The XFL had a promising first weekend and there is a lot to be excited about and build on. The broadcasts on Fox, ABC, and ESPN had strong production value and announcing. The kickoff rule is something the NFL should look to adopt, and so is the idea of transparent replay reviews where we listen in on the officials during the review process.
Nevertheless, there are some modest improvements I'd suggest:
1. 13-minute quarters
The ideal XFL game, to me, would go in and out in 2.5 hours, similar to the length of an NBA game. Vince McMahon himself said in the XFL's introductory press conference that three-hour games were onerous (if he thinks that about NFL games, he should better sympathize with the audience who has to watch WWE Raw for three hours every Monday, but I digress). Shortening the quarters would be the simplest way to reduce game lengths by a little bit.
2. More mobile quarterbacks
The quality of the passing games in the XFL in the first week suggested to me that it would be a more optimal strategy in the league to feature mobile quarterbacks than traditional pocket passers. Just one of the four games -- Los Angeles Wildcats vs. Houston Roughnecks -- hit the over total. The two Sunday games (Tampa Bay Vipers vs. New York Guardians and St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Dallas Renegades) combined for just 50 points.
You don't want this to become like the Arena Football League where teams score on virtually every possession, but you'd like to see 60-minute games trend towards having scoring in the mid-50's. I'm not sure if the combination of pass protection and quarterback talent is going to be enough to get us there unless more of these teams get creative and run the option offense.
The Vipers, for example, ran a series with Quinton Flowers at quarterback, and he rushed five times for 34 yards. This was the drive where the team was most ably moving the ball. The XFL should be actively looking for quarterbacks out of the Pat White mold, and other general fast players for options and gadget plays.
3. Allow one salary cap exception per team
I get that the XFL's tagline is 'For the love of football', but the league could use even just a few more players that are closer to household names. Cardale Jones is the biggest name, then there's a drop-off to Matt McGloin and Aaron Murray, and then there's a bunch of anonymous helmets.
If, say, the Dallas Renegades could pay Adrian Peterson about $1-2 million to play (he made $2.25 million in the NFL last season), or the LA Wildcats could try to woo Tim Tebow, it could go a long way towards retaining viewers as the league extends through April. There have to be eight players out there who wouldn't obscenely break the bank, but have better name recognition than the current XFL talent.