2024 UFL Memphis Showboats Season Summary

Darius Victor #27 of the Memphis Showboats celebrates after his touchdown with Daewood Davis #2 during the third quarter against the Houston Roughnecks at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on June 02, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Wes Hale/UFL/Getty Images)

This is part two of what will be an eight-part look at each UFL team’s 2024 season. 

Part One: Houston Roughnecks

What went right

Well, the Showboats ended up with the number one overall pick in the 2025 UFL Draft. And they didn’t finish with the worst record in the league. Positives elsewhere were few and far between. RB Darius Victor was named 2024 UFL Sportsman of the Year for his work in the community and his hard-charging style was welcome despite averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and less than 40 yards per game on the ground. WR Daewood Davis was an All-UFL selection and played a key role amid an accomplished receiving corps. Matt Coghlin was the most accurate kicker in the league and Matt White proved to be a reliable punter. Head coach John DeFilippo was one of the most entertaining coaches to watch, even when the Memphis team wasn’t, and he kept his players fighting until the end.

What went wrong

The Memphis defense was the biggest culprit in the team finishing 2-8. They gave up 400 more total yards than any other team in the league, and surrendered 39 more points than the seventh-place squad in that category. It was a failure across all three levels of the defense. Offensively, the problems started with the offensive line. They gave up 13 more sacks than any other UFL team, averaging nearly four per game. This led to injuries to starting QB Case Cookus, as well as backup Troy Williams. The line deserves much of the blame for the worst rushing offense at just 65 yards per game. The offensive issues are magnified because DeFilippo is a former NFL QB coach and offensive coordinator.

Offensive MVP

That would be WR Daewood Davis, perhaps in a landslide. He led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, also hauling in the Showboats’ longest pass of the season at 82 yards. The fact that he was able to make the All-UFL team despite the struggles at quarterback is a feather in his cap. Before this UFL season, he was best-known for suffering a scary injury in an NFL preseason game. Now, he has shown his wares at the professional level and will get another shot at the big-time this summer.

Jordan Ferguson #42 of the Memphis Showboats celebrates his tackle against the Birmingham Stallions during the first quarter at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on May 04, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Matthew A. Smith/UFL/Getty Images)

Defensive MVP

There were a couple of contenders here, but I’ll give the nod to LB Jordan Ferguson. He finished third on the team in tackles, pacing the defense in tackles for loss and sacks while also recovering a fumble. On a team that struggled to affect the passer, Ferguson was the one counted on to get to the QB. The Middle Tennessee State product had a short stint in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks after the 2023 USFL season. His 2024 performance may earn him a look in the NFL once again.

Special Teams MVP

Coming out of Michigan State in 2022, K Matt Coghlin was passed over for a contract by every NFL team despite establishing career records for most points scored and most field goals made as a Spartan. Later that year, Coghlin appeared at the XFL Specialist Showcase run by Nick Novak. He couldn’t even get a bite from an XFL team. Coghlin finally caught a break, signing with the New Orleans Breakers for the 2023 USFL season. He made nearly 95% of his field goal attempts. Brought over by Coach Flip in the transition to the Showboats, Coghlin again proved reliable, knocking field goals through at an almost 90% clip. A lot of UFL kickers have gotten attention from fans and analysts; Coghlin deserves his due, too.

Most likely to succeed (in getting NFL opportunities)

Davis has already signed with the Carolina Panthers, one of the first UFL players to agree to terms after the 2024 season. WRs Jonathan Adams and Vinny Papale, as well as TE Sage Surratt, were a couple other offensive players that had quality seasons and could warrant at least a few workouts. Surratt has been in-and-out of the NFL and may travel that path again. No matter the numbers he puts up, it’s possible Coghlin’s size – he’s just 5’9″ – is a hindrance, especially as the NFL adopts the XFL-style kickoff and kickers may need to be more involved in tackling. The cupboard is pretty bare defensively, where a few defensive backs like Jarey Elder or Delrick Abrams are possible training camp depth signings or workout players.

QB concern level for 2024 (1-5)

Neither Josh Love nor Troy Williams, backups this season, appear to be the answer at QB for Memphis. Now they must decide: Is Case Cookus? Did he do enough to show that he deserves to go into 2025 as QB1? Or will Memphis target another player at the position, potentially with their significant draft capital? Because of the struggles of the offensive line, it was difficult to evaluate anyone at the quarterback spot for Memphis this year. Cookus, who played for the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL in 2022 and 2023, performed well enough to earn the benefit of the doubt. As a QB guru, this position falls on DeFilippo more than most others. Memphis’s roster is in need of upgrades just about everywhere, so DeFilippo and general manager Dennis Polian will have to decide where to focus their energy. I wasn’t particularly impressed with what Cookus brought to the table outside of the OL struggles, but history matters, so I’ll leave it at a 3.5.

Case Cookus #10 and Head Coach John DeFilippo of the Memphis Showboats speak during the second quarter against the San Antonio Brahmas at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Wes Hale/UFL/Getty Images)
Case Cookus #10 and Head Coach John DeFilippo of the Memphis Showboats speak during the second quarter against the San Antonio Brahmas at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Wes Hale/UFL/Getty Images)

Head coach hot seat rating (1-5)

Despite the 2-8 record, there’s a real sense among fans that DeFilippo shouldn’t really be in danger of losing his job. He held high-profile positions in the NFL, making it a coup to have him lead a UFL team. He makes for great all-access moments on the sidelines for viewers at home. His care factor is off the charts. DeFilippo is the kind of head coach that gives an air of legitimacy that these types of leagues need. He also has the kinds of NFL connections that would allow him to bring in new assistants if he or league management deem that necessary this off-season. Ultimately though he’ll need to produce at some point. All the fire and passion is a positive, but it has to lead to on-field results. Therefore, it’s a 2.5 for me.

Offseason needs for 2025

The offensive won’t improve unless wholesale changes are made to the offensive line. As in, multiple new starters among the five, and better depth, too. Memphis needs to decide what to do at QB and build out from there. Darius Victor will be 31 by the time next season rolls around, which is ancient for the running back position, especially with the beating he takes. Improving the backup situation there, with an eye toward the future, will be key. Defensively, they have needs everywhere. The Showboats should be on the lookout for the best players available in both free agency and the draft. They just didn’t really have any defenders that would keep opposing offensive coordinators up at night.

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