NFL 2011

NFL Preseason Ponderosa: Week 1 Edition

The NFL continued to club viewers over the head with their new offseason slogan, “Back to Football”. This time they had something novel behind it this past weekend…football.

Albeit of the preseason variety, game action taught us several lessons and started to build some of the storylines that will permeate throughout camp activity.

No offense to the Texans and Jets, who play on Monday night but a lot has happened since last Thursday, let’s tackle it (apologies for fan boy football pun):

WINNERS:

  • Ryan Mallett and Stevan Ridley: New England’s 2011 draft landed Mallett, who was troubled off the field but was one of the most talented quarterbacks in the draft; and Ridley, a versatile and shifty running back out of LSU. Mallett led the Patriots on four second-half touchdown drives while completing 12 of 19 passes for 164 yards and a score. Ridley totaled 111 rushing/receiving yards and tallied three touchdowns in New England’s 47-12 drubbing of Jacksonville on Thursday.
  • Detroit’s self-esteem: I think win-loss results in preseason games are more important to the league’s doormats than the perennial playoff contenders. Losing can become a disease for bad teams. Just ask Detroit. Even though they played a dreadful Cincinnati team (more on them shortly), the Lions looked sharp in a 34-3 victory, which might be a harbinger of things to come for them this season.
  • Julio Jones: I thought Atlanta was over-the-top in their draft-day acquisition of Jones. However, he has received rave reviews from Falcon teammates and showed he’ll be a difference maker for Atlanta’s once-predictable passing attack. He caught two passes for 43 yards in Atlanta’s 28-23 loss to Miami.
  • The “Dream Team”: The most notable item from Philly’s 13-6 win over Baltimore on Thursday was their defensive line play. They harassed and hurried Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throughout his stint on the field. Defensive line coach Jim Washburn has a rather sizable rotation of defensive linemen that should give opposing offensive lines fits.
  • Colt McCoy: The second-year pro hit 9 of 10 passes for 135 yards and a score against the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. McCoy looked sharper than another second-year quarterback that was selected in the first round (hint…last name rhymes with Tebow).

LOSERS:

  • Cincinnati: I had a brief Twitter exchange with fellow 76ers fan and NFL Network stalwart Michael Lombardi about the Bengals on Saturday. They look woefully undermanned. Lombardi summed it best by saying Cincy had a bad mix of too much age and too much youth.
  • Tim Tebow: Any time a scout compares you with Charles Barkley, the golfer, that is a problem.
  • Chad Henne: I’m still trying to figure out why Kyle Orton is not in Dolphins jersey by now. Henne threw two interceptions versus Atlanta.
  • Arizona’s offensive line: In Oakland, Kevin Kolb was already running for his life behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Then, Arizona was unable to spring Beanie Wells for six after four straight runs inside the Oakland 10.
  • San Francisco: Why this team continues to go to Alex Smith is beyond me. Smith missed on five of seven throws versus New Orleans.

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