Pre-Season Week 3

September 1, 2015

THis week I’m going to be a bit more brief with liner-notes about the games. With roster cuts already under way and the College Football (i.e. DRAFT scouting time) underway game by game wrap-ups are just not practical.

BROWNS 31-7 over BUCS. After walking all over the other team from Ohio in Week 2 the BUCS got a taste of their own medicine so to speak. Their Defense absolutely dominated the BUCS OL and JAMEIS WINSTON paid a heavy price. WINSTON was 6/15, for 90 yards, with 1 INT. He was sacked 4 times and pressured almost every drop back. WINSTON left the game sooner than expected after injuring his ankle on the lats of those sacks. He had tweaked the ankle the week before, although the BUCS tried to brush aside that happenstance.
THat OL for the BUCS is likely to problematic all season. Clearly both SMITH/MARPET their 2nd Round Rookies are not instant starters and will have to develop. Signing VFA GOSDER CHERILUS was a good signing but he’s not a world beater. Unless they do progress, and a running game emerges, WINSTON is not likely to survive a 16-game season as their QB.
JOSH McCOWN?QB/BROWNS certainly got a taste of revenge against the team that cut him loose after 1 season. With a better OL and some solid RB efforts he went 17/23, with 2 TD passes.
AS the BUCS switched around with their PK BARTH & MURRAY it was clear that neither one met both their needs for accurate place kicking and booming kick-offs. THis on MOnday the team traded with DETROIT for URFA KYLE BRINDZA ex-Notre Dame. Interesting note is that the team traded TE/TIM WRIGHT to the LIONS. THat would be the same WRIGHT who was traded to the PATS last year for LOGAN MANKINS, then re-signed this Spring when he was cut by the PATS. If the LIONS cut him will the BUCS re-sign him again? The same player has now helped Tampa acquire 2 new players.
For all the draft picks used by Tampa for offensive help in this past Draft, I find it curious that without question the most immediate impact play has come from their lone Defensive Draftee KWON ALEXANDER/ILB/LSU. He’s starting and is actually calling out the defensive signals as a Rookie. And so it goes.
I have heard a few folks complaining that CAM ERVING/OL, the BROWNS 1st Rounder is a disappointment in Camp and can’t find himself a starting position. From whaT I have seen I feel quite differently.He’s played multiple spots when regulars have missed game action and has acquitted himself quite well. He’s be a starter soon ,but a quality, versatile back-up is a must for any team.

The DOLPHINS took care of business at newly renovated Sun Life Stadium beating the FALCONS 13-9. The final score will give you an indication that both of these teams still need to put in some work on their Red Zone Offenses, but that seems league wide this year. RYAN TANNEHILL/QB looked again like a guy who is about to make a push into elite status as an NFL QB. He went 15/19, for 145 yards, and 1 TD with 0 INT. He’s having a solid Pre-Season as he learns to work with his new receivers JORDAN CAMERON/TE, KENNY STILLS/WR, & GREG JENNINGS/WR. AFter a solid OTA R/DEVANTE PARKER/WR has played little with nagging injuries since July.
The DOLPHINS secondary is trying to work around the season ending knee injury of S/LOUIS DELMAS, but has shown it has plenty of young talent to go around. Rookies BOBBY McCAIN/CB, CEDRIC THOMPSON/S & TONY LIPPETT have all shown flashes of NFL talent. Meanwhile VFA NDAMUKONG SUH/DT has indeed been a catalyst for the front 7.
The Rookie LBs that I mentioned last week continue to impress to the point that former starting OLB CHRIS McCAIN is getting time with his hand down as a DE on passing downs in recent games.
The FALCONS look good in spurts, then disappoint. MATT RYAN looks sharp and had a healthy compliment until RODDY WHITE got hurt. The FALCONS really let RYAN down last season when no real attempt was made to replace TONY GONZALEZ at TE. As a result RYAN was hamstrung. So far the addition of VFA JACOB TAMME and TONY MOEAKI have at least given him another 2 targets to look for. THey are easing their way into the scheme of things.
Leg woes to FREEMAN, ANTOINE SMITH & R/TEVIN COLEMAN have hampered the running attack for the FALCONS, which surfaced again in this game. New DC has switched the fALCONS D back to a 4-3 front after a couple of years in the 3-4. THis is causing some adjustments in personnel and the learning of new assignments for a lot of defenders.

The learning curve for RoOKIE QB/MARCUS MARIOTA continues and the best news for the Titans is that he continues to progress and maintains his calm demeanor even when things don’t go well. He played well against the CHIEFS in first half action. He went a modest 7/11, for 99 yards in the face of the blitzing CHIEFS Defense. He did bounce back form 0 completions in the 1st Quarter.
The CHIEFS poured it on in a rain soaked 34-10 victory. ALEX SMITH showed once again that he’s a seasoned vet, whose skills and mentality mesh very well with HC ANDY REID. SMITH went 16/18, for 171 yards , 2TD and 0 INT. He played less than a full half, giving way to ANDY MURRAY for the duration.
VFA acquisition JEREMY MACLIN/WR was the playmaker they expected in his action with SMITH. I this game he caught 7 balls for 65 yards and 1 TD. The big surprise amongst the WR candidates is an URFA named FRED WILLIAMS who the chiefs grabbed back in 2013 when GM/JOHN DORSEY first started supervising he scouting staff for the CHIEFS. WILLIAMS has had a solid Camp, caught 5 balls for 62 yards and a TD from MURRAY. IT’s an uphill struggle against MACLIN and 2 Draftees, but if WILLIAMS isn’t kept he’ll likely be claimed on waivers by someone out there.
Looks like DC BOB SUTTON has his pass-rushers cranked up and ready to roll, and may also have a couple of nice new toys to work with. 1st Rounder MARCUS PETERS/CB looks to have won a starting job and Rookie ILB/RAMIK WILSON is the teams leading tackler in pre-season after stepping in for injured JOSH MAUGA.
One of last year’s URFA signings is making his presence known this summer as he pushes for a final RB slot. #35/CHANDARICK WEST is a 2nd year man from Abilene Christian, who looks better and better as the pre-season progresses. He an 9 times for 47 yards and had 2 catches in this game. He’s short, but solidly built and seems to have great balance after the hit.
It looks like a real soft spot for the TITANS D may be in their LB play 5-10 yards from the line-of-scrimmage. The CHIEFS exploited that soft under-belly of the defense all night long. THis may not come as a complete surprise to many, since the team’s personnel is still better suited for the 4-3 scheme they played until last season’s coaching changes. Both of their OLB are former 4-3 DE in DERRICK MORGAN & RFA/BRIAN ORAKPO. Could be another case of round pegs in square holes.

The TEXANS rolled into NOLA and once DREW BREES retired to the bench for the night took over the game and handled the SAINTS 27-13. Both BRIAN HOYER and RYAN MALLETT carved up the SAINTS D, though ROB RYAN’s troops toughened up in the red zone until the 3rd unit got n the field. HOYER, announced as the starter earlier in the week, went 7/11 for 82 yards and looked very cool and collected in the pocket.
The TEXANS continued to sit their stars for injury and precautionary reasons. Not playing were JJ WATT/DE, JADEVEON CLOWNEY/ER, JONATHAN JOSEPH/CB & ARIAN FOSTER/RB. BRIAN CUSHING/ILB did play and looked very athletic and aggressive in limited action for the first time this pre-season.
Rookie WR/JALEN STRONG saw his most extended acton of the pre-season and responded with 5 catches for 40 yards and a TD. Rookie CB/KEVIN JOHNSON (Round 1) looks to have captures a CB job and recorded 2 tackles and 2 PD. One of the latter was an end zone knock break-up. He also flashed on Special Teams, downing a punt at the 2-yard line.
MARCUS MURPHY/WR/RS/Rookie looked solid for the SAINTS in his effort to become the next DARREN SPROLES for the SAINTS. He carried the ball 8 times for 53 yards and caught 3 passes for 67. He also had 1 kick-off return for 20 yards and a punt return for 11.
WILLIE SNEAD gave coaches something to think about for the SAINTS, with 4 first half receptions. He was an URFA signing last year. He might also supplement MURPHY as a PR if he makes the team.

The CARDINALS travelled to Oakland and beat the Raiders in a back & forth contest, 30-23. The winning TD drive was engineered in the waning minutes of the game by 4th string QB/PHILLIP SIMS. SIMS has had a solid camp and could provide a TYRON TAYLOR type back-up QB for someone if BRUCE ARIANS cannot hide him for a year. Then again he might need him sooner if the CARDS OL doesn’t pick it up. CARSON PALMER was pounded on the night with 3 sacks and even more knock downs. ARIANS kept him under the heavy fire and PALMER took his lumps like a big boy. He finished 8/22, 1-3 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT. It’s a know fact that at this point of his career PALMER does not respond well in a collapsing pocket.
The RB group continues to struggle rushing behind this OL group, that on paper looks much improved. IT now looks like the signing of RB/CHRIS JOHNSON/VFA may be more than window dressing. JOHNSON may play in the final pre-season game this week.
A big (literally) star for the Offense was TE/IFEANYI MOMAH, who is listed at 6’7, 250 lbs. but looks somewhat like a stick figure. The former Wideout from BC is making his mark at TE and caught 3 balls for 61 yards as the cARDS reclaimed the game late. How many TE can ARIANS keep?
MALCOLM SMITH really stepped up for the RAIDERS at OLB. Signed as a VFA this past off-season, even though he didn’t start full-time with SEATTLE last season, he showed his speed and athleticism roaming all over the field and recording 9 total tackles n the contest.
Looks to me like the RAIDERS can play around all they want CHRISTIAN PONDER/VFA as their back-up to DEREK CARR, but they already had the ideal back-up on their roster in MATT McGLOIN. Count me among those who scoffed when they signed him 2 years ago out of Penn State, but the guy has intangibles and presence that allows him to outplay his mediocre athleticism and lack of arm strength. He led the RAIDERS back t victory in the 4th quarter and for the game was 11/15, 114 yards & the game winning TD pass.

The BRONCOS held serve at Mile High and beat the 49’ers 19-12 behind another solid second half effort from BROCK OSWEILER. He wasn’t special but did complete 15/20 for 104 yards and secured the home win.
URFA DARIUS KILGO/DT has been a life saver for WADE PHILLIP’s Defense so far in the pre-season. The team clearly misses POT ROAST and KILGO has come on strong backing up and spelling SLY WILLIAMS on the Nose. The BRONCOS Defense is build for speed, but lacks some muscle in the trenches.
Standing along the sidelines in this one was GM JOHN ELWAY’s latest acquisition in EAVN MATHIS/OG. He should eventually earn a starting job and give a very young unit a boost. IT now appears that R/TY SAMBRAILLO will start at LT, and R/MAX GARCIA will hold down one OG spot until MATHIS is ready. Second year man MATT PARADIS is currently the starting OC.
THere may be some quiet concern in Denver that RB/MONTAE BALL, may be the next TRENT RICHARDSON as an NFL RB. BALL has been nagged by injuries and though supposedly healthy he rushed for 11 yards in this game, at a clip of 2.8 ypc. He’s entering his 3rd year in the League and has been injured and/or ineffective the first two. Given ELWAY’s leadership style to date don’t bet against BALL ending up as a roster cut while ANDERSON/HILLMAN/THOMPSON handle the RB slot. Two of those three are URFA.
On the sad side for the Niners, QB/COLIN KAEPERNICK had a hard time figuring out the BRNCOS D from the pocket. He went 2/5 for 0 net passing yards in the first half. He did use his legs to scramble for 53 yards on 3 carries. Laugh if you will, but BLAINE GABBERT has been a nice reclamation project under OC JEEP CHRYST and QB Coach STEVE LOGAN and could see the field if KAEPERNICK continues to struggle reading defenses in the regular season. In this game GABBERT was 9/11.
The good news for the Niners was the production from NAVORRO BOWMAN/ILB in his first extended playing time of the summer. BOWMAN looked like his old self with 9 total tackles, including 2 sacks. With the loss of BORLAND, WILLIS & ALDON SMITH any and all good news for the LB unit is greatly appreciated by DC ERIC MANGINI.