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TSmitty6 (2)
Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 NFL preseason: Week 1 musings

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So, the first week of the NFL preseason is in the books. ...Well, except for Dallas and Oakland, but lets be honest, nobody outside of Cowboys fans and Raiders fans cares about that matchup. Besides, Romo's a star until he's under pressure, so in the consequence-free environment of the first quarter of a preseason game, he's going to thrive, so we all know how that's going to work out already.


With that in mind, here are some thoughts of mine from the preseason games I've seen:


*RG3 looked good. Granted we only saw six passes from him, and that was against the defense that ranked 26th in yardage and 30th in points, but with all the defensive additions they made between draft and free agency, that has to count for something with a rookie, right? We need to see more from him, obviously. But if the plays he made in the game were anything to judge his rookie year by, Washington may actually be a threat this year, especially with an underrated defense. Also he really likes Pierre Garcon.


*The Falcons offense. The fact it looked that sharp against one of the league's elite defenses should give Falcons fans some confidence. ...Or at least it would, if Courtney Upshaw wasn't out with a shoulder bruise. ...And Haloti Ngata hadn't had a hamstring tweak, so the leader of the defensive line and the best D-tackle in the game today was out. ...And they were resting Ed Reed, so the leader of the secondary and one of the best DBs in NFL history was out. ...And Jimmy Smith wasn't out with a sore ankle. ...And they were resting Ray Lewis, so the leader of the linebacking corps, the defense in-general and arguably the best LB of all time was out.

Two sure-fire hall-of-famers were out, one of the best D-linemen who has a decent shot there if he keeps up his performances, and the first draft picks by the team in 2011 and 2012 were all out. That's four starters and the primary nickel DB that weren't on the field. That defense was about as good a look as the second-stringers were at the 2012 Ravens D.

Moral of the story: It's preseason. It's a good judge of a team that's made changes, not a team looking to polish a championship-caliber roster. Most of the injured players will be back this week though, so Detroit should give a better look.


*In spite of everything I said above about that game not mattering, can we talk about how great Julio Jones looked for a minute? It's very rare and special when a team trades as much as Atlanta did for a single pick, and come out looking like the smart team - in part because Cleveland wasted their picks on being stupid(More on that later) - in the trade. Cary Williams was a starting corner last year, and he dominated him with over 100 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. I was still apprehensive that he may have just had a lucky year where teams underestimated him, but f he can keep doing that on top of last year's performance, he's looking like a star receiver for Atlanta. Switching gears though to the Ravens since everyone knows that's what I want to talk about most,

*Speaking of standout performances, how about Bobbie Rainey? While not as impressive as Julio Jones, given the other two Ravens RBs not named Ray Rice fell flat, while Rainey played well both as a runner and a receiver, much like Rice, he deserves mention. I'm not saying he's Ray Rice 2.0, but he's the same height and just 7 lbs. lighter than Rice, he's definitely similar. 64 combined yards and a touchdown isn't bad at all for your first NFL performance. Bernard Pierce, a back the Ravens liked enough to draft, is back from injury, but so far in both preseason and practice, Rainey is making his case to replace Ricky Williams.

*Joe Flacco: Not a statue anymore. It's only two games, but while I didn't like the amount of pressure the Falcons got(though since the Ravens had a rookie center and right tackle, and flipped their starting RT to the left side, I expect more protection during the season), I really liked the fact that when that pressure came, unlike last year where he'd stand in the pocket and take a sack or worse, Flacco moved, got around defenders, and in-general looked like the play-extender we thought he was and that he played like in New England last year. Remember, this is someone who's first NFL touchdown was one he ran in, he's not just a pocket passer. Whatever coaching Caldwell is doing, if it gets him to extend plays like this, I'm very happy with it.


*New England may have a run game this year! Big T, I apologize for being so doubtful about the 2012 Pats backfield. I still need to see more, but combining for 5.5 YPC and over 100 yards is a good sign, even if it is New Orleans. Is it Rice, Forte, Foster, or anything like that? Probably not. But it doesn't have to be with Tom Brady. Speaking of whom,


*Tom Brady got hurt. I keep saying things only look as good for you in sports as they do for the 2012 Pats when you're about to have a dramatic turn for the worst. Tom got sandwiched between two Saints pass rushers, and while he didn't show any injury, he looked sore on the sidelines after that hit. I want to see him confirm he's healthy with a good play or two this week.


*New England needs Vollmer back. That hit happened because Brady was scrambling from Will Smith, who overloaded the tackle that, correct me if wrong, subbed for Vollmer. He backed right into another pass rusher, who delivered him to Smith. A good offense starts with your line play, and New England needs better line play.


*What are Philly QBs made of, and why is it so fragile? Kolb - who I still consider an Eagle even if his feathers are red now - gets knocked out of the first game with bruised ribs, Vick hurts his hand on his line's helmet, then Mike Kafka broke his hand. Actually, come to think of it, PA quarterbacks in-general are fragile; Big Ben already had what, a sore ankle, a torn rotator cuff, and a bruised elbow before the preseason even started? Fortunately for Pittsburgh, he's immune to pain, so he'll play anyway, but Philly is going to end up trading with Buffalo to get Vince Young back by their bye at this rate. Speaking of Picksburgh though,

*The line still looks bad. Better? It's debatable - especially with how little attention linemen get compared to skill positions - but I think so. Good? No. Mike Adams needs improvement in the next two weeks if he's supposed to be a rookie starter, or else fans of the Steel Curtain are going to be watching Ben dance an all too familiar dance.(Fortunately for them, it's a dance he's very good at)


*Godgers looked very un-godlike. Granted there was a dropped TD his receiver failed him on, but 2/8, 0TD/1INT? Those are Tebow numbers, I don't care of it's one quarter, Aaron Rodgers was either not trying, or was still shaking rust from last year.


*Antonio Gates looks healthy. Ryan Matthews, does not. It's still too early to tell, but between fumble problems and the fact he's had a good year and a bad year, along with his college knee injury and this injury, he may start losing value in San Diego. I'm not calling him a bust yet, but when pick #12 is inconsistent, it's a bad sign, and with runningbacks, you have to judge quickly since they can be very short-lived. Plus with Rivers it's not the end of the world to lose your ground game.


*In spite of the stats, Peyton looked good. Numbers don't lie, but they don't always tell the whole story. Peyton's a little rusty from a year off, and he's getting used to a completely new environment, but all things considered, he looked sharp, in spite of poor numbers. And as long as we're talking about this game, where was Jay Cutler?


*No Tebow Time. ...Yet. I still think Tebow will win the job midseason, but Tebow looked like, well, Tebow. He made some questionable throws, but got them moving down the field, and if not for that INT, would have put together what is a very good drive for Tebow. When you have something as unusual as the QB situation with the Jets, preseason is less about getting them to work, and more about experimentation to figure out how. This is not the role Tebow will inhabit, but it's nice to see as someone who isn't a Jets fan that I'm still in for some off-the-cuff, unscripted, uncertain Tebow drama when he does come onto the field. It's just not as fun without it.


*Dear Cleveland Browns: You are so dumb. You are really dumb. For real. There is nothing on that offense. Especially with Richardson out. And it showed. Brandon Weeden looked as bad as Colt McCoy has looked - 3/9 for 62, 0TD/1INT, and it should have been two. Also there was a fumble. It's not that your QB sucks, it's that your offense sucks. Who other than Mohamed Massaquoi is there? Nobody, and he's not even that good. Wise up and trick some other stupid team into trading a receiver or two for Weeden while he's still somewhat valuable. He's no better than McCoy, who's at least familiar with the offense. Stop wasting your draft picks.


*Blaine Gabbert looked better. Good? Probably not, but maybe. More details needed. Better than last year? Infinitely. He looks actually like a QB now, not like someone who's pretending to be a QB. I'm excited to see what he does, though without MJD I can't see the offense being potent. He's not good enough on his own, and that defense needs some help. But it's at least possible now.

*How about Ryan Tannehill? For all people have been saying about him not being ready and needing to sit for a year, he looked pretty ready to me out there. He got nearly 200 yards, for a rookie he was fairly accurate, he even got a touchdown. Most importantly, he looked comfortable. Nothing is worse than a QB panicking and either checking down early or making a bad throw. He looked fairly calm and collected.

*Speaking of QBs, what about Dan Orlovsky? He didn't miss a single pass. Even if it was only 8 passes, let me repeat that: This guy hit all his receivers, got them 91 yards of offense, and didn't miss a pass. The NFL is a weird place, man.

*Child Please. No receptions in your return to the NFL? Against a backfield like the Bucs have? Come on Chad, for someone trying to reestablish himself as a #1 receiver, that's just shameful. Even more shameful? Your domestic assault charge if that ends up being a guilty verdict. Honestly, I think the Dolphins are better off with him cut and hoping they get lucky with a rookie, because between the media frenzy and it looking like Pats Ochocinco instead of Bungles Johnson, it's just not worth it. Good call by Philbin.

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