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Cardale Jones Will Remain Starting QB for XFL's Defenders After Benching

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IMarch 8, 2020

DC Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones (12) calls a play to teammates during an XFL football game against the Seattle Dragons, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Will Newton)
Will Newton/Associated Press

DC Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones will remain the team's starting quarterback moving forward after being benched during Sunday's 15-6 victory over the St. Louis BattleHawks, coach Pep Hamilton said after the game, per USA Today's Tom Schad.

Hamilton revealed that Jones' benching had been planned.

Jones was benched for 22-year-old Tyree Jackson in the first quarter of the team's Sunday matinee against the BattleHawks.

Jackson threw a touchdown pass soon after taking over under center:

XFL @xfl2020

22-year-old Tyree Jackson is in at QB for the @XFLDefenders and off to a HOT start 📺 @FS1 🖥 https://t.co/S3Ec5nyJhf https://t.co/hVT1KtunU5

And Jones did not hold a grudge:

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

The DC Defenders benched Cardale Jones. Tyree Jackson came in and put up 6️⃣ right away. Cardale’s response: (via @xfl2020) https://t.co/hzNuIyLoMx

Jones went 0-of-2 with one interception before exiting the game. Jackson finished the game with 39 yards, one touchdown and no picks on 9-of-14 passing.

Jones made his name at Ohio State. The 27-year-old led the Buckeyes to the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, where they upset the No. 2 Oregon Ducks 42-20.

Rather than capitalize on his national buzz and enter the 2015 NFL draft, Jones returned for his junior campaign. He struggled and was benched in favor of J.T. Barrett, finishing the season with 1,459 yards, eight touchdowns and five picks across 10 games.

The Buffalo Bills selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, and Jones never found footing in the NFL. He appeared in one game for the Bills, completing six passes for 96 yards and one interception.

"Everybody's going to make a decision based on what they think is important to them, what they value, what they want to see their life end up (like) in the long run," Jones told Schad in December, answering whether he regrets forgoing the 2015 NFL draft.

"You’re not wrong or right for declaring or leaving early, or going back," he continued. "It's just what you think was right for you at that time in your life and your career."

Once landing in the XFL with the Defenders, Jones began rebuilding his NFL stock through the team's first two games. Jones led DC to a 2-0 start by going a combined 39-of-63 passing for 499 yards, four touchdowns and one pick:

ESPN @espn

Cardale Jones got the job done in his first @xfl2020 game 💪 ⚔️ 16/26 comp/att ⚔️ 319 total yards ⚔️ 2 pass TDs ⚔️ W against Seattle Dragons https://t.co/RBJJhzVO7e

DC Defenders @XFLDefenders

.@CJ1two is a cheat code. 📺: @ABCNetwork 🖥: https://t.co/FrdxO87WYd https://t.co/KkSsArclpc

Cardale Jones @CJ1two

Gimme kiss 😂😂😂 https://t.co/OtOpgAXeUJ

However, similar to his trajectory at Ohio State, Jones saw his productivity eventually dwindle. He has not thrown a touchdown pass in the three games since the Defenders' 27-0 Week 2 win over the New York Guardians while tossing six interceptions in that span. That included a four-pick outing in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Wildcats.

By beating the BattleHawks 15-6, the Defenders improved to 3-2 and moved into a three-way tie with the BattleHawks and New York Guardians atop the XFL East division.

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