QB Jordan Ta’amu Leading D.C. Defenders to Dream Season
March 24, 2023 @ 12:00pm
Jordan Ta’amu of the D.C. Defenders discusses the current XFL season, the rules of the game and the future of the team.
Under Coach Reggie Barlow, the D.C. Defenders are undefeated in the newest incarnation of the XFL, a February-to-May football league that differentiates its game from the NFL in ways that many fans find more thrilling.
Comprised of eight teams in two divisions, the XFL also has franchises in Orlando, Houston, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Seattle, St. Louis and Arlington, Texas.
“Everyone loves that we’re playing in different cities and playing in front of our D.C. fans has been exciting,” says Jordan Ta’amu, who shares quarterback duties with D’Eriq King.
Wearing number 10, Ta’amu has helped lead D.C.’s team to a perfect record through its first half of the season. He’s recording 658 yards in the air on 57-101 passing attempts, and another 208 yards on the ground, second on the team to running back Abram Smith, who is leading the entire league with 432 yards.
Receiver Lucky Jackson leads the team with 19 receptions and 250 yards, with Chris Blair also chipping in with 12 receptions and 203 yards on the year. Both are in the top 10 in the league.
“This has been a huge team effort,” Ta’amu says. “Our offense is all about efficiency. We all really click well and it starts with us at QB, and as long as we’re making the right decisions, we’re going to be efficient. We also have a great defense, which gives us even more confidence.”
Ta’amu, a high school standout from Hawaii who played college ball at Mississippi State, was signed by the Houston Texans in 2019 and has worked the practice squad the past few years for teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and our own Washington Commanders.
“With the Chiefs, I got to sit in Andy Reid’s offense and work behind [Patrick] Mahomes and Chad Henne,” Ta’amu says. “After 2020, I bounced around a bit and have just been waiting for another opportunity to get back on the field.”
He’s also had memorable runs in the previous XFL playing for the St. Louis Battlehawks in 2019 and with the USFL in 2022, where he led the league with 2,014 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“The Defenders are a great opportunity for me,” Ta’amu says. “Mainly everyone from our team has been on an NFL roster, and they all know how to win and have the experience. This could give us a stepping stone to get back in the league. I’m trying to showcase myself and my talent and what I can do out there.”
Ta’amu feels the rule differences between the XFL and NFL make it a more exciting game. For instance, the XFL doesn’t allow teams to kick extra points following touchdowns. Teams instead must try to get into the end zone to tack on either one, two or three points to their score. Three points come from a successful crossing of the goal line from the 10-yard line.
The league allows teams to throw two forward passes on one play. And in overtime, teams are given three attempts at a two-point conversion from their opponent’s 5-yard line. The team with the most conversions after those three attempts will be declared the winner.
One of Ta’amu’s favorite differences concerns kickoffs and punts, which encourages returns, leading to more exciting plays for the fans.
The Defenders play in Audi Field and have home games remaining on March 27 and April 16, as it vies to make it to the championship game, scheduled on May 13 in the Alamodome in San Antonio.
“Our goal is to win that championship and we speak about that every week, but we never try to look too far in advance, and focus week to week on our main target,” Ta’amu says. “When it comes to game day, everyone is prepared. Coach Barlow preaches what ‘win’ stands for, ‘What’s Important Now,’ and that’s how we continue to play and win.”
Fans of the Defenders are known for creating a Beer Snake at the games, a long, winding stack of empty plastic cups that resembles a snake. The snake goes rows back (as much as 90 feet in one game!) and is a real crowd pleaser, often reaching more than 1,000 cups long. No home game is complete without taking part in this Defenders fan tradition.
Learn more about D.C. Defenders at xfl.com/teams/washington-dc and follow them on Instagram @xlfdefenders. You can buy tickets for games here.
Want first access to select games and sports events around D.C.? Support local journalism by joining the District Fray community, where you’ll access free and discounted tickets to the city’s great sports teams. Become a member.