Athletes like De’Andre Johnson, Cam Echols-Luper, and Kavonte Turpin need to be utilized.
Mike Riley and Company Need to Adjust
The New Jersey Generals find themselves 1-1 after two games, having averaged 165 yards passing per game, and have scored just 34 points in those two games. I wanted to touch on some adjustments I would like to see Mike Riley make on the offensive side of the ball to add some excitement to this offense.
We have watched through two games as De’Andre Johnson was used as a change of pace quarterback, brought in as a running threat to keep defenses off guard. However part of the reasoning behind using Johnson is also his arm strength. Luis Perez is one of the most well-known, and experienced Spring Football quarterbacks out there, but one trait he has always been held back by is his arm strength.
With Johnson having a much bigger arm, it seems as though Riley is using Johnson to stretch the defenses laterally by offering the threat of the QB run while stretching them out deep as well with his ability to push the ball downfield.
Luis Perez VS De’Andre Johnson Statistically
Despite throwing just 14 passing attempts, former Last Chance U star, Johnson has averaged 1.1 yards per attempt than Luis Perez. That extra yard per completion is nothing to sneeze at. If he were to have been the starter, and he averages 7.6 per attempt, we are talking about another 21 passing yards a game so far.
When looking closer at their statistics as well, you can see that these numbers are despite Johnson’s relative lack of accuracy compared to Perez. Perez has completed over 70% of his passes but has done the majority of his damage in the short to intermediate passing game. This allows opposing defenses to start walking their safeties up into the box, also affecting their ability to run the ball.
Teams have plenty of film out there to see how Perez throws the ball, where he starts to lose steam on his passes depth-wise, and they also know a guy like this is feeling that extra 5-6 ounces added to the balls by the microchips the USFL has added. All of this adds up to opposing coordinators knowing exactly what to expect when either QB is in the game.
With Perez, it’s death by 1,000 crossing routes, and with Johnson, he’s going to run the read-option, and push the ball deep to supplement the short to intermediate game of Perez.
I want to preface what I am about to say. Luis Perez is a solid quarterback, and someone I would choose on my team if I was in the position Mike Riley finds himself in as well. However, I believe De’Andre Johnson due to his skillset gives you a better chance to win every week.
De’Andre Johnson’s limitations come from the accuracy department, so the offense would certainly not be the high-efficiency short game that it has been through the first two weeks with Johnson at the helm. It would immediately open up the field from an offensive perspective, and allow running backs more room up the middle of the defense. You wouldn’t be looking at consistent 8-man boxes with both safeties cheating up to within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Effect on the Running Game
The other obvious effect that Johnson would have as the starter is in the run game. He had a 90+ yard game in week 1, and leads the team in rushing. This is where his mobility can really open up the offense. Johnson has averaged 5.7 yards per carry as a runner, which amounts to 1.6 yards more per carry than any other runner on the roster.
Darius Victor leads the team in carries, with 26, but has averaged just 4.1 per carry. Trey Williams has averaged 4.0 yards per carry, and Kavonte Turpin averaged 4.5 per carry. Allowing Johnson to start will back off safeties due to his arm strength. It will also open up running lanes for the backs on read-option lays when they have to defend Johnson, and the back he can pitch to.
However, I don’t think they should simply stop at starting De’Andre Johnson in their adjustments. Johnson isn’t the only man with the dual threat ability to throw, and run. However this next player is listed as a wide receiver. This man is Cam Echols-Luper.
Wildcat Formation with WR Cam Echols-Luper
Originally signed in the same wave of players as Luis Perez, he was placed on the practice roster at first. However that would last just one week. He would come out and play in week two due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. He caught his only target for 8 yards and added 41 yards on two kick returns.
If I am the coach, I start lining up Echols-Luper in the backfield next to Johnson in the shotgun. At times you direct snap it to Echols-Luper, to throw off the defenses. This formation would allow you to throw off defenses. Echols-Luper could throw, run, or catch passes presenting a unique challenge for the defense. The former high school quarterback can use his athletic ability as the pitchman on the read-option. Attempt passes, or get into space with a free release from the backfield.
When you’re averaging just 165 yards passing a game, and your run game is already topping that…it’s time to look into better options in the passing game. I believe this formation could be very deadly to opposing teams. You force the defense to dedicate a QB spy to Johnson. They need someone dedicated to Echols-Luper on every play as well.
Without consistent coverage on both players, you will undoubtedly get burned on plays from time to time. This would also give Johnson the ability to use pre-snap motion. Send Echols-Luper out of the backfield to a receiver spot to diagnose coverages before the snap. Allowing him to put his offense in the best position to succeed via audibles. All of this would add up to quite the boost to the offense. It’s something I truly believe the Generals need to consider.
Kavonte Turpin “Most Electric man in the USFL”
My last adjustment involves the aforementioned Kavonte Turpin. Turpin has primarily been used as a receiver seeing just 4 carries that haven’t been called back by penalty. The thing is Turpin is quite possibly the most electric player in the entire USFL. If you can’t get him going, you’re doing a disservice to your team, and the league.
Turpin to this point has just 18 rushing yards, and 23 yards through the air. This has to change, even if it means losing some of his explosiveness in the return game. Turpin is a guy who could play a Tyreek Hill style role in this offense. He should be seeing around 1-2 carries a game on top of at least 3 targets a game. This guy needs to be one of the focal points of your offense going forward. That is if you expect to improve upon your 1-1 record, and 17 points per game on average.
The deciding traits that these three men share, will add up to success on offense. Versatility and speed are two things that any coach should be able to harness. I challenge Mike Riley to find ways to utilize these three players more effectively over the rest of the season.
How do you think the New Jersey Generals will perform against the Philadelphia Stars this weekend? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.