Bears News: Previewing the USFL: Memphis Showboats

Bears News: Previewing the USFL: Memphis Showboats

by - Senior Writer -

All it took was one season for a new team to come into the mix as the Memphis Showboats begin play in 2023. Ok, maybe this isn't quite a new team as they were known as the Tampa Bay Bandits in 2022, but with a new look, a new city, and playing their games in one of the four host cities, it is almost like an expansion team.

Coming off a 5-5 season in 2022, there was a lot to like from last season and a lot to look forward to. One of the things to look forward to is seeing what Todd Haley does in his second year as head coach. Haley has always been known to be one of the best offensive coordinators in the game, and you saw some of his offensive mindset last year.

Having Jordan Ta'Amu at QB certainly helped, but he left the USFL to latch on with the XFL, so things could look a bit different offensively this season. Knowing their biggest weapon is no longer in the mix, Haley and his staff will have to figure things out quickly, which falls on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Bob Saunders.

Saunders has held various offensive coaching positions at the NFL and NCAA levels, so look for him and Haley to put some creative things together. Defensively, you have former NFL LB Carnell Lake calling the shots as he puts an aggressive nature on his defense.

With arguably one of the best, if not the best, QB in the league last year no longer in the picture, what will this offense look like? That depends on who comes out of camp as the starter, as Ryan Willis, Brady White, and Cole Kelley all have an equal shot at winning the job. You have this same issue at the RB position, although Alex Collins appears to have a leg up right now.

With nearly 2000 yards rushing in the NFL, Collins has what it takes to be the lead dog and should be fine. Look for Justin Stockton or Kerrith Whyte to be the backup to Collins and give defenses a nice change of pace look. Not only will the passing game be a work in progress, but the WR room will, too, as Memphis has a lot of sorting out to do.

Rashard Davis is the only guarantee for right now, as he is the best player on this team. Vinny Papale is another guy who came up huge for Ta'Amu last season, and those two could form an excellent duo in the passing game.

Other WRs in the mix to see time this season include Derrick Dillon, John Franklin III, and John'Vea Johnson. Daniel Helm will also get the brunt of the looks at TE in camp, as they like his blocking abilities in this offense.

With the offense expected to be a work in progress, Memphis may need to be a defensive-minded team which isn't always a good thing. Having John Atkins and the 340-pound Daylon Mack up front will help, as they will be tough to run against. Look for Kahzin Daniels and Jeremiah Valoaga to bring the pressure from the edge, with Valoaga coming with minimal NFL experience.

Along with some size and athleticism up front comes an inexperienced, but hungry LB group. Nate Hall is the unicorn of that group, as he has not only made it to the NFL, but has registered two career sacks. Anthony Butler and Aaron Hasford could be two other guys to land a starting LB spot, as the front seven of Memphis will be crucial to the team's success.

If there was a weak link on this defense, it could be the secondary, where Memphis is struggling with experience. Jermaine Kelly and Delrick Adams are expected starters, as they have two combined NFL games. Josh Nurse is another CB with minimal NFL experience, as these guys will have to grow up quickly.

Memphis was one of those teams that were a few plays away from making the playoffs, but at the same time, a few plays from finishing with one of the worst records in the league. With a new look and a new home, expect a ton of energy in Tennessee this spring which could help this team push forward.

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