Bears News: Previewing the USFL: Philadelphia Stars

Bears News: Previewing the USFL: Philadelphia Stars

by - Senior Writer -

When discussing a tale of two seasons, look no further than the Philadelphia Stars first season in the revamped USFL. After starting the season 1-3 and being unable to do anything right, the Stars found themselves searching for answers as their playoff chances were dwindling.

Then came the final six games, where the Stars became the team no one wanted to play and went 5-1 down the stretch. That was good for a 6-4 record, earning them the second and final playoff spot in the Northern Division. Once there, they continued to roll, taking down the top-seeded New Jersey Generals before giving Birmingham all they could handle in the title game.

Needless to say, the 2023 season is full of excitement, especially with the Stars heading to Detroit to play their home games this season. Back for his second season as head coach is Bart Andrus, who has become a veteran of spring and developmental leagues. Andrus deserves a ton of credit for the turnaround last season and now knows what he has in his team.

Andrus is starting to become a legend regarding his coaching abilities in these start-up leagues, but a good coaching staff aids him. While he is still searching for an offensive coordinator for this season, you have Brad Miller returning as the defensive coordinator after putting forth one of the best defenses in the league.

A big reason for their early season struggles was a lack of QB play followed by an injury. Then came the turnaround that was led by Case Cookus, who is back in the fold to start this season. Cookus had a phenomenal season last spring, throwing for nearly 1400 yards with 12 TDs and just four INT.

Should he, by chance, struggle, the Stars have Kevin Thompson lined up behind him and Vad Lee, who started several games down the stretch for Pittsburgh last season.

Cookus came from having talented playmakers around him, especially Matt Colburn, who will be the lead back again. Colburn led the team with 418 yards rushing while adding seven scores.

Behind Colburn is the biggest question as Dexter Williams and Darnell Holland will look to win the backup job in camp. Regarding the WR/TE side of things, Philadelphia will be missing one of their key weapons early, as Bug Howard is currently on the injured list.

The TE has bounced around several spring leagues the past few seasons and put together an impressive 2022 showing with 371 yards receiving and four scores. In his absence, other guys will have to step up, including Diondre Overton. The former CFL and European league WR, Overton, had 200 yards receiving and three scores in 2022.

You also have Chris Rowland and his 215 yards returning, Kelvin Harmon and his near 400 yards receiving in the NFL, and Terry Wright as they should give the Stars a balanced passing attack to offset the run.

While the offense is in good hands, the strength of this team will still be on the defense, which will be the case again. Darius Hodge is one of the returning leaders on the defense, as he will lead the LB room. You also have Cedrick Lattimore and Ali Fayad up front, as those three will create many problems up front.

Not only will the Stars get pressure on the QB, but they should have an opportunistic secondary that is willing to take chances to make plays. Channing Stribling is one of those guys on the outside, as he will look to use his speed and size to his advantage.

On the other side of him will be Mazzi Wilkins or Stanford Samuels III, as both need to prove themselves in camp. The last line of defense is the safety position, where Evan Worthington will take his perch. With Cody Brown and Joshua Moon as other options at safety, the Stars could be in the market for a minor upgrade should they feel the need.

Say what you want about the USFL and the talent it has. Philadelphia is a very talented team with some of the highest expectations in the league. They should be one of the favorites this season, and it is only a matter of time until they show why.

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