First off…if you have followed the NFL for any length of time you know how the pre-season schedule is supposed to go. Week One a team’s starters play a series and then put on their baseball caps. Week Two they play…say, a quarter…and then they break out said caps. Week Three they play at least a half if not into the third quarter…and the game in question is thereby deemed a “dress rehearsal” for the season opener. Week Four…their helmets don’t go any farther North than under their arms for the National Anthem and those baseball caps get the full play.
Maybe it is because coaches have finally become sooooo paranoid about losing key players in exhibitions. Maybe they’ve accepted chemistry and rhythm is better found in the early stretches of what is a long, long regular season than in games that don’t count a lick…except of course to those players trying to secure a weekly paycheck in any manner possible. And maybe that’s part of it also..having a starter out on the field against a less experienced player who will do anything to make an impression…including leaving a lasting impression on the body of anyone in their path. Football is a dangerous sport as is but when one player is playing to not get hurt and another is playing to not get cut…worlds collide.
Anyway…since the success of any NFL team is highly predicated on the play of the quarterback…here are four franchises who have interesting scenarios playing out at the premier position:
- Grantland.com just posted a column about “Which Coach Has Had The Worst Quarterbacks In History?” Number 1? None other than recently relocated Rex Ryan. Indeed, his Jets were not known for their talent at the position…Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith serving as Exhibits A and B. That being said if you didn’t see his Bills’ signal-callers in action on a bright, sunny afternoon in Buffalo versus the Steelers this past Saturday you would swear his ranking is about to change dramatically. Now, understand this writer subscribes to the theory as far as your starting quarterback goes if you have three you have none. I think it is critical a starting QB is named as early as possible in camp and given all the resources necessary to be successful as #1. Right now Ryan has Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel and Tyrod Taylor all vying for the position. In their scrum with the Steelers they all looked more than capable. They actually all looked great. Of course we continue to keep in mind these are practice games…but you had to see these three as they competed in what was a pressure-packed situation for them if no one else. Heck, even Rex’s FOURTH-string signal-caller, Matt Simms, was 5-5 for 65 yards. If nothing else it looks like Ryan will have a game-manager this season no matter who is playing QB…and if the running game with LeSean McCoy takes off…that’s pressure off whomever is at the helm to force passes or consistently have to go press downfield. The Bills’ D should be solid. Things are looking up in Buffalo…and possibly…maybe…for Rex Ryan’s ranking of worst quarterbacks.
- Here in Philadelphia fans are pretty much ignoring the fact games this weekend didn’t count and are instead counting up their dollars to see if they have enough to book flights for Super Bowl 50 to see the Eagles. No NFL franchise’s season will rise or fall farther depending on the health of a player like Philadelphia will. The way Sam Bradford looked on a cloudy, cool Saturday evening in Green Bay was how the St. Louis Rams envisioned he would when they drafted him. The Eagles’ offense was relentless and Bradford displayed a touch not seen by a Philly QB in like…um…never. I was reading some comments from Rams’ fans about Bradford leaving there for here and one stood out…to paraphrase the fan recalled holding their breath every time he went back to pass during his time in St. Louis…wondering if his frail legs would still be intact at the end of the play. Chip Kelly and the rest of those invested in the Eagles’ fortunes for 2015 are practicing their breathing exercises. If Bradford stays upright Philly may be able to outscore most every opponent they face. If he goes down…well…you might recall the #2 QB here is…Mark Sanchez.
- And speaking of keeping people upright…Carson Palmer’s health as QB of the Arizona Cardinals may rank just behind Bradford in terms of the potential rise and fall variance in wins and losses for a franchise. That health was under attack on a sunny early Sunday evening in the Bay Area as the Oakland Raiders spent a great deal of time in the Cards’ backfield. After the game Bruce Arians suggested Palmer himself should take a greater interest in his own health by getting the ball out sooner. That’s common sense…so is Arians’ getting Carson some help up front. Arizona got off to a fantastic start last year with a healthy Palmer. Yet their offensive line got their helmets handed to them in Oakland. If they don’t get that fixed fast someone is going to be helping Carson get his helmet off…and Arizona’s prospectus will be poor.
- Fox analyst and former Dallas Cowboy QB great Troy Aikman commenting during Sunday’s Texans-Saints game on the QB situation in Washington – “Somebody compared the Redskins to the Kardashians. Saying they’re the Kardashians of the NFL. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think the Kardashians are nearly as dysfunctional.” Depending on whom you believe Robert Griffin III is being held off the field because he is concussed or because some in the organization want him off the team. They apparently are set on Kirk Cousins to start in their opener regardless. I’ve felt for some time now Cousins has been the better choice. Washington has been a model of dysfunctional instability in the last decade and the RGIII debacle, from the way Mike Shanahan used him up to the way Griffin has less than manned up, has left the Redskins reeling. If they aren’t going to change their nickname to honor Native Americans they should at least do it to give their fans a fresh start from the wretched way they have operated their organization in recent times.
(Author’s note – since I have returned to the blogosphere I have found new followers and visitors. Thanks to you all. Please visit me at lifeattitudes.wordpress.com for my take on life outside of sports. See you there…)