What We Learned This Week in the NFL Preseason:
- Seattle releases T.O. and names rookie starting QB
- Jets still can’t find the endzone
- Replacement refs still stinking up the joint
- Steelers win and lose in Buffalo
- NFL rosters cut down to 75 by this afternoon
A year ago who would have thought that on the cusp of the start of the regular season Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens would be without teams and Randy Moss would be on the 49ers? Seems the era of diva wide receivers is behind us and these aging wideouts are learning the valuable lesson that Father Time is undefeated. For those that think that Ocho, T.O. and Burress are on the outside looking in because of their off the field antics, you’re missing the bigger point. If there’s anything this day and age can teach us in terms of consequences for our actions is that, especially where athletes are concerned, almost anything can be forgiven and forgotten if you can play a sport really really good. Unfortunately for these guys there’s no one in the front office of any of the 32 teams that believe they can play anymore and that’s the real reason why they aren’t on any rosters.
Seattle recently named Russell Wilson their starting quarterback and shipped Tavaris Jackson to Buffalo, which makes the 2012 NFL season one in which five teams will start rookie quarterbacks for the first time in league history. No other season saw more than 2 rookies starting under center. Does this mean more quarterbacks are coming out of college ready for the NFL quicker than the past? Well how well these five handle the grueling 16 game season will determine that. You can name a rookie quarterback a starter all you want, you just have to come to terms with how you can justify a 6 win season a success or not. Last season Cam Newton broke all kinds of rookie quarterback records except for the wins category. Clearly some of these teams are going into the season knowing they’re in a rebuilding phase and don’t expect to be in the post season conversation but it takes guts to risk ruining a quarterback by sending him out there before he’s ready.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the most highly media covered team in the league can’t seem to find the endzone so far in the preseason with either of their quarterbacks. The Jets are the only team in the NFL that has yet to score an offensive touchdown 3 games into the preseason. That means that the QB disaster in Arizona between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton has been more successful than the combo of Sanchez and Tebow in New York. Let that sink in for a moment. Now the biggest thing to remember about preseason is the final scores don’t necessarily matter for anything, once the first teams are off the field, you can pretty much stop keeping score. The focus turns from seeing how well the first team offense can put together drives and execute plays and how well the first team defense can stop drives and prevent big plays to watching the individual battles of the players on the second and third teams trying to make the rosters. The fact that neither Sanchez nor Tebow can put together a drive that ends in 6 points in the preseason might not necessarily dictate how successful they are in the regular season but it begs the question of just how long will the national media continue their nauseating coverage of this team while they suck big-time?
The Steelers first teams took to the field Saturday night in Buffalo for their longest playing time of the preseason. Each first team played the entire first half, with the offense sputtering early on but putting together an outstanding 98 yard drive to end the first half and the defense creating turnovers. The replacement refs made more face-palm moments during the game with one in particular calling a block in the back on Redman of the Steelers during a Buffalo punt. Redman was not even on the field during that play. The refs huddled and then corrected the call to a Buffalo block in the back. Then they huddled again and decided there was no foul on the play. Awesome. And yet all Goodell can say is that we would still be complaining about the regular refs.
While the Steelers managed to leave Buffalo with a big win on Saturday night, they also left with a huge loss. First round draft pick David DeCastro was carted off the field during the second offensive series with a knee injury. Since then there has been conflicting reports from all angles on the severity of the injury but one thing is certain, DeCastro will not be playing this season. Whether it’s his ACL and MCL or just MCL and patellar tendon, his rookie season is over before it’s begun. Most likely Ramon Foster will be stepping in at the Guard spot but the solid depth we were all excited to have in our offensive line is wearing thin by the minute. DeCastro is still to have an MRI and we most likely won’t get confirmation of his injury or status until after that. All Tomlin would commit to following the game was stating that DeCastro’s injury could be “…potentially severe.”
The positives to be taken from the game was the play of Ben Roethlisberger, following the first couple of drives, putting together a 98 yard drive to end the first half with key receptions by Jonathan Dwyer, Jerricho Cotchery, and Antonio Brown. The offense opened up the field and we were treated to our first exposure of the deep passes, even without #17 down field. Even backup Byron Leftwich looked sharp as his first pass of the game was a 39 yard touchdown pass to Brown. I thought the defense stepped up very well also. Aside from giving up a touchdown on the Bills first drive, the first team defense held Buffalo scoreless for the remainder of the first half, even with them having better field position the entire half. More importantly, the defense forced three turnovers that lead to three Steelers touchdowns, a stat that was not present last season.
By 4:00 pm today NFL rosters will have to cut from 90 down to 75 in the first cut of the preseason. The cuts will come quickly within these next two weeks as we inch closer and closer to the regular season kick off. Some teams like the Dolphins and Seahawks have already started trimming the rosters while the Steelers haven’t released anyone yet. Steeler Nation is also on Wallace Watch as the wide receiver is expected to report to the team within the next day or two.
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