Which USFL QBs will emerge as elite?

Which USFL QBs will emerge as elite?

Apr 21

Week 1 of the USFL season turned out to be a rough one for the league's quarterbacks.

Perhaps that should have been expected, as the QBs only had about three weeks of practice to learn their offenses and get in sync with their pass-catchers, not to mention organize their protection schemes upfront.

Still, the league's quarterbacks only completed a little better than 60% of their passes for fewer than six years per attempt. They also combined to throw only eight touchdown passes while also tossing seven interceptions — not an ideal ratio.

"We didn't see great quarterback play," FOX Sports' RJ Young said on his podcast, "The No. 1 Ranked Show." "It might be the worst week of quarterback play that we see all year because guys I expected to be great were still figuring it out and started to settle into the game as the game progressed, guys like Shea Patterson."

USFL observers are left to wonder how long it will take the league's QBs to hit their stride, and which will be the first to do so.

Young said he saw some good signs, though, even through the struggles of Week 1.

Patterson "started out abysmal in the first half, it really came together in the second half for him. [The] same thing is true for Bryan Scott of the Philadelphia Stars. I think you have room for improvement … now they've seen these teams. They also have seen themselves, so they know who they can depend on, guys that they want to throw to."

Patterson struggled to get anything going in the first half, as his Michigan Panthers entered the break trailing 17-0 with drives that ended thusly: punt, punt, fumble, punt, fumble, interception, end of half. But he nearly brought the Panthers back in the second half before falling 17-12.

As for Scott, he threw a puzzling interception early but ended up leading all passers on the weekend with 202 yards.

"I'll mention Bryan Scott again," Young said. "He has this built-in relationship with former Tennessee State wide receiver Chris Rowland, as well as former North Carolina tight end Bug Howard." 

Young also mentioned the New Jersey Generals' tandem of quarterback Luis Perez and receiver Randy Satterfield, who connected on the league's first touchdown of its inaugural season, stating that the combo "might be a problem" for the rest of the league.

And another QB to watch is J'Mar Smith, who stepped in for the injured Alex McGough and led the Birmingham Stallions to a comeback victory over the Generals. Smith earned Offensive Player of the Week honors for the effort.

"We'll see what happens with [receiver] Osirus Mitchell, but I think J'Mar Smith is going to figure that out," Young said, "A guy that's 6-foot-5, yeah you're gonna throw him the football."

It all gave Young reason to feel optimistic for the weeks to come.

"So, you've got some places to go over here for these quarterbacks to emerge," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see which one of these guys steps up and becomes the best quarterback in the USFL."