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  • Published: Aug 26th, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on News, Notes & Rumors Week 3 of the preseason

News, Notes & Rumors Week 3 of the preseason

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Later this week I will post the AFC and NFC projections for the league.

When asked which team might be a surprising team, Chris Mortensen of ESPN suggested the Browns will “make it very interesting in the AFC North.”  He mentioned the improvement of QB Brandon Weeden in the new offense and the additions on the defensive line.  Needless to say that was before the Browns choked at Indy.

The Steelers traded to get RB Felix Jones from the Eagles.  Steelers’ 2nd round pick RB Le’Veon Bell has a lisfranc injury in his foot.  It is not a good idea to draft a back that has carried the ball as much as Bell did at Michigan State.  His injury could not have been a surprise.  Look for Jones to be a significant factor this year for the Steelers but the running game will struggle.

“DANGER—DANGER”  The first team of the Pats turned the ball over on 4 of their first 5 possessions against the Lions Friday night.  QB Tom Brady has been harassed consistently in the first 3 preseason games.  Brady looked disgusted with the play of his team.  Those are not good signs for the Pats.  The good news is the Pats are in the AFC Least with no real competition for the division title and the playoff spot.

Several major injuries marred week 3 of preseason.  The Cards lost OG Jonathan Cooper for the year with a broken leg.  The Jets saw QB Mark Sanchez go down with an injury to his throwing shoulder.  It does not look to be significant.  The Giants lost S Stevie Brown for the year with an ACL. That is a big injury for the G Men because he had 8 picks last year.  OLB Jarvis Jones (PT) was hospitalized after an undisclosed lung injury.  It sounds similar to what OLB Barkevious Mingo (CL) experienced.

Former Browns QB Colt McCoy has won the backup spot for the 49ers.

Colt McCoy

Colt McCoy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Raiders cannot start QB Matt Flynn if they expect to have a decent season.  He has looked miserable in the last two preseason games.  There is a reason he was a very late round draft choice coming out of LSU.  Against the Bears in game 3 he threw two picks and generated 0 points in almost a half under center.  Former Buckeye Terrelle Pryor seems to be the only QB that can survive behind a very offensive O line.  In four drives Pryor generated 20 points with the 2nd team O of the Raiders.  While Pryor was moving the team to scores, Flynn was sulking on the sideline and not even wearing his head piece to listen to the play calls.

The Seahawks O line issues continued in week 3.  QB Russell Wilson did throw a pick but had another because the O line did not keep the D line’s hands down.  The O of the Hawks can be explosive ONLY if they can solve the O line issues.  The D looks fine.

Chiefs’ QB Alex Smith has not targeted WR Dwayne Bowe yet this preseason.  It could be that by the time Smith makes his drop and turns around Bowe is out of range of his arm.  Don’t expect Smith to throw much down field.  That is not what he does best.  The team has also struggled to protect Smith. He needs good protection to be successful.


Lion head coach Jim Schwartz has to get his team back into the playoffs to save his job.  The Lions commit way too many penalties and Schwartz seems to be unable to correct that.

Bills’ QB Kevin Kolb’s concussion could end his career.  The Bills signed Matt Leinart and traded for Thaddeus Lewis for insurance.

The 49ers are trying to trade QB Colt McCoy.  So far there are no takers.  That is no surprise to Browns fans.

Jet HC Rex Ryan is taking a lot of heat from the NY Media over his decision to put QB Sanchez into a preseason game after QB Geno Smith threw 3 picks.  Sanchez got hurt.  As usual, Ryan is giving as good as he gets.  But this is the beginning of the end for Ryan in NY.  He is a nice guy but like so many others is a much better coordinator than HC.

QB Terrelle Pryor is getting first team reps with the Raiders because the Matt Flynn experiment is not going well.  Flynn will “rest” his elbow this week and Pryor will start.  Look for Pryor to end up as the #1 soon.  Flynn has proven he is not a starter in the NFL.

The Packers like what they see in QB Vince Young.  Look for him to be the #2 in Green Bay.

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

You can listen to the 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 http://fryingpanpolitics.org/. 

  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 12th, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on News, Notes & Rumors after Week 1 of the preseason

News, Notes & Rumors after Week 1 of the preseason

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Brett Favre in Confessions Of An NFL QB Drama ...

Brett Favre in Confessions Of An NFL QB Drama Queen (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

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 .

Game time live notes on Browns V Packers

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 Browns V Packers

Hardesty fumble on 1st snap

Haden let Nelson wide open twice on man coverage

Thomas great return to the 29

Nice pattern by Gordon

Hardesty Good hitting the hole

Good call on 2nd long but called back Hold Thomas

Bad throw away by Weeden.  The Browns can’t run a screen.

Cribbs nice catch vs press coverage.

Cousins holding on the FG 53 yard no problem for Dawson.  He was last year Off. MVP.


No contain at all against the run.

Blitz didn’t even get close to the QB.  That continues to be a problem for the D.

Slant cuts us up.

CB Brown CAN’T TACKLE players but tackles the ball nicely

Great return by DE Stevens.

Gordon dropped the ball on 1ST DOWN

Pack figured out the Run defense and stuffed the run.

FORGET SCREEN PLAYS!  Pinkston lost control of DT that allowed pressure.

FG 6-7


No contain again.  GOT to get that solved

Not keeping  lanes on pass rush.  QB running out the back door for big gains.

Wade good cover on 4th down

Schwartz lost his guy again.  I wonder if he has the feet to play OT at this level.

Hardesty did a great job picking up the blitz on the pass to Little

TD Hardesty up the gut 13-7

Harrell on at QB 2ND Q

Haden breaks up the slant

Robertson got out on the swing pass nicely


Pinkston missed the trap block and that blew up the play.

Throwing ball very short of the LTG.  That may work with TRich but won’t with these guys.

Robertson great job but not under control on the pass rush.

Robertson got a pick 6 but it was called back due to a bone head penalty.

Blitz doesn’t get there again

Winn getting doubled every snap

The only time we got close with the blitz it was Robertson

Finally get some pressure by Sanford.


Dockery penalty on punt return.  He is on the bubble to make the 53.

Cribbs looks very slow.  Injuries and hits have taken a big toll.

Maresci not a pass catcher, not a blocker or a runner.  Why is he still on the team.  This guy is a bust and should be cut.

Jackson looks slow.

Norwood with a catch vs press coverage.    He gets open which is something the other WRs struggle to do.

Weeden under blitz but complete the ball.

Smith stumbling around like a drunk.

Ogbonnaya has good vision but not great speed.   Pinkston had a nice trap block.

Gordon fell down on a come-back.   Bad pattern that almost caused a pick 6.

Little dropped the pass but it was too short anyway.

Good coverage by Wade and everyone


2 check downs in a row 2 min drill

Got to change patterns vs the Zone.  Crossing patterns work best

A couple of poor calls vs zone by Shurmur.  Against the zone you should run crossing patterns.

TO by the Browns.   WHY?

FG 16-7

-1:19  cl 45

Hughes nice read.

Winn with the tackle on QB

Pick on the FINAL play.   JMJ has nice ball skills.

5 for 10 3rd down cover

Lots more yards had TRich been there rather than Jackson & Hardesty.


Lack of contain on pass rush costs CL 1st down by run of Harrell

54 MB Jacobs contain rush Sims picks and scores. 23-7


Two first down runs by Harrell wide of the rush.  No contain again.

Wade nice coverage prevents a catch for a 3rd first down

-20 Colt McCoy

Gordon runs the slant skinny post much better than the come back.

Jackson looks slow to the hole

Smelley gets the 4th down pass for a 1st

Colt can’t throw on the run due to lack of arm strength

Colt needs to set his feet before he throws.

Crossing route YEA Good call vs zone

2nd O line not opening holes

Colt much better rolling right.  Again lack of arm to roll left and throw

But again most of these guys will be bagging at Piggly Wiggly next month.

Jackson REALLY wanted to do well today because he played for GB

Not much from the 2nd string of the 32nd D in the NFL

They gave up the highest 3rd down % in the history of the NFL last year

The Browns 2nd D line is better at contain that the top D does.

Safety English Cammeron 30-7

-Wallace at QB 41 yl

Penalty for Holding Smelley 31

Badly blocked run outside with Jackson short pass and punt


Browns have held GB to 72 yard s rushing.  But they cannot run a lick

Browns confused in coverage.  Bad play

We will have trouble containing Vick next week.  Remember last year?  It was UGLY

And they will play their 1s for a half against our 2s

Great Q.  It is some of both.  We don’t have the pass rush DE to get to the QB but the D is conservative too.

Pack drove to the 32 32-10 8:52 left.

Browns ran the clock down with a solid running game against 3rd and 4th sting guys


Final thoughts

The Packers were playing 2nd and 3rd guys on D for the most part that were part of the 32nd ranked D in the league last year.  While the O looked better, it is not nearly ready for prime time.

The O line is shaky particularly on the right side.  RG Lauvao has not progressed despite being a 3rd year guy this season.   I wonder if RT Schwartz has the feet to play at this level.  Who plays QB will not make a difference if the line can’t protect him.

There is little doubt that the O would have been better had Richardson been the RB.  But it would not be that much better.  This is a lack of blocking on the run as well as the pass.  There is no quality depth on the O line.

The D looks decent.   There still is an issue on containing the run around both ends.  The pass rush is anemic at best.  We needed a DE that could rush the QB.   Parker is a “has been” and Rucker is a “never was.”  We will see if either of our only UFAs can contribute.

The young D linebackers show speed that the starters never had.  We will see how many snaps they get in the regular season.  The D backfield is OK but Brown is way past his expiration date and is too slow to get as much action as he will see opposite Haden.

Shurmur is dead man walking.  He is as good as gone if the team doesn’t win at least 7 games.  That is not going to happen with this roster.

The one silver lining for the Browns is the new ownership.  Jimmy Hasslam will turn this franchise around.  Not this year and probably not in 2013 either.  But I am convinced it will happen and sooner rather than later.


Bill Smith


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 edits https://fryingpansports.com and was a senior writer for .  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .  



Notes on Week 3 Preseason games

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To see more comments on the games check out my article on NFL News, Notes and Rumors on


The Bengals have been unable to score TDs. The 1st O has scored just 2 TDs in 10 possessions coming into the game. The team struggled in the red zone in the first 2 games. What they needed was a game against the Bills. 2 1st team possessions resulted in 2 TDs. When the 1st team O left the game, they led 14-7. QB Palmer needs to play a little better than he did late in the 09 season. The biggest single addition to the team last year was RB Benson. After being a bust with the Bears, he showed he could be the guy in an NFL offense. He has to be the guy because there is no significant experience behind him. The O addition this year is WR Owens. The passing game suffered last year due to the lack of threat opposite Ochocinco. They signed WR Bryant but cut him. Rookie TE Gresham should also be a major help. He is a good late round pick in Fantasy football.

If the Bengals are depending on Smith to play RT, they will be disappointed. He was a bad pick and will be a bust.

The Bengal D played very well last year. It was one of the big reasons that the team swept the AFC North and made the playoffs. It didn’t look like a playoff D against a below average Buffalo O. DE Odom looks like is most of the way back from his ruptured Achilles last year. DT Tank Johnson finally gets the game and will be a force. Even so, the D allowed 3 first half TDs by the Bills. The D backfield allowed QB Edwards to complete passes to convert 3rd and long way too often. That has to change if the Bengals expect to get to the playoffs again this year.

The Bills O looked good against a playoff D. RB Spiller was caught a couple of times in big losses because he though he could outrun the D. He has to realize this isn’t Clemson any longer. The 250 pound LBs understand angles and are nearly as fast as he is. He also tends to dance behind the line. Those issues have to be worked out because he is the back of the future for the team. QB Edwards has Spiller and WR Evens but very little else to throw to.

The Bill D is going to be a work in progress. They are changing to a 3-4 and at times it looks good but there are a lot of missed assignments and will for a while. DE Stroud will help keep the team in line but even he is changing position from a 4-3 DT. The LBs are a weakness of the D. MLB Posluszny is the only real player in that group. The backfield is the heart of the D. Given any kind of pressure by the front 7, it still should perform well.


The Giants 1st team O has been very ineffective. It has scored only 1 TD in 3 preseason games (game 1 against the Jets). The O has been 3 and out a lot. The injury to QB Manning and backup Sorgi were factors but it goes a lot deeper than than. The WRs have all been hurt during the preseason. Even when they were on the field, the accuracy was inconsistent as was the protection.

The running game has been hurt by the failure of the O line to open holes. While the RBs are mostly healthy, the projected starting O line has yet to play together because of injuries. If and when the players get back, it is not clear that this team will have enough offense to make the playoffs.

The Giant D has played better than the O but still has issues. The Giants D needs to improve at red zone D. They allowed TDs in 67% of the opponent trips last year. Rolle and a recovered Phillips at S should help cut that figure down. Admittedly, the preseason schedule has been tough, but the Giants don’t look anything like a contender.

The Ravens look ready for the regular-season except for the O line. Flacco is accurate and the new hurry up O was very effective against NY. Flacco has a very quick release and his touch has gotten better. He has never had a WR like Bolden to throw to. TE Heap will still be a good target in the red zone.

It doesn’t seem to matter who the RB is, he makes yards. While teams have in the past been able to play the run first, that will not work against these Ravens. Forcing the D to be balanced has helped the running game.

The D is even more aggressive that it has been in previous years. The ILB combination of McClain and Lewis is outstanding. The one issue is the injuries in the D Backfield. CB Carr replaced Foxworth and FS Zbikowski was filling in for Reed. Reed is expected to be ready to play early in the 2010 season. The team has had too many personal foul penalties but that should be fixed.


This game for the Cards was a tale of the QBs. ExBrown Anderson started with former starter Leinart coming in late in the 2nd. Both generated a TD and looked OK but each has issues. Anderson has the cannon arm but lacks touch and consistent accuracy. Leinart has lost the confidence of his team after having the position handed to him 3 time and failing to hold onto it. They miss Warner. They even miss Josh McCown. Leinart is in his last year with the team unless he significantly improves his stats.

The O line is an issue as well. The team totally reshuffled the O line this year. LT Brown played RT last year but can he be quick enough to pass block against speed rushers? Probably not. RT Keith has never started a NFL regular-season game. They brought in UFA Faneca but he is not close to the pro bowl player he was a couple of years ago.

The WRs are missing Boldin but have Fitzgerald and a bunch of young guys. Rookie Williams looks very solid but will make rookie mistakes. Breaston and Doucet are both good if the later can stay healthy.

The Card D has lost a lot of players including pro bowl LB Dansby. The D line looks good and the team has put pressure on the QB regularly. The LBs are just OK with Porter leading the group. The DBs star is SS Wilson and CB Rodgers-Cromartie is a future star. But the team will miss S Rolle.

The Bears prime offensive issues are QB, RB, OL, and WRs. That is almost all the O. QB Cutler has an interception problem but it is not all his fault. The key part of a comeback route is coming back. When WR Knox did not come back, a Card DB did and picked off the pass. While Cutler doesn’t have a group of experienced quality WRs, some of the fault is his. He does not have great vision and will not see the LB underneath the coverage or the safety coming over the top. He also tend to trust his strong arm more than he should and tries to stick a pass in between 2 DBs. He needs to develop better pocket awareness as well.

RB Forte is not the guy he was in his rookie season. He seems to have lost a couple of steps and is not as aggressive hitting the hole. Former Vike RB Taylor was brought in to challenge him. So far neither of them are doing much but Taylor looks better. Part of that lack of production is the O line. 2nd year LT Williams has looked very beatable at times in pass coverage but is a little better in the run. RT Omiyale played G last year and was benched for part of the season. C Kreutz is 2 years beyond his pro bowl level of performance.

The WR problem is youth. Hester is not a natural WR and has struggled to become a precise route runner. Knox is young and will make some spectacular catches then have a brain cramp like the one described above. Bennett is the most reliable WR but is nothing special.

The Bear D will be better with the addition of DE Peppers and MLB Urlacher coming back from his year long injury. The key will be how much pressure the D line can put on QBs. The team has solid backups in the front 7 but the safety position is up in the air. They have 4 Ss but everyone has been benched for lack of production.


SF QB Smith has to get it done this year. He is in the last year of his rookie 1st overall pick contract. He had his best year last season but a QB rating of 82. That is not good enough to help this team win. They are not talented enough to win with a below average QB. If he does not improve, former Texan 1st pick Carr might be the answer. RB Gore is outstanding but has suffered from a lack of a passing threat. The O line is banged up and is not that solid if healthy.

WRs Crabtree, Morgan and newcomer Ginn all have talent but all need to give their QB more help catching the ball. Crabtree was set back by a long holdout and some minor injuries last year. They need him to be a #1 guy. Ginn looks like a new man after a disappointing start to his career in Miami.

The 49er D was very solid last year. NT Franklin had his first good year last year and held out. He has signed a deal and will be ready for the regular-season. The only star is ILB Willis. CB Clements is paid like a star but has yet to play like it in SF.

OK QB Campbell is a GREAT improvement. He has better vision and accuracy. He also has the big arm that Al Davis loves. He has given Raider Nation some hope. However, he was hurt in the 2nd quarter of this game. He was not hurt badly and was throwing at practice Monday.

Davis might interfere in naming the starting RB. He prefers the former 1st round swift McFadden but RB Bush is the best overall back. Bush, a 4th round pick due to a bad injury in his senior year, is bigger, a better inside runner and picks up blitzes better. McFadden is fast and is a good receiver but has not been able to stay healthy.

DE Houston, DT Kelly and OB Wimbley are providing a good pass rush. When the regular-season opens, DE Seymour will join the group. Rookie Houston will be a pass rush specialist but will challenge LE Matt Shaughnessy for the starting spot. Wimbley has found new life with the Raiders and had 4 sacks last week in the first half.

The run D has been the weakest area and Gore blew up the gut for a TD early in the game. But the run D got better as the game went on. MLB McClain is a potential star. The D backfield is good but CB Asomugha is the only star. FS Huff may have saved his career last year with a good season but has to continue to improve his ability to cover deep.


Reguardless of which QB starts the season, the Steelers will really struggle on O. With Roethlisberger suspended for at least the first 4 games, neither potential replacement looks like they can keep the team competitive until he gets back. QB Dixon has the ability to move. The problems that they have on the O line makes that a valuable asset. But Dixon is easily fooled by coverages and that leads to turnovers. The other option is Leftwich who is a statue behind C. In his short stint, Roethlisberger looked sharp.

The O line problems continued in Denver. RT Adams had more illegal procedure penalties than good blocks in pass protection and is too old and too slow to block speed rushers. The C position is also in question with rookie Pouncey replacing Hartwig in this game and possibly to start the season. The best O lineman LT Colon is out for the year. RT Stark has gone to LT to replace him. The running game was better last year than in 08 but will depend a lot on the blocking of the O line. While RB Mendenhall is the main guy rookie Dwyer could be the wild card.

The D is starting to crumble. Personal foul penalties that come from frustration have been more frequent this preseason. It is beginning to show its age. Even the return of FS Polamalu doesn’t seem to help. While the team still makes some spectacular plays, it struggles to get off the field on 3rd down.

DV is offensively challenged. The running game will be a big question mark. It will be RB by committee but they don’t have any franchise backs. They would love to see RB Moreno be the guy but he has yet to prove he can handle the job. He has been out much of the preseason with injuries. The team signed RB White who was cut by his college coach in Seattle. Buckhalter is above-average at almost everything but has been injury prone. If the team can’t pass, the opponents will stack the line against the run.

Despite losing WR Marshall, the team has some potentially very good receivers. WR Royals and Thomas are young and have talent. WR Gaffney will hold down a starting spot until Thomas is ready. The question will be can the O line protect Orton well enough? The O line has had a lot of injuries as well.

The Bronco D will miss LB Dumerville who led the NFL in sacks last year. They will also miss DC Nolan who was replaced with a 1st time D Coordinator. The D pass rush looked good against the weak O line of PT. The key will be NT Williams the ex-Charger. If he can stay healthy and LB Avery comes around, the D pass rush could be OK. IB Williams is good but the rest are average at best.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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Notes and thoughts on week 2 of the NFL preseason.

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This game was a “Tale of 2 QBs.” Titan QB Young and Card QB Leinart both must have good seasons to stay on their respective teams.

Young looked better in replacing QB Collins last year than ever before. However, he has to take another major step forward to become an NFL quality starter. He has reportedly worked hard to learn the O. His footwork seems better than in previous years. But still when is pressured, his improved mechanics break down. But he is still a remarkable athlete. If he ever gets “it” he can become an outstanding QB. He did make better reads than he did even last year.

RB Johnson is the best back in the game. The O line is capable of opening small holes and Johnson squeezes through them. He has outstanding speed and can break any catch or run for 6 points.

The Titan D was blitz crazy despite being in the preseason. The LBs were getting to the QB and the coverage for the most part was good. Anderson hit on one long play vs the blitz.

Leinart’s problem has been accuracy. He is not a blitz killer like Warner was and as a result, will get blitzed a lot. He also does not process information as quickly as is necessary. He tends to throw a lot to his safety valve receiver short of the line to gain even on 3rd down. That tends to generate 3 and outs.

Ex-Brown QB Anderson looked much better this week than last. He drove the ball down the field after Leinart went 3 and out on every possession he had in the 1st quarter. But Anderson showed why he is not still in Cleveland. He fired a pass to a wide open WR in the end-zone on 2nd down too high and too hot. On 3rd down he threw behind the slanting WR and the team had to kick a field goal.

Neither Cards QB got much protection. They were under a blitz or heavy pressure almost every pass. The team’s best WR Fitzgerald was out of the game with an injury.

The Cards D lost a lot in the off season but will likely be called on to do more with less. The Cards had a lot of WRs running wide open in the D Backfield. They lost a S and CB in the off season.


It was the debut of QB Farve. He threw 1 swing pass and 4 snaps and took a 1 sack. That’s all folks!

QB Jackson has a great arm but the touch of a cruise missile. The Vike running game died in the middle of last year despite having one of the best backs in the league. RB Peterson has great speed but not much ball security. He cost the team a Super Bowl spot with his fumbles in the playoffs. He also struggled due to below average play from the O line. The line has name brands but did not create much running room for AP. 3rd down RB Taylor is gone and that is hole to be filled. They will try rookie RB Gerhart in that role. The team is also missing 2 of their top 3 WRs. Rice is out with a hip and Harvin with migraines. They signed Javaun Walker to fill in for Rice who could be out half the year.

The Viking D will have the Williams’ boys despite the NFL’s desire to suspend them. The courts have enjoined the league from imposing the suspensions until the case is heard. The D will also have MLB Henderson. He has recovered from a broken leg last year and is a critical part of the zone coverage. He has the speed to cover the deep middle in the 2 deep zone.

The 49er O has some issues in the O line but former #1 pick overall in 05 QB Smith looks like he may make it. He has to have a good season or he will be gone next year. He has always had “potential” but it is time for him to show it. He has had a lot of changes in O systems because the team has fired several O Coordinators after just a year. The 9ers were in 3rd and 8+ more than any other O last year. They need Smith and RB Gore to be more effective on 1st and 2nd down. Against the Vikes, the O looked OK. Gore did not play. Replacement RB Dixon has looked good.

The 9ers took 2 O linemen with their 2 first round picks in the 2010 draft. Both will get a chance to start.

The 49er D got a lot of practice last year because they were on the field a lot. They were in the top 5 in most categories and held up as well as could be expected. The D has some stars and it is capable of taking a step up in 10.


The Fish looked good on O, but they were in water so they should have. As in their first game, the rain was a factor in the first half. QB Henne has enough arm strength to stick the ball into tight coverage. He has shown better accuracy and has better receivers now that 2nd year Bess had developed into a reliable 3rd down back and with the addition of WR Marshall. TE Fasano is Henne’s favorite target in the red zone. QB Pennington is an outstanding backup.

The Dolphin D is a work in progress. It ranked in the 20’s in most ratings last year. If the Dolphins are going to challenge for the AFC East title, it will have to play better than that. The team focused on D in the draft and have a couple of rookies that can help but need to develop.

The Dolphins special teams are bad. They have allowed 2 punt blocks so far and have given up return yardage like Congress hands out cash–in bunches.

The Jags are a mess and things didn’t get any better when starting QB Garrard went down with an injury. The pressure is on both him and his HC Del Rio. Both will be gone in 2011 unless the Jags can turn the team around. Back up McCown is capable. WR Thomas is developing well and should have a good year. The O line has talent but other than LT Monroe and LG Manuwai have yet to develop. RT Britton has potential.

The Jag D looks soft as well. DEs Kampman and Harvey are solid but the DTs need to help with a pass rush. Thus far in the preseason that has not happened. The rest of the D are nothing special.


TB QB Freeman continues to stare down his target. That is why he threw 10 TDs last year and 18 picks. He got hurt in the game. Freeman has broken the tip of his thumb on the passing hand. He was replaced by QB Johnson who played well but it was against the TB D.

TB needs RB Williams to stay healthy. He has had knee injuries in 07 and 08. There is very little behind him. FB Graham is a high effort guy with very little athleticism or speed.

TB WR Mike Williams looks really good so far. He has above-average hands and FBI (Football Intelligence).

The pressure in on KC QB Cassel and the O line in front of him. Cassel has developed some bad habits like the classic stare down of the WR. That happens in part because he doesn’t have enough confidence in his protection.

KC ex-Jet RB Jones will help the O but fumbled on his first carry in this game. Jones is still a RB Charles is exciting but is not a 300 carry back. One rookie to watch is RB/WR/KR McCluster from Mississippi St. He is very quick and very tough to tackle because of his size. Despite that, he was a starting RB in the Southeast Conference.

For other games check out my article on NFL News, notes and rumors on

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  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 27th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Cards' season will depend on how the D plays.

The Cards' season will depend on how the D plays.

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The Cardinals remarkable run in the 08 playoffs had little to do with the offense. It was the much improved play of the D that made the run possible. The only way the team makes the playoffs in 09 will be if the D continues to improve. So far in the preseason, that is not happening.

Kurt Warner is one of the great stories in football over the last few years. He continues to play at a very high level even though he is 38 years old. He has to stay healthy for the team to have any chance at a winning record. The protection he has gotten for the last 4 season in Arizona has been poor to average. If he is healthy, he will have another pro bowl year and is a great pick in the fantasy draft. Matt Leinart has had a good preseason and looks like he is finally able to read D and use his obvious physical abilities. He has clinched the backup position. The 3rd QB will be between Brian St. Pierre and undrafted Tyler Palko. That will depend on which has looked better in camp. St.Pierre was given a chance to challenge for #2 but failed totally.

WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are the best combo in the league. 3rd WR Steve Breaston came on strong last year in both the return game and catching passes. But he is hurt with a knee and PCL injury but should be fine for game 1. Jerheme Urban and Early Doucet are very talented and need only more experience to become starting quality. TEs have a lot of potential but little production. Leonard Pope is projected as the starter with Stephen Spach and Ben Patrick as the backups. Pope is a big target but is too tall to be an effective blocker. Spach is coming off a major injury and Patrick is suspended for the first 4 games. Vet Anthony Becht should make the team and is a better blocker then any of the others. How long he stays will depend on how the others develop.

The running back situation is also a little clouded. Last year rookie Tim Hightower was celebrated by some as the Cards’ answer at RB. But in 143 attempts he averaged 2.8 yards per carry. That is more than a yard under what is considered average around the league. He can catch and block a little but is not the plow horse that the team needs to carry 250 times a year. The team realized that and drafted Beanie Wells (Ohio St.). Wells has the ability to be a starting back with power and break away speed but has a history of injury. He has yet to play in the preseason but is expected to see action this week. There is no viable bench strength.

The O line had an up and down year in 08. They were up during the playoffs but down the last half of the regular season. LG Reggie Wells is not well known but is very good. T s Mike Gandy and Levi Brown are average but Brown is young and should develop. C Lyle Sendlein is coming back from injury last year. G Deuce Lutui needs to keep focused. He is very inconsistent. The bench is barely OK. G Elton Brown and C Donovan Raiola have some starting experience. The staff thinks T Herman Johnson potential but I don’t see it.

The D line seemed to turn their top effort on and off like the light in a refrigerator. It was on in the playoffs and they looked outstanding. It has been off so far this preseason. The starters in the 3-4 are LE Darnell Dockett, NT Gabe Watson, RE Calais Campbell. Dockett is the only dependable player there. Watson has a history of injury putting him out for long periods of time. There is no reliable backup at NT. Campbell is the new guy replacing UFA Antonio Smith. We have seen a few flashes from Campbell but he is going to have to work harder every snap. Bryan Robinson has experience at E and NT but the team would prefer to play him at E if Campbell fails. NTs Alan Branch and Rodney Leisle have two things in common. They have the weight to play the position but have not had much production.

At LB, the best part is inside. IBs Karlos Dansby and Gerald Hayes are very good. Dansby can do it all including cover receivers and Hayes is an outstanding run stuffer. OLB Chike Okeafor is a fair blitzer but he and Clark Haggans are getting old. The team drafted both OLBs Cody Brown and Will Davis to replace them in the future.

The D backfield has the potential to be outstanding. Starting CBs Bryant McFadden and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are both potential stars. McFadden came from Pittsburgh and is starting quality with upside. Rodgers added the Cromartie to his name just before the draft to remind everyone he is the cousin of start CB Antonio Cromartie of San Diego. Rodgers is not quite to his cousin’s level but is coming fast. Safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle are very good as well. Wilson is all pro and plays like it. Rolle was a very good CB who is a better FS. The nickel back is CB Ralph Brown and rookie Greg Toler has looked good in camp.

OVERALL: The Cards O is fine IF Warner is healthy. The D will determine how far the team can go this year. If it plays like it did during the playoffs, the team should make the playoffs in 09 and do some damage there. If not, it will be a huge disappoint to the Cardinal fans that expect the team to be back in the Super Bowl. That isn’t going to happen but they are in a weak division and have a good shot at the division title.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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