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USFL 2022: New Orleans Breakers Season Preview

The USFL’s season kicks off in just a few days, and the New Orleans Breakers are set to play their opening game against the Philadelphia Stars on Sunday, April 17th, at 1 pm PT on USA Network.

There’s a lot to be excited about for Breakers fans this season, as the team appears to have one of the better passing attacks on paper, along with one of the league’s more stout defenses. Additionally, the Breakers should be in good hands with head coach Larry Fedora calling plays. 

Coaches

Larry Fedora Brings 36 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Breakers. He served as head coach of Southern Mississippi from 2008 to 2011 and is considered the best coach in the history of Southern Miss football. He’d later serve as head coach of the UNC Tar Heels from 2012 to 2018, where he and quarterback Mitch Trubisky made quite the mark on the ACC in 2016. Trubisky went on to be the 2nd overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears in 2017. Most recently, Fedora served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Baylor University in 2020.

Noel Mazzone is serving as Fedora’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, who adds another 41 years of coaching experience from all levels of football to the Breakers coaching ranks. Mazzone has gained experience coaching quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, and has held multiple offensive coordinator roles throughout his career. He’s held stints with Colorado State, TCU, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Auburn, Oregon State, NC State, the New York Jets, Panther Creek High School, Arizona State, UCLA, Texas A&M, Arizona, and UConn.

Serving as Fedora’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach will be Jonathan Tenuta, who brings 40 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Breakers’ defense. Over his career, Tenuta’s worked as a defensive backs coach, defensive line coach, linebackers coach, defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, and even interim head coach at one point. He’s held positions at Maryland, Vanderbilt, Marshall, Kansas State, SMU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, NC State, Virginia (2nd stint), Cincinnati, and Virginia Tech.

View the full breakdown of the Breakers coaching staff here.

Offense

The Breakers’ offense should be exciting with quarterback Kyle Sloter under center and are expected to have one of the USFL’s best passing attacks. Sloter gained experience with a few different NFL teams and now reunites with his former Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora. Since joining the NFL ranks, Sloter appeared in 12 NFL preseason games and completed 111/150 passes (74% comp) for 1,222 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 1 interception.

The Breakers have added plenty of talented weapons around Sloter in wide receivers Taywan Taylor, Johnnie Dixon, and Jonathan Adams, tight end Sal Canella, and running backs Larry Rose II and TJ Logan, to name a few. On top of that, the Breakers should have one of the league’s better offensive line units.

Defense

The Breakers’ defensive unit looks strong, particularly in the front 7, and is anchored by defensive ends Shareef Miller and Davin Bellamy.

Miller was once a 4th round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles but didn’t live up to the hype and spent the next 5 seasons fighting for a roster spot. He signed with NFL teams 5 times in 2 seasons, twice with the Eagles, and his NFL career began trending downhill. Not too long before that, Miller was keeping Big-Ten offensive coordinators up at night while playing college ball at Penn State. In his final 2 seasons with the Nittany Lions, Miller recorded 13 sacks and 26 tackles for loss, proving to be quite effective against the run. At only 25 years old, Miller is a prime candidate to resurrect his NFL career potentially.

The secondary should also be a solid unit and will be aided by the Breakers’ above-average pass-rushing ability. Adonis Alexander will likely be the 1st cornerback on the depth chart, with Dartez Jacobs and Jarey Elder holding down the safety positions.

Special Teams

The Breakers have one of the USFL’s more notable Kickers on their roster, Austin MacGinnis out of Kentucky, who recently spent time with the Los Angeles Rams during the 2020 season. Additionally, MacGinnis proved he’s a more than capable kicker with the AAF’s Memphis Express in 2019 and the XFL’s Dallas Renegades in 2020.

While with the Express, MacGinnis converted 9/11 field goals, with the longest coming from 51 yards out. With the Renegades, he’d make a perfect 10/10 field goals, and his performance earned him a spot on the Los Angeles Rams practice roster for the 2020 season. He was elevated from the practice squad to their active roster on December 10th for their game against the New England Patriots, but they didn’t attempt a field goal. After the game, he was reverted to the practice squad and later waived.

Breakers Schedule/ Opponents

The Breakers are a talented squad that should have an edge on most of their opponents. However, they’ll have their work cut out for them in the first 2 weeks of the season when they take on the Philly Stars and the Tampa Bay Bandits, 2 of the league’s more talented teams.

The Philly Stars might be the most dangerous team right out the gates due to many of their players having played for head coach Bart Andrus in the past and already being familiar with his system. Additionally, many of the Stars’ players are familiar with each other from playing either with or against each other in The Spring League’s 2020 and 2021 seasons.

I believe the Breakers have all the tools to beat the Bandits; that being said, I expect these teams to split their season series.

Overall, the Breakers look like an above-average team that should be fun to watch and, at the very least, give all of their opponents a run for their money.

USFL Championship Odds

The Breakers currently have the 3rd best odds to win the USFL championship per DraftKings Sportsbook. They sit behind only the Tampa Bay Bandits (+425) and Michigan Panthers (+450).

  • Tampa Bay Bandits: +425
  • Michigan Panthers: +450
  • New Orleans Breakers: +500
  • Philadelphia Stars: +600
  • Pittsburgh Maulers: +600
  • Houston Gamblers: +750
  • New Jersey Generals: +750
  • Birmingham Stallions: +900

Mascot

The Breakers mascot has been revealed, and fans voted for his official name on Twitter. Earning just over 45% of the votes, “Dave the Wave” takes the win as the mascot’s official name. The other potential options were “Splash” (33.3%), “Breaker Brock” (9.7%), and “Breaker Bill” (11.6%).

Matt Lyons is a Writer/Contributor for XFL News Hub, USFL News Hub, & CFL News Hub, covering the XFL, USFL, ELF, and TSL since August of 2020.

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