NFL Preseason Friday Night Wrap-Up
Well, week three of the preseason is when the starters get their reps in and rookies begin to emerge.
RB David Wilson of the New York Giants showed why they picked him at the end of the first round. He ran with the starters and demonstrated his talents with 5 carries for 49 yards and 2 receptions for 26 yards; ironically, he had a 29-yard reception and one that was a screen which got blown up where he lost 3. That’s the NFL.
However, he is an electrifying back with speed, shiftiness, great balance, and ability to break tackles. Fellow RB Ahmad Bradshaw sat out the game while Wilson staked his claim as a guy who can come in and, apparently, help the offense not miss a beat. Looks like they’ll have a great 1-2 punch in New York, and the Giants are as loaded as any team in the NFL at the skill positions.
Bears QB Jay Cutler took a step backward with a 9-for-21 performance for 96 yards and a TD. He had a good week two, but struggled against the Giants. Even with the vaunted Giants’ pass rush, the pass protection was pretty good. Cutler just wasn’t sharp.
The Bears have to be happy with their new big WR duo of Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery made a circus catch on the left sideline after the ball was batted in the air. He kept his focus, snatched it out of the air, made a nice move on the defender and added another 7 or 8 yards before being corralled against the sideline. If Cutler can just be consistent, this offense should be a threat with Matt Forte in the backfield.
The Arizona Cardinals’ woes continued in a 32-27 loss to the Titans. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton both looked atrocious, but their offensive line didn’t help a doggone bit. I watched part of this and it was painful to say the least. You can’t really blame either QB for playing poorly; they have NO time. The only way I can see this offense moving the ball at all is 3-step drops and timing patterns, mixing in the run on second and long when the defense isn’t expecting it. I think ultimately that Kevin Kolb will be named the starter and Skelton will remain ready for the second series in the first game, after Kolb gets injured. Depth at the QB position will be a major concern with their sieve-like offensive line. Tom Brady would look like a journeyman behind this line, so don’t be TOO hard on the quarterbacks. Whoever is taking snaps has to feel like they’re about to go through one of those Halloween “House of Horrors” deals.
QB Nick Foles of the Eagles continues to impress. A LOT. He played better than fellow rookie QB Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns in a 27-10 victory. The Browns also have OL issues, and Weeden faded fast after his first few throws. He was 9-of-20 for 117 yards with 3 sacks and 2 fumbles. Ouch.
Eagles’ QB Michael Vick is out with a rib contusion so Foles got the start. 12-of-19 for 146 yards. After an early interception, he rebounded with two TD passes. Since Vick has a history of getting “dings,” the backup QB WILL see some action at some point. Foles looks to be a real gem, so keep an eye on this kid.
The Atlanta Falcons defeated the hapless Miami Dolphins, 23-6. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill struggled, but his 11-for-27 outing wasn’t quite as bad as the stats appear. He only had 112 yards, no TDs and an INT. If you look at the film, the INT came on a tipped ball. Veteran Anthony Fasano, their surest-handed tight end, dropped two passes on one drive, including a would-be TD grab. Backup Matt Moore was 4-for-12 for 49 yards so there doesn’t appear to be any QB controversy in south Florida. Tannehill had a nice 15-yard scramble, showing off his speed – something Moore cannot do. The Dolphins just have no talent at WR and no “go-to” guys at all on offense other than RB Reggie Bush. Again, the Dolphins just could not get their running game untracked. The Falcons looked to be in mid-season form and should have a top-ten offense with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, and second-year phenom Julio Jones lined up opposite veteran Roddy White.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers edged the New England Patriots, 30-28, but it was a costly one. They lost pro-bowl guard Davin Joseph for the season and defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Adrian Claiborne both suffered injuries and didn’t return to the game.
On the good side, it appears that Josh Freeman and free agent acquisition Vincent Jackson have developed a connection as Jackson caught several passes from the young QB before being pulled to get a look at the other receivers.
Bill Belichick wasn’t happy that The Franchise – Tom Brady – struggled because of poor O-line play. “We didn’t do anything offensively except lose yards and turn the ball over … we were in third and long all day,” the coach said after the game.
To get that much information from Belichick after any game means he’s completely ticked off. Steven Ridley had 87 yards rushing after Shane Vereen left the game with an injury and Ridley looks to be the probable week one starter. However, Pats RBs tend not to be difference-makers in this offense despite former Pats’ RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis’ thousand-yard season last year. The Pats pass and pass some more to set up the run as an afterthought. It’s just how their offense is.
The Seattle Seahawks destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs 44-14. QB Matt Flynn was signed just a few months ago, if you’ll recall, after having been rejected by his former Offensive Coordinator and Dolphins’ Head Coach Joe Philbin. I said at the time that it was a red flag on the guy, having started only two games in Green Bay. He excelled in those two games, but it’s not much of a sample size and the Packers have as loaded a group of WRs and TEs as anyone in the NFL.
I think rookie Russel Wilson, the Doug Flutie clone from Wisconsin at 5’10”, will likely get the starting nod on opening day. Wilson went 13-for-19 with 185 yards and 2 TDs; he also had 4 plays of 20 yards or more including 2 rushing attempts for 58 yards. This kid is for real, folks.
In the “other” Seahawk battle – at WR – it appears Terrell Owens won’t make the roster. He didn’t seem to have any fight in him and dropped a pass he could have (and should have) caught while veteran Braylon Edwards made plays. I’m thinking Joe Philbin of Miami now wishes he had signed Edwards over Chad Johnson when he had the chance to…or sign both of them. Such is life in the NFL.
The San Diego Chargers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 12-10 in an ugly game. The Vikings’ offense looked horrible, but Adrian Peterson should be there week one to take pressure off 2nd-year QB Christian Ponder. Chargers’ rookie Melvin Ingram looked good before leaving the game with a leg injury that didn’t appear to be a serious thing, but the Chargers smartly didn’t push things. They’ll need him when the games start to count.