Pre-Season Week 1 Part 2
I feel that in part 1 I might have got carried away, so as I enter the larger chunk of pre-season week 1, I will try to not get too carried away whilst writing this. Anyway…
Miami Dolphins 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 3
Jacksonville fans can expect similar scorelines all season, but in fairness it wasn’t as one-sided as the score would suggest. Lets start with the Dolphins. Tannehill hit the ground on the first play and continued to face an insane amount of pressure through out all of his drives. I don’t think this is necessarily Tannehill’s fault and more the fault of an early contender for the worst O-line in the league. Jonathan Martin certainly doesn’t look like the Left Tackle solution. The whole O-line just looked far to easy to out-play. Keller looks like a great pick up and the back-up running backs had a good game, but still work to do on offence. The defence was fairly nondescript, despite managing a few turnovers late in the game and managing to hold the Jags to zero touchdowns, the Jags fairly effectively moved down field regularly.
The Jags. Where to start. I personally think it is time to finally take Gabbert out to the woodshed. I don’t even think its close between Henne and Gabbert and I don’t think Henne is all that great. I like Denard Robinson to take some handoffs away from Jones-Drew, he looks pretty good as a stand in. But what was it with bad teams attempting the Wildcat? Both the Jags and the Jets tried it…and failed. Just a quick mention of Justin Blackmon. A) If you’re suspended for a violation of the substance abuse policy, keep your mouth shut. B) Don’t be jawing at the opposing defence. C) CERTAINLY DON’T GET INTO ALTERCATIONS WITH YOUR OWN TEAM. Blackmon was a first round pick and needs to get his act together. The defence looked great. Really aggressive and took advantage of a terrible O-line. I don’t however think they can change the Jags destiny this season of being the worst team in the AFC South and possibly the league.
New York Jets 17 Detroit Lions 26
I don’t know how to start this. Ok let’s try this. Right lets get the Sanchez interception out of the way. It was a terrible terrible throw, no excuses and could have been the nail in the coffin for Sanchez. However lets look at what he did after that. He managed to move the Jets downfield and threw a decent touchdown pass (YES into blown coverage but still). Geno Smith however looked sloppy, but like he could improve. If the Jets are to improve, Stephen Hill needs to step up and be the no. 1 receiver they are desperate for. On Defence it seemed patchy. Without Revis, they have had to change the way they play, meaning they struggle getting pressure. On the plus side Dee Milliner and Coples had great games.
The Lions look good in a league of teams that look great. Reggie Bush is a great addition, adds some extra dimensions the lions are seriously lacking and takes some attention away from Johnson and the O-line looks decent. Back-up QB Hill proved he still has some legs and as long as the wide array of running backs behind Bush looked good, so long as they can stay reasonably healthy. The Defensive front 7 looked great, Ansah fit in pretty well (even aside from the interception) with Suh, Fairly and Tulloch looking truly awesome. The secondary really needs some work however, the obvious example being the Jets touchdown. There is a very good chance Detroit could be regularly going into a shoot out.
New England Patriots 31 Philadelphia Eagles 22
As we all known for years, New England get their wins as power houses in the run game…Well that’s clearly not been true for the last few years, but it does look like there is a change in the air. Ridley, Blount, Bolden and Vereen all looked fantastic, as the Patriots forced the ball down field with 6 successful running plays. I was most impressed by how they constantly changed them around, all bringing different things to pot. As promised Vereen was used in the passing game and looked fantastic lining up as a receiver. Final mention for Thompkins, who played a great game as Brady’s safety valve. The defence, well that was different. Front seven looked pretty good but the secondary looked shakey, could be an issue late in the season. But anyone worried about how good this team is, should be a little more confident now.
I think it’s fairly obvious that Vick will be the starter this year. Right? great pass to DeSean Jackson for the touchdown. There is no denying the Eagles played quick and I get the feeling they’ll get better in this system, but a lot of mistakes were made, a lot of drops, a lot of pass rushing defensive players breaking free. Basically the speed they were playing, opened up for a lot of mistakes. It did score points however and spread the ball around a wide array of receivers and running backs. The defence needs to improve on its tackling, a lot of backs breaking through, but pretty good at keeping the Patriots out of the Endzone. Despite flashes of brilliance, this team will struggle this year in a dominant division, but could be set up nicely for the future.
Arizona Cardinals 17 Green Bay Packers 0
Ok so I may have had a little joke at Green Bay on the podcast (you’re downloading that right?), but lets take a closer look at what happened. I am very aware its pre-season but lets look at what went wrong. Personally I think the starters for the Packers are as good as they’ve ever been. No worries there, but the back-ups look weak and if you’re a team like the Packers who have had serious injuries in the past, then you have to be worried. If you thought Rodgers would be hitting the ground less, then you would be mistaken, the O-line is weak as ever especially with Bulaga being out for the season. Another regular issue this team has and has always had is the run game. Which still looks non-existent. It is worth mentioning that James Jones could easily rise up the depth chart to be a no. 1 receiver, he looked really good. The defence looked stout but it looks like they will miss Woodson as a roving Corner who can fill in anywhere, that being said the D-backs looked pretty good. All in all they still look like the team to beat in the NFC North. which might now be the weakest division in the NFC.
The Cardinals look like they might have finally found their QB and their QB looks like he might have finally found his team. Fitzgerald, Floyd and Roberts all looked great with Palmer throwing to them. The O-line looked solid which will be a great help to a Running game which lacks star power. The defence looked comfortable in all areas, but in particular in the secondary. Arians stated that Peterson was “good enough to be a receiver” and I have to agree. Hopefully fellow LSU player Tyronn Mathieu has turned a corner and they have a secondary that could cause problems for Wilson and Kaepernick in the NFC West. Expect great improvements from the Cards this year.
Kansas City Chiefs 13 New Orleans Saints 17
So at the end of last season, the worst teams were, The Chiefs, Browns, Cards and Jags. Now look at how good those teams are this season (well except the Jags). The Chiefs came out and proved what they could do this season, which is elevate themselves to at least no. 2 in the NFC West. Alex Smith did what he does best. Complete 7/8 pass for less than 10 yards per pass. He is (wait for the groans), a game manager and a damned good one. Jamaal Charles looked great behind a revamped O-line. The only worry is how much they can put the team on his back whilst he seems to suffer from having injury issues. Also it seemed pretty worrying that they tried to use him as a power back. One thing is for certain, they will eat up a lot of clock on offence which should be good for keeping the defence healthy. The defence looked good. Poe will cause problems in a very aggressive defence, using big D-backs to blitz and just keep the game physical and the offence on their toes. Worth mentioning, Brandon Flowers looks excellent this season. Final point, the special teams looked excellent under Dave Toub, McCluster looks set to have a great season as a return man.
The Saints looked good, but not great. O-line occasionally gave up some pressure, the run game looked like it struggled a bit as they try to push Ingram as a no. 1 back. Brees looked like Brees and there is obviously a good chance we haven’t seen everything in his arsenal. The defence looked good but breakable. It seemed far too easy for the Chiefs to score points on them. All in all I think the Saint come out on the first game of the season looking great, but in preseason, maybe a little lack lustre.
Houston Texans 27 Minnesota Vikings 13
If you’re being outshined by Matt Cassel. You’re doing it wrong. So it looks like Ponder is under some serious pressure from Cassel for the starting job in Minnesota. Which is worrying for any Vikings fans. But all credit to Cassel, he looked pretty good. He spread the ball to different receivers and will play well as a game manager whilst Peterson runs over the defence. The defence looked out of sorts and could be a weak point for the Vikings this year. There is a very good chance they struggle this year.
The Texans looked like the Texans. Ben Tate played well and is set for another decent season as a back up for Foster. With no Johnson in the game, it gave the likes of Hopkins and Jean a chance to shine. It wasn’t too long ago we were talking about how the weak point of the Texans was their defence. This is certainly no longer the case. They look physical and like they have an idea of what they need to do to keep the team in the game.
Dallas Cowboys 17 Oakland Raiders 19
The Raiders look set to have one of those seasons where they’re good enough to win a few games, but only just enough to take them out of getting a decent draft pick range. Flynn looked capable, but not dynamic. McFadden will need to play a full season if this team are going to be challengers. Moore played well as did ex-Jag, Rashad Jennings. Honorable mention to Terrell Pryor, who looked improved and might be good for a few snaps every game. The Raiders defence allowed a lot of plays through the air, but were good at…look lets face it. The Raiders defence looked ok, but they won’t be able to stop teams scoring enough points to keep their offence in the game.
Despite losing this game the Cowboys are beginning to look pretty good. Dez Bryant could be the no. 1 receiver in the league at the end of this season and he is backed up by Austin and Witten with a decent run game. The O-line looked fairly solid and Romo had loads of time to throw. If Romo goes down, Orton looks solid, all in all this team will score points. The defence continues to look great. They will score points and put immense pressure on the QB, as previously stated I expect the Cowboys to take the next step and their division.
New York Giants 18 Pittsburgh Steelers 13
With the Steelers, I don’t know where the points will come from. I like Sanders as a receiver and if he can get fit, I expect big things from Bell. Redman and Stephens- Howling had decent games, but not dangerous. On the plus side hopefully if they add in Cotcherie and Brown into the receiving corps, they could still be dangerous. On defence, it seemed like Troy Polamalu is not the same player he used to be, which is a big issue for a defence that’s based around this player (see Cruz touchdown). It is worth saying you can never tell with the Steelers. They are pretty good at getting it together when they need to, so I guess we’ll see.
Sleeping Giants? I’m sure that’s been done, but its pretty relevant. This team is really good. On offence, it feels like Manning having football on his phone has meant he can study the game more and has found some mojo. Helped largely by Cruz, Randle and when he’s back, Hakeem Nicks. But to take the next step they’ll need decent play from running backs Wilson and Roberts. However backup QB David Carr played awfully, so Giants fans have to hope Eli doesn’t go down. The defence seemed like the Giants defence we’ve come to know and love over the last few years…scary front line, full secondary.
Buffalo Bills 44 Indianapolis Colts 20
So everyone is talking about EJ Manuel and rightly so, it does seem like the Bills might finally have a franchise QB, obviously it is only preseason, but he did something’s that mean they can get pretty excited about the future. One criticism, I feel like maybe he should try to bring more of the throwing game into play, he hasn’t got a bad arm and won’t always be able to rely on his legs. The Bills offensive weapons all looked fantastic, obviously Spiller looked dangerous in both the running and passing game. Credit also to the Bills defence. more often than not they managed to stifle the passing plays of one of the best QBs in the league. It should be pointed out that this game was kind of a mess, the ball seemed to hit the ground a lot, so credit to the Bills for taking control.
The Colts offence could be one of the best in the league. I am a huge believer in Andrew Luck, he could genuinely be in the same company as Brady and Rodgers very soon. This could be the season where we see TY Hilton overtake Wayne on the depth chart, either way they should be very happy to have to two of them on the field. The defence however is a mess and is lacking some serious leadership. They allow far too many yards to be gained and don’t really look like they can stop a great deal. That being said, I think the Colts can hold their own in shoot out, expect the Texans to have some challengers this year in the AFC South.
Chicago Bears 17 Carolina Panthers 24
Cam Newton had been stating about how he planned to try to not take on teams just on his own and showed us all he could do that in this game. He successfully passed the ball around and let Williams take control of the run game. The O-line looked solid and ex-Bear Greg Olsen looked a decent option at Tight End. However the Panthers are in trouble if Cam goes down. Clausen looked awful and they looked like a different team. The Panthers defence played hard and proved a handful for even the Bears first team. The main issue this team will have will be trying to thrive in a division with the Falcons, Saints and Bucs.
I could write another 4000 words on the Bears. On the surface it looks like nothings changed on offence. Cutler threw an interception and the O-line looked leaky. I can’t see the Bears having anything other than a typical Bears season, even with the front office changes. On the plus side the Bear defence looked like the Bears defence. They caused problems and even took an interception into the endzone. There is every possibility the Bears stay at no. 3 in that division, with the Lions leapfrogging them.
So that is a wordy account of week 1. I should have week 2 up from Saturday!
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