Monday, August 17, 2009
Three answers, one question: Preseason version
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Last season, we ran a weekly Monday feature that came to be known as "Three answers, one question" and purported to wrap up the game action for each NFC North team. While I look for a catchier name in Year 2 of the blog (send your suggestions here), I'd like to take a truncated glance at the first weekend of the preseason.
Here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about after preseason week No. 1:
- The Jay Cutler-Devin Hester dynamic is going to be interesting this season in Chicago. During my camp stop last week, it seemed pretty clear that the pair is still working to get on the same page. Specifically, Hester didn't always turn around quickly enough to catch Cutler's fastball. The same thing happened at least once Saturday night in Buffalo, where Cutler also seemed to implicate Hester in an interception he threw. We all know Cutler has a strong relationship with receiver Earl Bennett, his college teammate at Vanderbilt. Cutler is also on the same page with tight end Greg Olsen. But he's still working out the kinks with Hester.
- As Cutler experienced growing pains with his new team, you could see the advantage of familiarity in Green Bay. When he got some pressure in the first quarter, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers calmly stepped forward in the pocket and waited for Donald Driver to break free down the field. Rodgers then fired the ball for a 53-yard touchdown reception. Those are the kinds of plays you see between quarterbacks and receivers who have years of experience in their offense and with each other.
- We'll touch on it more this week from Detroit, but the Lions are more beat up than any team in the NFC North. I counted 17 players on the "Did Not Play" list for Saturday night's game against Atlanta. The group included at least five likely starters and another four who are expected to be significant contributors this season. The hardest-hit positions are receiver and tight end, adding another level of complexity to the Lions' quarterback derby. All you had to do is see Lions receiver Keary Colbert drop at least three passes to know you couldn't judge Matthew Stafford, especially, from his line in the box score.
And here is one question I'm still asking:
Will Tarvaris Jackson be playing for his Minnesota career Friday night against Kansas City? Let's look at the facts. Sage Rosenfels produced a strong performance Friday night in Indianapolis. Jackson was a mess, misfiring on six of his first eight passes and throwing for only 39 yards over five series. Jackson is scheduled to start against the Chiefs, but coach Brad Childress hasn't decided who will start the third preseason game at Houston. You would think Jackson will need a considerably sharper performance against the Chiefs to merit consideration to start against the Texans. If he plays poorly this week, he likely will be left to salvage his candidacy with the Vikings' second-team offense in Houston. That's not an ideal scenario.