Bears News: Previewing the USFL: New Orleans Breakers

Bears News: Previewing the USFL: New Orleans Breakers

by - Senior Writer -

As we continue to preview the upcoming USFL season, we make our way back to the South Division, where the New Orleans Breakers reside. Like last season, New Orleans will call Protective Stadium home in Birmingham as the USFL continues to go with Hub cities instead of playing games across the country.

In their defense, only a few venues would be a good fit for these teams, so it will be interesting to see how they handle things next season. New Orleans is coming off a great season as they finished the regular season at 6-4, which was good for second behind Birmingham. They then bowed out to the Stallions in the first round of the playoffs as a strong first season ended.

Of all the teams this season, this one will look the most different, and that all starts at the head coach position. Out goes Larry Fedora after just one season, and in comes John DeFilippo to take the reigns for his first head coaching opportunity. DeFilippo is no stranger to the professional ranks as he has held various jobs on the offensive side of the ball, including the Chicago Bears passing game coordinator in 2020 and 2021.

DeFilippo has had mixed reviews as a coach, especially during his tenure as the Vikings offensive coordinator, which is why the right staff will go a long way for him. Doug Martin is being brought in as the OC, with Jon Tenuta calling the defensive plays and coaching the secondary. Like DeFilippo, these coaches have little, if any, head coaching experience, although Tenuta did coach one game at Georgia Tech.

Regardless of the staff that DeFilippo puts in place, he will have to work his magic. Not only is the leagues leading passer in Kyle Sloter gone, but so is his favorite target from a year ago, Sal Canella. Both of them ventured off to the XFL and are on the same team in Arlington. In place of Sloter comes a veteran QB that may sound familiar to some, especially if you are a fan of the CFL.

McCleod Bethel-Thompson leaves the CFL to come to the USFL, where he is hoping to land in the NFL one last time. After putting up some of the best numbers the CFL has seen in a long time, Thompson has proven he can be a legitimate passing threat in some regard. Granted, the CFL is a complete style of play; you have to like this move, as he could be in for a tremendous season.

Thompson will be throwing to a bevy of talented receivers, including Jonathan Adams, Reggie Davis, and Johnnie Dixon. Adams is the most notable name on this list, as he hauled in 406 yards on 31 catches a season ago with five TDs.

Those numbers were second to Canella and how it will be Adams's turn to prove he is worth a No. 1 role.

While the WR position seems covered, the TE and RB position could be a revolving door as the Breakers need to figure that out. You have another former CFL player in Wes Hills looking to anchor down the RB position, while EJ Bibbs could be the starting TE. Both come with a talented pedigree and have a chance to be something special if given the opportunity.

For the Breakers to make another run and, this time, make the USFL championship game, their defense will have to play much better than it did down the stretch. Ahmed Gooden and Anree Saint-Amour will have to play a considerable role upfront for that to happen. They will need to stop the run and figure out a way to get pressure on some of the QBs in this league to take pressure off the second line of defense.

Should teams get to the second level, you have arguably the best LB team in the USFL waiting, as these guys can flat-out play. Former Ottawa Redblack Saheed Salmon, Vonte Diggs (teammate of Thompson in Toronto), and Jonathan Brailford are locked and loaded as they will come ready to produce. These guys will be able to get after the QB and do much more than you think, which will take pressure off the secondary.

Speaking of the secondary, that unit is pretty decent, too, with Adonis Alexander expected to be the No. 1 CB. He will be joined by Neville Clarke and another CFL star Derrick Jones as this team has a CFL feel to it. Saquan Hampton will likely anchor one of the safety spots and will be put to the test this season.

Along with the names mentioned above, WRs Hergy Mayala and Richie Sindani will begin the season on the IL, but will return at some point. If anything, this will be one of the more exciting teams to watch, as the CFL will be well-represented with this group.

Comment on this story
Send Feedback to Dustin Riese: Email | Comment
Post your comments!