What can we take away from the past two weeks of NFL preseason action? Lots of small injuries, little to no star QB or running back action, and Johnny Manziel will dominate the headlines all season long. There is no groundbreaking news in the preseason usually. If there is, it is often really bad news, like drug suspensions, off the field knuckleheadedness, or season ending injuries. So for most teams, no news is good news in the exhibition season.
The best part of preseason so far has been HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’. The show never fails to deliver epic behind the scenes drama. If they were to cover ten teams each year, I think I would want to watch each one still. It is hard to watch the guys get cut, which is like seeing a corporate firing basically. The positive parts show vets trying to mentor the rookies. Also seeing Matt Ryan as a genuine leader is something you don’t get a true feel for during game play. Not that he is not a big time player inside of games. It is just more human during practice and in meetings with no helmets or crowd noise.
Speaking of the Falcons, they got destroyed in their second preseason matchup as they faced the Texans. The Falcons’ offensive line has been nothing to brag about for the past couple of years. This game did not increase their ranking judging from the highlights of Jadeveon Clowney running past the line to get a kill shot on Falcons tailback, Antone Smith. He proceeded to sack Matt Ryan right after that play just in case anyone missed his skills on the previous play. Losing in the preseason is not that big of a deal, but you don’t want to get blown out. Mike Smith will have a lot to say before the Birds’ next game against the Tennessee Titans.
Cowboy fans have to be relieved that Tony Romo looked like his old self after back surgery. He played very well in limited action against the Ravens. He had a nice TD throw to Dez Bryant that covered 31 yards. Romo and the boys came up short 37-30, but there again, this game’s score is less important than Romo playing at a high level. In this game, Ray Rice left early, as if he would have played much anyway. He apparently had just a small shoulder bruise. It does not take much for players to exit preseason games. Trainers are going to be extra cautious of course. No sense getting your starting tailback hurt 18 weeks before the playoffs.
In other action, the Jets outscored the Bengals 25-17. Shocking to me is the fact that Geno Smith and Mike Vick are both on the same level so far. The Jets are doing the right thing in saying the job is Smith’s to lose. After all, he was a number one pick for the team. He may have been awful last year. No ‘may have’ to it, he was awful in every sense of reality. But the Jets have to give him a chance to be the QB they drafted him to be. If they gave up on him too quickly, they look like morons for ever drafting him. And if they need to go back to him at some point this season, they don’t want to have destroyed his confidence.
Steeler fans are excited about rookie linebacker, Ryan Shazier. The kid racked up nine tackles and an INT. Not bad for the youngster from Ohio St. Bills fans are less excited about their QB, EJ Manuel. The Bills’ signal caller has been less than accurate to say the least and has not thrown a touchdown yet in the preseason. The Bills also were not happy to see rookie wideout Sammy Watkins leave the game with an injury. However it was just one of those, “OMG our first round speedster has a boo-boo, get him out of there!” moves. It turns out Watkins just had a slight rib bruise.
Green Bay looked great in their win over St. Louis. Rodgers has his offense on track even this early in the year. No surprise there with him being the best in the game today. The Rams were pleased with their own passer, Sam Bradford, who was back in action after last year’s knee injury and long months of rehab. The Rams rookie running back from Auburn, Tre Mason, did not show much of a threat to take over many starts from Zac Stacy. He gained little yardage, and did not seem to be very in sync with the pass protection, a death blow for a rookie running back. You have to be able to protect the quarterback.
If the Giants are to make a turnaround from last year’s debacle of a season, they will need Eli Manning to play like he is capable of doing. In a win over the Colts, he looked average at best. That won’t cut it for the Giants, who will not sniff another Super Bowl without Manning at the top of his game. The Colts’ Trent Richardson needs to get with the program quick this year. He was truly disappointing in 2013 after coming over from the Browns. The guy has the talent, but that is not enough in the NFL. Hard work, dedication, and focus will be needed if he is to start for Indy all year. Former Colt, Edgerrin James, has been mentoring the young man this offseason, so possibly that will be of help to the former star at Bama.
In other games of note from week two:
The Patriots beat Philly in a preseason shootout 42-35. A high scoring preseason game is pretty entertaining even if the outcome does not mean a whole lot.
The Seahawks found it necessary to let Russell Wilson play a fair amount compared to other star QBs in the league. This helped Seattle put a whooping on San Diego 41-14. Wilson was 11-13 and ran for two scores.
Not to leave out our boy Johnny Football, the Browns fell to the Redskins 24-23. Manziel made the news with his bird shot to the Washington defense. Easy, J-Football. It is only August. Save that for the real action.