Week One of the NFL Preseason- Overreactions (part 1)

Posted: 08/11/2013 by levcohen in Football

Week one of the NFL preseason is in the books (or will be after the second half of Bills-Colts, which is currently in progress) and, as expected, there are a lot of things to be overreacted to, most of them incredibly minor and unimportant. Even so, it’s the first football we have seen since February, so you have to expect football fans to take what they can, and more, from preseason football. I don’t want to overreact, but here are possible overreactions, and whether I buy it or not.

Baltimore:
The good:

  • Well, they scored 44 points, so something had to be working.
  • Backup QB Tyrod Taylor, who is entering his third year and has all of 30 career NFL passing attempts, was sharp, going 13/23 for 154 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. He led them to an astounding 34 points while playing the full second and third quarters and part of the fourth. His drives look like this: TD, Punt, FG, TD, TD, Punt, Punt, FG, TD. Now, what does this mean? Hopefully, the Ravens won’t have to see Taylor play in the regular season, but at least this gives them a little confidence in their backup.
  • Kicker Justin Tucker was terrific, hitting all three of his field goal attempts, including a 57 yarder. This just confirms that Tucker is an elite kicker, as he was last season.
  • The defense held the Bucs first team offense to 43 yards and three points. This should be a strong team defensively, and held QB Josh Freeman to 34 yards and star RB Doug Martin to zero yards (yes, he only had two carries).

The bad:

  • Joe Flacco was 7/9, but didn’t have a touchdown and did throw an interception. Flacco isn’t an elite QB, but this shouldn’t change what anyone thinks about him.
  • Flacco’s two incompletions were both passes intended for likely WR2 Jacoby Jones. They need to work on their chemistry, and fast, because the Ravens don’t have many offensive weapons, and Jones is one of them.
  • The first team offense didn’t score any points. So far it’s not that much of a problem, but it would be nice to see some improvement from an offense missing tight end Dennis Pitta for the season.

Overall takeaway: Strong start for the Superbowl Champs.

Tampa Bay:
The good:

  • Kevin Ogeltree, the new #3 wide receiver, was sharp, catching a game high five passes for 65 yards. Remember, Ogeltree broke out in the first game of last year’s regular season, and then didn’t do much after that. If he can develop into a solid WR3, it’ll just open up that much more room for Doug Martin.
  • Rookie kicker Derek Dimke was also 3/3 on field goals.

The bad:

  • Four turnovers. They were middle of the pack in turning the ball over last season, so that must have been a point to improve on, but the first preseason game didn’t show a lot of improvement (granted, all four turnovers- three picks and a fumble- were committed by backups).
  • Ineffective offense and defense. They lost by 28 points.
  • Special teams: Having a punt blocked- and a TD scored on the return- is never good.

Overall takeaway: The defense was terrible, and the first team offense was ineffective, besides Ogeltree. Special teams is a concern.

Cincinnati Bengals:
The good:

  • Dane Sanzenbacher. I don’t know who it is, but he had a 36 yard TD catch and also took a punt back 71 yards to the house. Maybe there is something there? I doubt it.
  • The offensive line was great, as the Bengals rushed for 230 yards and were sacked just once for five yards. This is an experienced but still fairly young line, so it should be good. This was the 8th best offensive line last year according to pro football focus, and should be just as good this year, if not better.
  • The special teams, in general, were very good. Two of the four punts by Kevin Huber ended up inside the twenty, and Sanzenbacher had that punt return TD.

The bad:

  • Starting QB Andy Dalton was not sharp.
  • Rookie RB Gio Bernard said he was a bit overwhelmed, and he only had 2.8 yards per carry (10 rushes for 28 yards). Still, he did score a touchdown and catch three passes, so Bernard should be fine.

Overall takeaway: A ho-hum win for the Bengals, a playoff team last year, over the Falcons, who are one of the best teams in the NFL.

Atlanta Falcons:
The good:

  • Veteran Jason Snelling had 44 yards and a touchdown on eight touches. He is the third string RB, but he should still get some work this season, with Stephen Jackson aging and Jacquizz Rodgers, well, short.

The bad:

  • Overall, it was a poor start to the preseason, as they lost 34-10 and the first team offense was very sluggish.

Overall takeaway: Really nothing much to take away. Despite this start, they are still a great offensive team and should be one of the top four or five Super Bowl favorites.

St. Louis Rams:
The good:

  • Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein, a rookie sensation last year, hit both of his field goals, from 54 and 55 yards. He has quite a big leg.
  • Sam Bradford had a 145.8 passer rating, completing five of his eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, including a 59 yard pass to lead wide receiver Chris Givens. With improved weapons and a better offensive line, the former #1 overall draft pick- and the same guy whose presence convinced the Rams to trade away the #2 overall pick in 2012 (and the rights to RGIII)- could have a breakout year.

The bad:

  • -3 turnover ratio. Last year, they had a -1 turnover ratio, which isn’t great or horrible, and two of the turnovers were interceptions thrown by a backup QB, so I’m not worried yet.
  • They allowed the Browns, a bad offensive team, to complete 26 of their 34 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
  • None of their running backs (Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson, Zac Stacy) stood out, although all were solid. Richardson has a slight lead for the starting job, partly because Pead is suspended for the first game and Stacy is a rookie.

Overall takeaway: Aside from their pass defense, the Rams should be pretty happy with this game, even though they lost, because their starting QB played well.

Cleveland Browns:
The good:

  • Brandon Weeden! The QB completed 10 passes out of 13 for 112 yards and a touchdown, and generally looked calm and composed in the pocket. The projected Browns starter, Weeden was pretty bad last year, and news leaked out of Browns camp that he might not be the QB of the future (which means it was leaked from the new management, which is really not a very good way to instill confidence in your starting quarterback), so this shouldn’t dissuade all concerns. At least it is a start.
  • The offensive line, which was one of the best in the NFL last year, was good, allowing only one sack. It is still the biggest strength of this Browns team.

The bad:

  • The running game was lackluster, as they averaged only 2.8 yards per carry.

Overall takeaway: Good start for the Browns, but make no mistake; this is still the cellar-dwellar of the AFC North.

Washington Redskins:
The good:

  • Kirk Cousins is now trade bait, if he wasn’t before. He played well again this week, after filling in admirably for Robert Griffin III last year. The Redskins might want to hold on to a good back up because of the likelihood that RGIII will get injured again, but it will be tough to when a lot of teams will probably be willing to overpay for Cousins.
  • The top candidates for the RB2 job behind Alfred Morris both performed well. Roy Helu rushed 14 times for 62 yards and Evan Royster had 13 carries for 57 yards.
  • Good performances for Joshua Morgan (three catches for 39 yards on three targets) and Leonard Hankerson (four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown on five targets), the top two candidates to start opposite Pierre Garcon.

The bad:

  • The defense broke down on Chris Johnson’s 58 yard rushing touchdown, so maybe the run difference is a little shakier than we thought it would be. You know something is wrong when you let Shonn Greene rush for a 19 yard touchdown.

Overall takeaway: Without their starting QB and RB, the Redskins still looked solid. That’s good. Not much else to take away.

Tennessee Titans:
The good:

  • Chris Johnson looked like the guy who ran for 2,000 yards just three years ago, not the one who has struggled over the past few years.
  • The revamped offensive line looked much improved. This has been a lackluster line for the past few seasons, especially when it comes to run blocking, so it is good to see that they paved the way for two long touchdown runs.

The bad:

  • It was an overall “meh” performance by the three quarterbacks, which is concerning, as the Redskins had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last season.

Overall takeaway: Besides Johnson’s run, nothing much sticks out. The Titans are probably looking at a 7-9 or 8-8 season.

Denver Broncos+San Francisco 49ers:
These two teams played each other, and it ended 10-6 with the Broncos winning. These two teams are the two leading Superbowl candidates, so neither of them really had much to prove, and played that way. There is really absolutely nothing to take from this game. Heck, the two starting QBs combined for just eight pass attempts.

Seattle Seahawks:
The good:

  • They proved how deep their team is, as their second and third teams outscored San Diego by a score of 31-7. The Seahawks depth is one of the reasons that they are another Superbowl contender.
  • Christine Michael (pronounced Christian) carried 16 times for 89 yards, and looks like a really solid backup. He’ll fight it out with Robert Turbin for the coveted #2 spot behind Marshawn Lynch.
  • The defense was great, holding San Diego to 238 yards and 10 points.

The bad:

  • Russell Wilson was only 2/6 passing? There isn’t much else.

Overall takeaway: With their depth to go along with some star power, the Seahawks cruised to a win, and should be considered a big threat to San Francisco to win the AFC West, if not more.

San Diego Chargers:
The good:

  • Phillip Rivers looked sharp, as he completed five of his six passes. He really needs to bounce back, because the former elite level quarterback had a terrible year last season. He is now 31 years old, which isn’t too old for a QB, so he should have some good football left in him.
  • Starting RB Ryan Mathews only carried the ball three times, but he ran for 19 yards, for an impressive 6.3 yards per carry. Remember, last year Mathews broke more collarbones (2) than he did score touchdowns (1), so he needs to bounce back.
  • Antonio Gates, another veteran who slumped last season, caught the only pass that was thrown to him and generally looked a lot more fit. Gates was the best tight end on the planet for much of the last 10 years, and I think he can turn it around.

The bad:

  • Squandered opportunities; in the second quarter, they got inside the Seahawks 30 twice, only to throw interceptions both times. That was the difference of the game

Overall takeaway: The Chargers first team looked good, but overall they need to be better in the red zone.

 

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