We’ve wrapped up Week 2 of the USFL’s season, and the quality of football throughout the league has taken a few steps in the right direction. Players and coaches appear to be getting more comfortable after their first month together, but there’s still plenty to clean up for nearly every team heading into Week 3.
1. New Orleans Breakers (Last Week: 2)
The Breakers’ passing attack is what we thought it was, and New Orleans might have the most complete team in the USFL. Quarterback Kyle Sloter bounced back in a big way after a disappointing Week 1, and the Breakers’ defense is establishing itself as the best in the league.
In one of the most anticipated games of Week 2, the Breakers blew out the Tampa Bay Bandits, with Kyle Sloter completing 25/39 passes (64.1% Comp) for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns, also rushing once for 1 yard and 1 touchdown. New Orleans running backs had a decent day, with Jordan Ellis taking 21 carries for 64 yards, and TJ Logan rushing 10 times for 43 yards and 1 touchdown, also hauling in 3 receptions for 29 yards. The Breakers’ leading receiver would be Jonathan Adams, who’d total 5 receptions for 92 yards. The team’s 2 receiving touchdowns came from Johnnie Dixon and Shawn Poindexter.
Defensively, Davin Bellamy and the Breakers’ defense picked up where they left off in Week 1 and continued to wreak havoc. While Bellamy didn’t have quite as big of a game as last week, the rest of the defense sure did. Bellamy, along with defensive tackles Kamilo Tongamoa and Connor Christian, totaled 4 sacks, with cornerbacks Nevelle Clark and Mike Stevens adding 2 interceptions on the day.
The Breakers currently look like the USFL’s team to beat and are set to face J’Mar Smith and a hot Birmingham Stallions team in Week 3.
2. Philadelphia Stars (Last Week: 3)
The Philadelphia Stars, led by quarterback Bryan Scott, take over the 2nd ranked spot after their Week 2 win over the Pittsburgh Maulers. Philly showed why we were so high on this team coming into the season, with Scott looking like an early MVP candidate.
Despite facing a stout Maulers defense, Scott ended the game completing 26/36 passes (72.2% comp) for 272 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, also taking 6 carries for 16 yards and 1 touchdown. Their leading receivers were Maurice Alexander and Jordan Suell. Alexander ended the game with 8 receptions for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Suell finished with 6 receptions for 72 yards. Wide receiver Diondre Overton also found the endzone, hauling in 3 receptions for 42 yards and 1 touchdown on the day.
Defensively, the Stars had 2 interceptions, one from safety Ahmad Dixon and the other coming from cornerback Channing Stribbling. Additionally, the team recorded 3 sacks, coming from defensive ends Adam Rodriguez, Caroll Phillips, and Freedom Akinmoladun.
The Stars appear to be one of the USFL’s most pass-heavy teams, and with Bryan Scott playing like he is, this team looks like it could compete with nearly anyone in the league.
3. Birmingham Stallions (Last Week: 4)
After a big win over the Houston Gamblers, the Stallions take over the 3rd ranked spot. It was a defensive start to Saturday’s game, with each defense scoring a touchdown in the 1st quarter. Quarterback J’Mar Smith and the offense turned things around in the 2nd quarter and put on a show in the 2nd half, making for the highest-scoring game of the weekend.
Stallions quarterback J’Mar Smith ended the game completing 20/30 passes (66.7% Comp) for 229 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, also taking 8 carries for 31 yards. Running back CJ Marable also had a solid day, ending the game with 16 carries for 76 yards and 1 touchdown, also catching 2 passes for 20 yards. The Stallions’ leading receivers would be Marlon Williams and Osirus Mitchell, with Williams bringing in 3 receptions for 88 yards and 1 touchdown, and Mitchell recording 3 receptions for 48 yards and 1 touchdown.
Defensively, Birmingham recorded 3 interceptions and 2 sacks on the day. The team’s interceptions came from cornerback Brian Allen and linebacker Lorenzo Burns. Allen returned his for a touchdown, with Burns recording the other 2 interceptions. Defensive tackles Jordan Thompson and DeMarquies Gates recorded the Stallions’ 2 sacks.
The Birmingham Stallions are looking like a team that could go toe-to-toe with just about anyone in the league. Their Week 3 matchup against a talented New Orleans Breakers team will be a difficult test for J’Mar Smith and the rest of the squad.
4. Tampa Bay Bandits (Last Week: 1)
The Bandits fall to the 4th spot in the rankings after a rough loss to the New Orleans Breakers in Week 2. Tampa Bay’s offense couldn’t get anything going in the pass or run game, and their defense looked gassed relatively early in the matchup.
It was a rough day for quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, who ended the day completing 8/18 (44.4% Comp) for 62 yards and 1 interception, also rushing 4 times for 45 yards. His backup, Brady White, also made an appearance but didn’t have any more success, ending the day having completed 3/10 passes (30% Comp) for 34 yards and 1 interception. Running back BJ Emmons had a rough day on the ground, ending the game with 14 carries for 39 yards. Emmons also led the team in receiving, with only 3 receptions for 29 yards.
Defensively, the team didn’t sack Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter once, and allowed a plethora of scoring after gassing out early in the game.
The New Orleans Breakers are a buzzsaw, and until we see them lose, I’m not sure I can be too hard on anyone for losing to them no matter how ugly the game. That being said, if the Bandits want to stand a chance in their Week 3 matchup against a Houston Gamblers defense that’s been hot out the gates, they’ll need to clean things up on all phases. The Bandits roster is loaded with talent, but raw talent can only get you so far.
5. Houston Gamblers (Last Week: 6)
The Houston Gamblers take over the 5th ranked spot after losing a hard-fought game against Birmingham. The Gamblers continue to prove doubters wrong despite coming up short in their game with the Stallions, showing much to be excited about over the first 2 weeks of the season.
The Gamblers managed to stay in the game throughout, despite quarterback Clayton Thorson having another below-average day through the air. Thorson ended the game completing 13/27 passes (48.1% Comp) for 141 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, also rushing 16 times for 93 yards. Leading the air attack for Houston was wide receivers Tyler Simmons, Anthony Ratliff-Williams, and Isaiah Zuber. Simmons finished the game with 2 receptions for 54 yards and 1 touchdown, with Zuber bringing in 2 receptions for 29 yards and 1 touchdown. Anthony Ratliff-Williams led the team in receptions, ending the day with 5 catches for 40 yards.
Houston came up big on the defensive side of the ball, with defensive end Chris Odom and cornerback Will Likely each forcing a fumble. Odom also recorded 1 sack on the day, with Likely tacking on an interception which he’d return for a touchdown.
The Gamblers have been steadily climbing up the rankings over the first 2 weeks of the season, but their Week 3 matchup against a talented Tampa Bay Bandits could be their most difficult test so far.
6. Pittsburgh Maulers (Last Week: 8)
Contrary to their Week 1 appearance, The Pittsburgh Maulers started to figure things out in their Week 2 matchup against the Philadelphia Stars. Despite losing the game, the team looked far more competitive than in their previous matchup.
Maulers quarterback Josh Love played a more competitive game than last week, but there’s still some room for improvement. Love ended the day completing 21/39 passes (53.8% Comp) for 236 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Running backs Garrett Groshek and Madre London got things going in the ground game, which struggled mightily in Week 1. Groshek took 18 carries for 77 yards, also hauling in 1 reception for 5 yards, with London rushing 10 times for 46 yards, and bringing in 2 receptions for 11 yards. The team’s leading receiver would be Bailey Gaither, who’d total 7 receptions for 117 yards and 1 touchdown. Tight end Hunter Thedford also found the endzone, ending the day with 2 receptions for 10 yards and 1 touchdown.
Defensively, the Maulers forced 3 fumbles, recovering 2 of them, also recording 4 sacks, and 1 interception on the day. The top players on the Maulers’ defense would be defensive ends Carlo Kemp and Eric Assoua, and cornerbacks Terrell Bonds and Jaylon McClain-Sapp.
The Maulers looked significantly improved in Week 2, but the team definitely has some things to work on still. If quarterback Josh Love can clean things up a bit and coach Kirby Wilson makes some improvements in playcalling, this team could be one to watch out for as we get deeper into the season.
7. New Jersey Generals (Last Week: 5)
The New Jersey Generals are coming off a win against the Michigan Panthers, but the game wasn’t a pretty one, with 0 points scored in the entire second half. While their defense played well, and the offense had its moments, if the lack of offensive production continues over the coming weeks, questions regarding the Generals’ 2-quarterback system might arise.
Despite the win, It was a rough day for both the Generals’ quarterbacks. Luiz Perez ended the game having completed 13/19 passes (68.4% Comp) for 97 yards and 1 touchdown, with De’Andre Johnson completing 5/6 passes (83.3% Comp) for 48 yards, also rushing 10 times for 27 yards. The team’s leading rusher was Darius Victor, who finished the game with 11 carries for 40 yards and 1 touchdown. Wide receiver Darrius Shepherd led the air attack, who’d haul in 5 receptions for 58 yards on the day.
Defensively, the Generals played a solid game, but much of their success had to do with the Panthers’ lack of offensive production. The highlight of the defense was their 2 sacks, recorded by defensive ends Kolin Hill, Deyon Sizer (0.5 sacks), and Tyshun Render (0.5 sacks).
This team has plenty to clean up heading into their Week 3 matchup against the Philadelphia Stars. They’ll surely need better offensive efficiency if they want to compete with Philly.
8. Michigan Panthers (Last Week: 7)
The Michigan Panthers are coming off a tough loss to the New Jersey Generals in the lowest-scoring matchup of the week. The Panthers’ defense played well, but ultimately, poor play from quarterback Shea Patterson is what led this team to their second straight loss to begin the season.
Patterson struggled throughout the game, ending the day completing 14/29 passes (48.3% Comp) for 124 yards, also rushing 3 times for 6 yards. Additionally, more than half of Patterson’s passing yards came on the game’s final drive. Leading the air attack was tight end Marcus Baugh and running back Cameron Scarlett, with Baugh having 3 receptions for 38 yards and Scarlett hauling in 3 receptions for 27 yards on the day.
Defensively, Michigan held the Generals out of the endzone for the majority of the game, with the highlight being safety Orion Stewart picking off Generals’ quarterback Luiz Perez.
If Patterson wants to be successful in the USFL, he has a lot to work on in regards to working through reads and making better decisions. Additionally, Patterson is missing way too many wide-open receivers, and the team is making way too many mistakes to be considered competitive at this time. Hopefully, the Panthers turn things around here soon, but a Week 3 matchup against a Pittsburgh Maulers team that’s heating up will be no easy task.