The moment we have all been waiting for. Football season has finally come back around. Basketball and baseball fans don’t have to deal with football fans’ anticipation of the season starting, for the fact that their seasons are long, causing their off-season’s to be shorter than an NFL offseason. I couldn’t wait myself.
There were positives and negatives from both teams in the game. But that was the case around the entire league. Some of the most decorated, yet troubled athletes are football players. There was good, bad and ugly from around the league. The 2012 draft class are hungry. From top to bottom, including undrafted players. Some familiar faces have started their journey in new uniforms. Some were impressive, and some were not. We will go in depth on some good and bad things we saw from the opening week of preseason football.
5. Raiders undrafted rookies
Three players stood out to me in the Monday night preseason opener on the Raiders’ squad, all went undrafted this year: DT Dominique Hamilton, P Marquette King, WR Rod Streater. Dominique Hamilton, also known as Underrated Dom couldn’t wait to get on the field. He made an immediate impact. His first tackle was a tackle for loss. He then recorded a sack, then forced a fumble. Raiders have been working in to adding a 3-4 defense with coach Dennis Allen and DC Jason Tarver. They had one NT, Travis Ivey, who was recently released for failing a conditioning test twice. He had a position designated for him and him only, and blew his chance. Hamilton might step up for the challenge. Punters never get any love. And being that the Raiders currently have the best Punter ever in Shane Lechler, Marquette King is basically auditioning for other teams this preseason. He had a net average of 40 yards a punt, his longest being 60 yards, which should have been downed at the one yard line. Raiders however failed to take advantage of that. He also did a good job of drawing contact to defenders, converting two punts to first downs for the Raiders. “Lightening” Rod Streater has been impressing people since mini-camp. He is causing constant pressure on Jacoby Ford and fellow rookie Juron Criner, fighting for the third WR spot. Streater caught all of 19 passes last year at Temple University. He might have more than that this preseason alone, as he recorded six catches for sixty-six yards Monday. He will definitely make the 53-man roster.
4. Seattle Seahawks’ Defense
I gave a forewarning to people on second-year cornerback Richard Sherman about a month ago. He was all over Nate Washington. Brandon Browner had a pick-6, and ball hawk Earl Thomas was flying around the field like he always does. The Seahawks’ defense was in the top-10 last year. I won’t be surprised if they move in top 5 this year, as they get CB Marcus Trufant back, they re-signed run-stopping DL Red Bryant, and brought in former Titans DL Jason Jones, who is versatile and can play across the whole DL. Rookie Bruce Irvin was flying off the edge in his NFL debut. However, he has a little learning to do, as he struggled to get pass OL once they got their hands on him. Can’t rely on just your speed to get pass OL in the NFL, rook.
3. Dolphins’ Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill
Whether David Garrard comes back healthy soon or not, I doubt he’ll be the starting QB come season opener. Matt Moore started the game for the Phins, and he showed a few flaws like he always does. He may not be the best QB, but he has his moments. Once rookie Tannehill stepped in the game, he immediately began to show that he is no stranger to Mike Sherman’s playbook. Tannehill looked very comfortable in the pocket, and when he had no receivers open, he didn’t hesitate to scramble. A former WR at Texas A&M University, Tannehill is very dynamic. I didn’t think he’d make the transition so fast, but he proved me wrong. Granted, he was playing against reserves, the WRs he had weren’t the best on the team either. He made the best of what was in front of him.
2. ALL RUSSELL WILSON EVERYTHING
The biggest sleeper of the draft because of his height. The kid can flat out ball. Don’t pencil Matt Flynn as the starter come regular season just yet. Wilson was arguably the most impressive player from the entire weekend. Titans defenders couldn’t sack him, and he delivered the ball so well on the run. Don’t be surprised if Wilson beats out Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the starting role. He was un-appreciated in the draft for the same reason Drew Brees was. He doesn’t have the big arm that Brees has, but he does throw a decent deep ball. I wish the best for Wilson and hope he is around for a long time.
1. Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning
Manning is finally back in football. It looks weird seeing Peyton in a blue helmet, but we have the Peyton of old back. It took almost a dozen plays, but we saw Manning changing plays and reading defenses from the line of scrimmage like of old. He had an interception that was a perfectly delivered ball. And after spending so many years in Indy, some might have thought it’ll take just as long to replace him. Not so fast. First overall draft pick Andrew Luck looked just as impressive, if not more as his predecessor. Peyton Manning’s first NFL preseason throw was a touchdown. Fast-forward to 2012, Andrew Luck emulated Peyton’s debut, as his first NFL pass was a touchdown as well. Peyton’s rookie year was dreadful. Luck might have a better rookie year than Peyton, for the simple fact that Head Coach Chuck Pagano surrounded him with familiar faces and an offense well suited to what he ran in college. There will be a lot of comparing and contrasting Luck’s play to Peyton’s over the next few seasons. Both will do well in their new endeavors. Going to be a must-see when the two face off.
5. New York Jets
Other than the play of rookies Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill and all-world CB Darrelle Revis, almost the entire Jets roster was dreadful against Cincinnati. The quarterback play from both Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow were both horrible, but yet the media talks about the jets more than any other team. The world, especially ESPN’s fascination with Tim Tebow has gone overboard. I’m not sure when was the last time a backup QB received so much attention. His every move is analyzed and broke down. Shonn Green is arguably the worst starting RB in the NFL. Antonio Cromartie has become one of the biggest divas in the NFL. This team’s actions on and off the field need to get straightened immediately.
4. Kevin Kolb
The Cardinals had to be desperate to give up so much, then pay such a substantial amount for Kevin Kolb. He showed promise once in a Cardinal jersey, and it was in a preseason game a year ago. Often injured, Kolb has yet to prove he is worth his value. In two drives, he was sacked, threw an interception and got injured. His starting job has probably been lost for good. The Cardinals’ trade for Kolb might lead to the Seahawks starting Russell Wilson early in the year, because the Matt Flynn signing and Kolb trade has several familiarities. Flynn isn’t proven, and neither was Kolb. Not sure what the future holds for Kolb, but I wish him the best.
3. Jacoby Ford
Projected to be a standout this year, Jacoby Ford looked nightmarish in the preseason opener against Dallas. He (Ford) recently told the media that Al Davis didn’t allow him to return punts, only kickoffs. On his first attempt to field a punt Monday, Ford fumbled, then stepped out of bounds for a four yard gain. Then on the proceeding two Raiders drives, QB Carson Palmer targeted ford three times. Ford dropped two passes. And on the third attempt, He and Palmer were both off. Palmer should have seen the double coverage, as the safety (Gerald Sensabaugh) stared him down the entire play. Palmer still threw the ball. Had Sensabaugh not been there, it would have been a perfectly delivered ball. Ford failed to fight for the ball or disrupt the interception, while also letting off the gas and slowing down once seeing the safety in his peripheral. He is often lined up in the slot, but with the injury to starter Denarius Moore, Ford showed he isn’t ready to be the number one or two option. Either that, or he feels the immense pressure from rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater who are fighting to earn respect and move up the roster. Ford is already at a disadvantage in the Raiders’ new Zone offense with his short height. In order to keep a role, he has to make those plays, as his opportunities will be limited.
2. Cincinnati Bengals’ Injuries
Losing four starters in a 20-minute period can be dismal. That in fact happened to the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend against the New York Jets, as they lost MLB Rey Maualuga, DE Carlos Dunlap, S Taylor Mays and OG Travelle Wharton. The only position that might be alright out of the four injuries in DE, as they can convert Manny Lawson there, still have Michael Johnson, and up-and-coming DE Dontay Moch who is constantly getting better. Mays has a concussion, so he’ll be ready for the season opener. Maualuga and Dunlap both have knee injuries and their return is questionable, but they shouldn’t miss much time. Unfortunately for Wharton, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and is done for the season. An ACL injury is probably as bad as it gets for all athletes. Wharton is a great OL. I hope he has a healthy recovery and don’t rush back. That is the last injury an athlete should rush back from (Adrian Peterson).
1. Ryan Mathews
According to a bunch of fantasy football experts like Evan Silva and Adam Rank, Ryan Mathews was a top 3 RB pick for fantasy value this season. Not sure if that is still the case. On Mathews’ first carry of the year, he broke his clavicle and will now miss a minimum of 4-6 weeks. He is hoping to be back for the season opener against Oakland, but that is unrealistic when it comes to a clavicle injury. He may miss 1-3 games this season, so he still has great fantasy football value, but in reality, those 1-3 games will be crucial. They Chargers failed to re-sign Mike Tolbert, and we aren’t sure what Ronnie Brown still has left. I guess we will find out soon, as he will be the go-to option at RB with Mathews out.
1. Chad Johnson/OchoCinco
The guy who prided himself for not having many off-the-field problems just gave his name a bad rep. Chad just got fired on his day off, as he and his fiancé Evelyn Lozada got in an altercation at a night club, and Chad allegedly head-butted Evelyn. Chad is not a great WR, but because he was a good Samaritan off the field, it kept him around for a long time. He often categorized himself with future Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Owens and Moss both have had burned bridges around the NFL, which has tainted their legacy somewhat. Chad is nowhere as decorated as the two, but he was a great person off the field and likeable to the media. After this past weekend, that reputation is gone, and Chad’s next destination is highly questionable. Only landing spot I can think for Chad will be Dallas, as they have been searching for a third WR option since failing to re-sign money hungry Laurent Robinson. If Dallas doesn’t give Chad a shot, I think his career might be over. It is a shame that the Dolphins and coach Joe Philbin didn’t stand behind Chad, as we all know a person is innocent until proven guilty. The Cowboys stood behind Dez Bryant in the worst of all situations, and the Raiders have stood behind Rolando McClain after what might be ruled attempted murder, depending on how the court rules his case. Philbin is thirsty for power and tried to make a statement releasing Chad after his incident. Of course he was arrested, but they could have stood by his side, as the majority of the world is on his back and degrading him. His fiancé has filed for divorce before they even get married. It is only so much a man can take, and we all need some level of comfort and support in our life. We know Chad’s club incident with Evelyn was bad, but I don’t know what is worse out of that and the Dolphins not showing him any support as an organization. Several teammates in the locker room stood by his side, but we all know who has the final verdict on what the organization does with a player. No matter what a person’s religion and beliefs are, we can all agree to not kick someone when they are already down. Chad is at an all-time low after being liked and respected by the majority of the NFL and almost everyone he interacted with. Just like everyone else who is on the decline and the lowest of their career, I wish Chad the best and hope he gets another chance elsewhere. For a veteran’s career to end like this is egregious. I hope we can remember Chad for his charisma, competitive nature and class more than we will remember him for the one off field occurrence that recently took place. If Ben Roethlisberger can get a second and third chance after rape and other accusations, so should Chad.