Michigan Panthers Season Preview

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The favorite coming into the 2022 USFL season is the Michigan Panthers. Michigan has the lowest USFL futures odds on the board in the eight-team league, and a lot of that stems from the Panthers having the top pick in the draft. The Panthers selected Shea Patterson from Michigan, but there is plenty of reason to be skeptical about this team’s chances. There is not a lot to be excited about at the skill positions, and Jeff Fisher has lost a lot of his luster as a head coach.

 

Odds to Win the 2022 USFL Championship at SugarHouse Sportsbook

Michigan Panthers +450
New Orleans Breakers +500
Tampa Bay Bandits +500
Philadelphia Stars +550
Pittsburgh Maulers +600
Birmingham Stallions +650
Houston Gamblers +700
New Jersey Generals +800

 

Patterson started 10 games at Ole Miss before he suffered an injury in 2017. He transferred to Michigan at the end of the season, and he spent two years as the starting quarterback for the Wolverines in 2018 and 2019. He put up solid numbers, completing 60.1% of his passes for 5,661 yards with 45 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Patterson proved that he could run too, but he does have issues with his accuracy.

He was unable to stick in the NFL after being signed as a UDFA by Kansas City. Patterson didn’t have much luck in the CFL either, so there are major question marks regarding his ability to play at a high level in the USFL. He needs to use his mobility to help his transition, but Jeff Fisher is a traditional head coach that prefers a dropback passer.

Fisher has seen his star fall quite a bit over the years. He was seen as one of the NFL’s top head coaches during his 15 years with the Tennessee Titans, but he did not have a good run of it with the St. Louis and then Los Angeles Rams. That led to a four-year hiatus from coaching prior to this gig.

If Patterson doesn’t play well, Paxton Lynch will get another crack at a starting quarterback job. Lynch was a late first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but he failed to impress in two seasons with the Denver Broncos. He was released prior to the start of his third season, and he has not thrown a meaningful pass since that time.

Indiana’s Stevie Scott III was a Second Team All-Big Ten running back in 2020. Scott might be the No. 1 running back, but he wasn’t selected in the NFL Draft after declaring early. He doesn’t have a lot of speed for a running back, and that limits his potential.

The situation at wide receiver is a little better. Jeff Badet was a decent receiver at the collegiate level and ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at Oklahoma. Badet has spent the last four years bouncing around practice squads, so he is still fresh.

Lance Lenoir from Western Illinois is expected to be a contributor too. Lenoir was one of the best receivers in the Missouri Valley for three years, and he was able to stick with the Dallas Cowboys for a while.

There are a lot of unknowns with respect to the defensive coaches too. We don’t have a big name or a proven playcaller, and that could be an issue. Taiwan Jones was expected to be the leader of the defense too, but he chose not to report to the club, so that leaves the Panthers without arguably their best linebacker.

Tino Ellis and Jameson Houston are a decent cornerback duo. Ellis isn’t afraid to jump routes, and that could lead to some big plays for one team or the other. Meanwhile, Houston was one of the many defensive backs on Philadelphia’s roster during the 2020 campaign.

The defense has two other proven players in Frank Ginda and Cavon Walker. Ginda shined in the AAF and XFL, leading both his teams in tackles. Walker had 4.5 sacks in five XFL games to show off his strength.

Michigan will likely be one of the better teams in the USFL, but the Panthers should not be USFL betting favorites ahead of Week 1. There is still a lot to play out with this team.