Collin 'Em Out: The Worst of the Worst from NFL Preseason Week 3
Week 3 of NFL Preseason action is in the books, and not without its share of moments we wish we could erase from the history books.
And while it's "just the preseason," there certainly are a number of players, coaches and teams that deserved to be called out after some truly horrible performances.
So who's getting called out this week? Let's find out!
1. Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and the Arizona Cardinals' Offensive Line
There are few things in the football universe worse than a roster battle where either winner is automatically a loser. Arizona Cardinals fans would support this sentiment wholeheartedly, and even more to the point, express how deflating it is to witness such a battle at the quarterback position.
Cardinals quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are not starting-quality NFL passers. Both have significant drawbacks, the kind of warts that should prevent a player from lining up with the 1's.
Skelton, who has the edge for now, is a statue in the pocket—far too slow and rigid to consistently adjust for pass pressure and step into throws, or placing them with the necessary accuracy. NFL quarterbacks have to be able to innovate and adjust their form on the fly to fit various pocket conditions. Skelton cannot do this.
Kolb, who is currently second-string but about three completions away from taking the starting job back, is decidedly more mobile than Skelton, but too often demonstrates a wild arm and wretched decision-making. Three defenders? Yeah, Kolb is going to try and thread that needle every time. And get picked every time.
Neither player is a starter. And it's easy to dump on them accordingly. It's easy to rag on the offense's point man and declare him the conductor of a team-wide train wreck.
But honestly, I don't even know if Aaron Rodgers would play well behind Arizona's offensive line. Yes, it's that bad. It's the kind of bad that defies dictionary definition. It's so stunningly inefficient, it's a wonder it's not its own branch of the federal government.
Let's look at a series of plays—for each of the Cardinals' underwhelming quarterback options—that were entirely derailed by a group of fat guys pretending to be NFL offensive linemen. We'll start with Skelton's stint under center, which lasted roughly a quarter-and-a-half.
Specifically, we'll start with Skelton's very first play which, of course, ended in a sack. Here, Arizona lines up in an offset-I formation.
Skelton fakes a handoff to Cardinals RB Beanie Wells, pulling back the ball to set up a pass play.
Initially, Skelton looks to have a clean pocket, but Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge can't sustain his block and ends up fist-bumping air as Titans DT Jurrell Casey works himself free.
Skelton, unfortunately, is made to step up into Casey's path, as right tackle D'Anthony Batiste cannot slow the defensive end in his charge around the edge.
This all ends, predictably—in Skelton getting walloped by Casey because Colledge and Batiste failed miserably to sustain their blocks on this play.
Of course, that would be a central theme of the game: Arizona not sustaining blocks.
Let's take a look at Skelton's first interception, which capped off a debut series that won't exactly send confetti stock flying through the roof in Glendale. On this play, the Cardinals line up in shotgun formation with Wells to Skelton's left.
Quickly into the play's progression—before Wells has even leaked out on his emergency outlet flat route—two Titans defenders already have good edge position and a relatively clear path to Skelton. Casey, who clearly caused all sorts of problems for Arizona on this series, actually goes unblocked.
This forces Skelton to step up and attempt a throw much sooner than he would have preferred and under substantial duress.
Though he gets the ball off, he is sandwiched for his efforts...
...and consequentially intercepted on the overthrow (certainly influenced by the hostile pocket) by Titans safety Michael Griffin.
Now, I know what you're thinking—shaky first two plays, right? Just a bad start. Jitters. Could happen to anyone. Surely, Arizona's line would settle down, take off the roller skates and see Skelton's mom in the crowd pleading for her son's life.
Right? Well, not so much. Here, Skelton again lines up in the shotgun formation, which should theoretically buy him enough time to complete a pass without taking too much punishment in the process.
But clearly, the Cardinals line does not believe in "theoretically."
Skelton actually begins the play with a relatively clean pocket. Though Tennessee has solid coverage downfield, Arizona wideout Andre Roberts is cutting underneath the shell and attempting to run a drag route across the field, miles underneath the safeties and between the dropping linebackers at the first down marker.
But all is derailed as Lyle Sendlein—you guessed it—fails to sustain his block.
This results in Titans DE Leger Douzable gaining a clean path to Skelton, just as Titans DT Karl Klug frees himself and gains an inside track.
Want to guess how this story ends?
To be fair, the play ended in an incomplete pass intended for Roberts—which is a marked improvement over the sack and interception that preceded it!
About midway through the second quarter, after subjecting Skelton to the gridiron equivalent of Jigsaw's torture puzzles from the Saw torture porn franchise, Cardinals coaches decided they had seen enough from Skelton and finally called Kolb's number.
Arizona fans everywhere hoped there would be an immediate difference. There was not.
The Cardinals offensive line decided to greet Kolb in the same manner as they welcomed Skelton—by sacrificing his skeletal structure to the football gods. Kolb lines up under center for his first offensive play with Arizona's offense in the I-formation.
It's soon apparent Arizona has an issue on the offensive left—Kolb's blind side—as Kamerion Wimbley rounds the edge on Cardinals tackle D.J. Young in just a handful of steps.
And it's only seconds after Wimbley introduces his helmet to Kolb's coccyx.
To break down this failure under a more focused lens, let's focus on Wimbley vs. Young.
Young's first punch—his first attempt at blocking—is some third-grade slap in the facemask to Wimbley. He doesn't come close to Wimbley's pads, which is where he should be aiming to direct first contact.
Without a firm punching point, Young quickly loses leverage, and Wimbley ducks underneath his outstretched arms. Young is also in a position of lost momentum, meaning he has no forward push working in his favor against the defender.
Young desperately tries to reach out and slow Wimbley after he has completely gained the edge, grabbing on to his facemask and trying desperately to slow him. This should have been a penalty, of course.
But even that illegal, amateur, desperation move can't keep Wimbley from getting to Kolb.
None of this is to suggest, of course, that all of Arizona's offensive woes are a result of their O-line play. Their QBs are certainly atrocious enough on their own accord.
Let's take this Kolb interception—a pick-six by Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy—for example. Kolb lines up with three receivers stacked left and a single back behind him.
After taking a five-step drop, Kolb has an entirely clean pocket at his point to survey and, ultimately, release. Arizona's offensive line blocks this play perfectly. There should be no complication in getting this pass off, or being hurried into a bad read.
Kolb essentially has two options on this play. He can throw to the wide open receiver.
Or he can keep his eyes locked on Andre Roberts, who isn't even marginally open.
To be safe, Kolb hedges his bets and throws between the two...to McCarthy, who returns the INT for a touchdown.
So, you see, it's not all bad line play. Skelton and Kolb can do plenty of damage by themselves, and not in the good way. But on the other hand, nothing about this line play is even remotely acceptable. This wouldn't even pass for acceptable in junior college football.
Arizona has a huge problem on their hands in 2012. Whether it's Skelton, Kolb or a triceratops recreated from a DNA strand found in fossilized amber, no quarterback playing behind that line is going to be able to stand up to complete anything longer than a five-yard short hook this season.
Have fun with that one, Cards fans. You'd better buy your pitchforks and torches while they're on sale now—some store's are going to make a killing when that first march on Whisenhunt Manor is declared sometime around Week 4.
Where to begin with these guys?
Much has been made of the Jets' inability to find pay dirt so far this preseason, and rightfully so. Tony Sparano's unit has ranged from bad to actually destroying the game of football in their three exhibition contests to date in 2012.
But it's not just the offense. It's the entire team, a full roster of players that have made for a pathetic preseason display so far. It's the coaching staff, the front office, the very core of ideas that has shaped the Jets' 2012 roster.
You can all burn Mark Sanchez in effigy as much as you want, but he's hardly the most embarrassing element of a Jets squad that could justify its own special edition of Collin 'Em Out.
On a Scale of 1-10, How Alarming is the Jets' Preseason So Far?
Let's start with Rex Ryan, who wins the Wimpy Coach of the Week Award for his third week of preseason action.
Up 6-3 with 5:26 remaining in the second quarter, Ryan had a choice: go for it on 4th-and-goal—when the Jets clearly needed practice executing their red-zone offense—or kick a 22-yard chip shot field goal?
Attempt to score a touchdown—which the Jets have not done so far this preseason—and satiate the fans, media and general locker-room morale? Or kick a glorified extra point that only might prove challenging to a fifth-grader? If you've been reading my column for the past few weeks, you know where I stand on this issue.
I don't care if the Jets were holding open tryouts for the placekicker position, you just don't kick a 22-yard field goal in the preseason outside of an expiring clock scenario. You certainly don't kick a 22-yard field goal in the preseason when you've yet to score a touchdown and could really use the practice with your goal-line sets just five yards short of pay dirt.
What's even more infuriating is that Ryan made this decision twice in the game! After a Tim Tebow incompletion to Patrick Turner on 3rd-and-goal with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter, Ryan elected to have Nick Folk kick a 30-yard field goal.
Apparently, the Jets needed to confirm Folk could, in fact, nail both a 22-yard and 30-yard field goal in the same game. Never mind all of their other struggles and concerns.
What do we learn from these chip shot field goal scenarios? Nothing. What could we have learned from Sanchez and Tebow quarterbacking fourth downs in goal-to-go scenarios? A whole lot. When will we finally learn that ego and bravado don't pass for intelligence amongst the coaching ranks? For Jets fans' sakes, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Ryan hardly provided the only boo-fodder on the night, though. Jets rookie wideout Stephen Hill was more than happy to add his own lowlights into New York's 60-minute stew of suck. With 3:25 remaining in the second quarter, Mark Sanchez sets up in shotgun.
Hill runs a slant on the play, working himself wide open from a slow-footed Captain Munnerlyn and well beneath the Carolina Panthers safeties.
Sanchez makes the correct read and fires toward a wide-open Hill, placing a perfectly-catchable ball that should lead Hill into respectable yards after the catch.
This does not happen, though, as the second-rounder out of Georgia Tech completely botches the reception.
And gives Munnerlyn—easily one of the worst starting DBs in the entire NFL—a gimme pick.
The most concerning development here is not that Sanchez threw an interception that absolutely should not count against his stats, but that Hill is continuing to demonstrate the exact same shortcomings he displayed at the collegiate level: failing to secure gimme receptions.
As Cris Collinsworth pointed out in the Sunday Night Football broadcast, all that 4.3 speed goes for naught when you don't make the grab. Until he shows differently, Hill has earned a label of unreliability.
Can the Jets Count on Stephen Hill in 2012?
His lackluster route-running abilities also don't help, but to a certain extent that is expected of a rookie who has yet to see his first regular-season action.
Hey, things could be worse for Hill, though. At least he wasn't the most embarrassing player on the Jets roster Sunday night. That honor belonged to Tebow.
Good grief, I get that Sparano is likely clouding or outright hiding the Jets' true Tebow Wildcat package, but that still doesn't explain how a guy who calls himself a pro quarterback can look so...is "bad" even the right word? Is there any extreme of the spectrum that really describes what Tebow is to the quarterback position?
We could choose from any number of wretched, errant Tebow passes from Sunday's game, but let's specifically put his interception under a microscope. If you have small children with dreams of joining the big leagues some day, you might want to avert their eyes now.
I don't care if Tebow was the quarterback for a Denver Broncos squad that advanced into the postseason last year. I don't care if Tebow found Demaryius Thomas in exploiting the one possible mistake the Pittsburgh Steelers could have made in overtime. I don't care if you think Tebow is a "winner," a "champion" or a "warrior."
Tebow is a terrible NFL quarterback. From a fundamental standpoint, he's the worst in the league right now. From a decision-making standpoint, he's easily on par with a guy like Kolb.
There remains a good chance that Sparano is actually keeping much of the Tebow offense under wraps this preseason, and I wouldn't doubt that to be the case. But Jets fans had better hope...no, pray that is the case. Because, good lord, that guy cannot play a traditional quarterback role, especially in New York's offense.
3. Norv Turner
Hey kids, trivia question: What's even more asinine than kicking a 22-yard field goal in the preseason?
ICING THE KICKER IN THE PRESEASON!
And thanks to Norv Turner—The Coach Who Wouldn't Die, no matter how many disappointing seasons the San Diego Chargers turn in—we were treated to a real "that just happened" moment this past weekend.
To ice Vikings' kicker Blair Walsh.
On a 29-yard field goal attempt.
In the preseason.
To quote Minnesota's play-by-play man: "Are they icing a kicker in the preseason? Really? Ha ha. Wow!" Even worse than actually aiming for such an asinine within-the-game victory in preseason was how damn satisfied Turner seemed to appear with his decision.
Why yes, you can practically hear him guffawing into his Gatorade. I am a genius, thanks for asking! I have an unquenchable thirst for danger. I lick my lips at the sight of some sorry kicker lining up for a chip shot preseason field goal!
Icing a kicker in the preseason is moronic for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that it adds time to a game everyone just wants to end without any real consequence for missing the kick. It actually aids the other team more in evaluation (in whether their kicker can handle the pressure) than the team calling the timeout.
But that's Turner for you, the king of small victories. The Heisenberg of frantic late-season comebacks to secure playoff bids after floundering in the months of September and October. If there ever was a Hall of Fame for moral victories, Turner would be a first-ballot inductee.
Until then, he'll just have to settle for being revered by Chargers fans nationwide (WARNING: This guy drops an f-bomb or two!).
4. Patrick Peterson
When a team makes this list twice in one week, it's usually not a great sign for the trending direction of that team. So drink up, Arizona Cardinals fans, because—beyond your horrendous offensive line—Patrick Peterson did you no favors either.
Let's just get this out of the way at the onset: Peterson is not an elite cornerback. Peterson is not a very good cornerback. Peterson is not a good cornerback. He certainly is not "one of the best players in the NFL" as Chris Berman indicated during last Thursday's ESPN broadcast of the Cardinals vs. Titans.
Peterson is an elite returner who is maybe, maybe, an average cornerback. (Emphasis on another 5,000 maybes.) No play demonstrated how far Peterson still needs to go quite as much as a second quarter scoring toss from Titans QB Jake Locker to Nate Washington.
Notice how, as Washington turns the play upfield, there is no one along the sideline. Yeah, that's where Peterson should be, but he's not there. So where is he?
Five yards out of bounds with his back to the play for the majority of it, getting blocked and not putting himself back into the broadcast picture until it is far too late.
Even when Peterson does bother to force himself back in the field of play, he makes zero effort to dive, lunge or otherwise sell out for a touchdown-saving tackle.
You really would like to see a helluva lot more from Peterson on that play. You would like to see him not turn his back on the play and lose sight of Washington charging up the sideline. You would like to see him shed a block from a wide receiver and get himself back into the field of play. You would like to see him not put himself in a position to be held up five yards out of bounds anyway.
But you would really like to see him at least make some attempt at a tackle aimed at preventing Washington from scoring even if it's just to say "I tried."
What Cardinals fans got, though, was a terrible effort by a cornerback who, at this time, is still entirely mediocre, no matter how ESPN might describe him.
Collin McCollough is Bleacher Report's Senior NFL Editor. Look for this weekly feature to run throughout the 2012-13 NFL season.
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