Sunday, September 4, 2016

NFL Preview Notes

My favorite “season” is football season, and it got off on the right foot when unranked Wisconsin upset national championship contender LSU this weekend. My alma mater, on the other hand, though ranked in the preseason top-ten, barely escaped a “historic” loss in overtime, although not as “historic” as Michigan losing at home to the same opponent back in 2007.  I am a born and raised Big Ten guy, and my intense dislike of the SEC is a given anyway.

But I’m not really a college football fan, but an NFL fan, and next week I will once more start posting my Sunday night NFL Notes rundown of results. For now I’ll make a few observations with the winding-down of the preseason. Being a Packer fan, I’ll talk about them for a bit. Aaron Rodgers did not look good in his only game play in the preseason, against the 49ers, and neither did Jordan Nelson, mainly because he didn’t play at all, and that could mean another substandard year for Rodgers and disappointing season overall for the Packers. Nelson is clearly not fully recovered from his ACL injury, and he admits his “conditioning” isn’t where it should be. Meanwhile, Davante Adams showed once more that he has trouble putting his fingers on something called a football, and despite all his physical tools, I would be surprised if he is still with the team next year if he can’t put more thought in the mechanics of securing a football in his hands, which is what he is being paid to do. The Packers picked up veteran TE Jared Cook, but for a big target like him, catching 50 percent of the passes thrown to him the past two seasons with the then St. Louis Rams does not inspire much confidence. 

At the back-up quarterback position, undrafted rookie Joe Callahan played week throughout the preseason, but back-ups playing well in preseason isn’t unusual. Last season’s preseason Phenom, Brett Hundley, did not play this preseason except to reinjure his ankle after two series against the Raiders. The Packers are keeping both on the 53-man roster for now, but rumor is that Packer management thinks that Callahan is a better “fit” on the team, and are considering their options on dealing Hundley, who is still officially number 2 on the depth chart.

I didn't pay much attention to the preseason, but here are some quickly scribbled random thoughts in regard to some teams'  quarterback position:

Andrew Luck was spotty in his return to the Colts, while Jimmy Garoppolo will start for the Patriots in place of suspended Tom Brady. If the Patriots can escape with a 2-2 mark, Bill Belichick will earn his “genius” reputation.  The Broncos cut Mark Sanchez, who was promptly signed by the Cowboys following another extended injury to Tony Romo, after a cheap-shot hit by Cliff Avril of the Seahawks. I’m not a Seahawk fan, so I’ll leave my comments about them at that. Former NFL laughingstock Blaine Gabbert was named the 49ers starting quarterback over former superstar Colin Kaepernick. I was watching the NFL Network’s “classic game” documentary on the 49ers loss to the Ravens in the Super Bowl, and just watching Kaepernick’s three awful passes at the goal line with a chance to win was reminder enough that despite having that strong arm, there is still something to be said for being able to align brain function with physical motion.  

Elsewhere, Robert Griffin III was named the Browns starting quarterback a month ago, and at least he didn’t play lacklusterly enough to lose the job like Sanchez supposedly did.  After Teddy Bridgewater’s injury, the Vikings acquired Sam Bradford, an apparently unwanted quantity elsewhere, but better than nothing; journeyman fill-in Shaun Hill will start for now, until Bradford absorbs a “simplified” playbook.  Brock Osweiler didn’t do anything to prevent his becoming the Texans’ starter, and Trevor Siemian, a no-name if ever, is as confident as John Elway that he is “the man” in Denver. We’ll see, or not. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick resigned with the Jets, we won’t have to suffer the further “education” of Geno Smith; he can just sit and watch and stew away, since he’s lucky to even have a seat on a bench anywhere in the NFL.

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