Thursday, September 02, 2010
Pre-season week 4 preivew (part 2)
-- We start with an article from ProFootballTalk.com that warns that attendance at NFL games is expected to fall this year (check it out.... Chris figured out hyperlinks!!). There are all kinds of reasons why this is so, but none can be more prevalent than the NFLs blackout policy. You have to remember that these attendance figures are league wide averages. The Steelers have no problems selling tickets (the waiting list for season tickets is measured in decades). The Jets, Giants, Redskins, Cowboys etc have no problem selling tickets. The problem areas are places like Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Cleveland. Partly that would suggest that on-field performance has a strong correlation with ticket sales and that would be true for almost any team sport around the world. But TV blackouts do not help. If you want people to get involved in something - like a football team - then you need exposure. You need local fans to watch the games and get interested in the team. The last thing you need is to deprive people of the ability to watch their hometown side. I think the adage "out of sight, out of mind" comes to the forefront here. -- Next up it's Pat Kirwan, Senior Analyst for NFL.com. Pat used to write good articles. Pat used to write interesting articles. Pat used to be all about the game. But as I've stated before Pat is increasingly treading the road of just pushing whatever the NFL wants pushed. His latest article is a case in point. Pat begins by talking about the hit Kyle Orton took while trying to tackle James Harrison. He makes a point of starting the tale with "In a meaningless third pre-season game..." right out of the Chairman Mao book of propaganda (Get the feeling the NFL is trying to convince you that pre-season games are worthless?). He then continues with "Orton escaped serious injury, but could have also been blown up by a blocker before Harrison had gotten to him." He could have been hit by a falling satellite Pat. I'm not sure I like the sound of where this one is going. He goes on to talk about Phillip Rivers who "might" have hurt himself when he made a TD saving tackle on Cowboys safety Barry Church. He didn't, and in fact his tackling form should put the Cowboys secondary to shame. And he didn't miss the chance to emphasise "... again, in a meaningless game." (Hint, hint, pre-season games are bad. You will believe us!!). He then concludes the segment by suggesting that unless quarterbacks are forced by rule to stop making tackles, then they will continue to try and make tackles to save interception/fumble returns for touchdowns. His final words are "It's time to take them out of the equation for their own good." This, for me, was shocking to read. I can understand when laws are passed, rules created etc, in order to stop someone from endangering others. I have never, ever, agreed that people should be prevented from doing things for "their own good". That's the first act of a dictatorship. And is Pat Kirwan seriously suggesting that we should prevent quarterbacks from making tackles because they might be injured? What else are they supposed to do? Idly stand by and just let a defender return the turnover for a TD? And surely this is the job of the coaches. Surely if they want their quarterbacks to try and make the play then that's up to them. If they don't want them hurt, tell them not to make the tackle! Kirwan is providing the absolute, perfect example of some of the sheer 'idea-bile' that is generated by the NFL sometimes. Only in the modern NFL could someone even consider the possibility of forcing a player, by rule, to not make tackles. All Kirwans article needs now is a section that kisses Peyton Mannings a** over the new rule regarding umpire placement and..... Yeah. He got that in too. Christ sake. Enough. Time to turn back to proper Football talk, by finishing up the last 8 pre-season games: Denver @ Vikings: Sage Rosenfels. Tavaris Jackson. Joe Webb. It's time to stand up and be counted. One of these three is likely leaving this roster before the season begins. Sage has performed the best but may still get the chop as some media types have suggested that Childress is holding onto Jackson just to prove he was right about him all along. Webb on the surface appears to be the odd one out, but as a rookie he has youth on his side and has shown flashes of potential already. The Broncos have their own battle at quarterback to resolve. Orton will finally step aside after a very good pre-season and leave it to Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow to fight for his back up job. Tebow has the edge in shirt sales. He has the edge in media attraction. But absolutely the most important, he has the edge on the field. So far... From my rookie watch list we've spoken about Tebow and DeMaryius Thomas is supposedly still nursing an injury which now leaves RB Toby Gerhart and DE Everson Griffen of the Vikings and Corners Syd'Quan Thompson and Perrish Cox of the Broncos. Shine on boys. Packers @ Chiefs: Remember Graham Harrell? Quarterback for the Texas Tech Red Raiders? Well he's finally going to get a solid crack of the whip in the NFL, albeit in what Pat Kirwan might call a "Meaningless pre-season game" (Tell that to Harrell on the eve of possibly one of the biggest games of his life). On defense, with Al Harris now injured (again) it's likely that Tramon Williams will be kept out of harms way so the Packers secondary backups will also be out for a feeding frenzy on Thursday. Chiefs QB Tyler Palko might get a shot, but I'm guessing Brodie Croyle will take most of the snaps to prepare him for a season behind Matt Cassel. Just looking briefly at my rookie watch list I didn't realise how many Chiefs players were on there! McCluster might play a little but will probably be rested for the most part, as will Safety Eric Berry. That leaves G Jon Asamoah, CB Javier Arenas and S Kendrick Lewis for me to keep an eye on. Dolphins @ Cowboys: Fans watching this one could be in for a hell of a game. Both teams have tentatively suggested they may leave some of their starters in. Well, Coach Sparano wasn't quite so subtle about it. On second thoughts though, the reason both teams may keep their starters in is precisely because they've played so badly in the recent pre-season games. The stupid thing about Miami is that some of their starters have done well. QB Chad Henne has definitely shown improvement from last year. CB Vontae Davis has probably been their best player so far. WR Brandon Marshall is fitting in and TE Anthony Fasano has come along as a receiving threat. They're just lacking something, that final product perhaps. For Dolphins QB Pat White this could be the last chance saloon to prove that he's come along as passer and is not just a gimmick addition. This will be important to watch not only for Dolphins fans but for all of us. If White is cut, the media will jump on this like a pack of ravenous wolves. It will hurt the chances of all future quarterbacks who are considered as runners (even guys like Tebow and McCoy) as the finger pointing begins and the "remember Pat White" stories begin to emerge. As for the Cowboys. Who cares, it's the Cowboys. They'll play well all year then nose dive in the play offs. Consider that a prediction. As for the rookie watch list, we've got two linebackers; Koa Misi and Micah Johnson. Misi may or may not get some good playing time, but Johnson surely will. I'm rooting for you guys. Saints @ Titans: I was dismayed to find out that rookie QB Sean Canfield from my watch list has been cut by the Saints, though given the showing of their other back ups, it's understandable. Fingers crossed that he will land somewhere else on a practice squad and earn his way back into the league. The Saints in general look pretty set for the season ahead. Their secondary has been the only slightly vulnerable looking spot, but I'm guessing that corners Tracy Porter & Jabari Greer will be rested, making a useful comparison after this game difficult. For the Titans the back up running back battle continues, with LaGarrette Blount definitely having the edge. For my watch list there's just one player, LB Rennie Curran who has done well so far. Buccaneers @ Texans: My expectation is that QB Josh Johnson will get another game under his belt, though we might see something of the rookie Jevan Snead. Arrelious Benn and Michael Spurlock will be two receivers worth keeping an eye out for against a sometimes shaky Texan secondary. Defensively I have my eye on LB Dekoda Watson and DT Brian Price from the watch list. I said the Texans secondary was shaky, but I've said that before about the Texans. Like the Panthers though they insist on proving me wrong at every turn, playing like the Lions when I say they're on the up and playing like the Colts when I compare them to the Lions. I hope the Texans lose. Badly. In embarrassing fashion. Chargers @ 49ers: The Chargers D still hasn't learnt to rush the passer consistently so they might be quite happy to travel to Candlestick Park to play the 49ers. San Francisco's line isn't exactly notorious for it's granite like stability and neither David Carr nor Nate Davis are being heralded lately for their quick release. Chargers LB Donald Butler is on the rookie watch list. For the 49ers this might finally be the chance to get a good look at safety Taylor Mays (watch list) as well as the ongoing battle at the Linebacker spot that could see either Manny Lawson or Parys Haralson ultimately get cut. I'm also all eyes open for FB Brit Miller. C'mon Brit! Seahawks @ Raiders: The Charlie Whitehurst saga continues, god help us. Hopefully for Seahawks fans he'll have a better showing this time around. I'm watching the secondary though, looking out for S Kam Chancellor who should see some extended action for a change. The Raiders roster depth meanwhile is a little uncertain so it's still difficult to predict who will be on the field and who will be on the sideline. I imagine Darrius Heyward-Bey will be sent out for another run and we may even get a good look at combine speedster Jacoby Ford (who also showed very good hands at the combine). At QB it's likely that Gradkowski will be kept out of harms way, meaning the Kyle Boller and Colt Brennan will likely share time. Redskins @ Cardinals: With Leinart on the trade block, it all falls to Derek Anderson to go out and just prove to his team that he can at least be a confident, competent leader. Chances are that rookie QB John Skelton will also get a chance to play. Looking at the watch list you'll notice that Charles Scott has been traded to Arizona and is projected to play as a Fullback. Given that his tough running style and sheer power were the things that intrigued me about him, I can see the transition to FB being a relatively easy one for him. DT Dan Williams and LB Daryl Washington are also watch listers for the Cardinals. The Redskins have some tough choices to make at Running Back. They now have five potential backs and they're not all going to make the final roster. Given that Portis will probably lead the way and that the Redskins will want to invest in a bit of youth, chances are that either Larry Johnson or Willie Parker is set for the chop. My guess is that Parker will go, which is a shame. I'll be expecting someone to pick Parker up for a bargain contract in the near future. That then is that. 16 "meaningless" games accounted for and ready to be played. I'll be back tomorrow to recap them all at some point, probably segmenting them a little based on their respective kick off times. Till then, Have a great day everyone.