Even though the games didn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things (with postseason berths already clinched), all eight teams left everything out on the field. This resulted in plenty of action, as viewers were treated to four entertaining matchups this weekend.
Every touchdown from the final week of the regular season ✅
One of the most entertaining games of the week came on a Saturday afternoon, as the New Jersey Generals outlasted the Philadelphia Stars in exciting fashion. It turned out to be more of a playoff preview that one would think, as both coaches played their starters. As for New Jersey, the team did what they’ve done all year long: play complete football.
Luis Perez was absolutely fantastic in his starting role, finding receivers Alonzo Moore and KaVontae Turpin all day long. Trey Williams had a huge outing, rushing for over 100 yards including a 61 yard touchdown. Defensively, New Jersey came up with a game-sealing play, something that we’ve seen time and time again this season. If Mike Riley’s group plays like this next Saturday, we’ll definitely see them in the Championship game.
Philadelphia: Tighten Up
Philadelphia should not be disappointed, despite the loss. Case Cookus played well, albeit a couple of mistakes down the stretch. Matt Colburn continues to play excellent football, as he has revolutionized the Stars ground game in the second half of the year. Jordan Suell has developed into a bigtime receiver for Cookus, and should be a target to watch in Canton. Offensively, Philadelphia simply needs to cut down on the miscues that lose them important games against the USFL’s best teams.
Defensively, they have a bit more to prove. Now, don’t get me wrong – Philly’s defense has gotten a lot better over the past few weeks. However, mental errors need to be tightened up if they want to beat New Jersey. This Generals offense is too good. It’s as simple as that. Perez had a field day throwing the football against Philadelphia’s defense on Saturday – and if adjustments aren’t made, he’ll do the same thing next week in Canton.
As good as J’Mar Smith has been for Birmingham this season, Alex McGough looked absolutely incredible on Saturday. After a rough outing in the first quarter, McGough took over for Smith, and played at a high level. His decision making was on point, leading Birmingham to some bigtime scores that the team desperately needed. CJ Marable found his footing in the second half, which is a great sign for Skip Holtz. If their ground game can get back to where it was a few weeks ago, Birmingham will be in fantastic shape.
.@McgoughAlex was rock solid during our final regular season game! 🏈
No surprise, the Stallions defense was spectacular, albeit some mishaps here and there. They let things get a bit too close for comfort in the fourth quarter – but at the end of the day, they generated the stops that they absolutely needed to. DeMarquis Gates and Scooby Wright III continue to be the leaders that this defense needs. If they can consistently wreak havoc in New Orleans’ backfield, the Breakers will have a tough time against this squad next weekend.
Can Ta’amu Get Any Help?
Another day, another solid outing for Jordan Ta’amu – and another disappointing effort from the rest of the team. Outside of a punt return for a touchdown from Rashard Davis, the Bandits as a whole failed to provide Ta’amu with much support. Dropped passes, a weak ground game, and missed opportunities plagued Todd Haley’s offense on Saturday. Unfortunately, this has been the case all year long. Tampa Bay has not been able to capitalize in areas that they should, which makes it difficult to win ball games.
🚨 PUNT RETURN TOUCHDOWN 🚨@rasharddavis6 with the massive play to bring us right back in it!
Over the second half of the year, the Bandits defense did show some improvements. There were some rough outings during the first few weeks, but overall, the group has made strides forward. Travis Feeney has been excellent this season, and others such as Anthony Butler have developed nicely. However, tackling has been an issue for Haley’s defense throughout the season, and this was evident once again. On every Birmingham score of the day, multiple broken tackles allowed them to reach the end zone. Quite simply, Tampa Bay is not a team that is ready for the intensity of the postseason.
Paxton Lynch, have a day. Jeff Fisher finally got a big performance from one of his favorite players, as Lynch put on a show against Pittsburgh. Even with a couple of terrible passes, Lynch threw for 275 yards, and three touchdowns. It makes you wonder what things would have looked like for Michigan, had Lynch been healthy for the full season. Even through Reggie Corbin struggled, Lynch was exceptional – giving Panthers fans something to look forward to, if he sticks around for season two.
Michigan’s defense has had an up and down season. However, that group rebounded in a big way against Pittsburgh, shutting down the Maulers offense for large chunks of the day. This ultimately sealed the deal for the Panthers, clinching them the first overall pick in the 2023 draft. While it wasn’t a perfect day for Michigan, Jeff Fisher’s team finally played solid football across the board, which won them their second game of the year.
What in the world was Kirby Wilson thinking on Sunday? Sure, Roland Rivers and Vad Lee have both played decently well at different points in the season. But, to constantly flip between the two, makes zero sense. Lee got the start for the first and fourth quarters, while Rivers saw the field during quarters two and three. In a game that actually mattered (winner receives the first pick of the next draft), I don’t know why Wilson decided to play roulette with his quarterbacks.
Vad Lee has shown some major upside this season with the @USFLMaulers. Unfortunately, some controversial coaching has held him back from reaching his full potential.
The Maulers had a hard time on defense – at times, it felt like they weren’t even trying. Lynch absolutely dominated their secondary all afternoon, exploiting holes in their coverage time and time again. Outside of the lone bright spots (Delvon Hardaway, Vad Lee), this team has a long way to go before they can actually be competitive. The Maulers only won one game all year long, and it was by the skin of their teeth. A major overhaul is needed heading into the offseason.
It was a meaningless game, but Houston performed quite well nonetheless. As has been the case for the entire season, the Gamblers defense put on a show. Chris Odom is an absolute monster, and deserves an NFL opportunity. Donald Payne is just as impressive, snagging his second pick six of the year against Zach Smith on Sunday night. If this group can stick together, look out in year two. Will Likely, Reggie Northrup, Micah Abernathy – there are so many ballers in Houston, and they made New Orleans look foolish in the final game of the year.
Now, Houston’s offense still needs to see some improvements. Kenji Bahar was on and off for most of the night, while Mark Thompson hasn’t been in a rhythm at all in the second half of the year. Benny LeMay turned out to be a great signing, rushing for 70 yards in his USFL debut. If Kevin Sumlin can figure out a way to get his offense to be consistent in year two, they will be able to beat just about anybody.
Lackluster Effort From New Orleans
For New Orleans, this loss isn’t too concerning. They rested a good handful of their starters, rolling with Zach Smith and Shea Patterson for most of the day. Now, what is worrying, is how bad both quarterbacks looked. Kyle Sloter wasn’t fantastic after week five, but if he goes down with an injury again, the Breakers might be in trouble. Luckily, they have two of the best backs in the league, in Anthony Jones and Jordan Ellis. Taylor Bertolet has been an excellent addition as well, knocking through another 50 yarder against Houston.
As long as Larry Fedora’s defensive unit plays a good game on Saturday, they can definitely beat Birmingham. The Breakers did a solid job of keeping Houston’s offense in check on Sunday night. Had it not been for all of the turnovers and errors on the offensive side of the football, this game would have been quite a bit closer. Heading into the postseason, New Orleans’ defense is looking very sharp.
Overall, week ten in the USFL was excellent. We finally have made it through a full regular season in spring football. Now, it’s time for the postseason.
5️⃣ Days ⏳
The Inaugural USFL Playoffs kick off this Saturday, June 25th in Canton 🙌🏆
Saturday’s double header of playoff games will be fun. First, New Jersey takes on Philadelphia at 3pm ET on FOX. Then, New Orleans and Birmingham go head to head on NBC, at 8pm ET. Grab your popcorn – it’s about to be a show.