Key Points:

  • John DeFilippo brings most of his staff from the New Orleans Breakers to the Memphis Showboats replacing Todd Haley.
  • The Breakers, under DeFilippo, finished 7-3 record and a berth in the USFL South Division Championship game in 2023
  • The coaching staff takes over a Showboats roster that went 5-5 in 2023

The 2024 Memphis Showboats coaching staff brings together a diverse group of experienced professionals poised to make a significant impact in the United Football League (UFL). Headed by John DeFilippo, known for his strategic offensive mindset and previous success in the USFL. The coaching staff mostly worked with DeFilippo with the New Orleans Breakers in 2023.

Memphis Showboats Coaching Staff for the 2024 UFL Season

  • John DeFilippo: Head Coach
  • Dennis Polian: General Manager
  • Kirk Doll: Special Teams/Running Backs
  • Carnell Lake: Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs
  • Doug Martin: Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers
  • Paul Pasqualoni: Linebackers
  • Steven Thompson: Assistant Linebackers
  • Jim Turner: Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line
  • T.J. Vernieri: Tight Ends

John DeFilippo(HC) has a comprehensive background in football coaching, both at the collegiate and professional levels. He began his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach at Fordham University, moved on to Notre Dame as a graduate assistant, and then served as a quarterbacks coach at Columbia University.

DeFilippo’s NFL career includes positions as an offensive quality control coach with the New York Giants, quarterbacks coach with the Oakland Raiders, assistant quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets, and offensive coordinator roles with the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Notably, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles during their Super Bowl-winning season in 2017, where he played a pivotal role in the development of quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.

Before his current role as the head coach of the Memphis Showboats in the United Football League (UFL), DeFilippo was the head coach of the New Orleans Breakers in the USFL, leading them to a 7-3 record and a berth in the USFL South Division Championship game in 2023.

His coaching career reflects a diverse experience across different leagues and a successful track record, particularly in developing quarterbacks​​​​​​.

Dennis Polian(GM) has a notable background in football management and operations, bringing a wealth of experience from various roles across the NFL, CFL, and collegiate football to his position as General Manager of the Memphis Showboats in the United Football League (UFL).

His career highlights include serving as the Director of Football Operations at Tulane University from 2006 to 2007, Assistant General Manager for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 2008 to 2009, and holding various positions with NFL teams such as the Vikings, Titans, and Colts between 2009 and 2017. Polian also contributed to the collegiate football landscape as Associate AD and Director of Player Personnel at Texas A&M from 2018 to 2019, and as Chief of Staff and Associate Athletic Director at Arizona from 2020 to 2021.

Prior to joining the Memphis Showboats, Polian was hired as the Pittsburgh Maulers GM before the merger between the USFL and XFL.

Kirk Doll(ST,RB) has a notable history as a coach, particularly in roles related to special teams and running backs. Under his guidance, running back Wes Hills set a modern USFL record with 680 rushing yards in 2023 for the Breakers. Doll boasts over 40 years of coaching experience across collegiate football and the NFL, having contributed to 17 bowl games and two AFC playoff contests. He worked with the Denver Broncos from 2004 to 2006.

Carnell Lake(DC,DB) tenure in the USFL, including the 2023 season in Tampa Bay/Memphis, saw him being promoted to Defensive Coordinator. Under his leadership, the Showboats’ defense became notably formidable, contributing to a five-game winning streak largely attributed to the unit’s excellence.

Lake’s ability to transform the defensive lineup into one of the league’s best showcases his expertise and strategic approach to defense. His retention as the Defensive Coordinator for the Memphis Showboats in 2024 indicates the team’s confidence in his abilities to maintain and further enhance their defensive prowess​​.

Lake had a distinguished NFL career, primarily with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he showcased versatility by playing both safety and cornerback positions. He was selected for the Pro Bowl four consecutive times from 1994 to 1997, highlighting his exceptional skills and contributions on the field. Notably, in 1997, Lake became the first defensive back to lead the Steelers in sacks for a season, achieving six sacks along with three interceptions and a fumble recovery, which earned him a first-team All-Pro selection.

Doug Martin(OC,WR), serving as the Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers for the Memphis Showboats, brings a strong background from his time in the USFL, particularly with the New Orleans Breakers. In 2023, under his guidance, the Breakers achieved a 7-3 record, showcasing one of the league’s most explosive offenses.

Martin, a former quarterback at the University of Kentucky. He transitioned to football coach, serving as the head coach for the New Mexico State Aggies. His tenure at New Mexico State spanned from 2013 to 2021, where he compiled a record of 25 wins and 74 losses. Notably, in 2017, Martin led the Aggies to a 7-6 record, which included a victory in the Arizona Bowl.

Paul Pasqualoni(LB) inclusion as the linebackers coach for the Memphis Showboats adds a wealth of experience to the coaching staff, particularly in defensive strategies. Pasqualoni has a storied career with significant positions in both college football and the NFL.

His extensive coaching career spans various roles and levels, including head coach positions at Syracuse University and the University of Connecticut, as well as significant stints in the NFL with teams like the Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions

Steven Thompson(A LB) played his college ball at the University of Utah. He was a member of the Tampa Bay Bandits staff under head coach Todd Haley and moved with him to the Showboats in 2023.

Jim Turner(OL) is another hold over from Defilippo’s New Orleans Breakers staff. He brings extensive coaching pedigree, including experience with the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals. His coaching at Texas A&M contributed to Trayveon Williams leading the SEC in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2018.

Turner’s coaching pedigree includes developing NFL first-round picks like Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews, and Cedric Ogbuehi. With a coaching career spanning over three decades, Turner has held significant positions across college football and the NFL, enhancing offensive lines and coordinating run games. Beyond football, Turner’s background includes serving as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.

T.J. Vernieri(TE) brings experience from both the collegiate and professional levels. Prior to joining the Memphis, Vernieri served Tight end Coach for the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL, prior to that he was the Running Backs Coach for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League (CFL). His tenure with the Stampeders saw him contribute significantly to the team’s success, with CFL All-Star Ka’Deen Carey running for over 1,000 yards.

His coaching career also includes a stint as Wide Receivers Coach at Lycoming College, where he contributed to the development of the team’s receiving corps. Vernieri’s move to the Breakers marked his first coaching opportunity in professional football within the United States.

The 2024 Memphis Showboats have positioned themselves for an intriguing season under the guidance of Head Coach John DeFilippo, with Case Cookus at quarterback. DeFilippo, known for his quarterback development skills, is tasked with optimizing Cookus’s talents, a crucial element for the Showboats’ success.

The collaboration between DeFilippo and Cookus will be central to exploiting the offensive playbook, leveraging Cookus’s experience and adaptability gained from his time with the Philadelphia Stars. The duo’s ability to synchronize on and off the field will be essential in navigating the challenges of the 2024 season, aiming to bring out the best in Cookus and the entire team.

This partnership underscores a promising strategy for the Showboats, as DeFilippo’s coaching acumen combined with Cookus’s quarterbacking skills could very well be the key to unlocking the team’s potential.

author avatar
Mark Perry Editor
Mark Perry, a devoted sports journalist and founder of UFL News Hub, has been a key figure in XFL, USFL and UFL coverage since 2018.

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