By Rob Rang
FOX Sports Draft Analyst
The old expression of boxing – beautiful styles make big fights – was just as clear on Saturday in USFLwhen the New Jersey Generals neutralized the New Orleans Breakers, 27-17in a crucial interdivisional matchup between two of the best teams in the league.
In terms of statistics, the Breakers entered the game as the brightest team in the league, leading in total offense and defense. Even if they are technically ranked second in the USFL’s South division behind undefeated Birmingham, the Breakers ’35-point scoring differential (93 points scored, 58 points allowed) is the USFL’s best.
But on Saturday, some outstanding individual performances from New Jersey – along with significant tactical changes from head coach Mike Riley and defensive coordinator Cris Dishman – dominated the Generals for the most part. in the game, even after a long delay in the third quarter. for lightning.
Here are some New Jersey players who stand out from the scouting perspective.
The most obvious change Riley and his staff have made comes with the quarterback.
Previously, the Generals rotated Johnson and Luis Perez throughout the season. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, though, with Johnson, a dual-threat dynamic, taking every snap.
The 6-foot-2, 188-pounder from Texas Southern responded by speeding up two touchdowns to put New Jersey to a 17-10 lead at halftime. He finished the throw for a career-long 237 yards on a 12-for-19 passing, the equivalent of New Orleans ’most famous quarterback-Kyle Sloter-big game for the big game.
Generals QB De’Andre Johnson stopped the Breakers
New Jersey quarterback De’Andre Johnson helped lead the Generals to victory against the New Orleans breakers with more than 200 yards past and two quick touchdowns.
While Johnson may not have the fastest release in the game or the best placement of the ball, his effectiveness as a runner keeps defenders out of balance. As the FOX telecast learned of the game, the Generals run the ball approximately 60% of the time and lead the USFL in rushing tests per game. That commitment attracts linebackers and safes close to the line of scrimmage.
The agile play-calling and improved knowledge, patience and accuracy from Johnson made New Jersey a more consistent team on Saturday. He showed good touch on deep balls from play-action and was deadly as a runner, cutting gaps in the New Orleans defense to the tune of 39 yards on 10 tries.
Johnson’s breakout game was made easier by the talent position of the skill around him, with explosive slot receiver Turpin leading the all-pass-catcher with five receptions for 106 yards.
He was also an impact on the special teams, with his 39-yard return to the punt in the fourth quarter that put a late goal on the field to extend the underdog Generals ’shocking lead.
Darius Victor and Trey Williamsrunning back
While Johnson’s improved passing likely earned him the title of Offensive Player of the Game, it’s his slashing running style that serves as the perfect complement to the real stars of offense for the Generals – a stable of two. heads to run back, led by Victor-a Sherman tank in the back at 5-foot-8, 209 pounds.
In the third quarter, Victor bulldozed his way into the end zone for his USFL-leading fifth rushing score of the season. It’s easy to see why the Generals are relying on a player aptly described by FOX color commentator Joel Klatt as a “bowling ball of butcher knives.”
RB Darius Victor of the Generals rushed for the go-ahead TD
Darius Victor bulldozed the middle to put the New Jersey Generals ahead in the third quarter.
Built underground and boasting thick, strong legs that literally measured 30 inches by FOX’s sideline reporter and former Washington quarterback Brock Huard, Victor has a frame and play that reminds me of another former Pac- 12 star, Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD measured an inch shorter and two pounds lighter than Victor in the 2006 NFL Combine, and he will go on to score 79 NFL touchdowns.
Like MJD, Victor runs low and fast, offering defenders relatively few targets. He has incredible balance by making contact, bouncing on potential tackles like a pinball, and keeping his driving legs to finish runs.
His running mate in the backfield-the more prototypically-built Williams (5-foot-11, 230) is also a powerful and determined runner. For a big back, he also shows good lateral agility to avoid traffic.
New Jersey’s three-header in the running game helped the Generals defend the football-something Sloter (15-for-36 for 155 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions) did not match.
Part of the reason for the Breakers ’struggles was good defensive switch-ups from Dishman.
One doesn’t have to be a former NFL All-Pro cornerback (like Dishman) to understand that moving members can be just as effective on confusing quarterbacks as hitting them with a speeding pass.
The Generals recorded only one sack in this game and are one of the least effective in the USFL when it comes to opposing quarterbacks. They entered the fray on Saturday with just seven quarterback takedowns in the first four games.
What they did a good job of, though, was to raise their hands in the passing lanes, which obscured Sloter’s vision and led to some inaccurate throws-many of which were gipunting. And Dishman goes on to predict Sloter, constantly switching between man and zone principles, making a quarterback who joins the game as the most productive in the USFL is largely ineffective.
Toby Johnsondefensive tackle
As with offense, the “X’s and O’s” of teaching defense are easier with dominant players.
At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, Johnson doesn’t look much like a prototypical pass rusher, but his ability to collapse the pocket from the inside will give him many stars in the Generals movie review. .
At times, Johnson was almost unstoppable, bulldozing the blockers with great force and including a good swim move to help him register six tackles, including two for loss. His ability to eat inside helped New Jersey limit the Breakers to 115 rashing yards, a number magnified by a 43-yard scamper on a fake punt in the first quarter by linebacker Jerod Fernandez.
Taking that run out of the equation, the Breakers averaged just three yards per carry on 24 tries. Their star back, Jordan Ellis, entered the game as the top runner in the USFL, averaging just under 87 yards per game. He was held for less than half of that (42 yards on 12 carries) on Saturday.
The main recipient of Johnson’s dominance in the canals was Luani, who recorded two interceptions in the big win.
While his soft hands and awareness could generate USFL Defensive Player of the Week awards, it was his speed and agility of coverage that also played a key role in limiting Breakers ’tight end Sal Cannella in just one capture of seven targets. .
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Cannella entered the game as the USFL’s top receiver with 215 yards in four games. Without his favorite security blanket running free at the seam, Sloter was left focused on his targets, bringing the Generals to the ball – and ultimately the victory.
One of the most recognized names in the industry, Rob Rang has been a member of the NFL Draft for more than 20 years, with a job at FOX, Sports Illustrated, CBSSports.comUSA Today, Yahoo, NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.comand so on.
Get more from the United States Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.