Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my takeaways from the second full weekend of preseason football:
a. As if Seattle needed another defensive weapon, undrafted free-agent defensive end Benson Mayowda from Idaho has looked very good in the first two games: 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits. He could come in handy in the first four weeks, with Bruce Irvin suspended.
b. It’s totally unfair, because it’s not a quarterback versus quarterback game, and because Seattle scored a touchdown on special teams and on defense in the first half Saturday night. But Russell Wilson’s Seahawks beat Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers last year, and he was up on Peyton Manning 27-7 when they were on the field together Saturday night.
c. Passer rating by Seahawk quarterbacks Saturday: Tarvaris Jackson 141.4, Russell Wilson 141.3.
d. Some teams can pass this off by saying, “It’s just the preseason.” Not Dallas. Not six turnovers Saturday in Arizona.
e. Neither can Arizona and new coach Bruce Arians, getting in the red zone four times in the first half and scoring zero touchdowns.
f. Brian Cushing looked like Brian Cushing against Miami.
g. The loss of Dustin Keller for the season hurts doubly because Joe Philbin, knowing Keller was more of an offensive weapon than Anthony Fasano, was planning on making the tight end position more of a focal point this year than the 59 catches and 544 yards Fasano and Charles Clay produced last year.
h. New England undrafted free agent tight end Zach Sudfeld is on the verge of going from a roster longshot the week after the draft to making fantasy football owners wonder, “How high should I draft this guy?”
i. Can’t make the team throwing like that, Tim Tebow.
j. Matt Flynn got sacked five times in the first half Friday night in a 20-minute span at New Orleans. Amazing thing is, he still found time and passing lanes to complete 12 of 16 passes in the half.
k. For those scoring the Chris Kluwe-Marquette King Raiders punting battle at home, each has had four punts. Average: King 55.5, Kluwe 46.0. Net: King 49.0, Kluwe 37.5. King has had one touchback, Kluwe none, and each has hit one punt inside the 20. Not enough to go on, certainly, but sometimes the preseason doesn’t allow you the kind of sample size you need for ultimate fairness.
l. Speaking of small sample size, the Lions kicking job was David Akers’ to lose, and he’s not losing it. Havard Rugland didn’t have much of a chance Saturday in Cleveland, but a 33-yard field goal and a kickoff to the Browns’ 1-yard line don’t turn heads the way 49- and 50-yard field goals did last weekend.
m. The Colts did so many things right Sunday night. The Reggie Wayne one-handed catch, the spot-on Andrew Luck touchdown throw, the consistent pressure on Eli Manning. Good night for Indy.
n. David Diehl didn’t exactly take a chokehold over Justin Pugh in the right tackle battle for the Giants, getting beat for a 13-yard sack by Colt Erik Walden.
2. I think the Bills were intent on starting E.J. Manuel in their opener against New England, and it would have been the smartest choice. But with Manuel having undergone a minor knee procedure Sunday—21 days from the first game—it’s more likely he won’t be ready then. That’s deflating news for a Buffalo crowd that surely thought it could steal one from a Gronk-less Pats team (which the Patriots are looking more and more like on the opening Sunday).
3. I think this will be Jon Gruden’s last year in the ESPN booth—assuming there is significant interest in him as an NFL head coach. And there will be.
4. I think there are only so many games a coach who still is a coach can do in the booth, and only so many times driving to an office to watch tape without a team to boss around, before Gruden says No mas, and takes the reins somewhere next year. Dallas, Carolina, Detroit, Tennessee, Jets. Who knows? Oakland … not so fast. Gruden turned 50 Saturday. I think he’s got at least one six-year reign in him.
5. I think I’m as eager to see Randy Moss on TV as the next football-watcher is. I love the hire, because he might actually be honest and say some smart things. But I’m skeptical of his staying power. Can he stay interested in TV? It seems so anti-Moss, to sit in a studio and talk football. Moss is part of the new Fox Sports 1 Fox Football Daily show, with rotating analysts each evening at 6 p.m. ET. Jay Glazer and Curt Menefee will host the show. “Two things on Moss,” Glazer said over the weekend. “One, he’s telling us stuff about [Tom] Brady and [Bill] Belichick that no one else knows. He’s so damn smart. He’s telling us how Tom Brady thinks. This is going to be really valuable. Two, he really, really wants to be good.” We shall see.
6. I think the longer Arian Foster (calf, back) misses time—and he hasn’t practiced in training camp, or since spring OTAs, and he’s stuck on the Physically Unable to Perform list—the more I’d worry about his ability to play 16 games this season. And you know how valuable he is to the Texans.
7. I think if you wonder what a good portion of the concussion lawsuit between former players and the NFL will be about, you need to read this important story from ESPN and its Outside the Lines program. I’m not talking specifically about the doctor-patient relationship between Elliot Pellman and Paul Tagliabue as much as I’m talking about what the plaintiffs’ side will bring up about the qualifications of Pellman, and how many doctors put players back into games without knowing the full extent of their head injuries. The NFL will argue that the doctors didn’t let concussed players back in games, of course. And that will be the crux of a large part of the case. Pellman’s resume, and his influence over NFL policy, will be attacked by the plaintiffs.
8. I think my least favorite assignment of the year is nigh: By Friday, I’ve got to pick my Super Bowl matchup and every team’s record for Sports Illustrated. I’ve started sketching out my picks, and I can reveal this exclusively: I won’t be picking a San Diego-Atlanta Super Bowl for the second straight year.
9. I think if Champ Bailey misses the first couple of weeks of the season with his foot injury—and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie remains out with his high ankle sprain—the position Denver thought would be such a strength could have Tony Carter and Chris Harris (the normal slot corner) starting against Joe Flacco in the opener. That’s not good.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Anyone who had Max Scherzer to have 18 wins by Aug. 18, you win the Baseball Genius Pool.
b. Funniest thing about the A-Rod beaning by Ryan Dempster, after Dempster threw behind Rodriguez once and inside the next two pitches, was Red Sox manager John Farrell saying the pitch got away from Dempster, and he had to establish the inside of the plate, and blah blah blah. Good one, John. Most amazing thing about it was the corners of your mouth didn’t curl up even slightly when you said it.
c. Well, there was one other funny thing. This tweet from the Iron Shiek: “Ryan Dempster I owe you $20 bubba.”
d. Good to see a Red Sox-Yanks instant classic anyway.
e. The more stuff leaks around Ryan Braun, the more I think he’s just not a good person. In any way.
f. Miguel Cabrera could have a significantly better season than his Triple Crown year and not win the Triple Crown this year. What an amazing player.
g. Did the Dodgers actually lose Sunday?
h. The MMQB has its one-month anniversary on Thursday. I hope we get more sleep in the second month.
i. Coffeenerdness: Macchiato beats latte. The espresso sitting on the foam does it.
j. Beernerdness: Glad to see Alaskan White sold in Mankato. Haven’t had one of those in a couple of years, and it didn’t disappoint.
The Adieu Haiku
No Champ, DRC?
No Pitta or Anquan B?
One scarred opener.