20 Things We've Learned from the 2011 NFL Preseason
Get your knives and forks out, kids—we're going to take a look at the 20 things we've learned thus far in the preseason, and boy are there a few things you'll want to look at here.
There is plenty to agree and disagree upon, and there are even a few curious mentions that will surely spark some debate—essentially, there's something for everyone.
So sit down, take as much as you want and be sure to leave a tip when you're done!
Are you ready?
Michael Vick Does NOT Like the 3-4 Alignment
Two weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers showed a weakness in Michael Vick's otherwise impenetrable game: their defensive set.
Michael Vick has always struggled against the 3-4 in his career, primarily because he is a mobile QB, not a true pocket passer. While he and the Eagles are working on that, time is of the essence. Fifty percent of the Eagles schedule features teams who run the 3-4, with an additional matchup against the Cardinals, who also use the old 5-2 at times.
The Vikings Defense Is Back?
The Vikings were the No. 1 defense in the league in 2009, led the league in sacks and otherwise terrorized opposing teams for a full 16.
The 2010 version was idle, thanks to injury, poor play and an inability to get to the quarterback.
This season, the Vikings look better than ever, and if we have learned anything thus far about this team, it is that the defense looks to be back in rhythm, even if it is still preseason.
Traditions Can Be Lost to Stupidity
The Battle of the Bay is officially over, says one source, after another round of violence erupted, continuing a growing—and idiotic—trend in San Francisco.
Thanks to a collective sub-standard few from each fanbase, the local police and NFL officials have decided to forever cancel this once great tradition.
We should all learn that this is what happens when you take your fanship too seriously—and your alcohol too far.
It's just a game!
Peyton Manning's Recovery Isn't Going so Good
For crying out loud, the Colts actually went out and lured Kerry Collins out of retirement, which says a lot about whether Manning will be ready by Week 1.
Manning will undoubtedly play this season, but it may not be until Week 2 or 3.
Cam Newton Is NOT Ready
The NFL is a very difficult place to play, and it is an even harder to place learn all of its intricacies in the very short time Newton, and his fellow rookie class, have had.
The Panthers took a chance with selecting him as high as they did, and now they are reaping what they sowed.
Hopefully Newton doesn't eventually show himself to be a bust.
Tim Tebow Was a Mistake
Let's face facts with facts, Denver, Tebow was a HUGE mistake, and now you're stuck with him for the interim.
Tebow hasn't yet shown he can be a pocket passer within a specific system, despite having more than a year and a half to show SOME sort of improvement.
He is a mobile QB, and that is all he was in college. He has "bust" written all over him.
Shortened Camps and a Lack of OTAs Spells Disaster
There is a reason why NFL players get together and start working as far ahead of the preseason as they do, and we are all seeing why right now.
There are—at the time of this slide—41 players alone just on injured reserve, with another host of players listed as "Out Indefinitely."
Between the lack of practice and the whole CBA debacle, every single team is feeling the inevitable repercussions of idle time.
Colt Is the Real McCoy
How about this, huh?
I'm not sure very many people would've pegged Colt McCoy to wind up being one of the best preseason quarterbacks in the NFL, but here we are, and Browns fans have GOT to be liking this.
McCoy is passing with a 68 percent completion rate, with four TDs and zero interceptions.
Fantasy Does Become Reality
Did you draft Peyton Manning as your first QB selection BEFORE learning of the recent recovery news?
Are you one of the many, many fantasy football fans who is currently competing in real-time drafts and discovering the NEXT DAY that your star receiver, tight-end or running back mysteriously landed on the injury list after what you can only assume to be a slip and fall?
As I mentioned before, the lack of time and practice has its obvious affects on the players in the NFL, which has a direct affect on fantasy football—just read this and you'll see—and that's enough unnerving activity to keep every fantasy football fan on the brink for weeks at a time.
The New Rules Are Just Plain Stupid
The return rule and the touchdown review rule have been unveiled and, I have to tell you, both rules stink.
You mean to tell me every single score will be reviewed, and if the ref even gets a hint of a scoring discrepancy, he'll put the score into review?
So in other words, Thursday night and Monday night games will now venture into 2 a.m. land or later?
And moving the kickoff man five yards ahead DOES NOT protect him any further.
Yes, he is five yards closer to the goal line, but that only means defenders have to get downfield even FASTER to stop the return guy, lending way to harder hits propelled on increased acceleration alone.
I would really like to meet the genius who came up with that theory.
The Lions Are a Threat to the NFC North
Matthew Stafford is healthy, the addition of Titus Young will be huge and, holy cow, look at the Lions defense!
This team has gone from rags to near riches in a short capsule of time, and every NFC North fan who is NOT a Lions fan has to admit that this team is going to be trouble.
The Lions are looking more and more as if they aren't the same "push-around" team anymore, and that could make things very interesting this season.
Hey! Thanksgiving is looking up already!
Mark Sanchez May Have Reached His Peak as a Starting QB
I understand the Jest are not a passing team, and they sort of emphasize the intermediate passing game more than most NFL teams, but Sanchez needs to step things up and show he is better than a 54-percent passer if the Jets want to win a Super Bowl, let alone even get there.
The Jets won more games last year the more terrible Sanchez played, which suggests the Jets are a defensive team first, but Sanchez can't make a career out of being a mediocre QB in this league.
Well, he can, but you catch my drift: The Jets fanbase wants more.
Joe Thomas Is the Best Tackle to Play the Game in 10-Plus Years
Not as if some of you didn't already know this, but Thomas is a one-of-a-kind player for the ages, and his new contract that came this preseason taught us that he is in fact the best darn tackle to play this game in quite some time.
He is a four-time Pro Bowler (twice on the starting team) who has never missed a start and has never missed a practice in four years!
Now that's who I want protecting my quarterback of the future.
Al Davis Has Gone off the Deep End
Terrell Pryor in the supplemental draft—'nuff said!
The Cowboys Could Be a Contender
I think plenty of NFL fans could've argued that the Cowboys had an outside chance of making the playoffs even with a fully healthy Giants team lingering around the division, but with the recent barrage of injuries the Giants have sustained, the Cowboys' chances of a postseason run just got a little better.
Yes, one team's strife can be another team's catalyst towards success, especially if they play in the same division.
The Redskins Defense Looks Sharp for a Team Going Nowhere
Let's face it, this defense looks spectacular, allowing a league-few 10 points in two contests thus far, which causes mixed emotions for Redskins fans.
The 'Skins are in re-build mode and aren't likely to do a whole lot of damage this season, but they can at least take pride in their defense if they keep playing at this level this season.
Now, if the offense could just kick it up a notch.
The Packers Are Even More Dangerous, but Not a Lock
With the return of RB Ryan Grant and TE Jermichael Finley, this team is even more deadlier than they were in 2010, but the hits the defense took from the open market is a slight cause for concern.
The consensus is that the Packers took a step backwards defensively, which is a problem considering just how intricate their system already is.
I still see the Packers as the favorite for another Super Bowl appearance, but certainly not a lock.
Rookies Need More Time Than 4 Preseason Games and a Handful of Practices
The 2011 NFL rookie class will go down as one of the most unique to ever play in the sense that everything that transpired over the past few months has disallowed them to truly acclimate themselves to the NFL.
While some rookies are "said" to be coming along fine, the fact of the matter is they just need far more time than they have had to really get up to speed.
The other problem is the fact that this class was very deep, with a lot of talent coming out of multiple rounds, so there is a large mini-sacrifice in talent here through the first couple of weeks.
Half-and-Half in Your Coffee?
Out of the 32 NFL teams, at LEAST 15 of them are still either a work-in-progress or miles away altogether from postseason play, leaving only 17 to duke it out for the 12 open playoff spots.
Philadelphia, Dallas, Green Bay, Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, New England, New York Jets, San Diego, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston (yes, Houston), Kansas City and the New York Giants (although their chances are slimmer than ever) all have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
Some of these teams have a better chance than others, but not by much, adding more emphasis on parity this season than ever before.
Almost half-and-half, but you could easily make a case for at least ONE of these teams being removed, relegating the list to 50/50.
WE LOVE FOOTBALL!
I think this picture says it all.
It epitomizes the patience we have all had through the CBA talks, and it also depicts the loneliness that each football fan felt in the offseason.
It tells a tale of a single fan in-wait, which creates the universal image of what everyone felt during the offseason: alone and desperate.
Does this sound like an anti-depressant commercial? Yes. But it isn't any less truthful.
Writers were starving, experts were bored, fans were champing at the bit and the players were just as nervous.
But through it all, we all learned a valuable and reassuring lesson: We simply LOVE this game and couldn't be happier to have it back!
There are the few instances that mar the face of football, such as unruly fans or the despicable acts that recently occurred in San Francisco, but by no means are they a measure of what true fans of the game are like—just more examples of improperly living as a human being.
For the rest of us, the spill over from the "cup of passion" is heard in our cheers and felt in our angst.
It's a constant reminder after indigestion at 9 p.m., and an indelible mark on our everyday lives for one-half of the year.
It brings together excitement, anticipation and a fully complimented emotional roller coaster unlike anything in this world.
That is what football is all about, Charlie Brown.
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