I love the NFL preseason. Of course it’s no comparison to the regular season; however, it’s where stars are found.
It’s where those prized undrafted free agents are discovered. It’s where rookie quarterbacks have their “welcome to the NFL” moment after getting crushed by a blitzing linebacker. It gives coaches the chance to evaluate their talent across the board.
“Put it on tape” is often heard throughout practices and preseason games, giving coaches the option of letting men live out their dreams while also telling others they aren’t good enough.
As an avid Hard Knocks fan, there’s nothing worse than watching a player get cut. That’s a part of the business of the league, as there’s nothing harder than being an NFL head coach.
Their job expectancy is indefinite. How terrifying is that? The pressure coaches feel today seems to be growing exponentially, where even former Super Bowl-winning coaches have been given the boot (Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden and Brian Billick).
Anyway, I can’t remember a more anticipated or event-filled preseason. We had Andrew Luck vs. RGIII, Peyton Manning in a Broncos jersey, replacement referees who were making fools of themselves, and we said goodbye to Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson (probably).
So with all of that said, what coaches stood out this 2012 NFL preseason?
Being a Redskins fan, throwing out the Donovan McNabb name is often considered an insult. Despite McNabb’s past two years, he's had a great career in Philadelphia, and that’s who Russell Wilson reminds me of.
He’s an incredible athlete, though a bit undersized for quarterback standards. He can be a pocket passer while also using his legs as a weapon.
Pete Carroll might have just found his diamond in the rough with the former NC State and Wisconsin signal-caller.
Matt Flynn was paid and brought in to become Seattle’s starter, and he did a solid job in training camp and preseason. However, Russell Wilson was so impressive Pete Carroll had to make the call.
Eyebrows were certainly raised with the selection of Bruce Irvin in the first round, but Carroll is giving Wilson the keys to the car and his defense already appears to be dominant.
In what I thought was going to be Carroll’s last season in Seattle, his team has responded well to him.
Since Mike Shanahan has been in Washington, he’s been responsible for an array of failures, from the now laughable trade for Donovan McNabb to the mismanagement of Albert Haynesworth. Then there was the Rex Grossman and John Beck mishap.
All were really bad. Shanahan made another huge gamble this offseason in giving up the house for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
In three preseason starts, Griffin looked really good. Not spectacular, but he was able to move the offense down the field. It appears he developed a good rapport with free-agent signee Pierre Garcon and didn’t throw a single interception.
Mike Shanahan will go as far as RGIII goes; he’ll be noticed for his work with his quarterback and frustrating fantasy owners nationwide with his running back strategies.
After being the bottom feeders of the AFC South for almost a decade, the Houston Texans are now the team to beat in the division—by a long shot.
The Texans have everything but experience right now. Offensively they have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Arian Foster; even his backup Ben Tate would start for a number of teams out there.
Andre Johnson is still a Pro Bowl receiver and the team's 3-4 defense should only improve under Wade Phillips.
After years of mediocrity at best, Gary Kubiak was able to keep his job in Houston. Now, he has the talent to help the Texans remain a playoff team for years to come.
By all accounts, Lovie Smith is a good football coach. He’s widely respected, but he’s never really gotten over that hump despite a Super Bowl appearance years ago.
They are getting last year’s first-round pick Gabe Carimi back from an injury. Second-round pick Alshon Jeffery has shown flashes of brilliance already. Oh, and they got Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, who already has years of experience with Cutler.
That’s just on the offense. The Bears defense will be as good as usual. Lovie Smith finally has the talent that is needed and the team looked incredible in the preseason.
Take out the Minnesota Vikings and the rest of the NFC North could do some damage to opposing defenses this year.
Talking positively about the Eagles isn’t the easiest thing in the world for me, and though the Eagles have embarrassed my Redskins for quite awhile now, what Andy Reid has overcome this offseason is remarkable.
Last season was a major disappointment for Philadelphia, and this year they are expected to do substantially better with increased chemistry and fewer distractions.
Even with Vick’s injuries, rookie quarterback Nick Foles has looked incredible thus far. That’s Andy Reid’s system for you. Every quarterback succeeds in his offense: Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Mike Vick and, now, Nick Foles.
The Eagles also upgraded their defense via the draft and free agency, thus making their overall talent even more frightening.
Off the field, what happened to Andy Reid and his family is heartbreaking. No parent should ever have to bury their child, and the strength Reid has displayed is incredible.
The team looked great in the preseason, making the NFC East arguably the toughest division in the NFL.