Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 NFL Pre-season week 2 (part 2)

Okey dokey, that's week 2 done of the pre-season so let's have a look at all the games from Friday onwards;

Starting with Washington @ Indianapolis and oh my god! The Colts without Manning are like the final double episode of the TV detective series "Monk" - fucking horrible (I loved that show, but thought the ending was a pile of shit. I'm still bitter about it).

John Beck basically wrapped up the Redskins QB situation with 14/17 for 140 yards, but don't get too excited Redskins fans. The running game did most of the damage and that was against a Colts run defense that was frankly hideous. Tim Hightower carried 6 times for 70 yards and a TD. The big winner though was rookie running back Roy Helu, who lived up to my expectations with 14 carries for 101 yards. Rookie receiver Leonard Hankerson did the same, with 3 catches for 46 yards. The Redskins defense came up with three sacks, including one for rookie Ryan Kerrigan.

The Colts.... sucked. Curtis Painter completed just 5/10 for a whole 40 yards. Dan Orlovsky was 7/17 for 67 yards and an interception. For all the credit that Polian and son get for building that team in Indy, they seem to be extremely lax about the subject of finding a replacement QB. The Colts D produced some sacks, with rookie Drake Nevis getting a half, and the sole solo sack going to rookie John Chick (don't look at me, never heard of him). Rookie LB Adrian Moten had a pick. Told you he wouldn't be a bad undrafted linebacker.

On to Kansas @ Baltimore. I see Todd Haley still isn't interested in his potentially league leading running game. Ah well, screw you Todd. Just glad I'm not a Chiefs fan. None of his quarterbacks managed to complete more than 8 passes, which is a little gutting because I had high hopes for Ricky Stanzi, who threw just 6/12 for 58 yards and an interception. The one bright note for the Chiefs was rookie OLB Justin Houston. I saw him as a potentially very good pass rusher and he showed why with two sacks.

For Baltimore, nice to see that Joe Flacco's dropback footwork still looks as smooth and fluid as a wheelchair being pushed down a flight of stairs. He ended the game 12/24 for 124 yards. And I still don't understand why people compare him to Matt Ryan. There is a hell of a difference between the two. The Ravens ground game did better, producing 4 touchdowns. The defense also came up trumps with 5 sacks, plus an interception for rookie corner Josh Victorian, who I didn't even realise had come out of college. Keep an eye on this former Louisiana Tech kid, trust me.

Next game and Detroit @ Cleveland for shoot out time! Colt McCoy, who was on my watch list last year, put up 10/18 for 96 yards and 3 touchdowns. Pretty impressive for a kid who most people had written off before he was even drafted. The Lions shared their time about a bit more, with Stafford seeing 6/10 for 85 yards and a TD, then Drew Stanton dealt the killing blows late with 6/8 for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns. Defensively it was all about rookies forcing fumbles, with Rob Callaway and Ricardo Silva doing the honors for Detroit, and Jabaal Sheard for the Browns.

Oh no, next on the list is Carolina @ Miami. The battle for whose quarterback can suck the most continues. For the Panthers, Newton tried his hardest with 7/14 for just 66 yards. Clausen was 9/15 for 69 yards. But Chad Henne actually began to show why, to be honest, he's not all that bad. 15/24 for 194 yards.

The Panthers contribution to the game basically ended there, but the Dolphins had a little more left to give. Rookie Daniel Thomas put in 12 carries for 52 yards and a TD. The big surprise though was Reggie Bush, who carried 8 times for 48 yards and had 2 catches for a further 33, kind of showing some of the potential that was expected of him a long time ago.

Arizona @ Green Bay next. Kevin Kolb was ok for the Cardinals at quarterback, but Richard Bartel got the biggest look, with 13/19 for 169 yards, a TD and an INT. On the opposite side though the Packers quarterbacks were showing Arizona how it's done. Rodgers was 9/12 for 97 yards and a TD. Matt Flynn was 5/6 for 141 yards and a TD, and Graham Harrell ended 7/9 for 81 yards and a TD.

After his 97 yard scamper from a Matt Flynn pass, rookie wide receiver Chastin West finished with 5 catches for 134 yards and a TD in perhaps the most impressive solo display of the evening. Team wise it was probably the Cardinals D, who actually managed to generate some pressure including four sacks.

Atlanta @ Jacksonville for our next game and rookie QB Blaine Gabbert was the focus of a lot of attention, both from the Jaguars and the media. He finished the game 11/23 for just 96 yards and yet surprisingly nobody seems to be calling for his head yet. Funny, because if Tim Tebow did the same then people would be lapping it up and talking about how he's not NFL ready etc. But then of course, that would mean the media was wrong to rate Gabbert so highly so I can't see them doing anything like that soon.

One point that did amuse me was ProFootballTalk's seemingly surprised assessment that "Gabbert often felt pressure that wasn't there. He was hurt by drops, but generally showed poor pocket presence and shaky accuracy". Well no shit Sherlock, I pointed this out in March and then did a more detailed post on Gabbert in May. And made precisely the points that are only being brought up now. (for the record from the May post, Jeff VanCamp is still a free agent, so somebody sign him please *cough* 49ers. And the reason nobody was talking about Kellen Moore is because he was going back for his senior year. Whoops).

Anyway, David Garrard managed 7/12 for 99 yards and a pick during his time. The big surprise was Luke McCown, unless of course you already thought he was good. But there you go. He finished 8/9 for 86 yards and a TD. At this point I should probably point out that there was another team in the game, that being the Atlanta Falcons. QB Matt Ryan went 7/15 for 116 yards and a TD, while veteran back up Chris Redman (probably one of the better back ups out there) went 10/14 for 76 yards. Third year Falcons receiver Harry Douglas also impressed with 2 catches for 87 yards and a TD.

On defense the Falcons had three sacks, including a half sack for the outstanding 4th year defensive end Kroy Biermann who shared it with 2nd year linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (from last years rookie watch list. Not sure if I'm going to do another one this year. Maybe. Any how, need to get out of brackets and back to the point). Corner Brent Grimes grabbed another pick, though I'm not sure how since he was nowhere near the intended receiver, which probably says more about David Garrards deep ball accuracy than anything else. The Jags D literally contributed nothing of note.

Onwards and slightly westwards then, for New Orleans @ Houston. For the Saints, Drew Brees was 7/14 for 109 yards and his spell saw a spectacular break down in the protection that led to him taking a heavy hit and fumbling in the red zone. Don't ask me why I take so much joy from that. I'm probably just a shit human being.

Chase Daniel came out best in the Saints back up battle, with 6/14 for 127 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. On the other side Matt Schaub recovered from his shaky start to the preseason, ending with 12/16 for 163 yards. Matt Leinart did the opposite, building on his good start with a more traditional Matt Leinart performance; 8/18 for 69 yards. It matters little though.

The star of the day was the Texans running game, which has come alive since the arrival of Arian Foster last year. And the fact that the Texans actually give it a proper chance these days (just wait, they'll soon dump it once the season gets going). Foster had 5 carries for 47 yards and 2 TDs, while Ben Tate turned in 9 carries for 95 yards and another TD. Andre Johnson was also on fine form, with 4 catches for 100 yards.

The Texans D also played its part, having been revitalised under Wade Phillips (never thought I'd say that). The highlight was outside linebacker Brooks Reed, with 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Now the question is how smug am I right now? Smug enough to say "I fucking called it!". Yeah, you know I am.

Next we head right over to the west. Literally all the way to the West Coast for the Raiders @ 49ers. Which is the last time we'll see these two rivals play in the pre-season thanks to a bunch of cocks who shot two men outside the stadium. Might I suggest in future just sealing the entrances a bit better and checking everyone on the way in for weapons for the entire duration of the game etc, as they did at Wembley last year?

On the subject of cocks, Al Davis waved his undead hand during yesterdays supplemental draft and ordained that Terrelle Pryor shall be a Raider. That wouldn't have anything to do with his 4.34 40-yard dash (in shorts) now would it? Even more surprising is their plan to keep him as a quarterback. Good luck with that Al.

Right, anyway, the game. There's a reason I've been trying to put off talking about my 49ers, and that's basically because we weren't very good. Luckily enough though, the Raiders obliged us by being even worse. It's going to be a lonnnnng season for both teams. Jason Campbell finished 5/7 for 74 yards for the Raiders. And that was the best of their bunch. Kyle Boller was 6/11 for 56 yards and a pick, while Trent Edwards watched that performance in awe.... then threw a pick himself.

The 49ers - not to be outdone - rolled out Alex Smith, who went 8/13 for 126 yards and a pick. Colin Kaepernick was 6/8 for 52 yards. Still better than punter Andy Lee, who botched the hold on a field goal, tried to improvise... and threw a pick.

About the only good thing to actually come out of this game was 49ers rookie running back Kendall Hunter who had 9 carries for 105 yards and a TD. Oh and Darius Heyward Bey had two catches for the Raiders, for 40 yards. In fact, for such a shit game I wrote a surprisingly large amount of text.

Heading way back east we come to Tennessee @ St. Louis. You know I'd probably get more pageviews if I actually used the teams descriptive names. Ah well. Matt Hasselbeck looked pretty good for the Titans, leaving the game 7/9 for 74 yards after he took a nasty looking bump on his leg. Jake Locker came in and ended 8/18 for 82 yards and a pick. The Titans run game looked better though, with rookie Jamie Harper going for 83 yards and a TD off 11 carries. Stafon Johnson (one of the "missing" watch listers from last year) also had 11 carries and ended with 68 yards.

I know this is a bit of a quick tangent but this is precisely the reason why I wouldn't pay Chris Johnson anything more than a reasonably modest salary. The offensive line does most of the work for running backs and I think the Titans are in a position where they could replace Johnson. Would their backs be quite as explosive as him? No. But with the extra cap space you could start building a team by buying in some of the players who are a little harder to get hold of than running backs.

Back to the game and Sam Bradford was struggling a little for the Rams, with 8/15 for 138 yards, a TD and an INT. Rookie Thaddeus Lewis did well with 8/10 for 74 yards. A.J. Feely wasn't bad either, 5/9 for 44 yards and a TD.

On defense not a whole lot happened, though it was funny to see the Titans generate 3 sacks, but none from their D-line. Could be a rough year in Tennessee.

On to Buffalo @ Denver and it's the joys of the Tim Tebow merry go round. Except it isn't, because he only threw two passes right at the end of the game. Afterwards the mainstream media was adamant that Kyle Orton has secured his place at the top of the Broncos depth chart with that performance, to which I would respond with the simple question; "And precisely who of sound mind and body thought that he was anything but that?". But then I guess that's what the media does best, trying to create controversy where there is none.

Orton was 10/13 for 135 yards and a TD. Next was Brady Quinn who went 10/16 for 130 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. I thought NFL.com's headline was quite amusing though, running with "Quinn out duels Tebow as Broncos bump off Bills". How do you consider it a duel when one quarterback had the opportunity to throw 16 passes and the other had just two attempts? Words don't really do the stupidity of it justice.

But I digress. For the Bills, Ryan Fitzpatrick was 6/16 for 44 yards and an interception. Tyler Thigpen managed 11/20 for 118 yards and a TD. And even Brad Smith got in on the action, with 4/4 for 34 yards. On the ground the only real standout was Broncos running back Willis McGahee who did what Willis McGahee does, scoring two touchdowns; one on the ground and the other from a pass.

On defense, rookie Bills linebacker Robert Eddins had a sack, as did rookie D-Tackle Marcell Dareus. For the Bronocs, LB Von Miller had a sack. What impressed me the most about this though was the technique he showed. My knock on him so far has been his technique being a little unrefined, but with that sack he showed signs that he's been working hard in camp to improve his pass rushing skills, which paid off. Now if only NFL.com would a) allow videos to be embedded to other pages and b) stop only making highlight reels of Cam Newton (I'm serious) and start actually putting together "defense highlights" etc, then I'd be able to show you what I mean. As it is we'll just have to move on.

To.... Minnesota @ Seattle. What's that Seattle? Your quarterback situation sucks? Welcome to the NFC West party my friends (excluding the Rams). Newly acquired Tavaris Jackson took to the field and put up 11/21 for 75 yards and an interception. The interception made me laugh in particular, because if he just turned his head a few degrees to the right he would have seen a completely free receiver, as opposed to the double covered one that he tried to throw to. Charlie Whitehurst finished 14/19 for 97 yards and a TD. Rookie Josh Portis turned in an eye catching(ly shit) 2/9 for 13 yards (On a brighter note he lead his team in rushing with 4 carries for 46 yards).

On the Vikings side, Donovan McNabb ended 6/8 for 81 yards. Rookie Christian Ponder was a disappointing 6/12 for 63 yards, while Joe Webb was 4/8 for 44 yards. Defensively the Vikings were a little drab, with the exception of rookie defensive back Marcus Sherels who had an interception (but also a fumble). The Seahawks D was just as boring.

Off to the East coast then and we find Cincinnati @ New York (Jets). The Andy Dalton show is the lead story, as he finished his part in the game 8/19 for 86 yards and 2 interceptions. He wasn't even the worst Bengals quarterback though. Bruce Gradkowski was 3/7 for 50 yards and an INT, while Dan LeFevour was 2/5 for 20 yards. Andrew Luck had better start paying attention, because this is likely where he's heading next year. Time to start scouting those receivers huh?

Mark Sanchez was... better? 12/20 for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Good, but still not where the Jets need him to be. Greg McElroy turned in a better show this time with 6/9 for 59 yards and a touchdown. The story of the day for the Jets though was Plaxico Burress, who had 3 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. I didn't realise that guy was 34 now. Shit, getting old. Meanwhile Santonio Holmes continues to look like the best pick up the Jets have ever made, at least under Rex Ryan.

Back west now, and down south a little, which is not at all a euphemism for the standard of play in San Diego @ Dallas. Phillip Rivers was 8/11 for 92 yards and a TD. Bill Volek; 8/12 for 48 yards. Scott Tolzien; 4/5 for 12 yards and my question to you Scott is this; how do you throw 4 complete passes for just 12 yards? That should be impossible, or against the law or something.

The Cowboys though actually did ok. Tony Romo was 8/12 for 58 yards, a TD and an INT. Stephen McGee was 16/29 for 157 yards. John Kitna was perfect, going 1/1 for 2 yards. Ahhhh. Now I know how Tolzien did it.

On defense, 3rd year Chargers defensive tackle Vaughn Martin had a good game with 2 sacks, and rookie defensive tackle Corey Liuget had one as well. Eric Weddle continues to impress at safety with another interception. The Cowboys D produced two sacks, including guess who? DeMarcus Ware.

And finally, Monday Night Football with Chicago @ New York (Giants). Man, Chicago not looking good. Last year I felt they kind of lucked their way into the playoffs and it showed against the Giants. Their defense was gashed heavily by the Giants running game as Brandon Jacobs turned 6 carries into 48 yards and a TD, including one run where the Bears front just got ripped open right up the middle. Rookie Da'Rel Scott - who I once described as "slow in pads" - shut me up by burning off a 97 yard touchdown run, after almost tripping over in his own endzone.

Quarterback wise, Jay Cutler of the Bears finished 12/21 for 171 yards. Caleb Hanie then came in to finish the game with 17/28 for 166 yards and an interception. For the Giants, Eli Manning was 8/16 for 78 yards, while David Carr ended the night 9/11 for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On defense, the Bears D produced literally nothing of note worthiness. For the Giants Mark Herzlich picked up an interception, which pleased a lot of people, not least me after I backtracked on my previous, slightly underwhelmed opinion of him. I was also pleased to see rookie linebacker Greg Jones get a punt block. Now please insert him into the defense proper for the final week of pre-season. Thank you Mr. Coughlin.

So that's that. Barring any major news stories, I'll be back Wednesday I think, to have a look ahead at some of the week 3 preseason games. Thanks for dropping by and don't forget to hit that Facebook-button-thing at the bottom to share this page with your friends.

Laters everyone.

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