The USFL is taking even more steps during this off-season to change the atmosphere heading into the 2023 season; this time around, we are seeing a massive upgrade for the Pittsburgh Maulers with a General Manager hired on. The new General Manager, Lonnie Young, will assist head coach Kirby Wilson with player scouting and evaluation. Could this further assist Kirby Wilson turn around the 2022 season performance for the better?
A Former USFL and NFL Draft Pick with Superbowl Caliber talent ready to turn things around in Pittsburgh
I don’t know a better person out there than Lonnie Young and his background heading into being the Maulers’ General Manager with his experience around football and building championship-caliber teams, which Lonnie can bring to the table. But Lonnie’s football career didn’t start as a scout, and with that, we have to travel back to the 80s, where he would play as a defensive back for Michigan State before being drafted by the New Jersey Generals in 1985 in the original USFL. But would move into the NFL Draft that same year, being selected in the 12th round, 325 overall, by St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals. He would play 12 years in the NFL between the Cardinals, Jets, and Chargers, where he would play in Super Bowl 29 and then finish back up with the Jets in 1996 when he retired.
In 2001, he returned to the NFL but this time around as a scout for the New York Jets, then moved on to the Arizona Cardinals to scout for them for the next 7 years; he would be on the staff when Kurt Warner led the team to the Superbowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Superbowl 43. In 2008 he went on to be the national scout for the Baltimore Ravens up until the 2019 season; during his tenure with the Ravens, he would earn a Super Bowl Ring for the Ravens after their win in Super 47 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Will this addition to Mauler’s staff bring change?
With some many unknowns about the 2023 Pittsburgh Maulers season, like where will they play? Who will be on the team? What can be done to make a change from what we saw in the 2022 season? Where the Pittsburgh Maulers won one game by one point on May 15th, 2022, fans during and after the season wanted to remove Kirby Wilson as head coach, but they will now get a leader at the top with Lonnie coming in as General Manager. Kirby Wilson even commented on the addition of Young being brought in, which was first reported on yesterday by USFLNewsHubs very own Mark Perry stating this was a positive move which could be what Wilson needs above him to help.
The Pittsburgh Maulers have already been on the hunt for new players they have signed as free agents over the past couple of months. With Lonnie coming in to help Coach Wilson rebuild the team and produce better football, he will have quite a task ahead of him. Still, if anyone is willing to turn this franchise around, Lonnie has the background to change the culture in Pittsburgh away from the antics we saw in the 2022 season.
Things that need to improve for the Maulers start at the defensive level.
Lonnie will have to search high and low across the world to build up a defensive system of players that won’t be known for giving up 243 points in a 10-game season, which was the worst in league with their shaky defensive system. The defense only has 7 interceptions all season and none of those resorted into any points for the defense. The defense also had a low sack count throughout the season, only producing 20; if the Maulers can keep a hold of Carlo Kemp, who had the team leader of 5 sacks, that is a start. While the defense may have had a few interceptions, they had one forced fumble recovery that was by Carlo Kemp that allowed Jaylon Mcclain-Sapp to run it in for a touchdown; these things will need to be produced more but in reality, there are a lot of things the defense needs to slow down any offense they would be playing.
Confidence in the offensive
While we may criticize the defense for their lack of effort in creating key moments, the offensive structure was no different, being last in the league at points scored. Without throwing the entire team away and starting fresh, we have to look at why the offense struggled, and one primary reason was at the quarterback level, and it had to do with the lack of confidence Coach Wilson had in them. It is some of the things Lonnie and Kirby will be tasked with: getting the confidence and how the offense is running to get the train back on the rails.
The Maulers went through four quarterbacks, including trading away their first-round draft pick Kyle Lauletta to the New Jersey Generals and releasing their second quarterback Josh Love who also was drafted in the 12th round. They relied too heavily on new quarterbacks like Vad Lee and Roland Rivers III to learn the system and play at a high-level speed. While Vad came in late into the season and got the Maulers their only win, Coach Wilson had other plans and couldn’t trust anyone he put in at the quarterback role. It is going to be a key point the new General Manager, Lonnie Young, will have to work with Coach Kirby Wilson on and be confident in his players when he puts them on the field.
As we get closer to the 2023 season, fans are hopeful that Lonnie Young will change the Pittsburgh Maulers by assisting Head Coach Kirby Wilson in bringing a championship home for the Maulers, which is a huge task ahead of everyone on that coaching staff.
Stay tuned to USFL News Hub for all your Pittsburgh Maulers updates and follow along the journey as we head towards season two of the USFL in 2023.