Jun 102013
 

Chip Kelly4. Philadelphia Eagles
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Offense: 280 points scored, 29th in points, 15th in yards (13th passing, 13th rushing)
2012 Defense: 444 points allowed, 29th in points, 15th in yards (9th passing, 23rd rushing)

Key Additions
Head Coach Chip Kelly, FB/TE James Casey, S Patrick Chung, CB Bradley Fletcher, DT Isaac Sopoaga, LB Connor Barwin, LB Jason Phillips, S Kenny Phillips, CB Cary Williams, RB Felix Jones, P Donnie Jones, T Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz, QB Matt Barkley

Key Losses
CB Nnamdi Asomugha, T King Dunlap, LB Akeem Jordan, DT Derek Landri, CB Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, G Jake Scott, DE Darryl Tapp, RB Dion Lewis

Why 2013 will be better
The injury bug took a heavy toll on the Eagles in 2012, and any improvement in this regard will increase the team’s win total. Perhaps Chip Kelly will have a better sense of how to utilize LeSean McCoy, who is one of the most talented running backs in the league, but who never seemed to be the centerpiece of Andy Reid’s offensive scheme. Perhaps Kelly will also be the coach who will get through to DeSean Jackson, and bring out his remarkable potential as well. But if 2013 is going to be more successful than 2012, it will be because the defensive additions will perform to their potentials and not force Michael Vick or Nick Foles to play from behind.

Why 2013 will be worse
Although the Eagles were 9th against the pass last season, they gave up a league high 32 touchdown passes, necessitating an overhaul to the secondary. The trouble is while they brought in Cary Williams from the Ravens, the rest of the “upgrades” in the secondary are unremarkable retreads that may not fare much better in 2013. Plus Williams has stayed away from the Eagles’ OTA’s and doesn’t seem to be off to a good start with Eagles’ management. Add this to the open question as to whether or not Chip Kelly can adapt his offensive approach to life in the NFL, and the eternal questions of how many games one can expect Vick to actually be on the field for, and how many mistakes he will make while on the field, and a repeat four win performance (or worse) is not entirely out of the question.

Outlook
On paper, the Eagles look like a team that will do better than 4-12, but how much better? Vick is not a reliable quarterback in terms of his health or his decision-making. He has fumbled the ball 32 times in the past three seasons, losing twelve of those while also throwing 30 interceptions. Toss in 85 sacks during this span of only 35 games (having missed another 13) and it is fair to say that even the most ardent Eagles’ fan should be cautious in setting on setting overly high expectations for the coming season. A final tally of six or seven wins would be a good improvement for this club as they continue to rebuild their defense and allow Chip Kelly a year to become acclimated with football beyond the college ranks. At least the days of the infamous “Dream Team” are behind them.

Dec 262012
 

Russell WilsonWe hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and that at least some of you get a few extra days off to relax as we head into 2013. Our Week 16 Power Rankings have the Seahawks supplanting the 49ers by virtue of the Sunday night smackdown that they laid upon them. And despite the 13-2 record of the Atlanta Falcons, they’re still not getting love here, as they are ranked fourth going into the final week of the regular season. Here is our complete set of rankings for this week:

1. Denver Broncos (12-3, W10, U) – Still not seeing them as Super Bowl bound, but all they do is win

2. Seattle Seahawks (10-5, W4, +5) – The idea of this team with a potent offense is just frightening

3. New England Patriots (11-4, W1, U) – So which Patriots team shows up for the playoffs? The one that pasted the Texans or the one that barely beat the Jaguars? Perhaps only Gronk knows…

4. Atlanta Falcons (13-2, W2, U) – There is only one question where the Falcons are concerned, and we will start getting our answers in three weeks

5. San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1, L1, -3) – Any points they got for winning in Foxboro just got wiped away in Seattle

6. Green Bay Packers (11-4, W4, U) – The offense is clicking at the right time, but will their defense stop anyone in the playoffs?

7. Houston Texans (12-3, L1, -2) – This could be the most potent team to go one and done in the playoffs

8. Indianapolis Colts (10-5, W1, +1) – Is there a better success story in the NFL this season?

9. Washington Redskins (9-6, W6, +2) – Not bad for a team written off by their own coach just six weeks ago

10. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6, W2, +1) – They don’t match up well with the Patriots, so they are hoping for the Pats to go up or down in the seedings

11. Baltimore Ravens (10-5, W1, +1) – Not so potent, and also facing a possible one and done

12. Minnesota Vikings (9-6, W3, +3) – Are the Vikings the Colts of the NFC? We’ll know in one more week…

13. New York Giants (8-7, L2, -5) – The fat lady hasn’t sung yet, but she’s warming up

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-7, L1, U) – The teasing reached a new low against the Saints

15. Chicago Bears (9-6, W1, +1) – One more chance to salvage Lovie’s job…

16. New Orleans Saints (7-8, W2, +2) – Truth be told, this team got the 2012 it deserved; can it rebound for a more successful 2013?

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8, L3, -4) – This team has some serious off-season questions to answer

18. St. Louis Rams (7-7-1, W1, +1) – The fact that this team was alive through 14 games is a testament to the coaching of Jeff Fisher

19. Miami Dolphins (7-8, W2, +2) – Ryan Tannehill is not going to be Rookie of the Year, but he may be the answer to Miami’s quarterback woes

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9, L5, -3) – Perhaps the Bucs were over-performing, but this is a disappointing ending to what was a promising first season for Greg Schiano

21. Cleveland Browns (5-10, L2, -1) – The house-cleaning will likely clear away both GM and Head Coach, but Tom Heckert has done right by the Browns

22. San Diego Chargers (6-9, W1, +1) – Philip Rivers will survive the post-season changes coming, but should he?

23. Carolina Panthers (6-9, W3, +1) – The Panthers are showing some character by finishing strong, and likely saving Ron Rivera in the process

24. Detroit Lions (4-11, L7, +2) – They moved up because they can beat the teams below them, but this team needs to fix a defense that is built on hype

25. Buffalo Bills (5-10, L3, U) – Speaking of defenses built on hype…

26. New York Jets (6-9, L2, -4) – The only way to fix what’s wrong is to blow it up; it’s that bad – of course the Jets won’t, and 2013 is already looking bleak

27. Arizona Cardinals (5-10, L1, +1) – Is Brian Hoyer the 2013 starter?

28. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11, L2, +1) – Michael Vick starts his last game as an Eagle

29. Tennessee Titans (5-10, L1, -2) – Titans on pace to give up franchise record number of points, and their offense isn’t very good either

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13, L4, U) – Gutsy performance against New England, but this is a very bad team

31. Oakland Raiders (4-11, L1, U) – Will Carson Palmer be back?

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13, L3, U) – Romeo Crennel won’t be…

Dec 192012
 

Chris HarrisOf course no one can stay at the top of our Power Rankings for more than a couple of weeks, so the Patriots have given way to a new #1 this week. This week’s Power Rankings capture our thoughts on each team in five words or less, so here we go. Thanks to our contributors for some wonderfully smarmy commentary. We welcome our readers to offer some smarmy comments as well.

Week 15 Power Rankings

1. Denver Broncos (11-3, W9, +1) – Tebow got them this far…

2. San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1, W2, +1) – Pure power football

3. New England Patriots (10-4, L1, -2) – Turnovers + Short Field = Loss

4. Atlanta Falcons (12-2, W1, +1) – Who cares until the playoffs?

5. Houston Texans (12-2, W1, -1) – How good is this team?

6. Green Bay Packers (10-4, W3, +1) – QB = Good, Kicker=Bad

7. Seattle Seahawks (9-5, W3, +3) – Fake punt!?!

8. New York Giants (8-6, L1, -2) – Better turn it on quick

9. Indianapolis Colts (9-5, L1, -1) – Who would have thunk?

10. Washington Redskins (8-6, W5, +2) – RG III + Cousins = Great Draft

11. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, W1, +2) – Best of Bad Division

12. Baltimore Ravens (9-5, L3, -3) – Injuries + Flacco = Fading Fast

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7, L2, -2) – Their history won’t save them

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-6, W3, +2) – Such a tease…

15. Minnesota Vikings, (8-6, W2, +2) – Is Adrian Peterson the MVP?

16. Chicago Bears (8-6, L3, -1) – Now I’m free… free falling…

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8, L4, -3) – Go back to creamsicle unis!

18. New Orleans Saints (6-8, W1, +1) – Sean Payton is getting paid

19. St. Louis Rams (6-7-1, L1, -1) – Silence of the Lambs

20. Cleveland Browns (5-9, L1, +1) – Fire. Pat. Shurmer. Now.

21. Miami Dolphins (6-8, W1, +3) – 2nd best in AFC East

22. New York Jets (6-8, L1, -2) – Just. End. The. Season.

23. San Diego Chargers (5-9, L1, U) – Underachievers week after week

24. Carolina Panthers (5-9, W2, +2) – Cam does good commercials

25. Buffalo Bills (5-9, L2, -3) – They have good wings

26. Detroit Lions (4-10, L6, -1) – Megatron > Suh

27. Tennessee Titans (5-9, W1, U) – Uniforms and play both ugly

28. Arizona Cardinals (5-9, W1, +3) – 1 Team, 3 Bum QBs

29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10, L1, -1) – Dream Team playing out string

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12, L3, -1) – Ready to forfeit this Sunday

31. Oakland Raiders (4-10, W1, +1) – They beat the Chiefs!

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12, L2, -2) – They lost to the Raiders!

Nov 142012
 

Through ten weeks, there is one thing for certain; there is no dominant team in the NFL this season. Just when we thought the Falcons might make it a couple of more weeks without a loss, they fall to the Saints. The Texans took care of business against a tough Bears team, but the 49ers flopped against the Rams, salvaging a tie in a game they should have lost. The Patriots won, but not without great drama, and the Steelers struggled against the hapless Chiefs, escaping only because of a penalty. The Giants look pretty bad at this point in the season, but they always look bad at this point of the season. As a result, our power rankings fluctuated mightily this week.

Here are our Week 10 Rankings:

1. Houston Texans (8-1, +1) – The Texans rolled into Soldier Field and took care of business; how will they do against a team with a better offense?

2. Atlanta Falcons (8-1, -1) – It was a game they could have won, but no real harm done to the Falcon’s ambitions

3. San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1, U) – The Niners are still a favorite in the NFC, but they need to demonstrate some consistency; Quarterback Concern #1 of the week, though Alex Smith might be ready to return

4. New England Patriots (6-3, +2) – The win over the Bills was not an impressive win by any stretch of the imagination, but the Patriots are on a three game winning streak and now hope to improve their beleaguered secondary with the move of McCourty to safety and the acquisition of Aqib Talib

5. Baltimore Ravens (7-2, +3) – Still not convinced their defense will hold up against better offensive teams, but their schedule makes the division title looking like a good bet

6. Green Bay Packers (6-3, +1) – Can they play the second half of the season the way they finished the first?

7. Chicago Bears (7-2, -3) – Quarterback Concern #2 of the week; even though the Bears would rather have their defense on the field all game, the Bears with Jay Cutler are better than the Bears without Jay Cutler

8. Denver Broncos (6-3, +2) – Manning and the Broncos getting better every week; this is a dangerous team if their defense holds up

9. New York Giants (6-4, -4) – The Giants are just out of sorts right now and Eli is playing without confidence; is this is this a real problem or do they just have the rest of the league exactly where they want them?

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3, -1) – Quarterback Concern #3 of the week; the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger are better than the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger

11. Seattle Seahawks (6-4, U) – This team just stubbornly refuses to go away

12. Indianapolis Colts (6-3, +1) – Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs? Yes, they really are

13. Minnesota Vikings (6-4, -1) – Solid win over the Lions means the Vikes are legitimate playoff contenders; that will hold up as long as Adrian Peterson does

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4, +4) – Doug Martin looks like a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate; Bucs looking like a legitimate threat

15. New Orleans Saints (4-5, +8) – They probably should have been ranked higher last week, but we will correct that now that they took out the Falcons; playoffs still appear unlikely

16. Detroit Lions (4-5, -2) – Just when the offense starts waking up, the defense lets them down

17. Arizona Cardinals (4-5, -2) – You know what a bye week is? In this case, it could just be a week between losses

18. Dallas Cowboys (4-5, +3) – Another team trying to steer its way back into the playoff race; beating the Browns would help, though it’s exactly the kind of game they are capable of losing

19. Cincinnati Bengals (4-5, +3) – Just when we get ready to write them off, they spank the Giants and thrust themselves back into the playoff picture

20. San Diego Chargers (4-5, -4) – The Norv Turner watch is now officially on; a loss to the Broncos just might be the end of his run

21. Washington Redskins (3-6, -4) – They are building a good base for the future; but it’s not a team that is going to make waves this season

22. St. Louis Rams (3-5-1, +4) – What a difference an Amendola makes

23. Miami Dolphins (4-5, -4) – At least when they got pummeled by the Titans they didn’t have Tony Sparano fist-pumping after the field goal like it was a major accomplishment

24. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6, -4) – Quarterback Concern #4 of the week, though in this case Nick Foles looks like an improvement over Michael Vick; the Reid and Vick eras are coming to a close in Philly

25. Tennessee Titans (4-6, +4) – Jake Locker and Chris Johnson are doing their best to try and get this team back to respectability

26. Buffalo Bills (3-6, -1) – This team is its own worst enemy

27. New York Jets (3-6, -3) – If the Jets are lucky, they can put themselves in a position to draft Matt Barkley, another USC quarterback who is less accurate and less athletic than Mark Sanchez

28. Cleveland Browns (2-7, -1) – They even lose ground in a bye week

29. Carolina Panthers (2-7, -1) – Who would have thought that offensive production was going to be their primary problem this season?

30. Oakland Raiders (3-6, U) – They are one Carson Palmer away from being hapless

31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-8, +1) – They finally got a lead against the Steelers, and should have had a victory; moral victories don’t count for much, but this was a huge improvement

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8, -1) – It’s like they’re not even trying; expect some big-time house cleaning in the off-season

Week 8 Recap

 Posted by
Oct 292012
 

Another Sunday, another wild slate of games in the NFL. The theme of this week’s outcome is job security, or in some cases the lack of job security for key coaches and players. There’s still half a season left to play, but some themes are beginning to take shape.

Here are your results from Week 8:

  • The Buccaneers whip the Vikings 36-17 and show that they may not yet be a serious playoff threat, but are a dangerous team to play; Doug Martin has a huge game with 135 yards rushing while Josh Freeman is effective in throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns
  • Da Bears edge the Panthers 23-22 with late rally in ugly win on a game-winning field goal by Robbie Gould; Ron Rivera edges closer to the door depite a game effort from Carolina
  • Yes, it was played in the slop, but Norv Turner’s job security hangs by a thread after the Browns upset the Chargers 7-6; Trent Richardson runs for 122 yards in a solid outing
  • Matthew Stafford finally looks like Matthew Stafford for a week as the Lions edge the Seahawks 28-24 behind 352 yards and three touchdown passes by the Lions’ quarterback; Jim Schwartz moves off of the hot seat while Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch look good in last minute loss
  • The Packers struggle against the Jaguars’ defense but emerge with a 24-15 win; Blaine Gabbert outduels Aaron Rodgers but Rodgers earns the win
  • The Dolphins help edge Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez closer to finding a new color with a convincing 30-9 win; Reggie Bush wins the war of words and the game; perhaps the Jets should be apologizing to their fans
  • Andy Reid and Michael Vick updating their resumes after Matt Ryan and Julio Jones team up to whip the Eagles 30-17; Falcons now 7-0
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Jonathan Dwyer, and swarming Steelers defense halt RG3 and the Redskins 27-12
  • Patriots light up the Rams 45-7 as Brady is sharp and Ridley surpasses 100 rushing yards again; defense improved as both teams head into bye week
  • Andrew Luck and Vick Ballard connect for beautiful game winning touchdown in overtime as the Colts beat the Titans 19-13; so much for thinking that Matt Hasselbeck would claim the starting job back from Jake Locker
  • Raiders top the Chiefs 26-16; Brady Quinn’s reign lasts twelve and a half minutes while Darren McFadden rushes for 112 yards
  • Giants win a wild one as the Cowboys commit six turnovers in a 29-24 loss; Jason Garrett and Tony Romo now 3-4 and will no doubt evoke some reactions from Jerry this week
  • Broncos crush Saints 34-14 behind big performances from Peyton Manning, Willis McGahee, and DeMaryius Thomas; worst defense in the league just gets worse for the Saints
  • still to come: San Francisco – Arizona
Oct 102012
 

Widows, even though I haven’t found the exact science for making picks, I stand by all of them from last week. The teams that I chose to win were already winners in my book based on their efforts in support of “A Crucial Catch”, the NFL’s program to support breast cancer awareness and education. I learned a lot in the research process and had fun writing my article last week.

In addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Around the time when I was choosing the “scientific” formula to be used each week to make my sophisticated Widow’s Picks, The Artist Formerly Known as Chad Ochocinco was arrested for domestic battery against his wife. Chad Johnson’s arrest, and the ensuing media circus surrounding an NFL player so publically being inappropriate, inspired my decision to take a week in October to choose winners based on the team with the fewest players arrested for violent crime. I chose this week because the third week of October has been designated by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) as “The Week Without Violence”. I hereby decree, by the power vested in me by football widows everywhere, that the nice guys will finish first this week!

I know what you’re thinking, Widows. How can I expect men who get paid obscene amounts of money to beat up on each other on the field be expected to hold it together off of it? It’s really quite simple, and it harkens back to my thought that everything they need to know about football, they learned in Kindergarten. For example, in Kindergarten, we learn the difference between our “inside voice” and our “outside voice”. If you scream on the playground, it’s all good. If you scream in the classroom, you stand in the corner. The distinction is clear. In the NFL, there are rules and penalties. My husband pointed out a great litmus test when making decisions about behavior. If it gets you a 15 yard penalty during the game, best not try it at home. Speaking directly to Chad Johnson in this case, no head butting allowed! Not even if the other guy is wearing a helmet!

Further inspection revealed something that footballs fans already know, although Widows like me didn’t even have this on the radar. Apparently, again sort of like Kindergarteners, some NFL players do better when they are being monitored. For example, I found several articles that referred to Tennessee Titan Kenny Britt’s “crime spree” that occurred during the lockout prior to the 2011 season. This is one example of apparently several instances in which players engaged in behavior that would have been addressed as violations of the player conduct policy, yet couldn’t be addressed during the lockout. Lockouts are temporary, and that one came and went. Damage to one’s character lasts forever. Maybe this is a stretch, but if we started hearing about a crime surge among Chicago teachers during their recent work stoppage, would we dismiss it since they are off the clock? If a person behaves badly and no one was around to pay them, is it still wrong? Since this chapter of NFL history is in the record books, and I don’t have a great answer, I will climb carefully off of my soap box. (Note that I haven’t said word one about these guys as role models for the young men my husband and I are raising.)

I understand that it may not be reasonable to expect that the crime rate among millionaires between the ages of 22 and 40 playing pro football would be any different than the rate for other men in the same age group. I am not going to get into the debate about whether or not these gentlemen should or should not be regarded as role models to our nation’s young people. However, I am very interested in how teams and the League as a whole, respond to criminal activity and other misconduct on the part of players.

Chad Johnson was fairly swiftly cut from the Dolphins. Detroit cut corner back Aaron Berry following an assault arrest. In April 2012, the Vikings cut running back Caleb King after he fractured a man’s skull in a fight that ensued because the guy said that King looked like comedian Eddie Murphy. Seattle cut Jarriel King following an arrest for suspicion of sexual assault of an intoxicated woman. In many cases, however, players continue to play. I guess not everyone should lose their job just because they get into trouble with the law. However, the NFL has acknowledged the issues surrounding risky personal behaviors and has responded.

The NFL has a mandatory program for all rookies called The Rookie Success Program. This program includes education on topics such as stress management, anger management, domestic violence, substance abuse and impulse control. Player Assistance and Counseling Services are also available. Modeled like a typical employee assistance program, these services are designed to assist players with issues that they face upon transition into the NFL, throughout their career, and during transition out of the league. There is recognition on the part of the league that life in the NFL is not without pressure and players may need resources, not only to help them be better players, but to be better people.

Widow’s Warning: People are innocent until proven guilty. Some of the cases I found have not yet been decided in a court of law. I am basing my picks this week on arrests, with no presumption of guilt. No NFL players were harmed in the making of my picks. So, may the team with the fewest thugs win!! Here’s hoping for no domestic violence in their homes, no brandishing of weapons, no bar fights, and, for heaven’s sake, calling a cab when drunk!!

Week 6

Steelers over Titans (Ben Rothlisberger, you are lucky you are playing the Titans!)
Falcons over Raiders
Chiefs over Buccaneers (Jermaine Philips, still a Buc, arrested for domestic violence, specifically strangulation, of his partner)
Jets over Colts
Browns over Bengals (The Browns have some VERY naughty boys to thank for being picked to win. See Cedric Benson below. He is impacting 2 teams this week.)
Eagles over Lions (Michael Vick may have paid his debt to society, but if they weren’t playing the Lions, I’d have gone the other way on this game)
Rams over Dolphins (Gimme and “Ocho”! Gimme a “Cinco”, what’s it spell…? I know they cut him, but I stand by this pick)
Ravens over Cowboys (Cowboys, thank Dez Bryant and his recent “Family Violence” incident)
Cardinals over Bills
Patriots over Seahawks (Jarriel King was charged with 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct earlier this year, Leroy Hill remained a Seahawk after a domestic violence arrest and marijuana possession charges)
Giants over 49ers
Redskins over Vikings (Chris Cook, still a Viking, arrested last year for brandishing a gun)
Texans over Packers (Before his time with the Packers, Running Back Cedric Benson was arrested for an assault that caused injury to a family member.)
Chargers over Broncos (Defensive End Elvis Dumervil was arrested this summer for aggravated assault)

Sep 162012
 

So what are the highlights in Week Two? The Giants came from way down to beat the upset-minded Buccaneers, while to cardinals pulled off the real deal against the Patriots. The Jets’ offense crash-landed against the Steelers, while Joe Flacco (pictured) took out his pacifier just long enough to whine after the Eagles tipped the Ravens. The Browns and Raiders lost again (what else is new?) and the Seahawks ripped the Cowboys at home. So much for thinking all of their (‘Boys) problems were cured. Finally, the Saints fell to 0-2. Well, at least there’s no hangover from Bountygate.

In total, here are the results from Week Two:

Still to come: Denver-Atlanta

Sep 052012
 

Is it the Irish Catholic background? The fact that both guys played along the offensive line? Is Mike Golic a fan of Gridiron Rats and the Country Preacher? Who knows? But if you tuned into ESPN’s Mike and Mike this morning you learned that Golic has faith in what the Country Preacher has preached.

Golic picked the Phildelphia Eagles to win the NFC, and the Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC. Golic then proceeded to match the Country Preacher’s prediction that the Ravens would emerge as the Super Bowl champs. Golic also projected, like the Country Preacher, that Michael Vick would capture MVP honors on offense this season.

Golic was correct in basing his selection of the Eagles as NFC Champs on the assumption that this will finally be the season that the Eagles remain healthy. The key will be for Vick to miraculously avoid the bumps and bruises that have slowed him down in seasons past. I use the term “miraculously” because this will be no small feat for a guy who plays the quarterback position like Michael Vick does. However, if Vick does manage to stay healthy this will be the season that he earns the MVP honor and leads his team to the reception of the Halas Trophy come January.

The Ravens may have their best offense ever this season. Combining a solid offense with one of the better defenses in the NFL should cause all teams in the NFL to shudder at this prospect. The Ravens will likely be this kind of a team this season, and they will wind up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.

Aug 252012
 

I missed writing up the Monday game against the Eagles, and with three games in ten days I was tempted to collapse all of the games into one article, but needing a break from doing real work at home,I will pause to look at the games against both the Eagles and Buccaneers. Just one more game until the regular season!

Pre-Season Game #2: Eagles 27, Patriots 17

Summary

The Patriots chose to rest many starters tonight, knowing that the team would be playing three games in the span of just ten games. And while the Patriots lost the game, the nigh has to be considered a victory of the Patriots because the Patriots second team looked solid in hanging with the Eagles throughout the first half. Nick Foles was able to come in after Michael Vick was injured to engineer a comeback win for the Eagles, aided by Patriots’ blunders on special teams.

The Good

Ryan Mallett (10/25, 105, 1/0) wasn’t fantastic, but we was good, and certainly outplayed Brian Hoyer (5/17, 55, 0/0). The front seven was active on defense, and the secondary, while giving up one 40 yard pass to DeSean Jackson, is showing clear improvement over last season.

The Bad

As noted, Brian Hoyer did not look as good as Ryan Mallet, raising the possibility that Mallett could beat Hoyer for the backup position to Brady. If this happens, Hoyer may find himself traded or released given that his contract was tendered at the second round in the off-season. The offensive line looked improved from the first game, but Marcus Cannon is clearly a better guard than tackle. The Patriots can’t get Sebastian Vollmer quickly enough. Special teams were miserable against the Eagles, muffing two punts during the evening.

The Ugly

The ugly actually came from Michael Vick, who once again found a way to get taken out of the game early. Vick got hammered on the sixth offensive play by Jermaine Cunningham, hurting Vick’s ribs. While Nick Foles looks like a great backup for Vick, the Eagles will go as far as their starting quarterback will take them, and Vick has a history of getting pounded.

The Pleasant Surprise

Reserve tight end Alex Silvestro caught two passes tonight, including an 11 yard touchdown from Mallett.

Pre-Season Game #3: Buccaneers 30, Patriots 28

Summary

Don’t let the score fool you; the Patriots didn’t look nearly this good last night. The Patriots fell behind early and needed a late surge to make the final score respectable in their match-up against the Bucs.  Brady was sacked twice and threw a pick six to spot the Bucs early. The Patriots finally got rolling at the end of the first half, with a scoring drive aided by a defensive pass interference call and a 29 yard run by Stevan Ridley, who eventually scored on a one yard run. Brady engineered another touchdown drive in the third quarter, connecting on a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski before giving way to Ryan Mallet, who led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and appears to have supplanted Brian Hoyer as the primary backup to Brady.

The Good

Stevan Ridley appears to have claimed the primary running back spot, netting 87 yards on 16 carries. Shane Vereen only carried twice before needing to leave due to injury. Aaron Hernandez caught five passes, and Marquice Cole had a great night on special teams and appears primed to claim a roster spot.

The Bad

The offensive line was awful tonight, leading to solid hits on Brady and a strip sack. While Logan Mankins returned to the line, the entire line struggled, with the right side getting beat like a drum throughout the evening. This team is ready for Sebastian Vollmer to return, as Marcus Cannon continues to struggle at right tackle.

The Ugly

Bucs guard Davin Joseph was injured and is lost (likely) for the season with a broken kneecap.

The Pleasant Surprise

Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps saw his first action tonight and was impressive. He returned one kickoff for 23 yards and rushed the ball three times for 41 yards, including a long run of 29 yards. Nate Ebner joined Marquice Cole as a force on special teams.

Next Up

The Patriots will be back in action on Wednesday, August 29th when they travel to New Jersey to face the Giants.

Aug 172012
 

So Week Two of the pre-season is upon us. Once again, we will post quick link results if you’d like to keep up with your favorite team’s results and video courtesy of NFL.com. This week we will see a bit more of the starting units as they prepare for the regular season, and there are still a number of interesting battles to watch across the league.

This week’s results: