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The Georgia Bullddogs' dynamic duo should be on NFL rosters at some point in the next 72 hours. Which will be the better pro? That depends on what kind of running back you're looking for.

22 Aug 2006

Every Play Doesn't Count: Week 2

by Michael David Smith, with notes from the rest of the FO staff

In the preseason, the final score isn't as important as what each individual player does. So we're back for our second week of examining the individual matchups, looking at which stars look ready to go and which backups are making a strong case for a roster spot.



It should be no surprise, with Steve McNair and Derrick Mason on the team, that the 2006 Ravens offense now looks a lot like the Titans offense two or three years ago. McNair takes his three-step drops, Mason runs his little hitches and smash routes, and the duo connects for five- or 10-yard gains over and over again. Todd Heap replaces Frank Wycheck as the tight end who also gets a lot of love. Jamal Lewis takes Eddie George's role as the power back who really has very little left. The problem with this offense is that it operates station-to-station these days, and the Ravens need to develop a home run threat.

Musa Smith, who leads the league in rushing through two weeks of exhibition games, is quicker through the line than either Jamal Lewis or Mike Anderson. He would have been a logical player to be traded to the Jets, but now that the Jets have completed their running back trade elsewhere, the Ravens should find a way to get Smith involved.


Sure, we could be kind and say J.P. Losman's numbers -- 7-for-11, 134 yards -- weren't too bad. But we'd prefer to point out that Losman played only the first half and had three turnovers. This guy just isn't ready to play in the NFL.


In his new role as an analyst on NFL Network, Marshall Faulk said Anthony Wright, with his superior speed, brings a dimension to the offense that Carson Palmer doesn't. Well, sure. And Carson Palmer brings a dimension to the offense that Anthony Wright doesn't -- actually being an accurate passer. The Bengals are in a whole lot of trouble if Palmer isn't ready to go by the start of the season.


Guard Joe Andruzzi and tackle Kevin Shaffer are supposed to be the trusty veterans who are turning the offensive line around, but they didn't look very trusty against the Lions. On one play they tried to double-team Lions end James Hall, and Hall speed-rushed past both of them, sacking Charlie Frye and forcing a fumble.

Rookie linebacker D'Qwell Jackson bit on a play fake and was beaten by Detroit's Kevin Jones on a touchdown pass, but he looks like he's going to be a very good player when he learns how to read opposing offenses. Later in the game he had a four-play stretch in which he forced a fumble, tackled a running back for no gain, covered a running back on an incomplete pass, and had an interception.

He probably won't get much playing time behind Reuben Droughns, but rookie fifth-round pick Jerome Harrison looks like a stud. He had nine carries for 53 yards and six catches for 54 yards. It was Harrison -- not Reggie Bush -- who led the Pac-10 in rushing last year. Why did he last until the fifth round of the draft?


Not only did previously unknown running back Mike Bell look good against Tennessee, but previously unknown running back Damien Nash looked good, too. The Broncos ought to hold a promotion where one lucky fan gets chosen at random before the game and becomes the starter at running back. The average guy in the stands could go for 75 yards or so.


The Texans made rookie sixth-round pick Wali Lundy the starter at running back with Domanick Davis out, and he had a decent game. But it was last year's third-round pick, Vernand Morency, who looked like he's a great fit in Gary Kubiak's offense. Morency had 11 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns, and he didn't just break a couple of long ones; he had a nice 4-yard pickup on a second-and-2 that looked like the kind of effective play Kubiak's Denver offenses so often ran.


Peyton Manning took the Colts' first team downfield with little resistance, going 4-for-5 for 78 yards on the first drive. Reggie Wayne burned Marcus Trufant more than once with the defense shading Marvin Harrison on the right side, and tight end Dallas Clark looked strong. Edgerrin James is going to miss the Colts a lot more than the Colts are going to miss Edgerrin James.


David Garrard, you want to be an NFL starter some day? Two interceptions and three fumbles in less than a half of playing time isn't the best way to prove yourself. Writing on the Jaguars' official Web site, Vic Ketchman wrote, "I have never seen the kind of intensity for a quarterback controversy that exists here." What has Garrard done to make anyone think he deserves to unseat Byron Leftwich and start an intense quarterback controversy?

The Jags' offensive line isn't opening many holes. Six different Jacksonville running backs have multiple carries in the preseason, and every single one of them is averaging less than 3.5 yards a carry.

Kansas City

Here's one play to summarize Kyle Turley. It's the second quarter, third-and-long, Turley is blocking Adrian Awasom, a Giants end who likely won't make the team. Awasom starts wide, then puts an inside move on Turley, a little rip with his right shoulder. Turley gets one arm on Awasom -- one arm -- as Awasom turns inside to crush Damon Huard, who is still dropping back. Turley, his torso still turned to stop an outside rush, sort of leans forward into Awysom, who knocks the off-balance blocker to the turf with the same right arm he used for the swim move. Huard gets flushed into Justin Tuck, who forces a fumble. That was just one awful play in a whole game full of 'em. He is toast. The Chiefs need a better contingency plan at left tackle, and they need one fast.


Mark it down: the acquisition of Dan Wilkinson is going to be one of the Dolphins' most significant off-season upgrades. Most people don't realize what an outstanding career Wilkinson has had because he's been stuck on so many bad teams. He had a sack and a half in his first preseason game as a Dolphin. The Lions were foolish to let him leave.

Bennie Anderson, the starting right guard, was abused on back-to-back plays by Bucs defensive tackle Anthony McFarland. Both times, McFarland got past his inside shoulder and had a clear path to Culpepper, who was sacked both times (Barrett Ruud made the first sack after McFarland flushed Culpepper). Anderson didn't look much better on later snaps, but he was getting more help.

The Dolphins offense looked a little Mike Mularkey-like. There were two quick-outs to receivers, a drag across the middle to Chambers, and several draw plays.

New England

Tully Banta-Cain does not look like just some dude from special teams. Opposing coordinators will need to learn you can't just leave a tight end or fullback to block him. He looks good.

Matt Cassel looked awful early in the game, although he did settle down and finish with a good stat line (14-of-20, 192 yards). Still, he tucks and runs way too often. He's never going to develop if he doesn't force himself to stay in the pocket and give his receivers a chance to get open downfield.

New York Jets

D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold won't get the Jets' quarterbacks killed this year. Both played to their potential against the Redskins. Mangold and Pete Kendall make a solid double-team up the middle, and Kendall was able to peel off and reach the second level on some good first quarter runs because Mangold controlled the nose player. Ferguson blocked well in space and did well when handling defenders on his inside shoulder. As for athleticism, he lost control of his defender during a Brooks Bollinger scramble, but hurdled a teammate to get back into position. He had a phenomenal block on Brad Smith's long end-around touchdown run. He ran about 25 yards downfield to take out two players at once. Not many linemen have the quickness to do that.

The Jets did give Ferguson some tight end help on several plays. On one third-and-long, Chris Baker and Doug Jolley lined up on the left in a shotgun formation, both of them staying in for blitz pickup. Ferguson handled his man, Jolley made his block, and Adam Archuleta blew past Baker for the sack. So much for help.

Are the Jets ever going to throw a pass downfield to one of their wide receivers? Their receivers caught 11 passes for 56 yards. Five yards a catch from the wideout position isn't going to put the scare into opposing secondaries.


Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. Aaron Brooks was 10-of-17 for 125 yards, with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble, and all the guys on NFL Network could talk about was how much better he looked. Why not just give the job to Andrew Walter and get it over with already?

Three different Raiders made field goals against the 49ers. What, exactly, are the Raiders accomplishing by taking up three training camp roster spots with kickers?


OK, seriously, how much did Duce Staley eat during the off-season? He looks like he's gained 40 pounds, and he has 12 carries for 25 yards so far in the preseason. Staley is a bad fit on a team with a lot of guys known for hard work and dedication to their craft.

Ben Roethlisberger has played in two series in two games and he if continues to play this well, he should schedule an off-season motorcycle accident every year.

Depending on Hines Ward's health, Nate Washington could be a starter in Week 1.

San Diego

So much for Philip Rivers' looking good. After a strong preseason opener, he looked lost against the Bears. His first pass was a dump-off into traffic that easily could have been intercepted, and his second pass was intercepted, and returned for a touchdown by Brian Urlacher. He settled down a bit later in the game, but he's going to have some growing pains.

Hardly anyone notices backup running back Michael Turner because he's stuck behind LaDainian Tomlinson on the depth chart, but he'd start on a lot of teams. He has great speed and vision.


Keith Bulluck looks like he's in great shape and ready for a very good season. He had a nice stuff of Mike Bell on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Unfortunately, just about everyone else on the Titans defense looked terrible as Denver's offense scored 28 first-half points.



The Cardinals executed several cornerback blitzes in the first quarter against New England. Antrel Rolle and David Macklin did the blitzing. Neither got to Tom Brady, but Macklin blew up a running play in the backfield. On at least one occasion, Brady easily read the coverage and threw into the flat vacated by the cornerback. On another play, Rolle dogged a blitz, then covered a back coming out of the backfield, leaving safety Adrian Wilson isolated against receiver Bam Childress up the sideline. Childress made the reception for a nice gain. Clancy Pendergast loves to blitz defensive backs, but his Cardinals need to do a better job in coverage on such plays.

If Cardinals tight end John Bronson is going to block like Shaun Alexander, he'd better learn to run like him, too. And speaking of bad blocking, the Cardinals line looks like it's in mid-season form. Starting guard Milford Brown, a free agent signing from the Texans, looked terrible against New England.


The Falcons are said to be excited about third-round draft pick Jerious Norwood, but he didn't do anything impressive against the Packers. He just kind of plowed into the defensive line on every play, finishing the game with 19 yards on eight carries. None of his carries went for a first down.


Hey, DeAngelo Williams, feel free to show us any time why a lot of people thought you were the second-best back in this year's draft. So far you have 12 preseason carries and exactly one of them has gone for more than three yards.


Rex Grossman doesn't deal with the pass rush well. As Chargers defensive tackle Igor Olshansky rushed up the middle, Grossman had time to throw the ball away, but instead he just wilted under pressure and took the sack. The Bears' coaches have to be thinking about pulling Grossman in favor of Brian Griese.


Drew Bledsoe looked sharp on the Cowboys' opening possession, and more importantly, he was getting the ball away quickly. The main reason for the lingering belief that Tony Romo could unseat Bledsoe as the Cowboys' starter is that Romo does a better job of avoiding the pass rush than Bledsoe. Perhaps the competition with Romo has persuaded Bledsoe that he needs to start releasing the ball more quickly. If so, he'll be a much better quarterback.

Left tackle Flozell Adams left early with a minor injury, and the running game looked a lot worse with seventh round rookie Pat McQuistan playing left tackle.


Jeff Backus showed yet again why the Lions were foolish to give him a new contract with a $16 million bonus during the off-season when rookie Kamerion Wimbley used an outside speed move to beat him for a sack. Did Matt Millen think he had to keep Backus around as a way of making the fans think at least one of his first-round draft picks has worked out?

Kevin Jones runs with no confidence. There aren't holes there (Rick DeMulling was back in at guard, never a good sign), but he just runs like he's waiting for someone to hit him. The Browns obliged, consistently nailing him at the line of scrimmage. The whole offense features one above-average player, Roy Williams.

Green Bay

Brett Favre looked more poised against the Falcons than he's looked in a long time. The local TV announcers, Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon, told us that Favre plays with the enthusiasm of a kid on a sandlot, but that's not why he impressed. He had a good game because he dealt well with Atlanta's pass rush. When his line gave him time, he stayed in the pocket and allowed something to develop downfield. When he didn't have time, he moved in the pocket well or dumped the ball off. That's the Brett Favre of several years ago. Packers fans should hope it wasn't just a one-game throwback.

Mike Tanier writes, "I have only seen enough of A.J. Hawk to confirm that he's a better linebacker than Ben Taylor. I have only seen enough of my three-week-old son to confirm that he's a better linebacker than Ben Taylor."


Just about everyone thought the Vikings reached when they took quarterback Tarvaris Jackson out of Alabama State in the draft. If the preseason means anything, just about everyone was wrong. Jackson looks smart, athletic, and accurate. The Vikings are still in trouble if Brad Johnson goes down, but not in as much trouble as it looked a couple of weeks ago.

But it's a good thing Jackson is playing well because Mike McMahon has absolutely no business playing quarterback in the NFL. He'd have no business playing quarterback in the CFL, for that matter. He is now 2-for-11 in the preseason, and his quarterback rating is 8.5.

If you thought the Vikings' home jerseys were dreadful, their travel jerseys are downright embarrassing. The hometown Minnesota announcing crew spent a few minutes mocking the new officials' uniforms, but the Vikings make the refs look like fashionistas.

New Orleans

Left tackle Jammal Brown is an inconsistent player. On the first series he looked really good, strong at the point of attack and quick when pulling to the outside. But on the second series DeMarcus Ware bull-rushed him straight back and nearly pushed Brown into Drew Brees. The Saints' 2006 first-round pick will get all the headlines, but if the Saints' offense plays well this season, Brown, the 2005 pick, will play a big part in it.

New York Giants

Michael Jennings is making a big name for himself with returns for the Giants, but he did not look like a solid receiver in the second half against the Chiefs. Third-string Chiefs corner Chris Johnson completely jumped on a lazy route Jennings ran on the left side and nearly had an interception. Remember, third-string Chiefs corner is like eighth-string corner for another team. A few plays later, Jennings caught a ball on the right side roughly two yards from the sticks with a defender-less cushion of four or five yards all around him. Instead of just going forward and getting the first down, he started juking like he was either trying to make a big play or had fleas in his uniform. By the time he got around to actually advancing the ball, there were three Chiefs sitting on top of him and no first down. That's the kind of play that leads directly to 6-10.

Jared Lorenzen, listed at 285 pounds because it would just be too embarrassing to list a quarterback at 300, looked red and bloated when he was playing. He may have set the all-time record for preseason sweat by a quarterback.


The White Buffalo appeared in the backfield on Thursday. Yes, that would be Correll Buckhalter. You probably saw the shovel pass highlight run. It was his only productive touch of the game. Buckhalter didn't have a lot of room to run on his carries, but he didn't display much cutback ability or power. The other two healthy running backs in Philly, Reno Mahe and Ryan Moats, each fumbled.

The Eagles used a no-huddle offense for much of the first half. They looked nothing like the Jim Kelly Bills, and the receivers couldn't get open against a good Ravens secondary. The no-huddle did seem to slow down the Ravens pass rush, though.

St. Louis

Shaun McDonald looks like he's ready to pick up the inevitable slack created by the aging of Isaac Bruce. McDonald showed nice speed on a 30-yard catch, and nice red zone awareness on a four-yard touchdown.

San Francisco

A week after looking competent against the Bears, Alex Smith was back to his usual horrendous ways against the Raiders. Smith finished the day 6-of-12 for 81 yards with a fumble and two interceptions, while Trent Dilfer went 6-of-8 for 71 yards and managed not to give up the ball. A team that's building for the future might feel like it can't bench its No. 1 draft pick for a 34-year-old like Dilfer, but if Smith looks as bad early this year as he did last year, Mike Nolan will have no choice.


As Doug Farrar pointed out on Seahawks.net, a false start call on Walter Jones (who looked skittish as Dwight Freeney prepared for a speed rush) stalled Seattle's first drive, and Jones was later beaten by Freeney on a sack. Also contributing to that sack was an uncharacteristically bad block by fullback Mack Strong. The line play was better in Week 2 than in Week 1, thanks in large part to the solid play of rookie guard Rob Sims, but there are still kinks to be worked out in the Seahawks' pass protection.

This year, the Seahawks drafted a punter (Ryan Plackemeier) who's both taller and heavier than the defensive end (Darryl Tapp) they also drafted.

Tampa Bay

Rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski looks very good. Sixth-round picks out of mid-major schools aren't supposed to be this polished, but he's a very smooth passer. So far in the preseason he has 297 yards on 22-for-27 passing, with three touchdowns and one interception. Jon Gruden's offense looks like the perfect fit for him.

Right guard Sean Mahan blocked well on two trap plays but gave up a sack and was caught holding on another play. The pass protection in general was poor after the opening drive. Chris Simms threw some nice passes (sideline routes to Michael Clayton and Ike Hilliard) when he had time, then started running for his life.

On several plays, tight end Alex Smith motioned across the formation and was aligned like an I-formation fullback at the snap. All of the plays in question were runs.


He's a long shot to make the squad on a team with an expensive group of wide receivers on the depth chart, but Jimmy Farris looks like he deserves a spot on an NFL roster. He's a white guy from Montana, so you'll never hear the TV commentators say this, but he's got very impressive downfield speed, which he displayed in catching passes for 15, 22, and 18 yards.

Eight-year vet Kenny Wright is starting in place of injured Shaun Springs, and he played well against the Jets, essentially holding Laveranues Coles in check and recording a sack. Mike Rumph is playing corner on the second team, which is where he belongs, assuming there's no third team, fourth team, or customer service team.

Jason Campbell threw an interception off his back foot, but he completed several deep out passes and has the arm to make some throws that Mark Brunell cannot execute anymore.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 22 Aug 2006

84 comments, Last at 25 Aug 2006, 7:42pm by Dodd


by asg (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 1:42pm

It was Harrison — not Reggie Bush — who led the Pac-10 in rushing last year. Why did he last until the fifth round of the draft?

I suspect there's some lingering suspicion of Pac-10 running backs after JJ Arrington didn't live up to his stats last year.

by The Skeptic (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:03pm

I hate when commentators are so giddy about quarterback performances in preseason. QBing in preseason is like USA playing international basketball games--they're supposed to play well. The defense is just playing basic man with safety help, or simple cover 2/3. So when u see romo (or gradkowski or even eli) with a 158.3 rating, it just means that he's good at pickup football. (alex smith, on the other hand...)

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:16pm

Ben Roethlisberger has played in two series in two games and he if continues to play this well, he should schedule an off-season motorcycle accident every year.

I laughed.

by Al H (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:19pm

RE: Supposed QB controversy in Jacksonville

There is no QB controversy with the coaches at all. It's just a media talking point and those who are still bitter about how Brunell was sent out of town. I've a feeling that if Garrard was declared the starter there'd be just as vocal a group supporting Quinn Gray:P

Besides, Garrard is awful now that Jimmy Smith is gone, that was the only receiver he actually looked at last year.

by Doug English (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:22pm

The commentry team waxed lyrical about Reggie Bush's cut off his inside foot and the way he made something of nothing. Problem is that it looks like his 1 highlight reel moment for each game will be rather hollow as he pads out a losing score week in week out. The cowboys are a good defense but the Saints looked so overmatched it was painful to watch.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:25pm

My thoughts on the NE game:

* I really like Willie Andrews' potential as a PR man, but he has to get better at catching the ball in traffic. Twice he let catchable balls bounce and both times it bounced 10+ in the Cards' favor. When he finally realized his mistake, he tentatively approached the next one and muffed it. When he has a returnable one he almost always gets 5 yards more than you think he should.

* Cassell is getting better at realizing when he *needs* to move, but makes his mind up to run too quickly. Often times, on the plays that he scrambles, he could have just shifted 3 yards to his left/right and kept the play alive. He did have a nice TD pass while scrambling towards the LOS, though.

* Faulk looks in midseason form. If he could just stop with the killer fumbles he could be an unsung hero on this team.

* Brown looks pretty good. I would be surprised if he gets more than 5-7 plays total over the next two games.

* Wilfork looks like a beast. Granted, Arizona just traded for Gorin, so their OL is not in good shape, but Vince was not pushed back once in the plays that I focused on him. Most of the time he had pushed his blockers 1-2 yards into the backfield before the RB got to the hole.

* Samuel played well until being injured.

* Maroney played well again. Barring injuries, this kid is going to be very good.

* Arizona's DL did a good job vs. NEs OL. Run D was very good and they got decent pass pressure. I should say that it wasn't just the DL, as 'Zona blitzed quite a bit.

by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:26pm

Mike Rumph is playing corner on the second team, which is where he belongs, assuming there’s no third team, fourth team, or customer service team.


by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:27pm

As much as I hate drafting punters, Plackemeier looked pretty darn good. No robo-punter, but quite good.

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:38pm

Just to elaborate a bit on 5's comments: On Bush's other "highlight" run (where Sean Salisbury couldn't seem to roll his tongue back into his mouth due to his incredible downfield vision), he gets tackled from behind, something I bet only happened to him three times in his entire college career. At USC, that run would probably have gone for 10 more yards. Welcome to the NFL.

by dfarrar777 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:40pm

I love that Trent Dilfer picked up two personal fouls for taunting defenders. If Brett Farve had done that, not only would the flags have stayed in the pockets, there would have been several "Cleanup on Aisle Five" moments in the announcers' booth.

And if I'm Drew Bledsoe, I'm more worried about Flozell Adams' leg than the Hamstring That Shall Not Be Named.

by Sam! (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:46pm

RE: "Quarterback Controversy in Jacksonville"

It's not even as much a media point as much as it is fans who think Garrard is the player the Mike Vick wants to be. They think he can throw at least as well as Leftwich and can run a zillion times better. They back this up by his 4-1 record last year (against the kinds of teams Leftwich was getting 30 points on... Garrard led the Jags to 10 against SAN FRAN FREAKING SISCO) and his stats in the preseason, against inferior defenses.

Last season, he played better than his showing against Carolina... but not much. He could probably start for a handful of teams, but Leftwich is the better player and I think he has the higher ceiling. Time will tell.

by WeaponX (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 3:28pm

Nice second helping of D Williams (Carolina)bashing. Now if you only had watched the games you would have noted the lack of consistent push and opening of lanes by the Oline. I know Foster isn't the model for consistency either but in both games this preseason I've noticed a lot of lost battles at the LOS for Carolina. It's a good thing they will be facing the Juggernaut run defense of ATL in week one..

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 3:43pm

12: There may be a bias by some of the writers here against non-BCS athletes. This statement becomes more interesting, when read in that light:

Rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski looks very good. Sixth-round picks out of mid-major schools aren’t supposed to be this polished, but he’s a very smooth passer.

Or it could be nothing. Personally, I think that it's part of the conspiracy between our government and aliens from the planet Zolrop.

by Soulless Merchant of Fear (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 4:15pm

J.P. Losman will be good! J.P. Losman will be good! (inserts fingers in ears) LA LA LA LA HE WILL BE FINE LA LA LA!!!


Another long year. Here's to hoping he either gets his crap together or totally flames out. None of that "tease you with flashes of brilliance" crap that leaves the team in limbo for a few years, waiting for the guy to turn the corner from Schmuckburg Avenue to Cool Street. Man, that sucks.

Garrard is nowhere near the QB Leftwich is. If there is an actual QB controversy in Jacksonville, which is doubtful, then I hope they go with Garrard and send Leftwich elsewhere. Like, um, Buffalo.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 4:24pm

Re Bears:
It seemed like Grossman's throws kept sailing on him. He settled down a little bit but a lot of balls were being caught in the air instead of in stride.

Does anyone think that Rashied Davis can be a legit WR? I'm not sure whether he's just so quick that he's beating vanilla defenses or he's really a capable WR.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 4:53pm

Re: Gradowski

I watched that game and I haven't seen a QB come off the bench in a long time with that kind of accuracy. I know its pre-season, but this was a guy who they said during the game had a 70% completion percentage for two years in college. Accuracy is a big deal in the NFL and he's only a rookie yet. He could become a very good player for some team.

I'm interested in what his rookie QB projection would look like.

by J (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 4:54pm

Edgerrin James is going to miss the Colts a lot more than the Colts are going to miss Edgerrin James.

Seriously, I'm keeping a list of writers and pundits who are saying things like this for the regular season.

Of course Wayne + Harrison are going to have their way going one-on-one vs. dbacks and of course Manning is going to just eat alive the vanilla defenses you see in preseason.

Come the regular season, things will be different.

The running game didn't look good. I've pointed out before in other threads that Rhodes was stopped for a loss or no gain on 4 of 6 carries -- that's really bad. Addai is reported to have looked slow to the whole, and got stuffed for a loss on 4th and inches.

In the preseason, the lack of a running game might not take its toll on the passing game's performance, but that surely won't last.

by admin :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:11pm

Re: 16, it would look like a big question mark. Our rookie projections are much more iffy than veteran projections, especially for quarterbacks taken after round two, when we can't use the Dave Lewin projection system anymore.

Re: 17, everything you said is true, except that you forgot to mention that the Arizona offensive line is going to get Edge killed. The sentence does have two parts, after all.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:33pm

That D'brickashaw Ferguson block was one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen. A left tackle manages to run twenty yards downfield and deliver a block that takes out two players. He looks a hell of a lot better than the last can't miss tackle, Robert Gallery. I've seen all the Raiders games and have focused in on Gallery on every snap. It's sad. He just doesn't have the speed to take away the outside, not even against mediocre defensive ends. Even when he makes a successful block, it's an off-balance shove.

The story of the preseason has been the good showings from the rookie quarterbacks. Cutler has been lights out. Young has shown that he has the speed to run in the NFL. Leinart looked very poised in the pocket and threw the ball with good velocity (when you consider his lack of practice time, his performance was quite impressive). Kellen Clemens has shined in both his appearances. Tavaris Jackson and Bruce Gradowski have been excellent. Yes, it's preseason, but these guys have been great. Charlie Whitehurst, on the other hand...

by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:35pm

Jimmy Farris is deceptively fast.

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:39pm

Marcus Trufant looked horrible against the Colts. When is he going to return to the form of his 2nd year?

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:40pm

And gritty.

by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:45pm

Re 20, 22

He reminds me of Brandon Stokely and Joe Jurevicius.

by Scorpious (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:59pm

RE: 15

I think Davis is going to steal the number 2 spot from Bradley if Bradley doesn't start making more than 2 yards per catch... and he should DEFINATELY be on the kick return team, right along with Hester. Let Hester return punts though.

And send some people (or a couple picks) to Denver for Lelie so I have a reason to keep him on my fantasy football team. :)

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 6:12pm

I hear he is also a hard worker, and a good locker-room influence.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 6:16pm

Well, he's a high motor player.

by Skin Patrol (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 6:42pm

Jimmy Farris is a fan favorite in Washington.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 6:46pm

Hey, Michael David Smith, feel free to show us any time why a lot of people think you are worth reading. So far you have analyzed 2 Carolina games and in neither one of them have you said much of anything. Your writing is showing as much creativity as William's running! You do know there are other players out there don't you.

A Panthers fan would almost think you have a bias against Carolina running backs! We can spot the obvious: tell us something we may have missed.

by Catfish (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:00pm

re: 23

I'd say he seems more like Ricky Proehl.

by dfarrar777 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:07pm

#21 - when he gets more consistent safety help. Trufant is not a guy who can play on an island all day. Great tackler, decent defender, but he needs help over the top.

by Catfish (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:08pm

re: 28

I'd imagine it isn't easy to come up with something to say for 32 different teams, let alone carve out the time to watch enough of each game to form an opinion. Sure you, being a Panthers fan, would know more about your team than what is written here, but that's not the point. The idea of an article like this is to get an idea of what's going on with all the other teams that most fans don't have the time/inclination to find out for themselves.

by J (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:12pm

18: I did, in fact, read both parts of the sentence, and managed to disagree with both, simultaneously.

The Cards' oline is young, and does have some talent & size -- as well as a good new oline coach. They haven't looked great in preseason so far, but they've also played two tough, run stuffing 3-4 defenses, and are still fine-tuning their new system.

J.J. Arrington ran for 3.3 ypc behind that line last season, and I don't think it's unlikely to expect Edge to improve on that. Edge's running style makes things a lot easier for an offensive line -- he's been propping up the Colts' in your oline metrics for a couple years now.

He might not get his usual 1,500 yards, but he'll pass 1,000 this season, and this time he'll get credit for every yard.

As for the line getting him killed -- well, he's gonna get hit on every carry either way, it might as well be closer to the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, the Colts are going to struggle running the ball and stopping the run... and their defense is going to have to spend even more time on the field with Edge gone. Without him, they are not going to be a legitimate SB contender this year.

This is why the Colts will miss him more than he'll miss them -- the stakes are a lot higher for them. Edge might end up losing some yardage, but for the Colts it means wasting another year of their Super Bowl window.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:25pm

I posted comments about Hawk NOT impressing in camp some time ago, and I find Tanier's backhanded confirmation of those concerns to be of real concern.

As background, I saw Hawk play in the Big Ten regularly. At least fifteen games NOT including the bowl games. He was always making plays. ALWAYS.

Now I know the Packers don't have him at middle linebacker. And I know the passing game is radically different in the NFL. But even on running plays he looks REALLY ordinary. He's just THERE.

And for a number five overall pick who everyone said was Mr. Everything I find that disturbing.

I don't claim to understand the nuances of linebacker play. But if you watch football enough you learn to recognize the playmakers. The guys who make a DIFFERENCE during games.

Right now Hawk is "just a guy". And that just s*cks.

I am hopeful that whatever may be the issue (be it personal issues, scheme, what have you) get resolved. Soon. Otherwise, one of the few reasons for me to watch the team will have evaporated.


by Soulless Merchant of Fear (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:55pm

Dan Wilkinson is good, but when he was in DC, the rap was that he had a problem with stopping the run. Every snap, it was "penetrate and kill the QB." Good against the pass, not so much against the rush. Lots of overpursuit and runs up the middle given away. Depending on the Dolphins' defensive scheme, that's either no big deal or a real problem. (Unless he's changed his approach, which isn't outside the realm of possibility, or I remember him wrongly.)

by Craigers (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 8:21pm

he’s gonna get hit on every carry either way, it might as well be closer to the line of scrimmage.

If he gets hit by a defensive lineman (or several) 60% of the time, it's going to hurt a lot more than if he's into the backfield 60% of the time. Safeties hurt less than pileups.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 8:55pm

Did anyone actually see the San Francisco game? I'm curious to find out how Michael Robinson actually looks in a game. While his stat line looks pedestrian running - 14 for 40 yards, a little less than 3 yards/carry - his receiving line looks a lot better - 5 for 54 yards, 1 touchdown, and he caught everything thrown his way.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if he ended up being a much better receiving back than rushing back at first. He's much more able to make people miss (or run them over) in space.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 9:00pm

re: 31

My comment was kind of tongue-in-cheek BUT, in both columns, he has only focused on Williams. I don't think he has focused on a single player, negatively or positively, with any of the other teams. Of course, given all the media adorations the Panthers have been receiving so far, maybe it's a good thing someone is focusing on only the negative.

by birk (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 9:04pm

"This year, the Seahawks drafted a punter (Ryan Plackemeier) who’s both taller and heavier than the defensive end (Darryl Tapp) they also drafted."

I wanted to see just how big this punter is and noticed that he's listed at 252 to Tapp's 265, making the above statement seemingly incorrect.

by Bencoder (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 9:19pm

Left tackle Flozell Adams left early with a minor injury, and the running game looked a lot worse with seventh round rookie Pat McQuistan playing left tackle.

That's why I love this website. You guys picked up on that too. Perhaps you could do a coorelational study involving situations where key linemen lost play time and see how it affected sacks, rushing yards, etc.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 9:21pm

At the time they were drafted, the NFL officially listed Plackemeier at 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds and listed Tapp at 6-foot-1 and 251 pounds.

by michael (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 9:29pm

#36 i did see the game robinson looked great he was the one that scored on trent dilfers td pass i think robinson has a bright future as a san francisco 49er.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 9:49pm

How much do you want to bet that the first thing the coaches said to Tapp when he was drafted was "Okay, kid, you need to gain about 15 pounds. No defensive tackle of ours is going to weigh less than our punter."

by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 10:09pm

Some of the articles mentioning Plackenmeier just after the draft had him threatening 300 during college. As amusing as that is, he really can kick the hell out of the ball.

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 11:45pm

Re: #32

So, J, if I get your points right:
1) The Colts will look worse later -- this is preseason.
2) The Cards will look better later -- this is preseason.

Got it. Makes perfect sense to me.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 12:13am

Indianapolis Colts Lunch-Counter Stuffing Force Corey Simon is out after knee surgery.


by paytonrules (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 12:38am

The Bears’ coaches have to be thinking about pulling Grossman in favor of Brian Griese.

I have been a Bears fan for 29 years - coincidentally I'm 29 years old. I've been hearing QB controversies for as long as I can remember - so this sentence saddens me.

Sadly I think your right. Grossman looks like poop.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 12:40am

I'm going to start calling for Orton to replace Grossman now and get it over with. A third year guy shouldn't be essentially the same as a rookie with a restricted playbook, he's a massive injury risk, and Griese isn't taking the team anywhere. He showed improvement near the end of the year, and if his recievers actually catch balls thrown at them this year, it'll be fine. Let the kid play.

by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 1:40am

Re: #45

Out for the preseason, to be exact. Wow.

I noticed the link was from Philly. Not still stuck on last year, are they? They could easily have signed him if they wanted.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 1:44am

They looked nothing like the Jim Kelly Bills, and the receivers couldn’t get open against a good Ravens secondary.

This wasn't quite true. A good number of the players, the receivers were open - but there were other better options available on most, and McNabb took them. On McNabb's scramble, Baskett was open on a short route, but McNabb had a good running lane, and took it. On the 21-yard pass to L.J. Smith, Brown was completely open, but so was Smith - about 5 yards more downfield.

The first incomplete pass to Hank Baskett was a close one, as well. Baskett didn't have separation, but he was mismatched on a smaller corner. The ball was too high, though. Later in the season with a bit more practice together, that pass would've been a highlight reel.

Brown did slip on one drive, but I think the lack of WR receptions in that game had more to do with an actual pass rush disrupting McNabb a bit. Still, though, it's not like the results were awful.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 1:45am

I noticed the link was from Philly. Not still stuck on last year, are they? They could easily have signed him if they wanted.

Nah. Andrew's a Philly fan, and it's an AP Wire report. NFL AP Wire reports are off to the side on their Eagles page.

by Boston Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 10:58am

Eagles may bring in Davis to bolster running game

By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
August 21, 2006

Carolina Panthers running back Stephen Davis (48) breaks free for a short gain in a football game, in Charlotte, N.C. Sept. 1, 2005. Davis, released by Carolina in March of 2006, might not be unemployed much longer. The Philadelphia Eagles brought the four-time 1,000-yard rusher in for a physical and interview Monday, Aug. 21, 2006, to see if the 32-year-old Davis and his creaky knees can bolster an undersized running game hit with injury and inconsistency.
AP - Aug 21, 6:42 pm EDT
More Photos

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Stephen Davis might not be unemployed much longer.

The Philadelphia Eagles brought the four-time 1,000-yard rusher in for a physical and interview Monday to see if the 32-year-old Davis and his creaky knees can bolster an undersized running game hit with injury and inconsistency.

"He's been very productive in this league," coach Andy Reid said. "We just want to investigate it."

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 11:38am

Does anyone have any updates on the Stephen Davis situation in Philly? I haven't been able to find anything - my sense is that he must have failed the physical.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 11:50am

I haven’t been able to find anything - my sense is that he must have failed the physical.

No, he passed the physical - see here.

Philly's probably waiting until the season before signing Davis because of the salary issues with the Panthers. With the Redskins trading for Duckett, there's not that much of a market for him. They might also be waiting to see how Buckhalter looks in the next games.

Note that I imagine that most teams would probably wait until the season as well, so they're probably fine waiting (and definitely better off than trading what the Redskins did for Duckett).

by saw1 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 12:16pm

The second best running back in the draft (and the one the Panthers wanted) was taken by New England. The third best running back in the draft was taken by the Panthers. You take what you can get and hope for the best. Williams will be fine once/if the OL comes together.

by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 12:17pm

Re: 47

I don't have the numbers in front of me to back this up, but I will go out on a limb to say that of all the bad QBs to start a significant number of games for the Bears over the last couple of decades, Kyle Orton is the very worst. The Bears have a long history of forgettable starting QBs. 2005 Kyle Orton was unforgettably awful.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 1:21pm

Kyle Orton is the very worst.

Short memory. Orton is significantly better than both Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson. Easily. By DVOA, Krenzel's performance has only been outdone by Alex Smith's beyond-god-awful season last year.

Just as an easy example, Orton was averaging 4 yards per pass attempt, and a 1:2 TD/INT ratio. Krenzel was averaging a little more than 3.5 yards/pass attempt, and a 1:4 TD/INT ratio.

Honestly, I wouldn't criticize Orton's performance that much. Kyle Boller's rookie year was about as bad as Orton's. Holding Boller up as what Orton might become is definitely damning with faint praise, but keep in mind that Boller would actually be better than most QBs that Chicago's had recently. Man, that's scary.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 2:11pm

If Henry Burris started a game for your team, that's not a good sign.

There isn't a QB controversy in Chicago though. Grossman will start until he really screws up in the regular season. If he plays poorly in the first couple of games they'll go to Griese. If he doesn't embarass himself and the Bears win games then he'll hold onto the job.

Grossman is a lot more agreesive than Griese and that sounds like on of the reasons that the Bears like him so much. All the papers keep talking about Griese's ability to checkdown, but that doesn't win games like Grossman's ability to hit the deep out.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 2:41pm

#55: If I recall from last year, after the halfways point of the season, where Orton and Grossman both played, they were both essentially playing at replacement level. As I said, one was a rookie thrown into a bad NFL offence, and the other was a 3-year veteran with injury problems. Hrmmmm.

#57: I believe my statement from last season was "Orton will fail you. Grossman will fail you in a more spectacular fashion." Grossman had a larger playbook, but he still hit next to nothing. He threw a lot of very exciting deep balls that were incomplete. Considering the Bears offense up to that point that was exciting, but just as bad, if not worse (higher interception rates on the long ball).

Anyway, referring to the recent breakdown the outsiders put together regarding dropped passes, the problem with any QB in Chicago is going to be exacerbated by their terrible, terrible WRs. I recall one game I charted about 3/4 through the season where I recorded 5 dropped passes in one half. Two were by Muhsin Mohammed. I think he dropped another one in the second half. That's your star reciever. Part of the problem may be his discontent at that point in the season, but that doesn't exactly help Grossman's case, since they performed at the same level after Mohammed's whining had ended.

My point is, Orton was a rookie on a bad offense, given that, he had some moments where he looked quite good. The Bears' offence will be terrible no matter whom on their roster you put in. I'd put it in the hands of a second-year with potential, rather than a 4th year that doesn't look much better and has a terrible injury record, and a really old guy you won't be able to build a team around.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 3:14pm

I’d put it in the hands of a second-year with potential, rather than a 4th year that doesn’t look much better and has a terrible injury record, and a really old guy you won’t be able to build a team around.

That'd be the smart thing to do if you actually believed that Orton may be the long-term answer. But at this point in time I would think that none of the three deserve to be looked at as the future. In that case the best would be the guy who you believe would give you the best chance at winning right now, and then address the future needs in the offseason. As far as I can tell (I'll freely admit that I don't follow the Bears' personel issues all that closely) that means that Griese should get the start.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 3:23pm

#59: I agree with you entirely that if they were ready to win now, they should just put Griese in. Their terrible offence, however, screams that they're not ready. People will point to the defence, but that squad will significantly decline back towards the mean after a spectacular season. The team can't win now, so my argument is to try to grow up an offence around Orton now, since the defence is still young, and possibly have two good squads 2 or 3 years down the road and have a good core on both sides of the ball to try to maintain a top-notch team.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 3:31pm

58: they were both essentially playing at replacement level

Based on the DVOA stats, Grossman was playing at replacement level, and Orton was playing way, way below replacement level.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 3:55pm

Re: 60

Even if the Bears aren't ready to win now, I don't see how that changes anything. We're starting at two different points in our analysis. You start with "The Bears aren't going to win anyway, so why not give the kid a chance to improve." I'm starting with "Orton will never be good enough to be the QB of a winning team, so you might as well give the ball to the guy who give you the best chance to have another surprising season like that year (or at the very least make you competative to appease your fan-base)."

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 3:56pm

*last year (not "that year")

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 4:08pm

Purds #48:

That's the point, we didn't want to sign him. The whole situation is quite amusing, with Indy paying him $35 million to ride the pine. Perhaps the sight of him on the bench strikes fear into the hearts of opposing running backs.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 4:48pm

Purds #48:

That’s the point, we didn’t want to sign him. The whole situation is quite amusing, with Indy paying him $35 million to ride the pine. Perhaps the sight of him on the bench strikes fear into the hearts of benches everywhere.


by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 11:44pm

Andrew #64:

The Eagles, administrative creators of the T.O. nightmare scenerio, are going to teach the Colts a thing or two about cap management? Didn't T.O. sit out the entire last half of the year, and still count against the Philly cap?

Yeah, that's the place to get advice.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 12:52am

Didn’t T.O. sit out the entire last half of the year, and still count against the Philly cap?

Nope. Just the last quarter of the year. Four games he was suspended without pay. Owens nominally would've cost 3.25M, instead he cost ~$2.4M. They also recovered $1.725M of the signing bonus, which means he cost them $675,000 for the year.

by Mark (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 1:46am

Read a couple good Orton rumors.. Looks like Henson is available!!

Chicago Bears | GreatSportsNews

by Vash (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 3:10am

Re: 20-27

Thanks guys, now I can't stop laughing.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 3:38am

Pat #67:

$115,000 per touchdown for TO in 2005. Not bad.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 10:08am

#61: I'm using the tail-end of the season. It's not fair to judge a rookie by his first games after being thrust into a bad offence. Later on in the year, they evened out nearly identically.

#60: Given you agree that the Bears aren't ready for prime time, I couldn't disagree with you more. You simply cannot create a competitive team by looking for ways to string along "surprising years." You also need to nurture talent and use that talent as a bargaining chip with free agents and draft well to resupply and add depth. The Bears really aren't doing any of those three, relying on the same bad offence and hoping that the defence will be just as dominant and Grossman will somehow not get himself hurt. Even with a QB with a low ceiling, a developmental approach is much better; it won't squander your young talent down the road when the house of cards falls apart, and continuity when done properly breeds success.

by Boston Dan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 10:10am

The Rams offered Stephen Davis a contract, but he left without signing it.

in Today's WaPo:

HC Joe Gibbs admitted that RB Clinton Portis's shoulder injury "causes you to think" more about running back depth, but said Portis's rehab is ahead of schedule and that he expects him to be starting in Week 1.

The Raiders Center needs an MRI on his shoulder

The Falcons signed Grady Jackson

Drew Henson has been cut

The Chin says that Willie Parker might get the goal line carries

Palmer on pace to start on Monday

Thomas Jones will start on Friday

Owens' latest MRI should fluid in the knee

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 10:53am

$115,000 per touchdown for TO in 2005. Not bad.

The other way to look at it is to realize that Philly didn't pay Owens one dime after they suspended him. Before they inactivated him for the remainder of the season, they sent a letter which said "Pay back the money you owe us, or we're taking your game checks." He didn't, they did.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 12:14pm

40: So when people are going nuts over Barry Bonds' weight gain over 20 years, why don't they get excited over football players' weight fluctuations? I'm just sayin'...

46: I never got the Grossman hype, myself. Maybe with time he'll be better; he hasn't had enough starts yet, but the Bears want to win now.

51: Well, given that Todd Pinkston has the lowest strength rating in Madden, Davis won't have to worry about getting his jaw broken if one of the WRs there decides to beat him down.

54: According to the Falcons "fans", they got the best running back in the draft. I mean, after all, he led the SEC in rushing and the SEC is the Best.Conference.Ever. I mean, ask any SEC fan whether USC would have been able to step on the field with their champions in 2003 or 2004. They'll tell you. (you may be able to tell my opinion of SEC fan...)

57: If both Billy Joes, Heath Shuler, and Danny Wuerffel started for your team, that's not a good sign. Hell, both Billy Joes and Wueffel started games in the same season for one team... Ye Gods, that was painful.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 12:28pm

74: I thought the big deal about Bonds was not his weight gain, which could be explained via weight-training, but the fact that his head keeps getting bigger.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 1:41pm

And people don't think that kids who were 240 as seniors in high school and 300+ as sophomores and back down to 240-250 after college did so naturally?

To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, I don't think that sports fans can handle the truth.

by billvv (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 1:41pm

Re the Jets. Not many fans here, so I'll pitch in. The uptick from week one was impressive. I expect the same for the game with the Giants. An expanded passing game would nice. Mangini's molding a team, whether it's an unintended consequence I can't say, by inserting players one or two at a time, rather than playing the first team then the second team. There wasn't the falloff from the first quarter, second quarter, and so on. I think his style is appropriate and effective, rather than secretive and copying BB. Last week oline blocking was weak, week two, much better. Trying out combinations without having to deal with "you're first string and you're second" keeps egos in check and gets everybody used to playing with each other right from the beginning. I like it!

by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 1:49pm

Re #73:

Or, another way to look at it is this: the Eagles allocated that cap money to T.O., then saved it by suspending him. But, then what did they use that cap money for? What good did that do for the team (other than more money in the pocket of the owners)?

by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 1:58pm

Let me put it this way:

1) I am glad the Eagles cut T.O.

2) I am glad they didn't pay him a cent.

3) I wouldn't choose the Eagles as the team to teach my favorite team about cap management.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 3:00pm

Purds #78:

What good did that do for the team (other than more money in the pocket of the owners)?

They extended the contracts of Akers and Westbrook partly with TO cap money.

TO cap money from this season (something like $9 million) has already been sent forth to pay part of extensions for Andrews, Jackson, Dawkins, and Runyan, and bring in Howard.

I wouldn’t choose the Eagles as the team to teach my favorite team about cap management.

What team would you hold up as a model in this regard? The Eagles have never (1) cut a player for cap reasons, (2) been in a position where they could not extend a player they wanted to for cap reasons, (3) lost a large part of a season's cap to cap charges for players no longer with the team. How many other teams can you say that of?

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 3:42pm

What good did that do for the team (other than more money in the pocket of the owners)?

Um, if you think that Philly ever ends the season under the cap, you're very mistaken. Last year they ended up ~$6M under the cap, but the money was shoved forward via LTBE credits, and was used as Andrew mentioned.

Right now they're $11M under the cap, but that number will go down when they resign Michael Lewis and Dirk Johnson, and go down when players start hitting IR. And the remaining amount - I'd guess probably around $5-6M this year - will again be shoved forward.

by Kaveman (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 4:32pm

I have to join a few others in expressing some disappointment here; the paragraph on Denver says... um... nothing. Joking about Denver's rushing success is old. And it wasn't just Mike Bell and Nash who looked good, but Cedric Cobbs too, who has rushed 21 times for 106 yards in the first two pre-season games combined.

Other tidbits on the Broncos, for those who care:
- Jake Plummer had a 154.7 passer rating for the Titans game.
- Cutler is looking very good and is "slightly ahead" of the learning curve, per Shanahan.
- The other rookie starting who isn't called Mike Bell is TE Tony Scheffler, who leads the team in receptions and yards; he is averaging 4 for 68ish in the first two games.
- 36 year old Rod Smith doesn't seem to have lost it yet.
- One of the main flaws of last year's Broncos was the defense's inability to generate pressure without blitzing. The Steelers exposed this in the AFCC game. As a result, a key goal for this year is to generate pressure with just the front four. To this end, the defensive scheme has been changed to allow the line to do more than focus on the run. The first pre-season game showed no improvement at all, but in the second game, the D line generated good pressure the whole game. 2nd string DT Demetrin Veal starting in place of the injured Warren sacked Volek twice, and the latest Cleveland import Kenard Lang was around the QB a lot.
- Javon Walker played, but was thrown to just once, a deflection.
- Punter/kicker Paul Ernster is doing pretty well and might get Micah Knorr cut.
- David "Circus" Kircus is having an incredible training camp and pre-season, making all sorts of spectacular catches and holding onto the ball despite some heavy hits. He's going to make the team as the fifth WR, and possibly, as PR and/or KR.

by stan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 5:14pm

17 and 18,

The Colts' running game (i.e. their offensive line) has sucked for the last 3 years. Look at their FO power ranks -- 30th, 32nd and 29th. They only run with finesse (draws and outside zone where the play action pass threat keeps the secondary from supporting). Or look at any game film against a decent defense. Joey Porter called them soft for a reason.

Their running game is totally derived from the defense's fear of the pass. They couldn't drive block, if their rings depended on it. (It has and they haven't; see NE at Indy 2003 at the goal line for just one of many, many examples.)

Has anyone ever noticed how teams play prevent defense when the Colts have the ball knocking at the goal line? Seriously, watch how loose most NFL defenses play them at the goal line. I challenge anyone to identify another playoff team in the history of the league to have defenses play them that soft on 1st and goal from the 4!

If you haven't noticed, pay attention next time.

by Dodd (not verified) :: Fri, 08/25/2006 - 7:42pm

"What, exactly, are the Raiders accomplishing by taking up three training camp roster spots with kickers?"

Putting some fear in old Sea Bass, I'd guess. If so, it's working. Remember, he was an abysmal 20-30 last year and didn't make a single FG over 49 yards. This preseason, he's clearly dropped a lot of the excess weight and has been kicking like he actually deserved to be a first round pick. Almost.