Tuesday Morning QB: What we learned from the NFL Preseason.

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The 4th preseason game was a preview of the 09 Lions and the UFL.

There were a lot of players in the last preseason game that will end up cut by their current teams. Several of those were picked up by the Lions on waivers. Some of the most notable included Yamon Figurs (WR), Kevin Hobbs (CB), Copeland Bryan (DE), Marcus McCauley (CB), and Cletis Gordon (CB). McCauley (Mn) has started in the league and may start for the Lions.

The UFL has been scouring the cut lists to get players. Expect them to sign as many “name brand” NFL players as possible. Teams have also been stocking their practice squads with young players (2 full years playing credit or less). Any team can sign a player to its 53 man roster from another teams practice squad.

Quarterback starters are named except in Cleveland.

The Jets named rookie Mark Sanchez the starter. Sanchez is not ready to start. He has the same problems that all rookie QBs. See the detail of these issues below.

Tampa Bay has picked vet Byron Leftwitch as their starter. Leftwitch won the job as a seat warmer for QB of the future rookie Josh Freeman. That seat won’t be warm for a while. If the Bucs fall out of the playoff chase, Freeman may take over. However, he is much further away from be ready to start than Sanchez. The Bucs traded Josh McCown.

The Lions are going to start rookie Matthew Stafford. Stafford is going to have a very rough season unless the O line comes together.

Then there is the Browns. Coach Mangini has not announced which QB will start. Everyone assumes it will be Quinn. If he is hoping that keeping the starter a secret will give him a competitive advantage in game 1. Based on how the Vikes D and the Browns O looked, whatever advantage that might be is not going to be nearly enough.

Why do so many rookie QBs that start end up failing?

There are 3 areas that even the best rookie QB has to get experience in before he can be successful. First, the speed of the NFL game is many times that of college. Patterns develop faster. The rush gets to the QB faster. The DBs close on receivers faster. A QB has to adjust to that and the adjustment takes time.

Second, the defensive players are all better and smarter than the best college player that they ever faced. They bait rookies into interceptions and hide coverages much better than college D ever could.

Third, the complexity of the O and D playbooks in the NFL. A typical college playbook is 100-150 pages. The average NFL playbook is closer to 1000. A college QB has never faced the combinations of man/zone coverages, zone blitzes, and rotating zones that he will in the NFL.

Why did Matt Ryan (AT), Ben Roethlisberger (PT) and Joe Flacco (BA) succeed when so many others failed?

All three of those above had a couple of things in common. The most important was a great running game. They were not asked to win games. Rather they were asked to keep the chains moving and not lose the game. All three had solid O lines. You don’t get a good running game without a good O line. The other thing each had was an above average D. Pittsburgh and Baltimore had outstanding Ds. Atlanta’s D was better than most think.

In the case of most of the failures, the teams had none of those qualities. When you ask a rookie to be the QB, he will not succeed without some of those factors around him.

College Football snippets.

Ohio State has to play better on the O and D lines than they did against Navy if they want to win vs. USC.

The Buckeyes were unable to run up the gut against a lighter D line. They were also unable to protect the passer effectively. The Midshipmen were able to run the ball at will against what was supposed to be a great OSU D. If they play the same way against USC, it is going to be a very long game.

BYU makes a statement to be included in the BCS.

Those that didn’t watch the Oklahoma BYU game may have thought that the upset by BYU was due to the injury to QB Sam Bradford. That is not the case. Even when Bradford was in the game, the BYU team was putting pressure on him, stopping the run, and moving the ball against the Sooner D. The way BYU played indicates they are a very solid team. Even if they go undefeated, they will lose out to a 1 loss SEC or BIG-12 team for consideration for the national championship game.

Bradford’s injury shows the danger for a top junior player skipping the draft.

Had Bradford been part of the 08 draft, he would have been the #1 pick. Upside is that he and his family would be set for life financially. Downside is he would have to play for the 0-16 Lions. I wrote that Bradford was making a mistake by not going into the draft. He had nothing left to prove to NFL scouts. Now that he is hurt and his team has a loss in non league competition, the chances for the Sooners making the national championship game are reduced by half. The news about the injury is promising and we all hope he gets back to action soon.

Virginia Tech is not ready to compete for the NCG.

The game vs. Alabama was a must win for VT to have any claim on a spot in the big game.

Talk of Rutgers being a national power is at best premature.

A above average Cincinnati team spanked Rutgers. So much for preseason rankings. Does anyone remember Georgia being #1 in the preseason polls of 08?

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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