Michigan Panthers USFL Head Coach Jeff Fisher

The Michigan Panthers QB Dilemma Heading Towards 2023

The Michigan Panthers turned out to be relatively disappointing in their inaugural USFL season. In 2022, the team finished with a 2-8 record, losing multiple heartbreakers in the final minutes.

However, the Panthers do possess quite a bit of talent. Their lack of execution cost them a winning record – but, the team has plenty to build upon heading into season two.

With that in mind, Michigan – or more specifically – Jeff Fisher, has a tough decision to make. This decision likely won’t be made until after training camp, but it’s a situation to watch closely as free agency picks up.

Currently, the Michigan Panthers have three quarterbacks on the roster. Each QB saw playing time in the second half of the season – and performed well, all things considered. Let’s take a look at each signal caller, and what they could provide to the team.

Josh Love

Josh Love saw some ups and downs during the USFL 2022 season. He started off with the Pittsburgh Maulers, but didn’t fit Kirby Wilson’s scheme. After being let go, Fisher brought him to Michigan for a second opportunity.

There, he played quite well. Love is more athletic than he appears to be, and put that on full display for the Panthers. He got his first start in week seven against the New Orleans Breakers, and played incredibly well.

Had it not been for a thumb injury on his throwing hand, Michigan certainly could have won that game. In week nine, Love started against the New Jersey Generals, once again playing quite consistently. His throw to Joe Walker on fourth and goal was sensational.

Unfortunately, he was injured again in this game, which benched him for the remainder of the season. While Love won’t “wow” spectators right away, his ability to control an offense is a valuable asset not every QB has.

Eric Barriere

Eric Barriere is a bit of an anomaly. He only played in the USFL for two quarters this season, joining Michigan late in the year. Barriere was a standout at Eastern Washington University, turning plenty of heads during his tenure there.

Eric saw the field in week nine, taking over for an injured Josh Love. While there is plenty of room for improvement, Barriere did showcase his abilities to throw, and run, at a high level.

The key with Barriere, is that he simply needs time to develop. With some growth in decision making, Barriere could certainly be one of the USFL’s most dangerous QB’s.

The question that remains is: Can he develop in Jeff Fisher’s offense? Barriere is a mobile QB, and can be used in a variety of different ways. Fisher, on the other hand, tends to prefer more of a traditional passing quarterback for his system.

Only time will tell. That being said, Eric Barriere has major upside – and should be on any USFL team’s radar.

Paxton Lynch

One of the most intriguing stories in 2022 revolved around Paxton Lynch. The former first round NFL pick for the Denver Broncos ended up with Jeff Fisher, and was arguably his favorite QB to use.

Disappointingly, he dealt with injuries for most of the season, which led to much more of Shea Patterson than most of us wanted to see. However, when Lynch was on the field, he was surprisingly solid.

His first action came in week three, against the Pittsburgh Maulers. He put the team up 16-0, but ultimately suffered an injury.

It wouldn’t be until week eight when we saw Lynch again. After a solid first half versus Philadelphia, Case Cookus stole the show – and the Panthers ended up losing by 22.

However, in week ten, Lynch was handed the reigns once again. This time, it was a phenomenal performance. He finished the day with 275 yards and three touchdowns – dominating the Maulers from start to finish.

This was no easy feat – because, despite their poor record, Pittsburgh did have one of the better defenses in the league. It didn’t matter to Lynch, however, as he shredded their secondary time and time again. Towards the end of the year, Paxton proved that he could play at a high level in the USFL.

Who Should Start For Michigan In 2023?

What makes this scenario so interesting is the fact that all three quarterbacks have a case for starting. Love and Lynch both proved themselves as signal callers in 2022 – while Barriere has loads of potential as well.

Honestly, if all three are still on the roster once training camp arrives, that will make for an intense battle. If anyone has an edge, it is likely Paxton Lynch. That being said, Fisher will have to figure out which QB gives his team the best chance at a winning record – and stick with that choice from the get go.

Another factor to consider: the Michigan Panthers hold the first pick in every round of the 2023 draft. Will they bring in another quarterback to camp, to compete with the others? Time will tell. With three capable QB’s already on the squad, adding a fourth would be a bold move, to say the least.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, we will have to wait and see as to what unfolds in Michigan. As the 2023 season makes its way towards us, we are excited to watch what the league has in store for fans in year two. Brace yourselves, because plenty of entertaining stories will be making themselves known soon.

Which quarterback do you think the Michigan Panthers should start in 2023? Do you have a favorite moment from either QB this past season? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

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