Breakers' rout of Bandits a warning shot to rest of USFL

Breakers' rout of Bandits a warning shot to rest of USFL

Apr 24

By RJ Young
FOX Sports Writer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The New Orleans Breakers played the most dominant game of any team in the USFL season on Sunday, and the final score of 34-3 over the Tampa Bay Bandits only told part of the story.

The Breakers established their dominance early with a clinical scoring drive on their first possession. It was a 13-play, 79-yard march that took 5:44 off the clock and was punctuated with quarterback Kyle Sloter sneaking into the end zone for the first points of the game — and then spiking the ball.

The Breakers' defense held Tampa Bay to negative-two yards — one yard passing, negative-three yards rushing — in their first two series. 

And the Breakers' offense picked up 10 first downs and held the ball for more than 11 minutes in the first quarter while building a 14-0 lead. Perhaps the only action item the Bandits could feel good about is they hadn’t turned the ball over.

The Bandits managed to put together a scoring drive with 5:51 left in the half, mostly behind their rushing attack, but that resulted in only a field goal. 

By intermission, the Breakers led 21-3, had a 246-108 advantage in yards gained, averaging better than six yards per play, and had picked up 17 first downs.

It might have been the best and most complete half of football played by any team in the first two weeks, and despite being held scoreless in the third quarter, the Breakers were never threatened in the second half.

And it certainly sends message to the rest of the league.

The Breakers have a high-flyer, and he's a problem

Wideout Jonathan Adams was unstoppable for the Breakers on Sunday. The 6-3, 220-pounder, who caught 79 balls for 1,111 yards as a senior at Arkansas State in 2020, used his height and leaping ability on several occasions against the Bandits.

It started with a sky-walking, toe-tapping 2-point conversion in the first quarter …

And continued with a series of jaw-dropping athletic displays, including a one-handed grab that had some observers already declaring it the catch of the season.

After only catching one pass for 10 yards in Week 1, Adams had his coming-out party. He grabbed five passes for 92 yards (18.4 yards per catch), plus the eye-popping 2-point conversion.

If Adams continues to find a groove with Sloter, opposing defenses will have a problem on their hands. 

Where did the Bandits' offense go?

Todd Haley and the Bandits were the talk of the league after their dominant 17-3 win in Week 1. Sure, the offense wasn't great in that game, but quarterback Jordan Ta'amu and his squad would surely find their rhythm, right?

Not against the Breakers.

Tampa did prove capable of running the ball, outgaining New Orleans 130-108 on the ground and averaging a solid 4.3 YPC. But the Bandits couldn't sustain anything.

Their first three drives were three-and-outs. In fact, they only had four drives that lasted more than five plays, and they went like this:

— 11 plays, resulting in a field goal.

— 16 plays, turned over on downs.

— Six plays, turned over on downs.

— Six plays, ended with an interception.

Oof.

Give some credit to the Breakers defense

Some of Tampa Bay's struggles should be credited to the New Orleans defense, which was impressive for the second straight week.

The Breakers allowed only 194 yards of offense and 3.1 yards per play. They also only let the Bandits reach the red zone once, and notched three takeaways (including two interceptions), 10 tackles for loss and four sacks.

That was even better than their Week 1 performance against the Philadelphia Stars, in which they compiled two takeaways, nine tackles for loss and six sacks.

Davin Bellamy was the star of that game, racking up three sacks while earning Defensive Player of the Week honors.

This time around it was more of a group effort, with Vontae Diggs (10 tackles) and Kamilo Tongamoa (two sacks) playing leading roles.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young." Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young, and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube. He is not on a StepMill.