(Bill Kostroun/AP :: Stephen Morton/AP :: Kostas Lymperopoulos/CSM/Landov)
(Bill Kostroun/AP :: Stephen Morton/AP :: Kostas Lymperopoulos/CSM/Landov)

Preseason Takeaways, Take 3

The Jets staff isn't putting Geno Smith in a position to succeed, but Todd Haley finally is with Big Ben in PIttsburgh; more of my thoughts from the preseason's third week

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·

1. I think Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is poised for a big season. If he can continue to get the solid protection the line provided against a good Chiefs front seven, Pittsburgh is going to do some things offensively. With Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and impressive rookie Markus Wheaton, the group might be better overall than they were with Mike Wallace. They’re all playing with a high level of confidence. And it’s obvious Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, in their second year working together, are much more on the same page. Haley appears to have found a better balance between what he likes to do (short timing passes), and Roethlisberger’s greatest strength (making plays off a deep dropback). Roethlisberger just looks a lot more comfortable this preseason.

2. I think the criticism of Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith is a little over the top. Yes, he threw three interceptions in the first 23 minutes against the Giants, but they were growing pains, and nothing more. On the first two interceptions, Smith had unblocked rushers right in his face. The first interception was thrown behind receiver Ryan Spadola just a hair. On the second, Smith was blasted by Mathias Kiwanuka and threw a poor pass high. The final interception, Smith was fooled on a zone blitz when veteran end Justin Tuck dropped into coverage—something that has tripped up plenty of better quarterbacks. It’s a look Smith wouldn’t have seen much of in college, but welcome to the pros.

3. In viewing some of his college tape in comparison, Smith now looks unsure of just about everything he’s doing. He’s not performing any functions with confidence—except when he finds himself on the move and freelancing instead of thinking. Part of it has to do with West Virginia’s offense having given Smith very easy half-field reads. Most of his targets were pre-determined. The Jets offense, under long-time West Coast offense disciple Marty Mornhinweg, won’t be that easy, and Smith is obviously thinking his way through it. Nobody can be successful playing like that. Even when he throws, it’s not with near the velocity he threw at West Virginia. And unlike successful athletic rookie quarterbacks before him, like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, Smith is being asked to perform in a regimented scheme that isn’t a great fit for his talents. Those three had schemes tailored to their strengths so they could play with confidence. Smith may indeed get there—his decision-making is solid overall—but it’s going to take more time. The only question is, would Smith be better served by sitting or playing while learning a new style?

Deep Dive

Everything you need to know about all 32 teams and their prospects for the 2013 season, courtesy of Andy Benoit. The last four teams roll out this week.

4. I don’t think the Colts are going to get the impact they hoped for from first-round pick Bjoern Werner this season. The end-turned-outside linebacker missed the first preseason game due to a knee issue, but he’s looked extremely ordinary in the past two. He made a couple of plays against the Giants, but they were against right tackle David Diehl, who is a warrior but whose physical skills have eroded. And it’s not even in Werner’s new techniques where he’s struggling (although he needs development vs. the run). He actually plays in space well for a first-time performer. It’s as a sub-package end, the same position he played at Florida State, where Werner has been lacking. He has average burst at the snap, and hasn’t shown many pass-rush moves. With Dwight Freeney and Jerry Hughes elsewhere, the Colts desperately need more pop in the pass rush. If Werner doesn’t develop, it’s hard to see how the Colts get better in that area.

5. I think everyone knows the Jaguars are going to be challenged to win games until they get consistent quarterback play, but they’ll be more competitive than people think this season. Franchise running back Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t show much rust in his first game action since Oct. 21 (Lisfranc surgery). The Jaguars also have offensive building blocks in bookend tackles Eugene Monroe and first-round pick Luke Joeckel, and receiver Cecil Shorts. The defense is young, but coach Gus Bradley has them playing extremely active, so they’re a handful up front. And special teams should steal some plays. If anybody thinks the Jaguars will be an easy W on the schedule this season, they might be in for a shock.

6. I think the Broncos might need to change their audible for the regular season. Denver was going with the no-huddle offense with 7:26 left in the first quarter when quarterback Peyton Manning called the play at the line, which sounded like “Go” or “Gold” and “Montana.” Wouldn’t you know it, the Broncos scored on a play similar to the 49ers’ famous Sprint Right Option, which they used to beat the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. Or, as it’s otherwise known, as “The Catch,” Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. Instead of Clark on the outside running a post and then a corner route to the pylon, and Freddie Solomon running a quick out, it was Demaryius Thomas running a slant and then corner, with Eric Decker running a quick out.

7. I think if you want to see a collision, watch the Saints-Texans game with about 5:06 left in the first quarter. The Saints run a basic inside lead with fullback Austin Johnson, an undrafted rookie who was a linebacker at Tennessee, one-on-one against Texans inside linebacker Joe Mays. Mays sent Johnson flying about three yards onto his backside. I think Saints coach Sean Payton was smart to get quarterback Drew Brees out after a little more than a quarter of action. New Orleans just couldn’t protect against the swarming Texans.

8. Somebody needs to remind me when the Lions earned the right to talk, because I must have blacked out. Their complete lack of discipline against the Patriots Thursday night showed that the Lions didn’t learn anything from last season’s 4-12 mess, which should have served them an Ndamukong Suh-sized piece of humble pie. I don’t even care if they beat the Patriots 40-9 or 140-9. To behave like that in a preseason game was embarrassing. Nick Fairley had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Willie Young (who?) got in Tom Brady’s face twice, once earning a taunting penalty. That gave the Patriots a first down when it would have been 3rd-and-10 at the New England 10-yard line. C.J. Mosley took the Lions from the Patriots’ 4-yard line back to 19-yard line (which led to field goal) with a personal foul after a fumble recovery. All of the penalties were cheap and immature, which basically describes the Lions. They haven’t achieved anything—10-6 and getting whupped by the Saints in the playoffs two years is the extent of it—yet they think they’re something to be feared. Maybe they should shut up and wait to talk until they, you know, win a playoff game, which they haven’t done since 1991—when I was a junior in high school.

The Lions dominated the Patriots on the field, but their behavior left a lot to be desired.
The Lions dominated the Patriots on the field, but their behavior left a lot to be desired. (Rick Osentoski/AP)

9. I think Lions backup quarterback Kellen Moore is going to play for a long time in the league. When Moore entered the draft in 2011 out of Boise State, he was hammered for being too short (6-0) and not possessing enough arm strength. So despite being the first FBS quarterback to win 50 games in his career, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and throwing 142 touchdowns against 28 interceptions, Moore went undrafted. Fortunately, he landed with the Lions, where offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Todd Downing have done a great job developing Moore’s talents. He’s never going to wow anybody with his physical skills, but Moore is so good at the mental side and anticipates plays so well that his arm strength is not an issue. In that way, he reminds me of former Jets starter Chad Pennington. Moore was terrific against the Patriots, who kept some veteran defensive players on the field in the second half, going 9 of 12 for 150 yards and leading three scoring drives.

Peter's Take

Peter King took in two preseason contests this weekend. So what did he notice from Jaguars-Eagles and Texans-Saints? He lays it out in the latest Monday Morning Quarterback.

10. I think you can throw the Vikings decidedly in the crowded category of “talented team whose ceiling will be decided by their quarterback,” along with the Texans, Bengals, Dolphins, Titans, Chiefs, Buccaneers and, possibly, the Browns. Christian Ponder is such a roller-coaster ride. He’ll make a few plays that make you say, “Hey, that guy has something.” Then he has a half dozen where he doesn’t see the field correctly, and throws late, high or both. On some of his throws against the 49ers, Ponder was lucky he didn’t get somebody injured. You can tell former Packers receiver Greg Jennings isn’t sure what to expect down to down and is a little gunshy for his own well-being. Little different than catching passes from Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, huh Greg?

35 comments
SanteeJack
SanteeJack

9. Kellen Moore sounds more like Drew Brees.

badcyclist1
badcyclist1

You are already making excuses for Geno Smith and the season hasn't even started yet.  Are you his agent, or his mom?

Michigander
Michigander

So, Bedard, the Lions penalties are something to condemn, but Aaron Hernandez is a "good kid at heart"?! Wow....what a homer.

TheSconnieNation
TheSconnieNation

@Bono8585 I've got a joke for you.  Detroit. . . . Either the city or the "professional" football team.  Take your pick because they are both a joke.  

jkearneyiii
jkearneyiii

I don't think he blasts Detroit if they played someone besides the Pats.  National media focuses on only Jets, Pats & NFC East ... so sad.  

Pats went 1-3 against NFC West, one of the best teams??  Ha ha.    One wonders if they played Arizona in the first 4 games (they were nails - then fell apart which is when the Pats played them) they might have gone 0 fer.

Pats have few receiving targets and Brady one more year away from his Prime.  But the national press just loves to shove those 6 teams down our throats and garner about 60% of all their focus.  SB window has shut on the Pats.

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

Ponder hasn't handed the ball to Peterson once this preseason, therefore, it's a little early to judge him on the offense so far.  Once we've seen the complete package, then we can judge.  Definitely a make or break first half of the season for him, though.

jason2
jason2

he called cam newton successful. good one

Bono8585
Bono8585

And one other thing, who the hell are you to talk about the Lions and even about football? Come talk to us when you win an award for journalism. Which will never happen.

Bono8585
Bono8585

Really? Wow, you sir, are an idiot. Why don't you tell the entire story about the Lions? About how right after that play, Schwartz pulled Young, gave him a verbal barrage of insults and then benched him for the rest of the game. Trust me, we all know how awful we are. We don't need some new punk kid reporter who got on his knees for PK and was given this cozy job. Better watch yourself next time you're in Detroit. Cause we know who you are, and that type of childish reporting doesn't fly.

risk48910
risk48910

Re: #1, just one week ago the Pittsburgh o-line was dominated by a Redskins front 7 that was incapable of creating pressure in the backfield in 2012 (Ryan Kerrigan had a pick 6 off a screen, 2 sacks and a forced fumble against Pittsburgh).  Its just pre-season, so should take everything you see with a grain of salt, but I'm highly skeptical of how "solid" the Pittsburgh o-line is going to be against the AFC North.  That being said, Ben is one of the greatest at avoiding pressure, so he could still have a breakout season.

Mike26
Mike26

@jkearneyiii No Detroit is still a bunch of punks and thugs and it will kill them week after week this season again.

ninerwhiner76
ninerwhiner76

@jkearneyiii: Arizona beat the Pats 20-18 in game 2 last year @ NE.  It was the Rams who the Pats beat for their lone victory against the NFC West, 45-7 @ STL.

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

@Bono8585 So you have to win an award for journalism before you can talk about football?  With all due respect, you're stupid.  

patriot1burke
patriot1burke

@Bono8585  

Bedard worked for the Boston Globe and was the best football writer in Boston for years.  He Lion's comment was spot on.  The team does stupid things and if you continue to be undisciplined you will never win.  Plain and simple.

workinOvatime
workinOvatime

@Bono8585 Hahahahahaha. What will the citizens of Detroit do to him next time he's there? Not employ him? Shrink the city limits to not include the hotel he's staying at? 

dickhouse5
dickhouse5

@Bono8585 Childish?  You're crazy.  Schwartz might have pulled Young aside this time, but it doesn't change that he runs the most immature, undisciplined team in the league.  Look at the incident with Harbaugh after the 49ers game.  It's been that way for years and Schwartz is the reason.  

bigmur49
bigmur49

@Bono8585 The Lions have been that way the whole time Schwartz has been there.  Chill out dude, you're gonna hunt the reporter down and beat him because he called out the LIons for a preseason game??

Bono8585
Bono8585

@KristianColasacco @Bono8585  wow, you clearly missed the point.... the fact you didn't get the metaphor proves you're the "stupid" one.... Here, I'll dumb it down for you so you understand. He said, "Maybe they should shut up and wait to talk until they, you know, win a playoff game, which they haven’t done since 1991."

So, I'm telling him to shut up until he wins an award, because he's saying the Lions can't talk until they win. See where I was going with that? lol, My god, some people you need to spell things out for, yet they are the first ones to call other people "stupid". Enjoy you're grade 10 education and keep living in you're mothers basement if you couldn't figure out what I was saying tips...

rb6p
rb6p

@Bono8585"beleive"?  Bono, looks like your auto-correct is acting up again!  (I'm going to disregard all the other weird stuff you've posted here.)

TheSconnieNation
TheSconnieNation

@Bono8585 Let me guess your next move.  You are the son of a billionaire and only study law for fun?


Maybe you should get out of your mother's basement.  There is a great big world waiting out there for you.   

TheSconnieNation
TheSconnieNation

@Bono8585 Haha.  You really have no clue.  Some Canadian law schools don't even require an undergrad degree while most only require that you complete three years of undergrad study before getting accepted.  Apparently none require a basic understanding of grammar or spelling if you are an example.  

Keep trying son.  

Bono8585
Bono8585

Fine with me! Could care less what you beleive. And for the record, you need an MBA to get into law school in Canada. It's not the joke it is in the States.

TheSconnieNation
TheSconnieNation

@Bono8585 @TheSconnieNation "@TheSconnieNation@Bono8585 LOL, Thanks tips. I guess I'll talk my law degree again since I'm such an idiot. Auto correct on my phone gets me every time. Ah well, sticks and stones! "


English, do you speak it?  Speaking of a JD (law degree in your simpleton terminology), I have one of those and a Master's.  I sincerely doubt you have earned either.  

Bono8585
Bono8585

@TheSconnieNation @Bono8585 LOL, Thanks tips. I guess I'll talk my law degree again since I'm such an idiot. Auto correct on my phone gets me every time. Ah well, sticks and stones! 

TheSconnieNation
TheSconnieNation

@Bono8585 @KristianColasacco "@KristianColasacco and one last thing, it's always entertaining to me when a women tries to talk sports, especially football. Talk about stuff you know, like baking cookies or cleaning the floor. Leave the sports talk to us who know it."


I'm pretty sure that women are also fictitious to you seeing as you have probably never had a relationship with one.  

TheSconnieNation
TheSconnieNation

@Bono8585 "Enjoy you're grade 10 education and keep living in you're mothers basement if you couldn't figure out what I was saying tips..."


No one can figure out what you are saying.  There are so many errors in your statement.  You really shouldn't knock someone's intelligence.  Just a quick ed session, "your" is possessive while "you're" is a contraction for "you are."  Just guessing, but I don't think you meant "you are grade 10 education" or "you are mothers basement."  You also forgot an apostrophe there.  

Bono8585
Bono8585

@KristianColasacco and one last thing, it's always entertaining to me when a women tries to talk sports, especially football. Talk about stuff you know, like baking cookies or cleaning the floor. Leave the sports talk to us who know it.


Bono8585
Bono8585

@KristianColasacco @Bono8585  hey, those are just people are as smart as you.... all good, i don't expect people of you're class to understand.... trust me, you're the joke here!!! lol

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

@Bono8585 @KristianColasacco LOL, you mad bro?  Yeah you're mad. 

You know what else is funny?  See those pictures of the people who liked what I wrote?  They think you're stupid too and I'm betting others do as well. 

When you get done reading this, please go and look up the word "metaphor".  I don't think you know what it means. 

Still laughing @ you.

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