Posts Tagged ‘NFL Preseason’
It’s that time of year again in the NFL.
All 32 teams have now returned for training camp and with preseason games fast approaching, it won’t be long until the new season kicks off.
Let’s see how things are shaping up in 2013.
Is Tony Romo maturing as a leader in Dallas?
It seems like every summer is the same old story when it comes to Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Scratch golfer Romo spends his summer playing in Pro-am tournaments and attempting to qualify for PGA Tour events. In the words of Lee Corso, “not so fast my friend!”
It appears as though Romo has decided to focus on football this summer instead. All reports coming out of Dallas are that he has been busy preparing for the new season and showed up for training camp in great shape. Perhaps his new six-year contract extension worth over $100 million has something to do with it?
Whatever the reason for this new turnaround, it is time for the 33-year-old to become a leader in Dallas.
If Romo can continue his recent success with wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys will be a dangerous team in the NFC this season.
New York Giants
What are the Giants going to do at running back?
It looks as though the Giants are going to use a running back by committee strategy this season on offense. The last time they tried this was back in 2008 when the team had a highly productive trio of Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. They combined for almost 2,500 rushing yards that season and it seems like Tom Coughlin and co. are looking to reproduce that production this year.
The only problem is that the running backs on the Giants roster in 2013 are nowhere near as good as the ones they had five years ago. Their current depth chart sees David Wilson as their starter with Andre Brown and Ryan Torain providing backup.
None of those players have shown any signs that they are capable of being an every-down back in the NFL.
If their running game fails to impress in the preseason, don’t be surprised to see the Giants dive into the free agent market and add a veteran running back like Michael Turner or Willis McGahee.
Can head coach Chip Kelly translate his collegiate success into the pros?
New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has had an interesting few months. After drawing interest from numerous NFL teams this offseason, Kelly decided to decline all offers and return to Oregon. A week later, he changed his mind and signed a five-year $32.5 million contract with the Eagles.
Already one of the league’s highest paid coaches and with no experience of coaching in the NFL, the pressure is on the former head coach of the Oregon Ducks to produce in the pros. He was very successful during his four years at Oregon with a 46-7 record whilst running his infamous “blur offense.”
Kelly is now looking to implement this offense with the Eagles and although he has some terrific players at his disposal like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, he still needs to pick a quarterback to lead the team forward.
His former Pac 10 rival Pete Carroll has done a great job with the Seahawks, but question marks surrounding the Eagles quarterback situation may make it a tougher transition for Kelly in Philadelphia.
How healthy is RG3?
Robert Griffin III should never have continued to play in the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Despite not being cleared to play by team doctors after sustaining an injury early on in the game, RG3 carried on playing and ended up re-injuring his right knee.
Seven months on from surgery on both his ACL and LCL, the Redskins quarterback is still recovering from injury and isn’t expected to play any part in the Redskins preseason games. He is back at practice but head coach Mike Shanahan is taking every precaution to ensure that he makes a full recovery.
This should serve as a warning to all NFL teams and in future when in a decision needs to be made regarding injury to your best player during a wildcard game, perhaps a different decision will be taken.
Despite the daily updates from Redskins training camp regarding the health of RG3, only time will tell if he will be ready for the season opener vs the Eagles on September 9th.
Can a former CFL head coach succeed in the NFL?
The Bears have moved on. After nine seasons and 150 games, Lovie Smith was fired and Marc Trestman was hired as the new head coach.
Trestman is a two-time championship winner and a former coach of the year so why was it a shock when he was hired by the Bears? Well that’s because those achievements didn’t come in the NFL or in college football and instead occurred when he was coaching the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.
The CFL isn’t a common place to go when searching for a new coach but that’s exactly where the Bears went. How this experiment works out is anybody’s guess. It could go well (see Bud Grant) or else it could go horribly wrong (see almost every other coach hired from the CFL).
Change has been a common theme for the Bears this offseason and although the decision to hire Trestman came as a surprise, a head coaching change was definitely needed in Chicago.
Will Matthew Stafford put an end to his awful record against teams with a winning record?
The polite way of putting it is that Matthew Stafford does not have a good record against winning teams. In 25 games against teams with winning records, Stafford has won just once. That’s not exactly the type of record you want from your franchise quarterback.
It’s also not the type of return you would like to see from someone who was recently given a three-year $53 million contract extension. If Stafford doesn’t improve his record against winning teams, Donovan McNabb’s criticism could turn out to be correct.
The Lions are counting on Stafford to return to his 2011 form and lead them back to the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers
How will the Packers offense perform in 2013?
The offense is going to look a little different this year in Green Bay without wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Driver has now retired from the NFL after fourteen seasons with the Packers. Jennings on the other hand has decided to do his best Brett Favre impression and join up with the Minnesota Vikings.
There are more than capable replacements in place with wide receivers Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb all set to contribute along with tight end Jermichael Finley. It’s the running game that should worry Packers fans.
There are several candidates at running back with veterans James Starks and Alex Green likely to compete with rookies Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin for carries this season. Running the football has been a struggle in recent years at Lambeau Field and that looks likely to be the case again this season.
Aaron Rodgers may be an elite quarterback but the Packers running game needs to start offering some assistance on offense.
Why can’t the Vikings ever be consistent?
It’s usually very tough to predict what’s going to happen in Minnesota. The Vikings typically tend to finish either in last place in the division or else in the playoffs.
After winning just three games in his first full season in charge of the team in 2011, Leslie Frazier led them to the playoffs last year where they were defeated in the wildcard round by the Green Bay Packers. Now entering his third season as head coach and with a new stadium on the way, making the postseason will be the aim again for Frazier and the Vikings.
With the league’s best running back in the backfield and one of the league’s worst starting quarterbacks passing the ball, anything can happen.
Minnesota fans won’t like this, but the Vikings are looking like hot favorites to finish in last place in the division once again.
How competitive will the NFC South be for the Falcons this year?
Matt Ryan won his first playoff game last season and the Falcons are willing to bet $100 million he will do so again this year. After signing that huge contract extension last week, the expectations are high in Atlanta for Ryan and the Falcons.
With Sean Payton back coaching in New Orleans, the NFC South should be a much tougher division this season and the Falcons will need to be at their best to defend their title. With Matt Ryan at quarterback, another playoff berth will the very least they will expect.
Much like Andy Dalton with the Bengals, Matt Ryan seems to struggle when it comes to postseason play and the Falcons will be hoping that doesn’t continue in 2013.
Can Cam Newton and the Panthers make the playoffs?
It’s a been a slow transition in Carolina with Cam Newton and head coach Ron Rivera. Now entering year three and still without a winning season to show for their progress, it would be difficult to blame Panthers fans for getting impatient.
The Panthers had the tenth best defense last year in the NFL and with the addition of rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, that defense will be even better this year. On offense, they have one of the best rushing attacks in the league with the likes of Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart all capable of carrying the football.
The Panthers are on the right path to becoming a successful team and after winning five of their final six games in 2012, they will be looking to carry that form into 2013.
Cam Newton is still developing and although he is showing signs of improvement, the Panthers may have to settle for one final season of progress before they can call themselves a playoff team.
New Orleans Saints
Is the magic going to return to New Orleans now that Sean Payton is back?
Now that the bounty scandal is behind them, the Saints are back to business with head coach Sean Payton. Without question one of the best coaches in the league, Payton returns after missing the entire 2012 season due to suspension.
There aren’t many quarterbacks out there who have been as productive as Drew Brees has been in the last few seasons. The record-setting Brees has thrown for over 10,000 yards in his last 32 regular season games along with 89 touchdowns.
With Brees and Payton back together, the Saints will be back to normal in 2013.
Sean Payton didn’t forget how to coach during his year off and the Saints offense looks set to benefit from a re-energized and fully motivated head coach.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What kind of season will the Bucs have with Josh Freeman at quarterback?
With 88 total turnovers in 57 career games, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is a turnover machine. He is coming off career-highs in passing yards and touchdowns but that didn’t stop the Bucs bringing in quarterback NC State quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round of this year’s draft.
Freeman is a former first-round pick but just like his fellow 2009 draftee Mark Sanchez, he is facing a make or break season this year. With back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC South, the Bucs may not be willing to wait much longer for the 25-year-old to produce.
Unless the Bucs want to finish in last place again, they need to seriously reconsider their quarterback situation.
If Josh Freeman lasts the entire year as the starter, it will be a football miracle in Tampa Bay.
Can a new head coach and a new quarterback work in Arizona?
With Ken Whisenhunt now gone, there’s a new era in Arizona with Bruce Arians taking over as head coach. Arians spend most of last season as the Indianapolis Colts interim head coach in the absence of Chuck Pagano due to his cancer treatment. The Colts had an impressive 9-3 record under Arians and he was even named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.
Now starting his new job with the Cardinals, Arians takes over a team who have failed to make the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. His first major move came when he decided to release quarterback Kevin Kolb and bring in veteran Carson Palmer to replace him.
Palmer arrived in a trade with the Oakland Raiders for a sixth round draft pick this year and a conditional pick in the 2014 draft. It will be Arian’s job to help Palmer improve his consistency and become a leader for the Cardinals.
Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards last season but he is still a question mark moving forward for the franchise.
St. Louis Rams
Are the Rams about to be this year’s surprise team?
It seems to occur almost every year in the NFL with one team coming from nowhere to make the playoffs. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals even made it all the way to the super bowl despite having a 9-7 regular season record. Now if there is one team who can be a surprise in the league this year, it’s the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams have a healthy balance of youth and experience with veteran head coach Jeff Fisher and one of the youngest rosters football. With an impressive draft class this year including Tavon Austin and T.J. McDonald along with key free agent signings like Jake Long and Jared Cook, they are starting to look more and more like a potential playoff team.
If Sam Bradford can stay healthy and get some help from his teammates, the sky is the limit for this team.
You heard it here first, the Rams will make the playoffs this season.
San Francisco 49ers
Is wide receiver the only weakness in San Francisco?
The 49ers are the most talented team in football. Everywhere you look on this roster there are stars and with nine of their players voted to the All-Pro team last season, seven of those to the 1st team, another trip to the super bowl is what’s expected in San Francisco.
The standout question mark for this team is at the wide receiver position. With last year’s leading receiver Michael Crabtree expected to be on the sidelines for most of the season through injury, head coach Jim Harbaugh will be looking elsewhere for others to step up in Crabtree’s absence.
Looking at the current depth chart and with both Crabtree and Mario Manningham sidelined with injuries, the starting duo appears to be veteran Anquan Boldin and second-year player A.J. Jenkins. If former first-round pick Jenkins fails deliver or if free agent Boldin cannot adjust to a new system, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the offense could be in trouble.
There are plenty of options for the 49ers already but it couldn’t hurt them to add another piece to the puzzle with a free agent signing such as Brandon Llyod or Steve Breaston.
Will the Seahawks continue to dominate with their rushing attack?
The Seahawks rushing attack can take a lot of the credit for the team’s recent success. They were the 3rd best team in the NFL running the football last season and they have added some pieces this offseason to improve on that this year.
Despite already having an All-Pro running back in Marshawn Lynch along with a reliable backup with Robert Turbin, the Seahawks used their first pick in this year’s draft to select Texas A&M’s Christian Michael. With Lynch as the starter and Turbin filling in on 3rd downs and short yardage situations, Michael will serve as a change of pace back with his mix of speed and power.
With all these running backs plus a quarterback who isn’t afraid to run the football, the Seahawks rushing attack could rank even higher in 2013.
Quarterback Russell Wilson is certain to face the sophomore slump this season and so it’s a good thing he has a rushing attack like this one to help him out when it does.
So that was my breakdown of the NFC.
My AFC breakdown is available here https://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/each-teams-biggest-question-mark-heading-into-the-2013-season-afc-edition/
For more NFL updates, follow me on twitter.
It’s that time of year again in the NFL.
Almost all of the 32 teams have now returned for training camp and with preseason games right around the corner, it won’t be long until the new season kicks off.
Let’s see how the things are shaping up in 2013.
Who will win the quarterback battle in Buffalo?
The Bills haven’t had the best of luck recently when it comes to quarterbacks. From the mediocre Trent Edwards to the just about average Ryan Fitzpatrick, there hasn’t been much to cheer for lately in upstate New York. After releasing Fitzpatrick in March, the team now are undergoing a fresh start at quarterback.
They signed Kevin Kolb this offseason to a two-year deal. Kolb was released after spending two years with the Arizona Cardinals and although he has the potential to be a starting quarterback, he has yet to stay healthy and complete a full season.
The other option is rookie E.J. Manuel. After impressing at Florida State, Manuel was picked with the sixteenth overall selection in this year’s draft and he is expected to compete with Kolb for the starting role.
Expect the Bills to give the starting job to Kevin Kolb over rookie Manuel.
How will Mike Wallace perform in Miami?
Who are the fastest players in the NFL? Chances are Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace would see his name close to the top of that list.
The former Pittsburgh Steeler signed a $60 million deal with the Dolphins this offseason and he is expected to make a big impact in South Beach. Wallace is a former Pro Bowler who has averaged over 17 yards per reception in his career.
The 26-year-old should form a solid combination with quarterback Ryan Tannehill who will be looking to improve after an inconsistent rookie season. will prove to be a huge success for head coach Joe Philbin and the Dolphins.
Tannehill will certainly have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball downfield this season with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline on the outside.
New England Patriots
Can Tom Brady and the Pats solve their tight end issues?
Now this isn’t going to come as a surprise to NFL fans or anybody who has been watching the ongoing murder case involving Aaron Hernandez, but the Patriots have serious problems at tight end. With Aaron Hernandez gone and Rob Gronkowski still recovering from back surgery, the team is struggling at the position.
Former New York Giant Jake Ballard currently appears to be best option with veteran Daniel Fells providing backup. Although they aren’t admitting it to the media, the team must surely be concerned about Rob Gronkowski and his long-term health following yet another surgery.
Could all this uncertainty pave the way for a position switch from quarterback to tight end for Tim Tebow?
If there’s a coach out there that can make this work, it’s got to be Bill Belichick.
New York Jets
What kind of impact will new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have in the big apple?
January 11th, 2012. That’s the date when the Jets hired Tony Sparano as their new offensive coordinator. Safe to say, that experiment didn’t work out too well.
Now with Sparano gone on former Eagles coach Marty Mornhinwg installed as the new offensive coordinator, the team is entering another make or break season.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez now faces competition for the starting job from rookie Geno Smith. Regardless of who is chosen as the starter, Mornhinweg will need to do a better job than Sparano did if he is going to keep his job and improve the Jets offense.
If the Jets fail to make the Playoffs this season, it could force owner Woody Johnson to make a change with both quarterback Mark Sanchez and head coach Rex Ryan running out of chances.
What will the Ravens defense look like without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed?
Just think about this for a second, Ray Lewis was the first draft choice in the history of the Ravens back in 1996. Ed Reed was a first round draft pick in 2002. Both these players are now gone and the team must move on without them.
The defending Super Bowl champions will need to adapt quickly to the loss of these two leaders. It came as no surprise when the team used their first two draft picks to find their replacements.
Florida safety Matt Elam was selected in the first round with Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown taken in the second round. Both rookies will be expected to contribute early on and replace the gap left by the departed duo of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome proved once again why he is one of the best in the business when it comes to picking talent and Ravens fans should be excited to see these rookies compete.
Is Andy Dalton ever going to step up for the Bengals in the playoffs?
After two seasons in the league, Andy Dalton has an impressive quarterback rating of 83.9 in the regular season. His performances in the playoffs have not been so impressive.
In the postseason, Dalton’s quarterback rating is 48.6 and he has an equally unimpressive touchdown to interception ratio of 0-4. The former TCU star seems to shy away from the spotlight and that must now the biggest question mark for the team.
The Bengals are never going to reach their potential if things don’t change and it’s about time their quarterback started showing more composure in the playoffs.
This could be the year that head coach Marvin Lewis leads his team to a playoff victory for the first time but it will all come down to the performance of Dalton.
Can rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski succeed in Cleveland?
Rob Chudzinski may not be as well-known to NFL fans as other rookie head coaches this year, but the 45-year-old has an impressive coaching background. Chudzinski played on a national championship winning Miami Hurricanes team in 1987 and he also won a national championship with the school as offensive coordinator in 2001.
As a coach in the NFL, he has worked with the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers and most recently with the Carolina Panthers where he played a major role in improving their offense and developing quarterback Cam Newton. During his time as offensive coordinator with the Browns back in 2007, he helped them to win ten games and also sent four offensive players to the Pro Bowl including Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II.
If there’s one thing he brings to the table, “Chud” will add some much needed explosiveness to the Browns offense which already has a future Pro Bowler at running back with Trent Richardson.
It doesn’t help Chudzinski that the Browns are playing in one of the toughest divisions in football but they have a roster capable of winning plenty of games this season.
How will first-round rookie Jarvis Jones perform in Pittsburgh?
The Steelers are coming off worst ever season under head coach Mike Tomlin. After going 8-8 last year and with their usually dominant defense struggling, it was time to rebuild.
They have made many changes to personnel this offeseason with James Harrison, Keenan Lewis, Ryan Mundy and Will Allen all gone. The team re-signed veterans Larry Foote and William Gay before the draft and then made an impressive first-round selection in April. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was selected with the seventeenth overall pick and the rookie is expected to fill the starting role left by James Harrison.
The Steelers are looking to bounce back this season and they will be counting on Jones to help them do so on defense.
Expect the 23-year-old to make a big impact in his rookie year playing alongside LaMarr Woodley at outside linebacker.
Can J.J. Watt set a new record for single-season sacks in Houston?
Michael Strahan set the record for sacks in a season back in 2001 when he registered 22.5 sacks. Twelve years later and that record is under threat.
J.J. Watt is a special football player. At 6 foot 5 inches tall and weighing almost 290 pounds, he posses a unique mix of size, speed and strength that causes nightmares for anybody attempting to block him. If there was ever going to be a football player who could double act as a transformer, Watt is it.
The former Wisconsin standout is coming off a season in which he had 20.5 sacks, was named to the All-Pro team and also won the Defensive Player of the Year award. Even more frightening for opposing teams and quarterbacks is that at 24-years-old and entering his third season, he is going to get even better.
Watt is without doubt the most dominant defensive player in the league right now and look for him to break the NFL’s single-season sack record this year.
Is it going to be a sophomore slump for Andrew Luck and the Colts?
Andrew Luck was just a rookie last season and every year the NFL takes a poll of the top 100 players in the league, Luck was ranked 23rd in that poll. As in the 23rd best player in the NFL, after only one season in the league. That’s how good he is.
The 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft didn’t disappoint in his first year in the league and he set seven NFL records along the way. Putting all those credentials aside for now and it’s time to do it all over again. Unfortunately for Luck and the Colts, the sophomore slump is bound to kick in.
It will be interesting to see how #12 handles the pressure this time around.
The departure of offensive coordinator Bruce Arenas will likely cause a drop in Luck’s production this year and it will be hard for him to repeat the magic of his rookie season.
What will Denard Robinson really do for the Jags?
The Jaguars used their fifth round pick in April’s draft to select former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson set many records during his time at Ann Arbor and he was a terrific offensive player for the wolverines. Notice how I referred to him as an offensive player and not a quarterback in the last sentence and that’s because of the elephant in the room.
Denard Robinson cannot play quarterback in the NFL. He just doesn’t posses the type of arm strength, accuracy or overall awareness when it comes to passing the football that are all critical to playing the position in this league. However, that doesn’t mean he cannot succeed as an impact player on offense and that’s exactly what the Jags will use him as.
Robinson is listed as an offensive weapon on the depth chart and he is expected to play running back, wide receiver and return specialist for the team. Their plan is to give him 10-15 snaps per game but that is unlikely.
Whether they want to admit or not, there is no way that “Shoelace” will see that many touches for one simple reason and that is because this is no longer College football.
Newsflash in Jacksonville: This is the NFL and not the Big Ten.
Will Jake Locker stay healthy and remain the starter in Tennessee?
Jake Locker hasn’t yet managed to silence the critics who doubted his ability to take a hit in the NFL. Since being drafted with the eighth overall pick by the Titans in the 2011 draft, he has played in exactly half of the team’s 32 regular season games.
After beating out veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and winning the starting job last year, Locker’s 2012 season was cut short by shoulder problems and he still faces those same concerns heading into this season. With Hasselbeck now gone, Tennessee is counting on their former first round pick to step up and put his injury issues in the past.
All the comments thus far from Locker and Titans camp is that the shoulder injury is fully healed and he is back to 100%. How long that will last however is still a question mark.
If Locker does get hurt again this year it could force team owner Bud Adams to move on from the 25-year-old.
Are they heading towards a decline in Denver?
The short answer to this question is yes. If you are a Broncos fan, look away now.
Last year’s second ranked defense has gone through an awful offseason. With defensive leader Elvis Dumervil being cut by the team back in March, things got even worse for the team this week.
Linebacker Von Miller faces a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Miller has claimed innocence in the case and he is appealing the suspension. It would usually be around this time that the team’s front office would step in but after two Broncos executives got arrested for separate drink driving offences, they appear to be dealing with problems of their own.
With all this ongoing uncertainty, the Broncos look as though they are heading backwards in 2013.
Kansas City Chiefs
How will Andy Reid perform in Kansas City?
Well it didn’t take long for Andy Reid to find another job. After being fired by the Philadelphia Eagles immediately after last season, the 55-year-old head coach is back at work.
The Chiefs hired Reid as their new head coach less than a week after his firing and signed him to a five-year deal. Putting aside a disastrous final year in Philadelphia, Andy Reid is a great football coach. You don’t take your team to the Playoffs nine times in 14 years by accident.
Now in his new chapter in Kansas City, the Chiefs look likely to make progress under Reid and challenge for the AFC West title.
Obviously much will depend on the play of new quarterback Alex Smith but if he can deliver and Reid makes the right coaching decisions, the Chiefs can be a Playoff team for years to come.
What has changed in Oakland?
Often considered to be the worst team in the division, that certainly won’t be the case this season. The Raiders look to be undergoing a turnaround under head coach Dennis Allen.
On offense, not much has changed with their annual quarterback turnover and the ongoing questions surrounding the health of running back Darren McFadden. But on the opposite side of the ball, the defense are making moves.
The Raiders have signed some impressive free agents at cornerback with Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins both joining the team. Add to that their first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden along with returning veteran Charles Woodson and the Raiders are looking strong in the secondary.
If they can find a decent quarterback from the four options that they currently have on the roster, the Raiders could content for a postseason spot this year.
San Diego Chargers
Is this the end for Philip Rivers in San Diego?
The Chargers have a new head coach with Mike McCoy taking over the hot seat. The first thing on his to do list should be to address the recent problems with quarterback Philip Rivers.
Statistics don’t lie and they do not read well for Rivers. In his last three seasons he has thrown 48 interceptions and has had 63 total turnovers.
However, many fans will argue that he isn’t to blame for this decline and it is instead down to poor play from the offensive line. The team hasn’t wasted time in fixing this issue. They drafted Alabama offesnive tackle D.J. Fluker with their first round pick and also added free agents Max Starks and King Dunlap. With no more excuses, it’s now up to Rivers to deliver.
If it turns out that Rivers struggles again, head coach Mike McCoy will have an important decision on his hands regarding the future of the franchise at quarterback.
That was my breakdown of the AFC and my NFC breakdown will be released next week.
For more NFL updates, follow me on twitter.
The Chargers aren’t having much luck with injuries this preseason and have lost yet another contributor on offense.
After Ryan Mathews got injured on the very first play during last week’s preseason opener vs the Packers, the injury bug struck again last night as wide receiver Vincent Brown suffered a broken ankle in the preseason win against the Dallas Cowboys. Just to add insult to injury, (literally) Brown was just after catching an 18-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
According to Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego, he will undergo surgery and is expected to be out for at least 8 weeks. (https://twitter.com/UTKevinAcee/status/237042363342663680)
So what does this mean for the offense?
This is another devastating blow for the offense with yet another playmaker heading to the sidelines alongside Ryan Mathews. Without Mathews or Brown, free agent acquisitions like Ronnie Brown and Robert Meachem will be asked to step up and contribute in their absence.
What makes this injury so devastating for both Brown and the Chargers is the timing of it. Brown was having a great training camp and was taking advantage of the opportunity that was left by Vincent Jackson.
After a solid rookie year, he looked as though he was set for a big improvement this season. As I already pointed out on this blog, I predicted Brown to have a big year (https://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/chargers-sign-parrish-a-breakdown-of-the-updated-wide-receiver-depth-chart/)
Now likely to miss half the year, the offense will be now be without the starting running back and one of the best receivers.
Other notes from last night’s game
- Quarterback play improved- Philip Rivers had a much better game in this one compared to last week vs the Packers. He was much more effective with his passing and in reading the defense. Although he did throw two interceptions, those were the only two passes he missed all game. Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst also looked good during his time in the game as he passed for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
- Running back is still an issue- With Ryan Mathews out injured, their is still no clear leader in the race to replace him. Although there are plenty of options at the position with veterans Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle competing with rookie Edwin Baker for carries, all of them are yet to show if they are capable to start in the regular season.
- Shareece Wright stepped up- Second year cornerback didn’t make much of an impact in rookie season last year and only played in seven games due of injury. However, Wright has managed to stay healthy so far this season and is finally showing what he can produce. He had a huge game last night with one interception, one sack, one forced fumble and three tackles. If can keep playing like this, he may manage to force his way into the starting lineup.
- Melvin Ingram is for real- The selection of first round-pick Melvin Ingram is just getting better and better for the defense. Ingram has already shown enough potential in two preseason games to draw comparisons to former Charger Shawne Merriman. After impressing in his first game last week, Ingram impressed again last night and also managed to get his first sack. Ingram looks set to have a big year and I stand by my prediction of 10 sacks for him in his rookie season.
What’s next for the Chargers?
Next up for San Diego is a trip to Minnesota play the Vikings on Friday.
This should be the last time that the starters play significant snaps before the regular season begins. The third preseason game is usually used as the final warm up for the starters and so expect them to play an entire half vs the Vikings.
The final point I wanted to bring up was the availability of Chad Johnson. I mentioned the Chargers as a possible destination for Chad last week. (https://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/chad-johnson-gets-cut-timeline-of-events-and-whats-next-for-85/) With Vincent Brown out, I think it could make sense to bring in another receiver.
But with A.J. Smith and Norv Turner running the team, the likelihood of the them bringing in a troubled 34-year-old receiver coming off a poor season seems a little far fetched.
But on the off chance that this does happen, I would be ecstatic as Chad is my favorite receiver in the league. If it doesn’t happen, there’s always Madden 13 to make sure that it does!!!
The Chargers got their preseason off to a winning start last night with a 21-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers.
Here’s a recap of the game with links:
Next up for San Diego is a home game vs the Dallas Cowboys on August 18th.
Lets face it, this is preseason football after all and so don’t expect to see many of the starters given any significant playing time. For now at least, its the backups time to shine and there will be a number of players looking to make an impact in preseason and that starts vs the Packers on Thursday. Although the Chargers roster appears to have much greater depth going into this season compared to years past, there are still some concerns.
On offense, backup quarterback is starting to become a issue. After Charlie Whitehurst got hurt in Training Camp, the Chargers signed veteran Kyle Boller on a one-year contract. The only problem was that Boller decided to retire from football after just one day after signing with the team.
This left the team with unproven rookie Jarret Lee as the only backup for Rivers and so the Chargers opted to bring in former San Diego State quarterback Kevin O’Connell. O’ Connell has spent most of his career just fighting battling to stay on a roster after spending time with the Patriots, Lions, Dolphins and two stints with the Jets. Preseason will be his chance to show that he is capable of being a reliable backup for Rivers.
On defense, although there are plenty of backups who will be looking to make an impact, there’s really only one player who stands out and that’s Larry English. Since being drafted in 2009, he has only managed to make 7 career sacks and he’s also made just 4 starts in his career as a Charger.
With Shaun Phillips, Jarret Johnson, last seasons sack leader Antwan Barnes and this years first round pick Melvin Ingram already on the roster, English knows this could be his last chance to make an impact. He needs to perform well in preseason if he wants to have a future with the Chargers and that starts against the Packers.
The Chargers have the longest streak in the NFL of fifteen consecutive seasons with at least one undrafted free agent making the 53-man roster after training camp. Daryl Gamble kept that streak going last season after his impressive performance in the first preseason against the Seattle Seahawks. Gamble had 8 tackles and a sack in that game and for just a brief few players, he was slightly reminiscent of a rookie Shawne Merriman. Unfortunately for Gamble, injuries limited his playing chances in his rookie year and he failed to make an impact.