manziel_johnny081315

NFL Preseason Week One Takeaways

What a great feeling it is to have football back. My life has been missing something since February, and that thing is football. With all the best players only having 10-12 plays this past week, just remember that it only gets better from here. This week, the best players will see upwards of a quarter of live game action. Week 3 could see the best players in the game for a full half.

Since preseason football is not played at the same level as regular season games, we don’t often get too excited when watching these games. It’s hard to sit through an entire preseason game because by the time it’s the fourth quarter, the average fan has heard of maybe two or three guys on the field. So, with all of that being said, let’s take a look at some takeaways from the first week of the preseason.

Injuries

This preseason is like the rest; great players are getting injured. Football is a ruthlessly intense game. Players are sacrificing their bodies for games that don’t count, and getting injured as a result. Here are a couple of the major injuries that occurred during this past week:

Kevin White, WR Chicago Bears – Stress fracture in shin (PUP – out for at least 3 months)

Phil Loadholt, T Minnesota Vikings – Torn Achilles (Out for the season)

Shaun Suisham, K Pittsburgh Steelers – Torn ACL (Out for the season)

E.J. Gaines, CB St. Louis Rams – Lisfranc Injury (Out for the season)

Julius Thomas, TE Jacksonville Jaguars – Fractured Hand (Out at least 3-4 weeks)

Niles Paul, TE Washington Redskins – Turf Toe (Out for the season)

Logan Paulsen, TE Washington Redskins – Turf Toe (Out for the season)

Geno Smith, QB New York Jets – Broken Jaw (Out for 6-10 weeks)

We are still nearly a month away from real football games. Players of this caliber going down with such severe injuries is troubling. The league has taken innumerable steps to reduce contact and the physically grueling aspects of the offseason and training camp; however, once you get into live game action, anything can happen. Some of these players were expected to play crucial roles for their teams this season.

The two injuries that could hurt their respective teams the most are the Kevin White and Shuan Suisham injuries. Is this an excuse for me to talk about the Steelers? Maybe, but losing Suisham is a bigger deal than people may think. Over the last three seasons, Shaun Suisham is 87/95 on his field goal kicks, which is one of the best marks in the league. Remember that Pittsburgh plays outdoors in one of the hardest stadiums to kick in. Throw in the new extra point rule, and this injury could cost the Steelers a game, or more. While the Bears weren’t necessarily expected to be competitive, all of their fans were eager to see what the number seven pick is capable of.

Quarterback Competitions

There are four teams that are having some sort of quarterback competition: Cleveland, New York Jets, Tennessee, and Houston. Of the four, Houston is the most up-for-grabs. Let’s briefly talk about all four of the competition.

Cleveland – The Browns have used more starting quarterbacks than any other team in recent memory. This team simply cannot find the guy, and this year is no different as the team enters week two of the preseason still entrenched in a battle between Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown. It has been a whirlwind offseason for Johnny Football, but it has been for the better. Since he has checked himself into rehab, coaches and teammates have noticed a changed demeanor and someone who isn’t quite as neurotic and irritable. These qualities are starting to show on the football field as well. Still, Manziel still needs to take his time and develop his game. McCown is the better quarterback right now, the question is how long will it take Johnny to overtake him?

New York Jets – It will be interesting to see what happens when Geno Smith comes back from injury. Sure, he was pencilled in as the teams starting quarterback very early on in the offseason. Flash forward to mid-August and their QB has a broken jaw over a couple hundred dollars. Now it’s between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty, a rookie out of Baylor. While neither option is particularly exciting, the clear choice seems to be Fitzpatrick. You never know what you’re going to get out of a rookie. Even though you know what Fitzpatrick is going to give you is worse than average, he is still an NFL quarterback (graduated from Harvard) who is capable of winning games with this wide receiving core and defense.

Tennessee – This competition really has stopped becoming a competition. The team selected Marcus Mariota with the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and now expect him to be their franchise quarterback. Theoretically he is competing with Zach Mettenberger for the starting job. No disrespect to Mettenberger, who I think could develop into a decent starting quarterback in this league, but he doesn’t have the physical capabilities or the potential that Mariota has. Unlike Cleveland, Maroita seems to be much more in control of the offense compared to Manziel.

Houston – Brian Hoyer vs. Ryan Mallett. This is by the far the closest competition between two quarterbacks on any roster in the NFL. More than anything, I would suggest watching this battle play out on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Both have backed up Tom Brady and played under their current head coach Bill O’Brien, who was also in New England previously. Mallett is a younger quarterback with incredible arm talent. He reminds me of Jay Cutler in many ways: his arm strength, vision, and being prone to mistakes. Oftentimes, both Cutler and Mallett will see extremely tight windows to fit the ball into on the field and throw the ball anyways. Both guys have supreme confidence in their abilities to throw any pass. Hoyer, on the flip side, is much more of a game-manager. That’s not to say he is a worse quarterback, merely that his style focuses on playing within himself and not making mistakes that could hurt the team. I am excited to watch this battle unfold over the next couple of weeks.

Main Takeaway: R-E-L-A-X

By this I mean, do not get caught up in your team’s performance in preseason week one. Most teams trotted out half of their starters for one or two series. If your defense allowed an 80 yard touchdown run, you are allowed to be upset and concerned; however, it doesn’t mean anything. These games are not only opportunities for players to make plays, but coaches to call the plays and referees to learn new rules. Remember everyone, it’s the preseason and coaches and players are not mentally or physically at the top of their game. Bad plays, mistakes, mental errors, missed tackles, overthrows, mis-run routes, and fumbles are all part of preseason football.

For all the Giants fans freaking out that everything is going to be terrible this year, please relax. Eli made some bad throws, the receivers didn’t run great routes, the timing looked off; these are all problems that can be fixed in training camp. We’ve seen teams look like they can’t compete halfway through November catch fire and win a Super Bowl. It is August, so everyone just relax.

Let’s do a little flashback here to week one of the 2014 NFL Preseason. The Washington Redskins played the New England Patriots. Based on the end result of the season, you would expect the Patriots to come out on top by a significant margin. The final score of that game was 23-6, a Washington Redskins win over the New England Patriots. Six months later, almost to the day, the Patriots hoisted the Lombardi trophy. If that teaches us anything, it is to be patient, and more than anything, excited for what the 2015 NFL season is going to bring.


References

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2015/08/16/preseason-week-1-analysis-jameis-winston-marcus-mariota-johnny-manziel/31823751/

http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2015/5/28/8632447/nfl-quarterback-competitions-2015-jets-browns-bills-titans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_New_England_Patriots_season

http://espn.go.com/chicago/nfl/story/_/id/13443676/kevin-white-chicago-bears-rookie-wr-shin-surgery-go-pup-list

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000510797/article/injuries-rams-reportedly-lose-ej-gaines-for-season

http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/9361/shaun-suisham

Image

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar
WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s