both teams.

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