Are The New Jersey Generals In Trouble?

Are The New Jersey Generals In Trouble?

On Saturday night, the New Jersey Generals fell to the Birmingham Stallions 27-10 in a game that felt even more lopsided than the score indicated. From the very first series the Stallions were in control. On the fourth play from scrimmage, tight end Brandon Bowman fumbled a pass from De’Andre Johnson and gave Birmingham great field position.

The next play, quarterback J’Mar Smith found wide out Austin Watkins for a 61-yard touchdown to take the lead 7-0. Although the Generals eventually tied it at 10, they allowed 17 unanswered points after. That included a touchdown pass to tight end Jace Sternberger from quarterback Alex McGough in the final seconds of the first half, and New Jersey never looked to be in sync on either side of the ball.

Offensive Struggles

Just like last year, head coach Mike Riley decided to play two quarterbacks to start this year, but it didn’t look as cohesive as last season. De’Andre Johnson started the game and did not look comfortable. He was just 4/13 for 29 yards passing (2.2 YPA) and added 45 yards on the ground.

Backup Dakota Prukop played better but didn’t set the world on fire either. He was 13/17 for 148 yards passing (8.7 YPA) and ran for the Generals lone touchdown in the game. He also lost a fumble during a good-looking drive at the beginning of the third quarter. The Stallions pass rush was constant and harassed both quarterbacks, seemingly at will.

Although the Generals only allowed two sacks, clean pockets to throw from were rare and we saw several passes tipped at the line of scrimmage. Mike Riley needs to decide which quarterback gives him the best chance to run his offense and then stick with them until further notice.

The run game looked a lot like last year though, as the Generals ran for 192 yards on 30 attempts for over 6 yards a carry. Darius Victor led the way with 84 yards on the ground on just 8 carries. It was surprising that despite his efficiency, Victor touched the ball so few times. It was clear that offensively, they wanted to spread touches around and running back Kingston Davis looked solid as well in his first real action. Still, the thing that made the Generals so great last year was their balance on offense.

Missing The MVP

It’s obvious they miss former USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin in their pass attack. They looked to get wide receiver Cam Echols-Luper involved often, both on the ground and through the air. But the other wide receivers struggled to separate against man-coverage, and they need someone to establish themselves as a true number one option if they hope to find more success through the air. It didn’t help that De’Morney Pierson-El had the cart come out for him late in the fourth quarter. We hope he is okay, and it isn’t as bad as it seemed initially.

Defensive Miscues

It seems obvious, but the Generals missed defensive coordinator and secondary coach Cris Dishman in their season opener. The pass rush looked better from last year, but they still only managed one sack on the night and did not keep their rush lanes. Alex McGough was able to scramble for a number of key first downs while behind the chains.

Being without their two starting cornerbacks from last year, De’Vante Bausby and DeJuan Neal showed. Their young secondary was helped by their experienced safety room, but still struggled in man or zone coverage across the board. They allowed a combined QBR of 103.9 to the Stallions two quarterbacks and were a clear weakness for the defense.

The Generals did hold Birmingham under the 100-yard mark on the ground and most of the damage was done by McGough’s legs. New Jersey can stuff the ground game well, but the pass defense is still alarming. The Stallions have a ton of offensive weapons, but the Generals must find a way to stop receivers from running free in the secondary. Poor tackling and missed assignments summed up New Jersey’s night on that side of the ball.

Final Thoughts & Looking Ahead

It may feel like it to some, but the New Jersey Generals are not in trouble. They played an extremely sloppy game from start to finish but minimizing penalties, turnovers, and being more efficient in the red zone are fixable issues. They ran into the best roster in the USFL in the Birmingham Stallions and were outclassed from the beginning of the game.

This should not be a trend and I do expect them to bounce back next week against the Pittsburgh Maulers in Canton.

The New Jersey Generals out-gained the Stallions 356-310 and won the time of possession battle by nearly five minutes. New Jersey scored one touchdown on their four red zone possessions and might have had another if not for a questionable call by the refs.

Their two fumbles led to 14 points for the Stallions and coach Riley said postgame, that they lost in the situational aspects of the game. If they’re able to clean up these mistakes, which I believe they will, this is still a very good team that can make a playoff push.

What are your thoughts on the New Jersey Generals this season in the USFL? Can they make a USFL Championship run? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

  1. Like you Jared, I feel this does not mean they are in trouble. They, however, have some things to address. First games of the season are generally just. In some ways it’s a warm up. Also, the offensive line takes time to gel. The XFL is in its 9th week and rarely do they run a sweep. It’s just difficult. Last night in a game between the Breakers and the Maulers the defensive lines were so aggressive because the running backs and quarterbacks are almost almost inside the hashmarks. When MBT role put he was sitting there for literally seconds waiting for someone to come free because. o one on the line is expecting anyone to be there. The Generals don’t operate that way and eventually I feel they will gel. Trey Williams was inactive. If healthy he needs to be on the field. I still feel De’Andre Johnson has big upside, but if he can’t do it Prukop will. The defense also has to gel. Aggressive defenses always take time to come together. With only 10 games and 2 Northern playoff spots they don’t have all the time in the world. Either way all these teams are here to compete so nothing will come easy to anyone. Just a note, even on that run you showed Victor was tackled a good two steps after he was out of bounds. If the flag was thrown like it should have been you would have been saying what a stupid play that was. It seems across all football leagues there is special attention paid to some teams. Those that have a REAL home seem to get the best calls.

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