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New Jersey Generals

USFL 2022: New Jersey Generals Week 2 Review

On Friday night, the New Jersey Generals notched their first win of the 2022 USFL campaign, edging out the Michigan Panthers 10-6. While the game wasn’t very pretty, getting a victory in their first of three straight divisional matchups was a significant step forward for the Generals.

All four Northern division teams stumbled into week 2 of the USFL season winless. But after this weekend’s action, two of the teams, New Jersey and Philadelphia, now stand tied atop the North at 1-1. The Stars triumphed over the Pittsburgh Maulers Saturday afternoon, 30-23.

New Jersey and Philadelphia will match up in Week 3 next Sunday night at Protective Stadium in Birmingham. After three weeks of play, the winner will take sole possession of first place, and the game will air on the Peacock streaming network. The other Northern teams, Michigan (0-2) and Pittsburgh (0-2) will square off next weekend, trying to avoid starting their seasons at 0-3.

Although there are still eight games left in the regular season, getting an early jump, and taking control by winning divisional games, takes on more importance because two of these four teams are guaranteed to make the playoffs at the end of the season.

But before we start looking forward to the Generals’ crucial game against the Stars next weekend. Let’s review their Week 2 victory over the Panthers.

A WIN IS A WIN

In week 1, the New Jersey Generals dominated the line of scrimmage against the now 2-0 Birmingham Stallions. They outgained the Southern squad 408-277 but lost in the final minute 28-24 due to a faulty fourth-quarter defense and squandered scoring opportunities by the offense.

On Friday, the New Jersey Generals mustered only 258 yards of total offense against Michigan, lost the turnover battle, and went scoreless in the second half. But somehow found a way, thanks to an excellent performance by their defense, to survive and win a slugfest of ineptitude with the Panthers.

Friday’s ‘Northern Duel’ was a classic case of two teams playing not to lose. Their styles didn’t clash; they resembled one another. Both New Jersey and Michigan were coming off of playing conservative run-heavy approaches in week one. And with each team having several key injuries to their receiving corps. The Generals and Panthers stuck with their early-season strategies to a fault. Someone had to win. New Jersey did less wrong than Michigan, and as a result, they are feeling better about themselves.

New Jersey Generals Week 2 Positives

The Generals defense, led by first-time defensive coordinator Chris Dishman, rose to the challenge in Week 2. A week after playing undisciplined football and falling apart in crucial moments. New Jersey’s defense carried the team to victory over Michigan.

If not, for a Luis Perez interception in his own territory, which set up the Panthers for an easy three-play twenty-yard drive and score. Michigan’s offense might’ve been shut out on Friday night, and they were for all intents and purposes.

A week after rushing for nearly two hundred yards. The Generals held the Panthers to 2.6 yards per rush and 74 yards on 28 run plays. New Jersey’s pass defense produced two sacks on the night, but that stat line doesn’t do them justice. The Generals’ pass rush and coverage flustered Shea Patterson, who completed only 14 of 29 passes for a paltry 124 yards.

New Jersey’s defense had several standouts against Michigan. Linebacker Chris Orr was all over the field, chasing down ball carriers to the tune of ten tackles, three solo. Versatile defensive back Dravon Askew-Henry produced nine tackles; seven were solo stops in the open field that prevented Panther players from advancing the ball further. DAH and Orr were drive killers.

Edge rusher Tyshun Render was a terror all game for Michigan’s offensive line. He had seven tackles, six of them solo, with two stops behind the line of scrimmage. Render shared a sack with Deyon Sizer, who has had two quality games in a row. But Render’s impact stood out, as he generated seven pressures and was in Michigan’s backfield all game. DE Kolin Hill also had a breakthrough performance, netting a sack as well.

Cornerback De’Vaunte Bausby was terrific in coverage, smothering Panthers receivers, and nearly had two interceptions on his three pass deflections.

The Generals’ defense’s stellar individual and team results in Week 2 are a positive sign. But is it more a case of the opponent they were facing? We will find out about the quality of New Jersey’s defensive unit when they face the Stars’ offense, led by one of the hottest offensive players in the league, quarterback Bryan Scott.

New Jersey Generals Week 2 Negatives

New Jersey featured a two-person quarterback attack and an ultra-conservative offensive game plan for the second week in a row. But unlike the opening game, the Generals had very little success moving the football in week two.

The Generals, playing again as if they were in monsoon conditions, opted to run the ball 32 times against 25 passes. The rushing numbers weren’t pretty. After producing a staggering 244 yards on the ground in week one. Against Michigan, New Jersey barely went over the century mark, averaging 3.5 yards on 32 rushing attempts. Darius Victor (11-40-1td) had a costly fumble in New Jersey territory late, which nearly cost his team the game.

To Darius Victor’s credit, after the contest, he shouldered the blame for his faux-pas and gave the team’s defense credit for bailing him out.

Despite Luis Perez’s interception, the passing numbers don’t look so bad on paper. After all, Perez and De’Andre Johnson combined to complete 72 percent of their passes. However, of the team’s 18 completions on the night, only one pass generated more than 13 yards—a 22-yard pickup by Darrius Shepherd. The young veteran receiver/returner led the way for New Jersey with five receptions for 58 yards.

The Generals’ offense was bailed out by their defense all night, and the Panthers’ special teams also contributed to the bailout. Thanks to Michigan neophyte specialist Michael Carrizosa missing an extra point and field goal in the four-point loss.

On the opposite end of the spectrum. New Jersey’s kicking woes continued in week two. The usually reliable Nick Rose, a pro career 80% kicker, has been anything but in his first two weeks. Rose missed one of his two field-goal attempts against Michigan. The uneven performance stands out less than his shanked field goal misses in week one. But in close games, like the Generals have played two weeks in a row. Rose’s lack of kicking efficiency could burn the team as the season progresses.

On the flip side, punter Brock Miller has had an excellent start to the season. He was steady again in Week 2, pinning the Panthers’ offense twice inside their 20-yard line. The Generals got a bit of a spark from returner KaVontae Turpin, who had an excellent twenty-yard punt return in this game. New Jersey’s coverage units have also done a decent job thus far.

Looking Foward To Week 3 And Beyond

The New Jersey Generals are relieved after getting their first win of the season out of the way. But if their offensive and kicking struggles continue. They will lose more games than they win moving forward. The two-headed QB system is here to stay for now. But the lack of rhythm offensively in sustaining and finishing off drives is noticeable in the first two games. Mike Riley might need to scale back his frequent substitutions at quarterback on every series if the offense continues to stall and fails to produce points.

The Philadelphia Stars, at this point, despite sharing the same record as New Jersey, appear to be the better team on paper. Their offense is clicking, thanks partly to the Stars’ top play-caller, Bart Andrus, having built-in chemistry with quarterback Bryan Scott due to their previous success together in the Spring.

The Generals are still trying to find themselves and build familiarity and comfort on offense. But their team identity has been established through two games.

New Jersey is playing a conservative style of football. Perhaps, it’s out of necessity because of the newness of everything. But the team won’t go very far playing as they have in the first two weeks, specifically on offense. The Generals will need to find balance on offense and produce in the passing game if they want to march towards the playoffs by the season’s end.

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