8 Things We Learned from NFL Preseason Week 2
The vast wasteland of the NFL preseason slogged ahead this weekend, with all 30 teams participating in some sort of mandatory football activity. Week 2 is usually the week where the NFL preseason begins to lose some of the allure, as people remember that the only part of the game that actually resembles the actual NFL occurs in the first 20 minutes.
Even that is an amalgam of overthrows and missed tackles.
This week, we saw the starters see their playing time being slowly lengthened, and the fourth-string wide receivers had to do more to prove themselves. Now, I can't actually give you an example of a fourth-string receiver, but I'm sure your life will manage to somehow go on.
Here are 10 things we learned from Week 2, but may not be better for learning them.
Plaxico Burress Still Has Intermediate Football Skills
Burress proved a hater or two wrong last night, having three catches for 66 yards and one borderline-remarkable touchdown. Burress was the recipient of a 34-yard overthrow from Mark Sanchez, in which Burress had to lay out and catch the ball over the shoulder. It was enough to send a chill down your spine if you are a fan of a team with a weak red zone defense.
If Burress is able to not shoot himself in the foot (which, as always, is in play), the Sanchez-Burress combination could be a dynamic that could be hard to stop once the Jets enter the opposing team's 20-yard line.
Felix Jones Can Run Fast
Felix Jones ran for 56 yards on seven carries against the San Diego Chargers and is proving he can be a legitimate starter for the Dallas Cowboys offense. He appears to have regained his explosive ability he had in his first pro season but was marginalized with various injuries/weight gain.
He's even done enough to inspire confidence in his quarterback, Tony Romo. "I've never seen him more explosive or quicker than he has been in this camp," Romo said. "He also has taken it up a notch with his understanding of the game."
Romo may not appear to have the wisdom of most NFL analysts (which isn't much to begin with), but he's right. Jones looks in shape and is even dragging tacklers a few extra yards on his carries.
The New England Patriots Will Not Be Silenced
If you read SI.com's Dan Shaughnessy this week, you would think the New England Patriots had just won all 17 regular season games, stormed through the playoffs and defeated the Trojan army en route to another Super Bowl win. That didn't happen, as there just wasn't enough time in the two weeks of preseason to get all that accomplished.
All kidding aside, the Patriots have looked really strong this preseason, and a 31-14 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers proved this.
The offense looks fluid and Tom Brady was even able to get Chad Ochocinco to play catch with him during this weekend's game. The running game appears strong, which hasn't happened for the Patriots at the beginning of the season in years. The defense only has to play at an average level for the Patriots to succeed, which is nice because that is traditionally what they do anyway.
The Indianapolis Colts will not even be able to tread water without Peyton Manning, as evidenced by a 16-3 loss against the Redskins in which it appeared the offense forgot how to play football on more than one occasion.
There is no sense of direction, and Dan Orlovsky is not the answer.
This has led to speculation that the Great Satan himself could be quarterbacking the Colts come Week 1 of the regular season, but that may just be owner Jim Irsay relentlessly abusing Twitter with his improper grammar and incessant punctutation.
Cam Newton Will Not Shock the World
Cam Newton is still a work in progress. He could not contribute to any Carolina scoring Friday and was only entrusted with making short passes for short gains. He obviously has yet to inspire any real confidence in the coaching staff, enough to allow Newton to play his style of play. It looks like the Panthers, as they should, are going to take a hands-on approach with Newton and attempt to make him into a respectable quarterback who will not hand the ball over to opposing defenses with regularity.
We aren't going to see Sam Bradford II this season from Newton, as at least it seems that way from the Carolina coaching staff.
Colt McCoy Can Play Football, at Least on a Decent Level
Colt McCoy threw three touchdowns against the Detroit Lions Friday night and did enough for every fantasy owner who thinks he is brilliant to say, "Maybe I can take this guy with a late-round pick."
We shouldn't crown McCoy as the second coming, obviously, but a lot can be taken away from his performance. He looks confident, although that could just be due to the Lions' mediocre pass defense. He is comfortable with throwing to anyone, as evidenced by two touchdown passes to backup tight end Evan Moore. He appears confident and competent, which really are the two most important qualities a NFL quarterback must have.
Now, I am not sure what other qualities there are, but we'll just leave it at that.
Donovan McNabb, released from the shackles of Mike Shanahan's radiator, is now playing at a decently high level in Minnesota. McNabb went 6-for-8 for 81 yards on Saturday and appears to be indulging in his new-found freedom. He looks like he is having actual fun and no longer has the look of a man that has Rex Grossman breathing down his neck.
Tim Tebow went 1-for-2 for 10 yards Saturday night and left a legion of Tebow fans in tears.
It appears Tebow will enter the 2011 season as the third-string quarterback, which is sort of puzzling if you remember his stellar first preseason game. According to the talking head known as Mark Schelreth, Tebow is "way behind" the two quarterbacks in front of him, Brady Quinn and Kyle Orton.
Somewhere, Merril Hoge is snickering and dancing.