It was an extremely ugly weekend for the Northern Division as all four teams went winless in the USFL opening weekend. For the Panthers and Generals going into their divisional weekend both teams are desperately vying to enter the win column and set the tone entering three straight divisional games.
Will the Panthers be able to build momentum off an impressive second half?
The first half of football for the Michigan Panthers did not look good. The Panthers offensive line allowed no time for Shea Patterson and Paxton Lynch, as both QBs were running for their life the majority of the first half. There were times Shea Patterson was doing his best Johnny Manziel impression as he seemed to constantly be out side of the pocket trying to make something out of nothing. Between several dropped passes, helmet communication issues, and an untimely red-zone turn-overs the Panthers Offense was held to zero points in the 1st half. However, things heated up for Patterson and the Panthers as they definitely began to look more in sync coming out of the locker room. Patterson had more poise and was even able to find a solid connect with Wide Receiver Lance Lenoir, for several big plays including a touchdown. But going into Week 2 the Panthers right now have all four receivers on the injury with only Lenoir being a full participant. With Offensive Line issues will the Panthers lean on Cameron Scarlett more and Patterson’s legs? Or will Tight Ends Connor Davis (who is now healthy) and La’Michael Pettway be asked to run more routes.
Panthers defense looks capable but hasn’t been really tested.
The Panthers defense played considerably well despite being put behind the 8-ball for most the game. The defense definitely had a bend but don’t break attitude. Frank Ginda led the defense with 10 tackles however, I was pretty disappointed with the Defensive line for most of the game. Gamblers Running Back Mark Thompson provided solid dose of dragging Panthers defenders for the first 3 quarters of the game, but the Panthers defense overall played extremely well only giving up 10 points. Going into next week I’d like to see Cavon Walker and Kyshonn Tyson more active in the backfield as both of them didn’t have a tackle for loss until late the second half. The secondary for me is still a question, Tino Ellis did make some plays however, the Thorson and Bahar didn’t push the ball down the field very much, also the secondary was aided by several drops. Going into Week 2 the Generals have proven they can push the ball down the field, which will tell Coach Fisher and his defensive coaches a lot more about Tino Ellis and Jameson Houston. Another factor, with Warren Saba out, how will the Panthers adjust to losing his spot.
No Kicker big problem
The Panthers Special Teams isn’t very special. Michael Carrizosa is an extremely gifted punter being named to his All-Conference team multiple times while in college. However, he is not a kicker only attempting two extra points and one field goal in college. Last weekend the Panthers left a couple points on the field that ultimately would have changed the outcome of the game. The Panthers need an actual kicker if they plan on making a deep run into the season. Also, Wide Receiver Joe Walker is the holder, and he has not practiced Monday and Tuesday due to a leg injury.
Who is QB1 for the NJ Generals and can they be healthy enough to play for Week 2?
The Generals opened Week One with an amazing first drive leading to a Luis Perez touchdown to Randy Satterfield. After that the Offense did sputter but managed to put together 24 points in their loss to the Stallions. Many can fault the Generals defense, but it did appear the Generals became extremely conservative and at one point abandoned the pass completely by rushing 24 times in a row between QB De’Andre Johnson, Darius Victor and Trey Williams. Despite the loss the Generals did put together a solid Offensive output and going into week Two with another couple of practices under Luis Perez’s belt the Generals potent offensive may be even more effective.
Despite the potential offensive outbreak, the Generals can provide, the next question is will they be healthy enough? The Generals recently cut running back Mike Weber in an effort to bolster their depleted tight end corps. Wes Saxton an NFL, AAF, and XFL veteran now joins the Generals due to Nick Truesdell and Braedon Bowman both being on the injury report. In total the Generals have ten players on the injury leaving a lot of questions for Friday’s game.
In a league that only has ten games each win, and loss has a larger impact on the overall outcome of the division. With both teams starting 0-1 we can expect each Head Coach going deep into the play book in an effort to get into first place. Either way the Northern Duel looks to be an exciting way to kick off Week 2. Final Prediction for me? Depends on quarterback play, if the Generals stay conservative the passing game and Luis Perez is limited, I believe the Panthers Defense takes advantage of this I think the Panthers win 24-18. If the Generals open it up their passing attack, I think they beat the Panthers 31-21.