10 Things learned from the preseason so far
Yeah, I know, what you see in the preseason doesn’t translate all that well to the regular season. I do believe that some of what has been seen in the preseason can be used to predict what will happen in the regular season.
1) Jamaal Charles is clearly the most talented back in KC. Through 2 games he has 9 carries for 63 yards (a very healthy 7.0 YPC) and 5 catches for 29 yards. Meanwhile Thomas Jones has 10 carries for 31 yards (3.1 YPC) and a paltry one catch for 2 yards. I know its early but Charles is clearly outplaying Jones and the Chiefs would do well to put the ball in his hands as much as possible.
2) Anthony Fasano hasn’t died…or he did and he’s been resurrected. He amassed a meager 31 catches for 339 yards and 2 tds last year and has already matched last year’s touchdown amount through 2 games of the preseason. Don’t go crazy with this but with Brandon Marshall around to take some heat off of Fasano, he might suddenly find more single coverages and start to discover his touchdown scoring ways again.
3) Having a healthy offensive line is really, really important…just ask Tony Romo. RT Marc Colombo may miss up to a month with knee surgery and LG Kyle Kosier could miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. Their absence really showed against the Chargers. The patchwork O-line had no chance of protecting Romo and he ended up running for his life on most of his plays. 4 Romo-led Cowboy drives resulted in him going 4-11 for 30 yards, 1 td and 1 ugly pick. Keep an eye on the beginning of the season as these two O-line injuries could really hurt the Cowboy’s high octane offense.
4) Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon both had solid games against Giants. Neither really distanced themselves from the other in terms of becoming the starter while Big Ben serves his 4-6 game suspension. Leftwich went 3-6 for 95 yards and 1 td including a very nicely thrown deep ball right into the hands of a streaking Mike Wallace for a 68 yard td. Leftwich even had an 11 yard carry where he…get ready for this….made some defenders (sorry Jason Pierre-Paul, you got schooled by one of the least fleet-footed qbs in the NFL, yeah we’re talking Albert Haynesworth conditioning test kind of speed) miss in the open field…shocking I know. Apparently statues can gain some yards once they start rolling. Dixon was 7-8 with 82 yards and chipped in 27 yards on the ground. Bottom line is Leftwich does have the stronger arm but he will get sacked, alot. Dixon is quite the elusive athlete and is turning into quite the game manager so it will be interesting to see who gets the nod.
5) The Colts have another emerging offensive weapon. Last team in the world that needs one but they seem to have found one to add to Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown. His name is Brody Eldrigde and he is a rookie TE out of Oklahoma. He was stuck behind all-star Jermaine Gresham at Oklahoma and never got a chance to show case his pass catching talents but he has been putting up some nice performances in the preseason and in camp. Maybe the Colts will use some two tight end sets…scary to think about having to cover Eldridge, Clark and Wayne in the same play but don’t be too surprised if it happens.
6) The Patriot’s offensive plays have clearly shifted. They are no longer pass, pass, pass and then run just so they can do play action for the next 3 plays. The two pronged attack of Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris proved to be very effective especially coupled with Brady’s short passes to Wes Welker. This led to effective, albeit methodical drives down the field. Brady still took one shot downfield to Moss and was only a couple of inches away from connecting. Expect a more balanced Patriot’s attack that gets back to basics and throws in a couple of downfield bombs to utilize Moss and keep opposing defenses honest.
7) TO certainly likes Cincinnati more than Buffalo. Besides being the only weapon in Buffalo, he didn’t even have a quarterback with the arm or the time to get him the ball. TO seems to be thriving in Cincy. Ochocinco is removing the double coverage he faced all last year and Palmer has the accuracy and power to make TO a legitimate deep threat. Palmer and TO already seem to be developing quite the rapport in the preaseason. TO has 9 catches for 108 yards in very limited action. Now say what you want about all of the ego in Cincy but I think these guys will get along great and could be forming an unexpectedly potent offense.
8 ) Larry Johnson sucks…still. He managed a meager 4 yards on 8 carries this week against the Ravens. Johnson can’t seem to regain even a glimpse of the the skills that made him a star in ’05 and ’06 when he rushed for back-to-back 1,750 yard, 17+ td seasons. I can’t see him having any significant role on the Skins this year, that is assuming he even makes the team. Mike Shanahan has a knack for rejuvenating old running backs and spawning 1,000 yard rushers out of seemingly nowhere so could we a see a Clinton Portis this year that resembles the consistent 1,500 yard Portis of the past, can Shanahan turn back the clock and bring the overworked and injury torn Portis back to life and the magic of his youth? Only time will tell but I wouldn’t be surprised if Portis goes for 1,100+ on the ground.
9) Bradford still doesn’t look comfortable. Granted the Rams O-line leaves something to be desired (like maybe a couple of king-sized mattresses to fill the void left by the blockers) but the Rams Swiss cheese O-line didn’t stop A.J. Feeley from completing 5 of 6 passes for 45 yards and a td (7.5 yards per attempt). The game was being played in Cleveland and was buffeted by some lake-effect rain but that didn’t stop Jake Delhomme (12-16, 127 yards, 1td, 7.9 yards per attempt) and Seneca Wallace (5-9, 67 yards, 1td, 1 int, 7.4 yards per attempt) from slinging it around much more effectively than Bradford who was 6 of 14 for 24 yards for a mere 1.7 yards per attempt. Bradford hasn’t looked good yet and if Feeley’s thumb injury proves to be anything significant, the rookie’s time could be fast approaching. A couple of shaky preseason games is no reason to worry but hopefully Bradford begins to look more comfortable in the Rams offense otherwise 0-16 and a whole lot of questions are not that far off.
10) Kyle Orton has looked good, I mean really good this postseason. In fairly limited action he has gone 24-35 for 261 yards, 4 tds and 1 int good for a 116.4 rating. What is really impressive about Orton’s numbers is the personnel that have been around him during these games. In seven preseason drives, he has manufactured 4 touchdowns behind a patchwork o-line, a slew of injured halfbacks and a revolving door of receivers. Orton does seem to be developing quite the relationship with Jabar Gaffney (8 catches for 135 yards in the preseason and 24 catches for 282 yards and 2 tds through the last 2 weeks of last season). Between Gaffney, Georgia Tech rookie Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal, Orton does have some weapons to work with. Keep an eye on Orton and the Denver passing attack, they could be the surprise of the season.