News, Notes & Rumors after Week 1 of the preseason
The injury bug seems to be alive and well despite a reduced uniformed practice schedule this season. The injury de jure seems to be the dreaded torn ACL. There were no ACL injuries on the first week of games. All of them occurred during practice.
The NFL is still trying to get the 18 game season into the minds of the fans. While preseason games are not popular, there will be a lot of player pressure against the move. The NFL is even reducing the ticket cost of preseason games. One thing that has not been talked about is the effect that 2 preseason games will have on the ability of undrafted players to make a team. With the much more restricted practice schedule, the only real opportunity an undrafted player has is in preseason games. Two less games will give the new guys only one game to show they belong. The first preseason game will be used to prepare the starters for the season.
Browns color guy Bernie Kosar has been widely crushed for his opinions about the play of Rams players. First, there is no Constitutional Guarantee for freedom from being insulted. Second, if a color guy cannot express his opinion, why have one? Rams Coach Jeff Fisher needs to get a lot thinker skin. Jeff, shut up and pick better players.
Starting QBs that could be replaced–Josh Freeman TB looked very shaky against the Ravens. He did not have his starting OGs and was not productive. He is in the last year of his rookie deal and will be gone unless he shows he is a franchise QB.
Mark Sanchez NJ should not have been an early 1st round pick. He has not developed and is now in a QB duel. He will be remembered forever in NFL circles for the Butt Fumble. His best chance of keeping the job might be the ankle injury to Geno Smith but that is reported to be minor.
Blaine Gabbert JK has not developed and some of that is on the coaches. The Jags just need to find someone that can move the ball. Gabbert has regressed in his time there and needs to find his game to keep the job.
Christan Ponder MN is not developing. The best thing he has going for him is that the backup is Matt Cassel and he has already proven he is not a quality starter.
Payton Manning DV—Just kidding although the Broncos did run 3 plays out of the pistol while he was in. Don’t expect Payton to run the ball any time soon.
Many teams need backup QBs – The backup is much more critical this season than ever before. Due to a rule change if a player suffers a possible head hit he must be taken into the locker room to get tested for a concussion. That could mean a starting QB could be out as much as a quarter and a half even if he is not injured just for the test.
The Pack had Graham Harrell at QB2 last year. If Aaron Rodgers gets hurt the season is over unless the team finds a better 2. Harrell turns the ball over way too much. The Pack is close to SB quality unless he has to play QB for any extended time. Good news for Harrell is that the expected challenger is Vince Young who couldn’t make the Bills roster last year.
According to Kosar, the Rams could use a better backup than Kellen Clemens. I agree with Kosar.
The 49ers traded for Colt McCoy. In his first game for the team he did what he does best—get hurt. Colt will likely be out for the year and the team needs a QB2 as well. So far neither Scott Tolzien nor B.J. Daniels look like they can play at this level.
The Falcons are searching for a backup. Dominique Davis is the current backup but he has yet to prove he can handle the job. He has never thrown a pass in a game and is backed up by two rookie QBs.
Players that caught my eye—RG2 Lane Taylor GB The undrafted RFA did very well on the run and the pass. He is someone to watch given the issues and age of the OL.
FS2 Tyrann Mathieu AZ had a standout game and should unseat Rashad Johnson very soon. Mathieu just makes plays. That is exactly what the Cards need at FS IF he can stay away from trouble.
FB2 Zack Line MN not only can block but is a receiver as well. I talked about him on my show before the draft and in his first game looked like a player.
J.D. Woods PT really showed his ability to catch. He had to try to catch balls thrown by John Parker Wilson. Woods’ first catch was well over his head. The second one was thrown out of bounds but he caught it and got both feet down.
Sloppy games of the Week—Bucs/Ravens game had more flags than the UN does. Both teams looked shaky on O and shot themselves in the foot on a regular basis with penalties and turnovers.
Steelers/Giants was a turnover fest that included muffed punts, RBs running into the QB in their own endzone and missed passes, fumbles, and blocked punts. The final was 18-13 with most of the points coming off mistakes.
While Chip Kelly offense looked pretty common, the D did not. Kelly has prohibited tackling to the ground at Eagle practices. It looked like the Bird D forgot it is legal to tackle during a game. There were more whiffs than you see at most Cleveland Indian games. Look for the tackle rules to change at practice.
The Packers CBs got burned a lot and things will not get better until they get the starting CBs back. Given the issues with the 2nd unit, look for the Pack to be watching the cut lists very carefully.
Before the draft I talked about WR Kenny Stills as a late round value. The Saints took him in the 5th round. Although there were some glitches in his first preseason outing, the Saints think a lot of him. He could win the 3rd WR spot this year.
The Rams rookie WR Tavon Austin was very quiet in the game vs. the Browns. Coach Jeff Fisher said the team had to get Austin more involved in the O. While he can return kicks, getting him more involved in the passing game will be harder. There is no question about his speed but he is very short. The key to getting him more involved will be getting him down the sideline from the slot. That would match him against shorter DBs. It would help if there was any other receiver that could threaten the D. So far there have been more drops than catches by the Rams group.
Undrafted QB Matt McGloin (Raiders) has moved ahead of 4th round pick Tyler Wilson for the #3 QB spot according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But don’t trust McGloin to make the team. He has serious flaws as a passer. He improved a lot at Penn State in his senior year but Wilson is a quality prospect. A lot of NFL teams would love a shot at Wilson as a key backup.
The Seahawks are looking for a solid backup to RB Marshawn Lynch. They may have found one in ex Texas A&M back Christine Michael. He had 89 yards in 16 carries for a 5.6 yards per carry average. He blocks well and can play FB or HB and even a little TE.
The sudden retirement of Cowboy OG Brandon Moore has the team scrambling for a vet. ESPN reports that they are after former Pats’ OG Brian Waters who retired in 2012.
Don’t bet on Bills QB Kevin Kolb to be the starter. E.J. Manuel is coming on strong and Kolb cannot stand that type of pressure.
Fantasy Football comments:
Look for SF QB Colin Kaepernick to explode this year. In the months leading up to the 2011 draft I talked a lot about him. He has had an entire off season as the starter unlike last year when he was getting backup reps. He said he is faster than last year which should scare NFC Ds to death. Don’t worry about him losing WR Michael Crabtree or about him getting hurt running the ball. He has a lot of weapons and is a very solid guy that never seems to take a big hit.
Don’t draft any KC receivers unless you are in a PPR league. QB Alex Smith does not have a strong arm. The vast majority of his throws will fly less than 8 yards under the WCO of Coach Andy Reed.
KC RB Charles will also be a risk. Reed likes to pass a lot. He passed a league high 61% of the time last season in Philly. While Charles may get some short TDs, he will not get enough carries to get a bunch of yards. He will catch a bunch of passes however.
Eagle RB McCoy is going in picks 9 or 10 in most draft leagues. Remember that at Oregon Kelly ran the ball over 60% of the time. If he stays healthy McCoy should get a lot of carries and catch some passes as well.
That is what I think. Tell me what you think.
You can listen to the NNR podcasts at https://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro football teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.
He also edits .
News, Notes & Rumors after Week 1 of the preseason by Bill Smith