Archive for the ‘Preseason’ Category

Hightower Likely to Be the Starter in Washington

Posted: August 27, 2011 by admin54321 in News, Preseason, Trades

Head Coach Mike Shanahan told the media that Hightower is likely to be the starter come Week 1 when the Redskins take on their division rivals, the Giants.

The Redskins acquired Hightower in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals on July 31st. Hightower was set to compete with Ryan Torain for the starting running back job but when Torain broke his hand before preseason, Hightower took advantage of the opportunity and separated himself from any competition. Shanahan hasn’t committed to Hightower just yet, probably to give Torain a chance. It might just be too late for Torain though, as Hightower has been stellar in his three preseason games putting up 170 yards in 25 attempts. Torain will have to put up a jaw-dropping performance to change Shanahan’s mind.

The Hightower trade, in my opinion, was the Redskins’ best acquisition this offseason. Hightower is very talented and when he was traded, he wanted to prove it to his new teammates. I never could picture the running game being too solid for Washington this year with Ryan Torain because he is just too injury-prone, but with Hightower starting, I think Torain will complement him very well. In addition, the Redskins have some rookie running backs that have shown some promise in the preseason too. The Redskins have a lot of problems going into the season, but running back isn’t one of them.

Now for that quarterback competition…

Image from Keith Allison of Flickr under this license.

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Andy Dalton has been struggling all through preseason and despite having a good game yesterday, it is clear that he is a rookie who is not ready to start just yet. The Bengals are lacking something essential when a rookie quarterback is on the roster – veteran leadership at the position. Dalton’s backup right now is ex-Raider Bruce Gradkowski and last time I checked, he isn’t known for his leadership. After coming out of the offseason with barely any workouts due to the lockout and now a lack of veteran presence at his position, Dalton is practically going in to the season blind and it won’t be pretty.

If the Bengals managed to find a good veteran leader to take the reins, not only would it help Andy Dalton’s progress, but it would improve the Bengals overall. Marvin Lewis thinks he has no choice but to start Dalton this season when in fact he does. If he went out and got a veteran like Marc Bulger for a season or two, the Bengals would look like a team that will be decent. Marc Bulger is a good veteran leader who can easily become a temporary starter for a team like Cincinnati. I’m not saying Bulger would take them to the playoffs but I am saying it would remove the Bengals from the discussion of who gets the 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft. Meanwhile, Dalton would be able to sit and observe which is what he so badly needs right now.

Andy Dalton is being thrust into the starter’s role when he is not ready and that is dangerous for a player at any position, especially quarterback. Dalton will struggle early on and chances are the Bengals will only be able to muster up around 5 or 6 wins at best. The season could very well result in both Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton losing their jobs. It could also wreck the career of a rookie with a lot of potential.

The Bengals certainly know of Dalton’s potential, it’s why they drafted him. I just hope they realize the consequences of starting him too early.

Original image from Navin75 of Flickr under this license.

NFC East Preview

Posted: August 24, 2011 by Humza Ghori in Features, Preseason, Preview


Philadelphia Eagles

From conVICKt to playoff contenders the Eagles made Michael Vick the starting QB last year and never looked back. Their season ended when they fell short to the eventual superbowl champs (Greenbay Packers) in the wildcard round of the playoffs. Now, with the new additions of CB Nnamdi Asmougha, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, WR Steve Smith, TE Donald Lee, and DT Cullen Jenkins the Eagles quickly became the superpowers of the NFC East and possibly the NFC. However every Eagles’ fan knows to hold their breath as soon as the playoffs come because of their inability to show up in the offseason. So what is going to be the status of the “Dream Team” this season? Their schedule is ranked as the 17th hardest in the league with them having to play the AFC East and the NFC West (that’s probably why it seems so favorable). They are easily the best team in their division (regardless of whatever Sexy Rexy says). However with the regular season almost looking like a gift are the stars alined for the Eagles this year? We have already seen the “Dream Team” assemble in two preseason match ups and in the second week agains the Pittsburgh Steelers and the team looked out of sync and sloppy. These problems are nothing to be to concerned about because there are teams that do terrible in the preseason but ignite a fire when it counts. I will say this though, the Eagles will make the playoffs barring any unforeseen injuries to major players. However, if the fans want to see Eagles football in late January they must and I mean must take advantage of this schedule and lock down a first round bye. They will do that by beating the teams that they are clearly better then: Rams (week 1), 49ers (week 4), and Bills (week 5). Nevertheless, if the Eagles seriously want to get that first round by they will have to win key match ups against the elite such as Falcons (week 2), Bears (week 9), and the most important game of the season Patriots (week 12). If the Eagles can muster up an upset and top these teams they just might be able to get a first round bye. Especially against the Bears and Falcons cause they will be the teams (amongst others) that will compete against the Eagles for that first round bye. The past couple of season the Eagles have came close to a first round bye and missed it because of a late season loss. As long as the they can get the bye the Eagles can definitely make a promising run in the playoffs. If they miss it, they’ll be watching Super Bowl XLVI from home.

New York Giants

The New York Giants haven’t made the playoffs in two seasons. Ever since their 12-4 finish in the 2008 season the Giants have struggled. Last year they finished 10-6 which is a decent record however due to inconsistencies with wins, defense, and the quarterback position they failed to make the playoffs. Eli Manning threw a career high 25 interceptions and has a completion percentage of only of 62.9%. Ever since his superbowl run he has been inconsistent which has been a problem for the Giants organization. They were able to rout the Bears in a 41-13 however they did lose CB Terrell Thomas for the season due to a torn ACL. I’ve always noticed that when making predictions about teams the Giants have been one of the hardest teams to talk about. With a pleasing schedule the G-Men will finish .500 however with the strength of the Eagles and other teams in the NFC they will be in a heavy battle for and NFC wild card spot. When comparing them to their division they are easily the second best team there, however in the NFC they fall a tremendous amount. Each year it seems to be a new problem for them, and they always seem to be internal problems as well. The team is decent however their defense and offensive hasn’t been the same since 2007 and I’m predicting just another average year by the G-Men.

Dallas Cowboys

How ’bout them cowboys!? They finished 6-10 last year after QB Tony Romo went down in week 6 with a broken collarbone. To be fair the Cowboys were a bit of a joke last year, they finally made some good managerial decisions by getting rid of “The Marshmallow” Wade Phillips and replacing him with Jason Garrett. With a new coach and their starting QB healthy again they look to win back the respect they think they deserve. A lot of critics want to attack Tony Romo for their recent failures however the only thing I blame him for is being like porcelain. He has to be one of the weakest QBs in the history of the NFL. He’s a talented QB who has the ability to win it all one day… possibly, but he has to learn to stay healthy. Also, when he is healthy he has to be consistent and take care of the football. In the Cowboys semi magical year (2009) he threw for 26 TDs and only 9 int. I can never forget the last four weeks of that season because Tony Romo was able to play the best football in his entire career. He finally decided to show the NFL that he too deserves an elite status and for that season he was. If Romo stays healthy and takes care of the ball he can actually make the Cowboys a fierce competitor in the NFC East. So why have the Cowboys been struggling? Two words, head coach. Wade Phillips was a good coach and looked like a hero when he led them to their first playoff victory since 1996 in the 2009 season. However after a terrible 1-7 start to the 2010 season it was time for him to go. When Garrett took over the head coaching job he went 5-3 and that was with QB John Kitna behind center. Now with a pro bowl caliber QB and a stand out WR Dez Bryant, Garrett looks to lead the “Boys back in town” with a winning record.

Washington Redskins

I know above I stated that the Cowboys were one of the biggest jokes of last year, but they were no where near as bad as the Washington Redskins last year. Sure they finished with the same record as the cowboys but somewhere in between Albert Haynesworth showing up out of shape for training camp and benching a future hall of famer for Rex Grossman they showed the NFL that they deserve to take the cake for the most ridiculous team of 2010. With McNabb out and “Sexy Rexy” in the Redskins are in a massive recovery mode. I don’t really care what Rex Grossman says but the ‘Skins will not finish on top of the NFC East this year. While a lot of locker room issues have been taken care of (Haynesworth’s trade to the Patriots, and McNabb’s trade to the Vikings) Shanahan’s Redskins still lack a very important necessity: Talent. Their QB competition is a joke, (John who?) They could use a standout wide out or two, however recently they finally acquired a helpful RB name Tim Hightower. Their best looking player is their OLB Brian Orakpo, which I’m not complaining about at all. Starting out by strengthening your defense is the key bringing in some wins. They’re gonna win some games but certainly no where near enough to even make them look like playoff contenders. If the players have enough motivation to actually play a full game to the best of their abilities I think that should be enough of a victory for the ‘Skins this year. If they don’t maybe they will be able to beat out the Bengals for the No. 1 overall pick so they draft college QB Andrew Luck and start building the team around him. Either way I’m gonna have to say the Redskins will probably be another no show for the playoffs this year.

Summary

It looks like the Eagles will win this division. However there is a possibility of them falling apart and if that happens you can look at either the Giants retaking the division for the first time since 2008 or if Romo can stay healthy and play well they also have a good shot of taking the division by surprise. However if the Eagles play like they are suppose to with the talent they got, they will be almost unstoppable in the East. Below are the projected standings and records for each team.

Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
New York Giants (10-6)
Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
Washington Redskins (5-11)

Image from Kevin Burkett of Flickr

Colts Fans: Time to Panic

Posted: August 24, 2011 by admin54321 in Features, News, Preseason

All Colts fans have been following Peyton Manning’s neck injury very closely hoping that he will be ready to start in the Colts’ week 1 game vs. the Texans. Today, is the biggest indication that he will not be ready.

The Colts have lured quarterback Kerry Collins out of retirement and signed him.

This makes sense as Colts president Bill Pollian has previously worked with/drafted Collins. Collins made it clear during retirement that he would not mind to continue playing but clearly he didn’t want to be on the Titans anymore. This is most likely his best opportunity to start in the NFL right now too.

So what does this mean for Peyton Manning? It means that he is not recovering from his neck surgery as fast as he should be. It means that he hasn’t worked out all offseason or in training camp. It means that at best, his first real physical playtime will be in week 1 at best. Even if Manning does start week 1, there is a good chance that he will be rusty. I believe that no matter how healthy the Colts say Manning is, Kerry Collins will certainly get some time under center.

I believe this also gives the Texans a prime opportunity to swoop in and get a fast start ahead of the Colts. This situation seems perfect for them to get their first playoff berth. If the Texans take advantage of this, the Colts could be fighting for the wildcard spot in the division when Peyton Manning comes back.

Peyton Manning is that important. When he doesn’t play, it affects the entire division.

Image from Ian Ransley Design + Illustration under this license.

John Fox Names Orton Broncos’ Regular Season Starter

Posted: August 22, 2011 by admin54321 in News, Preseason

One QB competition has come to an end.

Today, Broncos’ head coach John Fox named Kyle Orton the starting QB for the regular season. This was a great move by Fox as Orton is easily the best quarterback on the Broncos’ roster. I believe he is a solid qb and he is very underrated. Yes, he can be inconsistent at times, but when compared to Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow, that can be overlooked.

Orton had to deal with a bit of an awkward situation when training camp began because he was nearly traded to Miami. Tim Tebow was expected to take the reins. However Orton came in to practice and showed that he was clearly better than Tebow, trade talks between Denver and Miami broke down.

In the end, Orton got what he wanted – to be a starter in the NFL – and Tebow is now at risk of falling to No. 3 on the depth chart.

Image from Jeffrey Beall of Flickr under this license.

New Kickoff Rule Resulting In More Touchbacks

Posted: August 11, 2011 by admin54321 in Features, General, Preseason

Today was the first day of the Preseason in the NFL and the first day we got to see the NFL implement some new rules, like moving kickoffs from the 30 yard line to the 35 yard line.

That rule caused a few more touchbacks in games than we are used to. In two of the games played today, each featured at least 5 touchbacks. In fact, Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked the ball straight out of the endzone. The NFL’s goal here is to prevent the amount of kick returns that occur and in turn, prevent injuries during kickoffs.

I understand that many fans think this takes away some of the excitement from the game but I disagree. Before criticizing the NFL for this rule, think about Kevin Everett. The former Bills tight end suffered a career ending neck injury on a kickoff return that left him paralyzed for life. While Everett made a miraculous recovery and is now healthy, I don’t want to see anyone come close to facing what he faced. When a player suffers a life-threatening injury, it is time to adjust the rules and the NFL did just that.

While it may limit a fun part of the game, it is worth to protect players.

Image from Paul Kehrer from Flickr under this license.