What to expect from New Jersey Generals vs. Philadelphia Stars
The Generals are seeking offense, while the Stars are trying to rediscover the form that took them to the title game last season.
The Philadelphia Stars are hubbed in Detroit but have yet to win a game as the home team this season. It’s a major departure from 2022, when they made it all the way to the championship game, just as they had every year in the USFL's previous iteration.
Meanwhile, New Jersey may be coming off a loss, but the Generals still sit at No. 3 in FOX Sports’ USFL Power Rankings, behind only the undefeated New Orleans Breakers and the Birmingham Stallions. Last week’s loss to the former was just the fourth loss for the Generals since the USFL returned last season.
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It will be interesting to see how things shake out when the teams meet on Sunday at Noon ET.
Can the Generals generate enough offense to get back in the win column?
New Jersey linebacker Chris Orr is tied for the league lead in tackles with 10.3 per game, leading a defense that has allowed fewer points than any other in the USFL. They held the best team in the league, the undefeated Breakers, to 20 points last week.
This is all well and good, but what New Jersey needs in order to get above .500 is some offense. The Generals simply aren’t scoring enough points. They managed a season-high 28 against the struggling Michigan Panthers in Week 3, but haven’t managed more than 20 points in any other game.
New Jersey is rushing for a league-best 169.3 yards per game thanks to running back Darius Victor, who ranks second in rushing yards through five weeks. He has 290 on 41 carries this season, including two for touchdowns. Against a Philadelphia Stars team that gave up 225 yards on the ground last weekend, New Jersey will have a real opportunity to put some points on the board with yards on the ground.
Can Cookus and the Stars get back on track?
The Stars came into the season riding the momentum of yet another championship appearance in 2022. Had it not been for an injury to quarterback Case Cookus in the fourth quarter, they could very well be boasting the title of defending champions this season.
But they aren’t. Cookus and the offense don’t seem to be in rhythm at all. Because of that, Cookus seems out of sorts, holding the ball too long and forcing throws that have led him — and the team — into precarious situations. Cookus took six sacks last week against the Houston Gamblers. He threw an interception, too. In all, the Stars turned the ball over twice and scored just 16 points to Houston’s 41.
The Stars also couldn’t stop Houston running back Mark Thompson, who rushed for three touchdowns on the day in total. Going up against a New Jersey team that is averaging the most rushing yards per game this season, the Stars are going to need something to click, and fast. They are hanging out in the power rankings cellar with their fellow hub team, the Michigan Panthers, with both teams still searching for their first win at home.
Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.