The USFL’s season is nearly complete, and the league’s accomplished what no other spring football league’s been able to in recent history, finish a season. While it wasn’t the ending New Orleans was hoping for, the team did a fine job in 2022, ending the season with a 6-4 record and a playoff berth despite a ton of injuries and the offense turning the ball over an excessive amount throughout the year.
Head coach Larry Fedora did a great job putting together one of the more talented rosters in the USFL. Additionally, he did a great job of putting his staff together, with offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone calling plays for most of the season, and defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta coaching up a defense that allowed the least amount of points in the league.
It seems most of the attention regarding quality coaching has gone to the recently named Coach of the Year, New Jersey Generals head coach Mike Riley, and Birmingham Stallions head coach Skip Holtz. However, Larry Fedora’s name has gone somewhat under the radar despite the team, or members of the team, leading the USFL in several statistical categories and making a playoff push with a very banged-up roster.
Although the Breakers didn’t end the season as strong as they would’ve liked, Larry Fedora put the New Orleans roster together, and he did a great job with it. I’d be shocked if a handful of his players aren’t in NFL camps very soon. Assuming Fedora returns for the 2023 season, it’s probably safe to say the Breakers are in good hands regarding player personnel moving forward, regardless of some players leaving for an NFL opportunity.
Kyle Sloter and the Breakers’ offense had their ups and downs throughout the season. They were able to put together one of the USFL’s better offenses, but they couldn’t figure out how to eliminate their turnover issues, which ultimately led to their demise in the playoffs.
Sloter had moments where he looked like an NFL quarterback but could not remain consistent. While some plays were NFL caliber, others seemed as if he was just throwing aimlessly downfield. Sloter did play well enough to finish 2nd in the league in passing yards; unfortunately, he’d also finish 2nd in interceptions thrown. If they had eliminated the turnovers, New Orleans would have likely squeezed out a few more wins and been in a much better spot heading into the postseason.
Despite the turnover issues, the offense had enough talented pieces to perform at a high level between running backs Jordan Ellis and Anthony Jones, the talented wide receiver room of Jonathan Adams, Johnnie Dixon, and Taywan Taylor, and one of the USFL’s top tight ends in Sal Canella.
Defensively, New Orleans put together one of the league’s best units, allowing the least amount of passing yards and least points scored all season. The team totaled 22 sacks, 10 interceptions, 46 pass deflections, 9 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries, and a safety on the year. They did lose some momentum down the stretch, but that was to be expected with how banged up they were in the back half of the season.
Nearly their entire starting defense was comprised of impactful players, including defensive ends Davin Bellamy, Anree Saint-Amour, defensive tackle Shakir Soto, linebackers Vontae Diggs, Jerod Fernandez, and Nigel Chavis, cornerbacks Adonis Alexander and Ike Brown, and safety Jarey Elder.
New Orleans and the rest of the USFL didn’t begin the season with the best kicking game. They’d kick things off with former AAF, XFL, and NFL kicker Austin MacGinnis. However, in their first 3 games, MacGinnis converted only 2/5 field goals and 4/7 extra points, leading the team to look for a replacement.
In week 4, MacGinnis was replaced by former AAF, NFL, and CFL kicker Taylor Bertolet. Bertolet started the last 7 regular-season games for the Breakers, converting 11/15 field goals and 9/12 extra points on the season. Bertolet’s longest field goal of the season would be from 50 yards out.
The Breakers’ season may not have ended how they would’ve liked, but the team had a solid year. Larry Fedora and the New Orleans coaching staff did an excellent job putting a good roster together and overcame countless adversities throughout the year to make a playoff push in the team’s first season back in existence. Assuming some of the core roster returns in 2023 along with Fedora and his staff, the New Orleans Breakers should be in good hands moving into next season.
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