XFL's Los Angeles Wildcats fire defensive coordinator after one game of existence

It took all of one week of games for the XFL to see its first coach firing.

The Los Angeles Wildcats announced Monday that they had relieved defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson of duties after their season-opening 37-17 loss to the Houston Roughnecks.

Wildcats general manager Winston Moss cited issues that needed addressing:

“We recognize that there are issues we need to address for the 2020 season. While these decisions are difficult, we have given this significant thought. We are here to put the best possible product on the field for our fans. We thank Pepper for his contributions to the Wildcats and we are looking forward to our home opener this weekend."

Johnson joined the Wildcats with 16 years of NFL assistant experience, including 13 working under Bill Belichick on the New England Patriots.

Despite the fairly lopsided score on Saturday, the Wildcats’ loss hardly seemed bad enough to fire a defensive coordinator. The Wildcats were out-gained 315-291, with Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker throwing for four touchdowns and 272 yards on 23-of-39 passing. The Roughnecks were better on a per-play basis, out-gaining the Wildcats 5.6 to 3.9. The turnover margin was even at 2-2.

With their coordinator already out the door, the Wildcats defense will have to lean on the experience and leadership of veterans like team captain Anthony Johnson. Oh, what’s that? He’s out too?

Letting your defensive coordinator and team captain go after one loss seems bizarre on its face, but let’s face it. No one is into the XFL for its stability.

Houston Roughnecks line of scrimmage against the Los Angeles Wildcats during an XFL football game, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
One XFL game was all the Los Angeles Wildcats needed to see, apparently. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

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