The USFL will look to succeed where the AAF and XFL failed over the last few years. This league will get underway this weekend, and there are some familiar faces involved for football fans. Jeff Fisher, Mike Riley, Kevin Sumlin, and Larry Fedora are some of the coaches involved with the nascent league, and this season will be a success as long as it fully plays out after the AAF folded up shop early in 2019 and the 2020 XFL season was halted after five weeks due to COVID.
USFL Team Previews
Shea Patterson was the No. 1 pick in the USFL Draft and will be the starting quarterback for the Michigan Panthers. This is considered the team to beat before the start of the season with Jeff Fisher on the sidelines, but there isn’t a lot of proven talent on this roster. If Patterson isn’t one of the best two or three quarterbacks in the league, it can be a long year for Michigan.
New Jersey Generals
It’s been a tough start to the year for the New Jersey Generals, and they have yet to play a game. First round pick Ben Holmes suffered a toe injury and was released two weeks before the start of the season. Unproven Luis Perez will be the starting quarterback now, and he only joined the team on April 1. That doesn’t bode well for the Generals’ chances.
The biggest question mark in the league is the Philadelphia Stars. Head coach Bart Andrus has not spent much time as an NFL or collegiate coach in recent years, spending one year as an offensive analyst for the St. Louis Rams in 2013. He is familiar with minor league football, and that led to him drafting Bryan Scott in the first round. Scott was in The Spring League and spent three years in the CFL, but he has failed to really stand out at any level.
Kyle Lauletta could be the best quarterback in the division. Lauletta was a standout at FCS Richmond, and that led to him being a fourth round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He failed to make much of an impact with the New York Giants, but he has spent time with five different NFL franchises over the last four seasons.
There isn’t much to like about the Birmingham Stallions. Alex McGough was not too impressive at the collegiate level, and he reportedly struggled to learn the playbooks at the next level. Gene Chizik was originally supposed to be the head coach of this team, but he was replaced by Skip Holtz two weeks later, and Holtz signed J’Mar Smith from Louisiana Tech. Smith could be the starting quarterback soon although McGough was the first round pick.
Kevin Sumlin is hoping to regain the momentum he once had as a coach. Sumlin was seen as an up-and-comer a decade ago at Houston, but he couldn’t get Texas A&M over the top after a great first season and was a complete bust at Arizona. Unfortunately, he might have the worst quarterback in the division in Clayton Thorson. We didn’t see great numbers from Thorson at Northwestern, and one scout called him a worse training camp prospect than Tim Tebow.
New Orleans Breakers
Kyle Sloter only threw one pass through his first three seasons as a collegiate quarterback and was moved to running back and receiver because of his athleticism. Sloter showed that he could be a solid quarterback at Northern Colorado though, and he has bounced around the NFL since that point with stints on six teams in the last five years. This is his chance to break through, and he has a great coach that can show him the ropes in Larry Fedora.
Tampa Bay Bandits
The Bandits have the potential to be the best team in the USFL. Todd Haley is a sharp offensive mind, and Jordan Ta’amu is the most likely breakout star at quarterback. Ta’amu was solid in the XFL two years ago, and he was one of the best signal callers along with P.J. Walker and Josh Johnson. Both Walker and Johnson are in the NFL, and Ta’amu will want to prove that he belongs there.