1.) Arizona Cardinals: The Cards have turned in two lack lustre games in a row, in losses to New Orleans and Kansas City, 17-10, and 27-17, respectively. The Arizona passing attack has been terrible due to poor OL play, and even worse QB play. Kevin Kolb is quickly putting an end to the QB controversy between he and John Skelton. Though neither have played well, Kolb has been particularly awful. Skelton should get the job, though it may be by default. The only saving grace has been the Cards' run game. Arizona seems to have a good stable of RBs. As for the Cards' "D", it wasn't able to stop the top offensive units of either the Saints and Chiefs;
2.) Atlanta Falcons: Though the Falcons dropped game one of the exhibition season to the Buzzards, 31-17, they led at halftime, 17-7. In other words, their first teamers played well...and their back-ups were out-scored, 24-0 in the second half. The Atlanta scrubs were so bad that they suffered the indignity of allowing Curtis Painter (yes, the same Painter who used to play for the Colts), to throw 3 TD passes against them!
QB Matt Ryan and his dynamic duo of WRs, Julio Jones and Roddy White, torched the Baltimore secondary in the first half. On defense, the Falcons managed to get good pressure on Joe Flacco, while shutting down the Baltimore running game:
KEY INJURIES: FB Brady Ewing (knee), starting MLB Akeem Dent (concussion);
3.) Baltimore Ravens: Though the hated Buzzards won their game (see above), their starters were outplayed by the starters for the Atlanta Falcons. The Ravens couldn't stop the Atlanta passing attack, primarily because their front seven was unable to generate any pressure on Falcon QB, Matt Ryan. They are going to miss Terrell Suggs. Look for them to take a run at Patriots' FA DE, Andre Carter...should Carter regain his health. On offense, Joe Flacco and his back-ups, Tyrod Taylor (51 yards rushing on 5 carries) and Curtis Painter (3 TD passes), played pretty well. The Ravens' OL needs work, as Joe Flacco was heavily pressured in the first half:
"The team's offensive line was the biggest question mark coming in with two rookie starters in center Gino Gradkowski and right tackle Kelechi Osemele, along with a newcomer at left guard, veteran Bobbie Williams. Their performance Thursday did little to erase the skepticism": http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-08-10/sports/bs-sp-ravens-falcons-exhibition-0810-20120809_1_gino-gradkowski-ed-dickson-kelechi-osemele;
4.) Buffalo Bills: The Bills unveiled their new look defense against RG III and his Redskins' last Thursday in Buffalo...and held Washington to just 7 points. But, unfortunately for the Bills, they could only muster 6 themselves. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed just 6 of 14 passes for only 61 yards. Lack of discipline was a problem as well, as the Bills were penalized 14 times, for 134 yards. On the bright side, speedy rookie WR, T.J. Graham, had 3 catches for 37 yards: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=320809002;
5.) Carolina Panthers: A disappointing night for the Panthers, who couldn't get untracked in the face of a stifling Houston defense. The OL gave up eight sacks! Back-up QB Jimmy Clausen is still hanging around. But, he may not be for much longer after his poor showing. In short, the Panthers looked awful in every phase of the game, making the previous SB boasts from some of the sillier members of the team seem laughable. Rookie LB "Crazy" Luke Kueckley had only 4 tackles, 2 solos, but forced a fumble, as he ripped the football away from Texans' star RB, Arien Foster;
6.) Chicago Bears: Though the Bears were blown out, 31-3, by the Broncos in Chicago, it should be noted that QB Jay Cutler, LB Brian Urlacher, and DE Julius Peppers all sat this one out. Without Cutler, the Bears offense, "led" by new back-up QB Jason Campbell, did nothing. But, the seriously short-handed Bears only trailed 10-0 at halftime, before the second half scrimmage involving the back-ups began. WR Alshon Jeffrey, who reportedly is having a great camp, had 4 receptions for 35 yards;
7.) Cincinnati Bengals: Cincy had a solid draft in April, as they continued to fortify what is becoming a young, very good defensive unit. The Bengals' "D" played as advertised last night, as it pressured both Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow into poor passing nights. That said, the problem in Cincy appears to be their offense. Though QB Andy Dalton led the "O" on a long, initial drive, their "O" couldn't punch it in, despite having a first and goal at the Jets' 4 yard line. As I've stated in previous posts, I'm not sold on Dalton. BJGE ran dependably and hard, in his Bengals debut, finishing with a workman-like 22 yards on 7 carries.
KEY INJURIES: The Bengals had four (4) starters go down with injuries last night, including three, LG Travelle Wharton (knee), DE Carlos Dunlap (knee), and ILB Ray Maualuga (knee), in a span of seven (7) first quarter plays! Safety Taylor Mayes later went down with a concussion. Of the four injuries, Wharton's appears to be the most serious, as it may be of the season ending variety. Dunlap was seen on crutches after the game;
8.) Cleveland Browns: This game was a typical example of why pre-season games can't be used as a barometer as to how good a team will be in the regular season...as the Lions' first stringers, minus QB Matthew Stafford, bested the Browns, 14-3, in the first half. In the second half "battle of the scrubs", the Browns out-scored the Lions, 16-3. Cleveland rookie QB Brandon Weeden. saw his first action, and was unimpressive. He was upstaged by Colt McCoy,who completed 6 of 8 passes for 81 yards, along with a 20 yard run.
KEY INJURIES: WR Mohamed Massaquoi, who was troubled by concussions last season, suffered another last night. In addition to Massaquoi, the Browns lost CB Dimitri Patterson (ankle), DT Scott Paxson (knee) and TE Jordan Cameron (back) to injuries: http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2012/08/cleveland_browns_overcome
9.) Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys offense was offensive in their pre-season opener. Their OL made the current Patriots' OL look like the "Five Blocks of Granite". Tony Romo won't last the season unless his pass protection drastically improves. But, despite their horrific offensive performance, their defense looked and played solidly...pitching a rare shut-out, pre-season or no...in a 3-0 win;
10.) Denver Broncos: Don't get too excited over the Broncos' 31-3 win in Chicago, Gomer lovers. The Bears held out their three best players, QB Jay Cutler, DE Julius Peppers, and LB Brian Urlacher.
On a cool, rainy night in Chicago, Peyton Manning completed 4 of 7 passes for 44 yards, including a poorly thrown red-zone interception. The Broncos ran the ball well, and were solid defensively, playing primarily against the Chicago 2nd and 3rd teamers. Top draft pick, DT Derek Wolfe, looked good, posting three (3) tackles, two sacks, and one tackle for loss (TFL). Rookie late round draft choice, DE Jeremy Beal, a 7th round pick out of Oklahoma in the 2011 draft, also played well, posting similar stats;
11.) Detroit Lions: Back-up QB Shaun Hill was the star of the show for the Lions, leading his team offense to two first half TDs, while amassing a 14-3 half-time lead over the Cleveland Browns, before the reserves took over. Starting QB Matthew Stafford played the first two series, and played poorly.
Besides Hill, RB Joique Bell, acquired from the New Orleans Saints' practice squad last year, played well, rushing for 89 yards on 16 carries. RB Keiland Williams, acquired previously on waivers from Washington, added 71 yards on just 9 carries...while WR Calvin Johnson was his usual immense self, in limited reps. Top draft choice Reilly Reiff played well, as did 3rd round pick, CB Bill Bentley;
12.) Green Bay Packers: For the most part, the Green Bay reserves sleep walked their way through their 21-13 loss, at San Diego. Their "D" did little to quell residual concerns from Packer fans, who saw their pass defense set records for futility last year...as undrafted rookie QB, Jarrett Lee, riddled the porous Packers' secondary. He finished with 15 completions in 22 attempts for 235 yards, and a TD. Not bad for a guy who couldn't even nail down the #1 QB spot, while at LSU. WR Vincent Brown caught 4 passes for 81 yards, including a 36 yard play. The Pack also gave up big pass plays of over 35 yards to household name WRs, Taylor Embree and Mike Spurlock.
Nothing to write home about for the Packers in this one, as they strive to develop back-up QB, Graham Harrell. But, in fairness, the Packers had 16 players sidelined with injuries going into this game. Nonetheless, they appear to have glaring needs at LT, safety, and for pass-rushers (though #1 pick, Nick Perry, scored an early sack in his G.B. debut): http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/165659886.html
KEY INJURIES: LB Desmond Bishop, G.B.'s leading tackler last season, went down with what is being referred to as a knee sprain...but is further complicated by a hamstring injury. The word now is that Bishop will need surgery on his hamstring...and that he'll likely miss the 2012 season. If so, that's a huge blow to the Packs' title hopes: http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/bishop-will-need-surgery-on-hamstring-956einc-165885256.html;
13.) Houston Texans: The Texans' defense was outstanding, as it smothered the Carolina offense. Their "D" recorded eight (8) sacks. Rookie OLB/DE Whitney Mercilus looks like the real deal, as he posted 3 tackles (two solos), and 1.5 sacks. Second year LB Tim Dobbins added 5 tackles (2 solos), and 1.5 sacks. On offense, the Texans ran the ball well, though star RB Arien Foster had a costly fumble. Their QBs as a group played fairly well, though starter Matt Schaub showed some rust, and threw an interception. Back-up QB T,J, Yates moved the team methodically, but couldn't get his offense in the end zone. There was a John Beck sighting! Yes, the Beck Girl lives, as he tries to ake a case for the Texans to keep 3 QBs: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=320811029
14.) Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck likely dispelled any "doubting Thomases" with a brilliant performance in his Indy debut. He's cool in the pocket, and deadly accurate. He looked like you know who, minus all those annoying jigs and gyrations at the line of scrimmage. Though one pre-season game against a weak team does not a career make. Still, it's obvious that Luck has all the tools to develop into an elite franchise QB:
15.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Squared off against the World Champion N.Y. Giants last night, and earned mixed reviews, in a 32-31 "win". On the positive side, QB Blaine Gabbert played well for a change, in his limited appearance. He led the Jags on an 89 yard TD drive, to start the game. RB Rashard Jennings, subbing for the AWOL Maurice Jones-Drew, rushed for 56 yards on 12 carries, while RB Keith Toston added 51 yards on just 5 carriers. On the dark side, the Jags' fumbled an unforgivable four times last night, losing three of them. This led to the Giants building a 24-7 second quarter advantage. They coasted from there, playing their reserves;
16.) Kansas City Chiefs: K.C. looked great in their 27-17 win over Arizona. They built a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, before the scrubs took over. QB Matt Cassel was sharp, completing 5 of 6 passes for 67 yards, and a TD. Rookie RB Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M ran 15 times for 65 yards, and a TD. Veteran Peyton Hillis added 4 rumbles for 41 yards. On defense, the Chiefs sacked Arizona QBs seven (7) times. The Chiefs are still without their top WR, Duane Bowe. Top draft choice Dontari Poe, for whatever reason, apparently did not play;
17.) Miami Dolphins: QB Matt Moore completed just 7 of 12 passes for 79 yards, and one pick in his brief stint, starting this pre-season home game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.. He was relieved by rookie Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M, who turned in a solid performance. The 8th overall pick in the 2012 draft completed 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards, and a TD. But, other the play of WRs Roberto Wallace (4 catches for 71 yards), and Julius Pruitt (6 catches for 52 yards), there wasn't much to shout about on South Beach. The Bucs jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, en route to a 20-7 win;
18.) Minnesota Vikings: A difficult opener for young Viking QB Christian Ponder, as he faced off against the rugged San Francisco 49ers' defense. But, Ponder did fairly well, finishing with 4 completions in 9 attempts, for 80 yards, as he led his offense to FGs in its' first two drives. Unfortunately, the Vikings' defense was steam-rolled by a 49er running game, that tallied 260 yards on 42 carries. The key play of the game was a 78 yard run by reserve QB, Colin Kaepernick, for a TD. Lots of work to be done in Minny, after this 17-6 loss;
19.) New England Patriots: I have already covered what I thought of the Pats' performance in their dull 7-6 win over the Saints last Thursday. It was pretty much on parr with the opinions given by Mike Reiss, in his excellent article: http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/8254530/new-england-patriots-sometimes-good-often-bad-mostly-ugly-preseason-opening-win-new-orleans-saints
Here are the game stats from this boring match of reserves: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=320809017
20.) New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees looked sharp in the Saints' first exhibition game against Arizona...but was contained by the Patriots in game two. In both games, the Saints' defense has played well...as their defensive personnel appear to be picking up Steve Spagnuolo's system. The Saints also have displayed a deep and talented stable of RBs. Though I realize that it's early, this team is a legitimate SB contender;
21.) New York Giants: Eli Manning's stats would have looked much better, were it not for a dropped pass, and an obvious blown PI call in the end-zone. He looked as poised and as sharp against Jacksonville, as he did against the Patriots in SB 46. RBs D.J. Ware (5 carries for 30 yards, and one TD) and rookie David Wilson (7 carries for 43 yards) should more than make up for the loss of Brandon Jacobs. Wilson also showed his prowess as a kickoff return man, averaging 38 yards on two returns. The Giants' defense racked up 6 sacks, 8 TFL, and forced 4 fumbles. The "D" was led by DT Dwayne Hendricks, an undrafted FA in 2009, who had 3 tackles (2 solos), two sacks, and 3 TFL. Though they lost their initial game to the lowly Jaguars, 32-31, they led, 24-7, before turning the game over to their scrubs:
22.) New York Jets: Their offense looked terrible in last nights' 17-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Other than plays involving RB Joe McKnight, who accounted for 32 yards on 7 carries, and 34 yards on 3 pass receptions, the way they consistently moved the ball came on Tim Tebow scrambles. Of defense, they played fairly well. Rookie #1 pick, Quinton Couples, had a solid game, with 5 tackles (all solos), a sack, and two TFLs.
KEY INJURIES: Safety Eric Smith suffered a left hip and a knee injury. Results of an MRI will tell the tale: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/jets/ny-jets-safety-eric-smith-suffers-left-hip-knee-injury-cincinnati-bengals-friday-article-1.1134240
23.) Oakland Raiders: Both the Raiders and Cowboys should be fined by Roger Goodell, after playing perhaps the most boring game in NFL history. Like the Cowboys, the Raiders played defense...and play defense well. Dallas QB Tony Romo went down, and went down hard. Much depends on the play of veteran QB, Carson Palmer. Palmer, along with the rest of the Oakland QBs, was terrible. I realize that the defenses are ahead of the offenses. But, this game was ridiculous. I've seen Pop Warner teams execute better than the Raiders' on offense;
24.) Philadelphia Eagles: Opened their pre-season with a 24-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rookie QB Nick Foles played very well in his stint, completing 6 passes in 10 attempts for 144 yards, and two TDs. WR Damaris Johnson had 4 receptions for 85 yards, and a TD. One of his plays covered 70 yards. Rookie FA RB Bryce Brown (3 carries for 33 yards), and 2nd year RB Dion Lewis (4 carries for 22 yards) looked good. Rookie DE Vinnie Curry (5 solo tackles, including three TFL)., and ILB Mychal Kendricks (5 tackles-4 solos, 2 TFL) played well. Top pick Fletcher Cox hardly made the stats sheet.
The Eagles scored all 24 of their points during garbage time, after the Steelers had jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead. The Steelers played without LB James Harrison, NT Casey Hamptonand RB Rashard Mendenhall-- who sat out with injuries. Philly played without WR Jeremy Maclin, TE Brent Celek, DEs Jason Babinand Trent Cole and safety Nate Allen.
KEY INJURIES: QB Michael Vick injured the thumb on his passing hand. Though Vick claims to be fine, one never knows about this type of injury. DT Cullen Jenkins left the game with a right hamstring injury;
25.) Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers dominated this game when it mattered...early...when the first stringers were getting their reps...and led at halftime, 13-0. Big Ben played well, showing no ill effects from his self professed slight rotator cuff injury. Diminutive rookie RB Chris Rainey looks Darren Sproles-like dangerous, as both a punt returner, and as a receiving threat coming out of the backfield. Rainey turned a screen pass into a 57 yard TD play: http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/2387442-85/rainey-chris-steelers-eagles-running-yard-philadelphia-roethlisberger-touchdown-explosive
The Steelers are transforming into an offensive minded, New England Patriots type team. Their aging defense is showing some cracks, and must do a better job at getting after the QB;
26.) San Diego Chargers: The Charger "D" looked good in shackling the Packers' offense, 21-13, in San Diego. But, one must keep in mind that QN Aaron Rodgers only played a couple of series, and that the unproven Graham Harrell ran the show for most of the night. Still, the Bolts had plenty of positives. Back-up QB, undrafted rookie FA Jarrett Lee had a coming out party of sorts. Having the sort of game that Patriot fans are waiting for Ryan Mallett to have, Lee completed 15 of 22 passes for 235 yards, a TD, and one pick. WRs Vincent Brown (4 catches for 81 yards), Taylor Embree (2 catches for 54 yards), and Michael Spurlock (2 catches for 52 yards) all made big plays.
On defense, #1 draft choice LB/DE Melvin Ingram looks like the real deal, as he seemingly was living in the Green Bay backfield. The Chargers forced 4 fumbles, recovering three...and also posted an interception.
KEY INJURIES: RB Ryan Mathews went down again, this time with a broken clavicle. He'll likely be gone for 6 weeks. Former pro-bowl OT, Marcus McNeil, retired due to continual back problems. Is this what we Pats' fans have to look forward to with C-Bass?
27.) San Francisco 49ers: Forget about Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. The 49ers are still a hands in the dirt, two fisted defensive team, that likes to ground and pound with the running game on offense. Rough, tough 49ers' team has a strong stable of RBs. Play of the game in their 17-6 win over Minnesota was a 78 yard run by back-up QB Colin Kaepernick;
28.) Seattle Seahawks: The 'Hawks took advantage of a pair of Matt Hasselbeck interceptions, as they got off to a fast start, and a 10-0 first quarter lead. Rookie QB Russell Wilson completely outplayed the much higher paid Matt Flynn, as he was able to lead his team on a couple of TD drives. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 124 yards, one TD, and one interception. Wilson also ran three times for 59 yards, including a 32 yard run;
29.) St. Louis Rams: Lots of work to be done after a truly embarrassing performance in Indy. Just a horrible effort in every phase of the game. Every player on this team, perhaps with the exception of RB Isaiah Pead, should forfeit their paycheck after this debacle...since none of them showed up: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=320812011
30.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa boasts a strong running game, led by LaGarrette Blount and rookie Doug Martin. Both took turns grounding and pounding on the Dolphins. The trio of Bucs QBs, Josh Freeman, Dan Orlovsky, and Brett Ratcliff all looked good against the Miami secondary. There was a Tijuan Underwood sighting in Tampa, as the former Patriots' reserve WR had three catches for 76 yards, including a leaping 44 yard reception, made between two Miami DBs. But, the Tampa defense stole the show, holding the Dolphins scoreless until late in the 3rd quarter. Rookie LB Lavonte David ended an early Miami scoring drive by intercepting Matt Moore in the red zone;
31.) Tennessee Titans: Veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck was terrible in his return to the Pacific Northwest last night. The presumed Titans' starting QB completed just 5 of 9 passes for 44 yards, but threw two costly interceptions, in this 27-17 loss. Second year QB Jake Locker took over and, though he was far from spectacular, he was mistake free and methodical. Huge game for former 2011 undrafted WR Darius Reynaud. He ran 5 times for 29 yards, including a 21 yard TD run, and returned a punt 85 yards for a TD;
32.) Washington Redskins: Two 7-6 games in one week is enough to make any football fan cringe. Still, enough was seen of RG III to further the belief that he is the real deal. In his short stint, Griffin was 4 out of 6 for 70 yards, and a TD. He showed his strong arm, and the ability to take something off his throws when needed. In time, he could really turn out to be something special. Good performance from Pierre Garcon (3 catches for 58 yards, and a TD), in his debut as a Redskin. The Redskins' "D" held the Bills to just 219 total yards on offense.