Pre-season Week 1 pt 1

American Football is back! So to celebrate I thought I’d go through the games and what we learned about these teams from these games.

It is definitely worth noting, this is the first pre-season game…I don’t think this is the be all and end all of a lot of these teams, but we can tell a lot about what to expect.

Hall of Fame Game

Miami Dolphins 20  Dallas Cowboys 24

The First thing I noticed was how deep the Cowboys are at running back. There’s no question that Murray is the no 1, but his supporting cast of young running backs is excellent. Same can be said for the shift in defensive scheme. It seems they do have the players to run an excellent Tampa 2 system. The O-line looked solid and if Romo goes down injured, they have nothing to worry about with Kyle Orton. Cowboys are looking pretty good after one preseason game.

The Dolphins have some legitimate worries at the O-line, Thomas was man handled after Martin went off, who himself, didn’t have a wonderful game. Some mistakes from Lamar Miller, coupled with some flashes of brilliance. Dion Jordan looked fantastic so expect some epic plays from a Defensive end partnership of Jordan and Wake. All in all not a great start, but not an awful lot to worry about, if they can get that O-line looking solid.

Pre-Season Week 1

Washington Redskins 22 Tennessee Titans 21

Shakey start from Locker. I didn’t really see anything massively impressive, or anything that makes me think he’s taken the next step. Different story altogether for Running Backs. Chris Johnson looked as good as ever and Shonn Greene looked awesome as a change of pace back. Honourable mention for Jackie Battle who also held his own. Rusty Smith looked good when he came in for Locker, big arm but took a few chances he probably shouldn’t have. On defense, I think the Titans have something special in their Defensive back setup of McCourty, Verner, Griffin and Pollard. I do expect improvement from  a poor performing D-line and Linebacker corps under Williams, but it was a pretty poor showing.

The Redskins are ridiculously deep at QB. Cousins looked good, Grossman made a few mistakes, however the shining light was a much stronger looking Pat White. He hasn’t played in the NFL for 3 years but he looked excellent. If he doesn’t get a job with the Redskins, it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if he gets a back up job at another team. Roy Helu looked excellent as a back up to Morris and Fred Davis was a consistent threat. On Defense, they looked pretty solid as a unit without anyone really standing out.

Baltimore Ravens 44  Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16

For the Bucs, Glennon looked great, with a fairly weak supporting cast.  Ogletree seemed to make some play but no one else seemed to make any lasting impressions at receiver. Tampa played a multitude of Running Backs, none of which seemed to gain any kind of traction and make any difference to the game. Despite allowing 44 point the Bucs Defense looked pretty impressive and physical…very physical. However they always seemed to make the big mistakes that allowed the big points.

The Ravens looked great. Loved La’Quan Williams after making a couple of big plays as receiver and recovering a blocked punt in the endzone for a touchdown. Despite making big money this year, if Flacco goes down, the Ravens look in good hands with Tyrod Taylor. Both Pierce and Rice looked great at Running Back, which should lead to a much more even split between the two. On Defense the Ravens made a few mistakes but on the whole looked like the Ravens defense always does…violent!

Cincinnati Bengals 34  Atlanta Falcons 10

Very few starters on display for the Bengals (First String offense was only in for a few snaps), but Josh Johnson looked fantastic as a back up and probably pushed for the no. 2 QB slot ahead of John Skelton. Looked most impressive making plays with his legs as well as his arm. In other areas of offense, Sanzenbacher continued his ability to look amazing in Pre-season with a great performance at Receiver. The Bengals defense looked good but not great, with no real standout performances. All in all though a great showing for the Bengals.

The Falcons didn’t look as bad as the score line suggests, but they were by no means perfect. Matt Ryan looked great and got nearly a hundred yards from only a handful of plays. If Ryan goes down however, this team could be in trouble. Both Rentree and Davis looked shakey. The defense allowed a lot of big plays that could have been stopped. what I really felt from this game is that the Falcons lack a little depth in a few places they can’t afford to look weak.

Denver Broncos 10- San Fransisco 49ers 6

The starters looked solid. Kaepernick threw 4 for 4, but the Bronco’s managed to stop any of the advantages the Pistol formation would usually give. LaMichael James seemed to run a long way, but gain very few yards. The back-ups obviously didn’t set the world on fire and Colt McCoy may not have a place in the NFL. Honourable mentions to McDonald, a Tight-End who has impressed all preseason and Dixon who made some great plays at RB, would have had more if it wasn’t for a holding play when he broke a long run . Also loved seeing Collie lining up in the slot for the Niners. As long as he can stay healthy, I think that’s a great signing in that position. Finally the backups for the Niners were guilty of a lot of penalties being called against them, showing they lack a little discipline, something that Harbaugh will have to work on. A lot of talk about where Asomugha is on the depth chart and how he might not make the team (after this Gridiron Gentleman suggested he could be on for big things), what I saw was a solid tackler. Would be a shame if he didn’t make the team as I think he still has a lot in the tank. The rest of the Niners D, left a lot of gaps when trying to stop the run, made a few good plays against the pass however, but were pretty light with the tackling.

Payton in the pistol, looked better than Kaepernick in the pistol. Maybe not for a season of play but certainly in this game. Whats truly scary about this offense is, how good they are at running and throwing the ball. Despite a lack of points this offense is deep and at running back, REALLY DEEP. You have to imagine in a shoot out, this team will dominate. As a back-up Osweller made some good plays and will undoubtedly learn a lot behind Peyton. Anderson made some solid plays at running back and as previously stated joins a long list of solid backs for the Broncos. Where the Broncos offense was dynamic, the defense was solid, forcing 4 turnovers and keeping a very good offense to 6 points. Where other championship contenders have some great starters, the Broncos display great depth. Would not surprise me if this was this years superbowl.

St Louis Rams 19  Cleveland Browns 27

As any followers of the Gridiron Gentlemen will know, we are big Browns believers this year. What we learnt from this game is we might actually be right. Weeden looked like a solid starter spreading the ball to a wide array of receivers. Same can be said for Running Backs, it was a definite committee feel to them with Lewis leading the charge, in the absence of Trent Richardson. A lot of the offenses weapons had a real multipurpose feel to them which really seemed to work. The defense was more than impressive. In this defense you get the feeling there is the building blocks for something very special. Mingo seems like he has the speed to be the ultimate counter to any read plays, great start to his career. A shout out to the special teams too. They always seemed to keep the Browns winning the field position battle. Throw into the mix a great return man in Benjamin (scored a 93 yrd punt and took another 40 yrds), you have a solid team that in my eyes could definitely surprise a few people. Finally a special mention to Jason Campbell, another great back up that in the right position could be a starter.

The Rams looked like the Rams and made me feel pretty foolish about another prediction I made about them possibly being the 2nd best team in the NFC West. Bradford looked great but neither of his back ups did a great deal. Without Jackson this team seems weak at running back, Richardson (not Trent), is not a no. 1. At receiver without Amendola, there just seemed very little threat at wideout. The defense looked solid, but not indestructible. There were no real standout players. The more I look at this team, the more I think they might struggle.

Seattle Seahawks  31 San Diego Chargers 10

It wasn’t long ago that Charlie Whitehurst was being cited as the future for the Seahawks franchise. Last night he was facing down the Seahawks as a backup QB for the Chargers and he was massively underwhelming. Rivers played well as did Ryan Matthews, but you have to worry about the depth of this team. Also neither Floyd or Royal is a no. 1 receiver.  As for the defense, there was very few standout moments. This is a worrying Chargers team. Between Rivers inconsistencies and Matthews injury prone nature, you have to worry about the quality of the back ups.

So Seattle. Lets start with Wilson. Yes I am not a fan and I saw nothing that changes my opinion on him, he held onto the ball for too long and was far too keen to run. Making run plays he’s incredible and getting out of trouble he seems to be second to none at, but if he just let go a little earlier a few times, he could have made some plays. That being said, this is entirely based on less than a quarter of play and in a game where Tavaris Jackson played a blinder…No I don’t think he will start over Wilson and no I don’t think he can carry this into the regular season, but it does look like they have a solid back up. The Seahawks defense looked strong, violent and very deep. Particularly impressed by Mayowa, even though he may not even end up on this team.

Featured Image: Gregory Bull / Associated Press

Main picture: John McDonnell / The Washington Post