Sunday, August 26, 2012

So Close to Real Football!

The third preseason game is almost sorta like a real game, so that’s excuse enough for another installment of the world-famous Odds and Endzones!

Yep, just another day at the office, destroying defenses and being a stud.

  • Clay Matthews managed to tick off Justin Tuck of the New York Giants by saying that the Giants didn’t beat the Packers in last season’s playoff loss, but the Packers beat themselves. Now, Clay, I totally agree with you. The idea that the Giants are the best team in the league is silliness, but you can’t say that because I’m scared of Justin Tuck. The guy is an absolute beast on the field and super awesome - don’t give him any extra motivation! Just look at the face mask this dude wears!
On behalf of the entire team, I apologize, Justin (even though Clay was right).

  • The third preseason game brought us a few things we haven’t seen in a long time. We saw the Packer defense actually pressure an opposing quarterback, which was fun and made me nostalgic for the 2010 team. And, more surprisingly, we saw a Packer running back get past the first level of a defense! Let’s hope the newly-acquired Cedric Benson will be able to consistently provide the spark in the running game that he showed in his debut.

  • Let’s all pray every night that no one gets injured because as soon as the starters left the games, things got ugly in a hurry. It’s hard to know how much to freak out over the preseason, but the Pack will need their reserves to play much better during the season.

  • Speaking of injuries, you all have clearly not been praying every night because look what happened to Desmond Bishop!! Bishop has been one of the most dependable players on the defensive side and losing him (likely for the season) is a big deal. D.J. Smith is a good backup, and I think he’ll do well the more reps he gets, but I do worry about the run defense. Don’t let the statistics fool you - the run defense can appear solid on paper, but that’s only because teams don’t really have the option of running against the Packers after Aaron Rodgers has put them up by 28 points.
We'll miss this kind of grace and athleticism from Bishop.
  • Ryan Pickett injured his calf in Thursday’s game and it sounds as if he’ll miss at least some time. He’s another player, like Bishop, that I think stabilizes that line, and I haven’t seen enough of his backup (Phillip Merling) to know how much of a drop-off there could be. Either way, let’s hope Aaron and the offense continue to pile up the points so teams can’t run against the Packers!

  • Oh, and while we’re on the topic of things that concern me: there’s a good chance that Jarrett Bush is our starting corner!! How did this happen? Isn’t there anyone else? Is Sam Shields really that bad? Look, Bush is fantastic on special teams, but he has a particular M.O. that drives me crazy: Step 1) Suck for a while. Step 2) Make a halfway decent play. Step 3) Preen and taunt excessively. Step 4) Give up a huge gain on the following play. Rinse and repeat. Remember the Super Bowl? Bush had an interception and, in my heart, I apologized to him for all the nasty and horrible things I’ve said about him. But … next defensive series, lo and behold, he gives up an easy touchdown to Hines Ward.
  • I mean, he’s not even close to being close to covering that! He’s way too far off, then stumbles over his own feet, then gets turned in a circle by Ward and, by the end of the play, has no idea where the ball is. I don’t want to be mean to a Packer, especially since the fans have not been very kind to Bush since he arrived, but I also can’t deny that a cold fear gripped my heart when I heard that he was starting at corner. C’mon, Jarrett, prove me wrong! Also, stop with the stupid dances unless you’re going to commit to performing a dance of shame every time you get beat, too.

  • Moving from the Packers to a former Packer, poor Matt Flynn! It seems as if he’s doing well in Seattle, but Russell Wilson has gone nuts! Starting his first game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Russell led the Seahawks to a 44-7 lead before taking a seat in the fourth quarter. “Through three total NFL games, Wilson has completed 35 of 56 passes for 464 yards, five touchdowns, one interception, and he has the NFL's best preseason quarterback rating at 119.4.” Yes, it’s preseason, but those are impressive numbers. Those numbers, combined with Flynn battling an arm injury, may have pushed the rookie ahead of Flynn in the fight for number one.
Eric Berry is also impressed with Wilson.

  • When Matt Cassel threw his only touchdown in the game, he was understandably excited. So excited that he ran to the endzone to celebrate with his teammates. Unfortunately, when Matt jumped into the air, all his friends were busy congratulating the actual scorer and failed to catch him.

  • The quarterback competition in Arizona is less exciting than the one in Seattle because it contains a lot less talent. To be fair, the offensive line has been terrible and should take part of the blame in both quarterbacks’ struggles. It’s a tough one to call because you watch Kevin Kolb and think, ‘Wow, he needs to go. He has no control out there.’ But then, John Skelton comes in a records a 12.9 passer rating. I would lean toward Skelton, not because he’s played so well or even earned it, but Kevin Kolb has lost it.  In the words of Oakland Raider DT Tommy Kelly, “That boy's scared!  Former Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner, like everyone, has sensed the anxiety and hesitation from Kolb that you just can’t have in your QB.
I love this picture.

  • I’m too sick of hearing about the Jets to say much except that, like everyone else who has seen a football game, I’m not sold on this two-quarterback situation. Among the million of rumors flying around New York (Tim Tebow running back? Tim Tebow punt protector? Tim Tebow defensive coordinator?), one is that the Jets want to use Tebow in the red zone. Naturally, this has to raise the question: if you don’t trust your starting quarterback in the red zone, WHY DID YOU JUST SIGN HIM TO A THREE-YEAR  CONTRACT EXTENSION WORTH OVER $40 MILLION??
I couldn't find any pictures of Tebow on the internet, so here's one of Sanchez.

  • Back on Tebow's old team (as they have been renamed by ESPN), the good news is that Peyton Manning's head has not fallen off.
But seriously, who tucks a t-shirt into sweatpants??
  • League villain James Harrison had surgery on his knee a couple of weeks ago, putting his availability for the season opener in jeopardy. My favorite part of this story is how his agent said, “With the exception of this little knee thing, James is probably healthier now than he's been in three years.” I love how whether a player is a rookie, a 10-year veteran, or someone who just had his knee scoped, he’s always “in the best shape of his life."

  • Former Bears DT Anthony Adams makes a reference to that in his funny YouTube video “Stuff Free Agents Say”:

  • But perhaps more of a concern to the Steelers is the loss of first-round draft pick David DeCastro to a sprained MCL. DeCastro has started at right guard for most of the preseason and been pretty good. The Steelers have struggled to find a consistent offensive line in the past. Last year, they shuffled nine linemen in 25 different combinations, the most in the NFL.

  • It’s been a tough offseason for diva receivers. Chad Johnson got cut from the Dolphins, Terrell Owens is out in Seattle, and Dez Bryant is living under stringent, Jerry Jones-mandated rules for his recreational time, including an omnipresent security team. This doesn't bode well for Randy Moss.
But it's ability like this that makes the Cowboys invested in Bryant.
  • The Dallas defense - which was their greatest liability not named Tony Romo last season - has impressed in the preseason, but the loss of Jay Ratliff to the dreaded high ankle sprain could cause problems. Cornerback Mike Jenkins is also not expected to be ready for the opener because he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. TE Jason Witten has a spleen injury, the recovery time of which is uncertain. That’s too bad. I always like it when the Dallas Cowboys raise all their fans’ hopes by playing well initially, because the impending collapse is always more enjoyable when everyone except the Dallas faithful see it coming.   
"Oh no! Is it December already??"

  • Congratulations to Jay Cutler - he's a father! You know how much we love Jay here, so to celebrate, let’s watch this virtuoso performance of him singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Such charm.

  • I hate to admit it, but the Bears might have a chance not to be a complete embarrassment this year. You have to love the acquisition of Brandon Marshall - a clear sign that Mike Martz is gone and the team is actually interested in helping out their quarterback and tailoring their scheme to fit their personnel. The signing of Michael Bush and finally getting Matt Forte a long-term deal strengthens a run game that excelled last year. I know it’s blasphemy to question the defense that features Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Julius Peppers, but I think old age and injuries might make this team more offense-oriented than they’ve ever been.
But this is still your quarterback. HAH! The joke's on you!
  • I like the Lions’ offense this year - Matthew Stafford had an incredible season (though we’re awaiting word on the severity of an injury to his non-throwing hand) and Mr. Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the league. They failed, however, to fix the problematic secondary in the offseason, and I think that could doom this team in the long run. Furthermore, their arrest-plagued offseason has led many, including Greg Jennings, to question the composure of the team. This has been a question that followed them around all of last season and could continue to be a distraction.
"Finally, some teammates with maturity!"

  • I’m not going to waste valuable space pretending the Vikings will finish any better than a distant, distant fourth in the NFC North.
Your quarterback of the future.

  • Sooooo close to the actual regular season! I can’t wait for Aaron Rodgers to pick up where he left off as greatest quarterback in the universe. Watch closely and you can see the Belt’s 2012 season debut after Rodgers’ first rushing touchdown on Thursday. 

Oh, Aaron, I’ve missed you.