Ranking the Biggest Flops so Far This Preseason
We have already hit the halfway point of the 2012 NFL preseason, and competitions and roles are starting to play themselves out. But it is never all sunshine and rainbows. There are always bumps in the road, or "flops" as I like to call them.
Two weeks may be a little quick to judge, but when you only have four games to make your mark, you have to make quick use of the time you're given. They don't call the NFL the "Not For Long" league for nothing. If you can't cut it, you get cut. It's the harsh reality of the game of football.
Let's go around the NFL and take a look at a few situations or guys who haven't exactly shot out of the gate, but instead have flopped like a wet noodle.
NFL's Replacement Referees
You know the old saying "It's preseason for the referees too"? Well that saying has never been more true.
This strike could potentially be a disaster for the game. So far in the preseason, these replacement refs have been AWFUL. Just watch the video above from the Buffalo Bills versus the Washington Redskins game. That may have been the single worst call I have ever seen made in any level of sports.
With no real compromise in sight, the league is already giving the replacement referees their assignments for the rest of preseason and will soon start on the regular season as well. Yikes.
Ryan Matthews Injured on First Play of Preseason
San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews just cannot catch a break. It FINALLY seemed as if he was ready to break out and become that all-star running back the Charges envisioned when they drafted him No.12 overall in the 2010 NFL draft, instead he will be sidelined at least a month after breaking his collarbone in the team's Week 1 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
Mathews was injured on his first carry of the preseason in the first quarter and did not return to the game. The team expects he will miss at least six weeks. Tough blow for Mathews, fantasy owners and the Chargers.
Mathews, who replaced LaDainian Tomlinson as San Diego's feature back in 2010, ran for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns last season. He added 50 catches for 455 yards. Many thought that 2012 would be his biggest season yet, but at least for now it has been put on hold.
Eagles' Quarterback Injuries
In the Philadelphia Eagles first preseason game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team saw themselves lose their starting quarterback Mike Vick, and backup Mike Kafka, to hand injuries. Tough blow already for what will be a very important season for this franchise.
Vick, who says he will be fine for the team's game this Monday night versus the New England Patriots, did add that he hasn't been able to take part in practice with the team since. Per Philly Sports 24/7"
I haven’t really tried [to throw] yet, but I’ll definitely try, warm up and get it going a little bit. It’s really nothing major. Had the same type of injury last game of the season against the Redskins last year and played with it, so I know how to deal with it.
Vick will play at least the first half when the Eagles travel to New England on Monday for their second preseason game. Foles will replace Vick under center, followed by Edwards, Reid said Thursday. That final quarterback spot will be an interesting battle now for the Iggles.
Time Warner Cable Last to Get NFL Network
I am a Cablevision subscriber, so when I heard the news this past week—I was giddy. The NFL Network made it's long-awaited debuted on Cablevision on Friday. That means that Time Warner is the last of the major cable television providers to link up with the NFL.
Unfortunately for football fans in the desert, it doesn’t sound like a deal is close between the NFL and Time Warner.
Minutes after the Cablevision deal was announced, NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen tweeted a jab at the TWC: “Time Warner Cable! This is NFL Network! We’ve got you surrounded! Come out of the house with your hands up!”
I feel for the Time Warner subscribers. This channel is amazing. Non-stop football, 24/7. You guys should really contact Time Warner and protest!
Kevin Kolb Has Been AWFUL
When the Arizona Cardinals traded for, and signed Kevin Kolb to a five-year contract extension worth a maximum of $63.5 million (with $21 million guaranteed), I think they had a different idea of what he would do in his first year-plus as a Cardinal.
After a terrible 2011 season, Kolb isn't off to much of a better start in the preseason. Kolb went 3-for-6 for 23 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions to total 5-of-15 for 47 yards in three preseason games, with no touchdowns and an interception. Oh, boy.
On the second play of the Cardinals' second drive on Friday night, Kolb was flagged for intentional grounding to put the ball on Arizona's 1-yard line. The following play he was sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Tommy Kelly.
After the sack, the Raiders television crew reported that Kelly ran to the sideline yelling "That boy's scared!"
Kelly was asked about his thoughts on Kolb after the game, and he didn't exactly pull back on his words. Via the Associated Press:
He is skittish. He is scared back there. Anytime anybody gets close to him he starts looking at the refs. As a defensive lineman you love a quarterback like that. He ain't even trying to look at the routes no more. He is paying attention to us and you ain't going to get nothing done like that.
Kolb is on thin ice in Arizona and needs to improve FAST, or he will find himself holding the clipboard for Fordham University's finest, John Skelton.
Where Is Maurice Jones-Drew?
Where in the world is Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew? The Jaguars Pro Bowl running back and the NFL's 2011 leading rusher has been M.I.A since the teams final game last season versus the Indianapolis Colts.
He’s not here, and that’s his decision ... Believe me, it’s not a great concern. You hope for the best, and you plan for the worst. Our goals for the season don’t change, and if he isn’t here, he isn’t here. I don’t control it. It’s his choice.
I’ve been involved in many kind of industrial business dealings. I’ve encountered strikes and violence. And if you don’t handle that, you’re not around to see them through.
Believe me, on a zero-to-10 level of stress, this doesn’t even move the needle.
Tough words for the Jags new owner. I applaud him, but I'm sure some of the Jags fans aren't exactly smiling. Everyone knows how important Jones-Drew is to this young team. Blaine Gabbert, Justin Blackmon and the Jags need MJD. MJD needs his money. Who budges first?
Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Scares Me
It's only two weeks into the preseason and it may be time to get nervous in Big D. Newsflash—the Dallas Cowboys offensive line is trouble.
In their first game versus the Oakland Raiders, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly blew through the interior of the Cowboy line for a sack of Tony Romo that looked like the kind of play that could put an end to Dallas' and Romo's season. It was that scary. Fortunately Tony popped back up, as did plenty of Cowboy fans' dinners, I'm sure.
Doug Free has moved to right tackle for second year lineman Tyron Smith, who is by far the Boys' best lineman and now the team's starting left tackle, but Free was terrible on Monday night. Scary bad. David Arkin and Mackenzy Bernadeau are your starting guards, and Phil Costa's your starter at center.
Now Costa didn't play Monday due to injury, which forced Phil Arkin to step up and start there (no botched snaps at least) and Arikin played terrible, but there are still plenty of holes. Swiss cheese-esq.
There has to be some concern. Smith is a tremendous left tackle and Costa is an above average center, but the guards and right tackle scare you every time Romo drops back. Keep those fingers crossed, Boys.
New York Jets Offensive Performances
If you are a Jet fan and you watched the team's first two preseason games against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants, I am SURE you were having flashbacks to the 2011 season. The offensive line is terrible in pass protection, the running backs are picking up one to two yards a clip, the quarterback play has been subpar and the team is banged up.
There is some major cause for concern in New York. The offense does not have much depth, it's injured and it has to start all over in a new system under offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Mark Sanchez looked shaky in the teams first game. Tim Tebow was great when he ran the ball, but when he attempts to pass, you hold your breath; the running back situation is up in the air; and they have about one healthy wideout. But hey, it's only preseason, right?
Oh yeah, why is ESPN still covering everything Jets? How about an offense that looks down the field and completes a few passes over 30 yards? Come on guys, back off a bit!
The Jets are the only team in the NFL that has yet to score a touchdown in the preseason. Yeah.
Cincinnati Bengals Injuries
No team has been more banged up in the preseason than the Cincinnati Bengals. In the team's first game versus the New York Jets, Cincy lost its starting left guard Travelle Wharton for the season with a torn right ACL, linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive end Carlos Dunlap followed with knee injuries. Maualuga was not injured seriously, but Dunlap will miss four weeks.
In Week 2, tight end Jermaine Gresham and linebacker Vontaze Burfict left the game early.
Gresham injured his right knee after catching a pass in the first quarter. As he was being pulled down, he appeared to hyperextend his knee and ended up on the ground clutching it for a minute. He did not return to that game
Burfict, who has had a great camp and preseason, suffered a hit to the head a little less than midway through the second quarter and did not return to the game. Both Gresham and Burfict's injuries aren't said to be serious, but you can't like all these injuries in just two games.
The team also waived third-year receiver Jordan Shipley.
Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie OL Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike Adams is only a rookie, but you never like to hear words such as "terrible," "awful" and "not ready" thrown around.
The Steelers' second-round draft pick did not receive high marks after his first preseason game.
Neal Coolong from Behind the Steel Curtain broke down the loss and did not have favorable things to say about Adams:
Simply put, Adams looked awful, surrendering 2.5 sacks over a nine-play stretch in which the only real value he provided was the recovery of the two fumble[s] his assignment caused. He left the game with a knee injury, and to be fair, LT Trai Essex didn't look much better, as Philadelphia showed they apparently have Lawrence Taylor, Deacon Jones and Reggie White playing behind their starting defensive ends.
I don't think anyone is giving up on the kid yet, I actually think he will be a phenomenal player for the Steelers, but you have to be concerned. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is already playing with a "partially torn rotator cuff" and has taken so many beatings in his career, that it is absolutely essential for Pitt to find multiple linemen that can protect him.
Two-and-a-half sacks allowed in nine plays is scary, and Adams isn't having a great camp. He will need to improve very fast or he will be yanked for that group in a hurry by Mike Tomlin and Co.
Yes, you read that right. I am calling Peyton Manning a "preseason flop" right now. I know, I know; relax a little. He is coming off of four neck surgeries and missed a whole season.
I'm not saying he is going to be terrible for the Denver Broncos, but as of right now, he is not the same Peyton Manning.
So far in two games this preseason, Peyton is 20-of-30 (66.7 percent) for 221 yards (7.37 YPA), no touchdowns and three interceptions. Yes, I know it is just preseason and he is working out the kinks, but after the surgeries, his age, new team (outdoors) and missing a full season, you need to be a little bit concerned.