Hey folks, another weekend in the books and another step closer to football that matters happening on Sundays yet again.
Check that. I know it's popular to say 'the games don't matter' (Mr. Behnke!) but they actually do. Sure, the records don't matter but the games themselves impact teams in many ways, and perhaps never more than this season where we lost every pre-camp workout.
These games, more than ever before, are important for teams to integrate new schemes, players and plans. To allow the undrafted and late round rookies a chance to prove themselves. To get the team back on the same page, whether or not they practiced together in 'lockout camp'.
There's bad too. Apparently even Raider fans aren't safe from Raider fans anymore. (Come on, it was too easy a joke to pass up.) Multiple players have gone down with season ending injuries.
Seriously Mr. York? It's because you didn't get regular fans in for the game? Have you been hanging out with Miami owner Stephen Ross? Because this sounds like the sort of foolishness he'd come up with.
There's certainly a lot of interesting things to be garnered from the preseason matchups this past weekend. Let's take a look.
Call An Ambulance!
Old school Madden players will recall a time when you could seriously hurt a player and an ambulance came out to retrieve him. If I recall correctly, there was one version where an unnamed player yelled 'Call an ambulance!' but I couldn't find the clip.
The NFL could sure use some ambulances this preseason, especially the rookies. Two of my favorite rookies are gone for the season with injuries which could threaten their careers. Detroit's Mikel LeShoure and Arizona's Ryan Williams both could have had immediate impacts for their teams and instead will be facing 5-6 months of rehab.
LeShoure tore an achilles tendon, which sounds the death knell for about a third of those who suffer it, though age is on his side. Williams' injury is just as bad, as his ruptured right patellar tendon is unusual and since it needs to be immobilized for a month post-surgery which can cause more atrophy in other muscles.
Both could come back, but it's going to be a very long grind. The loss of Williams might hurt the Cardinals more than the loss of LeShoure will the Lions, since Williams was slated to be a started and LeShoure a backup.
Neither injury is the sort of thing either team wants to see though, and both teams were at least a little disheartened to have them happen.
On a happier note, Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin didn't have cancer, but something similar to mono. You can never be too careful when you have a scare like that, a good reminder for all of us to make sure we take regular physicals and take care of ourselves.
Jason Campbell, Nick Mangold, Stephen Cooper, Mark Brunnell, Terrell Thomas, Scott Kooistra, Tiki Barber's ego—all have suffered injury this preseason. In the case of Kooistra, a guard with the Vikings, a serious neck injury might threaten his career.
It's hard not to think of some of this as the after-shock from the lockout. Then again, so much of these injuries seem freaky, odd ball types. Is it that people are too rusty? Or is it just a very weird coincidence?
If I have to read one more Bengals fan or hear one more Cincy announcer explain away Andy Dalton's weaknesses and blame anyone but Dalton for some of his miscues, my head will explode.
Listen, Dalton is a sharp guy and a good leader. He lacks the arm strength to be a starting quarterback right now and he's making some poor decisions.
Some of this is stuff I broke down way back before the Draft in the video below.
Can he improve? Sure. He might get his arm strength up. I worry about his ability to drive the ball, especially in that Ohio wind.
All I hear from the Bengals is how sharp he is. Well, I don't know what tape they're watching but he's very raw to my eyes. On the other hand, he got better as the day progressed. So there's hope.
If you're a Jets fan, you have to be concerned by the offensive line. Now, the Cincinnati defense is really underrated. The offense may be a train wreck, but the defense is going to keep this team in games they have no right to be in.
All that said, the Jets couldn't get the ground game going against the first string and quarterback Mark Sanchez was under pressure constantly. That the line only gave up one sack is a testament to the quickness of the plays as much as anything else. Bengal LB Michael Johnson was manhandling Pro Bowler D'Brickshaw Ferguson all night. Across the board, it was ugly.
And that was with center Nick Mangold back. If anyone goes down, yipes.
In terms of good, I've already mentioned the Bengals defense. For the Jets, the good was Plaxico Burress looking 100% and doing Plaxico things like diving for a touchdown in the end zone. For the Jets, who have real issues in the red zone, a fully functioning Burress is a beautiful thing.
Vicksplosion & The Eagles Dream Team
With one out of context comment by back-up Vince Young, the whole NFL has been sharpening it's collective knives and gunning for the Eagles. The least stumble and you knew it was safeties clear, weapons hot on Philly.
Mike Vick's trio of interceptions was more than a stumble. Now, let's be honest, you aren't going to pronounce the Eagles or Vick dead based on one debacle of a game. Vick looked lost a little out there and made some really poor throws. I'm not sold on his upcoming miracle of a season like some are, but he's better than what we saw this past game.
What's been lost in the aftermath of the Vicksplosion are two other, in my mind, more significant issues. First, the offensive line still looks like a problem. They didn't get Vick killed perhaps, but he was pressured early and often, which lead to some mistakes.
As I was just saying about the Jets, a bad oline for a team trying to make Super Bowl run is a huge problem.
For the Eagles, their other issue is the linebacker corps. Oh sure, Defensive Coordinator Ernie Castillo thinks they'll be ready by the Super Bowl, but I'm not sold. As Michael David Smith says in the linked piece, that won't help if they lose too many games before the Super Bowl. The Steelers did just what any team will do against the Eagles: run the ball against a soft middle and grind the clock, keeping the potent offense off the field.
*edited to add: Florio & company have been told that there was a period between ready and to win the Super Bowl. By Eagles PR. Take that for what you will. My point about a mediocre LB corps stands.
I didn't love what I saw of Casey Matthews in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, where I saw him get beaten by smaller running backs and I have to say, what I've seen in the first two preseason games bears out that opinion. Either he doesn't have the talent, the fire or the size to beat offensive linemen. I don't know which, but I'm just as shocked now that he's a starting middle linebacker for a Super Bowl hopeful as I was when they named him as such.
The rest of the group is young as well. If they don't step up their game to start the season, the Eagles will have a hard time making the Super Bowl.
Kneel Before Orton! (and Quinn)
So this may be how the Tebow era ends: not with a bang, but a 'meh'. Demoted to third string and now, dogged by rumors that he'll be cut or traded, it's been a rough August for Timmy Football.
I don't buy the trade rumors by the way. I'm not sure how a guy struggling to reach the second spot on a depth chart is going to get you much in return and they've got a large bonus coming in early September. We always knew Tebow was a project—that he's struggled as much as he has is a bit shocking but we knew it wouldn't be perfect.
It's amazing how fast you can get turned on in the press.
Meanwhile, Kyle Orton must giggle himself to sleep at night. Seriously.
Terrelle Pryor is a Raider..... of COURSE he is
That's not a shock. Come on—the moment he ran a sub 4.4 40, the jokes wrote themselves. Sure, 3rd round was a reach, but the Raiders had no 4th rounder and clearly didn't want to risk it in the 5th.
By the way - in 2012, Oakland has no 3rd, 4th or 5th round pick.
You want to know how to destroy a franchise? Foolishly trading draft picks away. For mediocre talent like Jason Campbell or for pie in the sky projects like Pryor.
Pryor is an athletic freak, fast, big, strong. Well, strong unless we're talking arm strength. His accuracy is bad and his throwing mechanics are an abomination in the eyes of Joe Montana and Vince Lombardi.
But he's FAST. At least he has that going for him, which is nice.
OH and he's suspended for five games. Though now he's appealing.
So Pryor, the guy who accepted a suspension in college, only to zip out as soon as he could, has now accepted a (in my mind dubious) suspension to enter the NFl and now he's reneging?
That's it for this week - thanks for coming along for the ride. Come back later this week as I will have my next installment of 10 Questions with.... this time with Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country about the state of the Jaguars.
And what a state it is!
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