Friday, September 3, 2010
BBAO: Reviewing preseason Week 4
By Kevin Seifert
In lieu of our usual Black and Blue All Over format, we'll put a bow on Week 4 of the preseason on this fine Friday morning:
Cleveland Browns 13, Chicago Bears 10
Preseason record: 0-4
Of interest: The Bears finished the preseason winless for the first time since 1998 and only the second time in the past 33 years. Their offense scored 46 points, their special teams got three punts and a field goal blocked and their defense was almost unrecognizable from its heyday. Good thing the preseason doesn't matter, huh? Thursday night, the defense recovered a fumbled snap on its first play but then went on to allow Cleveland starter Colt McCoy to complete all 13 of his passes for 131 yards. If anything positive emerged, it was that veteran quarterback Todd Collins has caught up enough to be Jay Cutler's Week 1 backup. Collins started in place of Cutler and completed 10 of 15 passes for 139 yards, including a 15-yard scoring strike to tight end Greg Olsen.
Local coverage: Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said there has been some "frustration" but "it's not like we're defeatist," reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times on the Bears' pass defense this preseason: "Outside of poor pass protection, the most alarming trend has been the poor play of a battered secondary that has served up a steady diet of cushion coverage and nondescript play." Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com thinks linebacker Brian Iwuh is solid insurance behind Lance Briggs. Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com: "But is there enough time? And can they flip the proverbial switch?"
Next: Sept. 12 vs. Detroit Lions*
Detroit Lions 28, Buffalo Bills 23
Preseason record: 3-1
Of interest: A majority of first-team players started the game, including quarterback Matthew Stafford. But Stafford threw his worst pass of the preseason on the third play, a telegraphed sideline pass to receiver Calvin Johnson that Drayton Florence intercepted and returned 40 yards for a touchdown. The Lions were down 16-0 in this game before No. 3 quarterback Drew Stanton led a fourth-quarter rally. Of the Lions' bubble players, I thought running back DeDe Dorsey made two plays that will make him a difficult cut. The first was a 25-yard scoring scamper off a short pass from Stanton in the third quarter; the second was a difficult 34-yard reception along the sideline in the fourth quarter.
Local coverage: Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press has seen enough to write: "For the first time in at least three years, the Lions have actual, genuine strengths. ... There are still too many holes to expect greatness, or even goodness, but they have an excellent chance at OKness." Dorsey could still be a victim of the numbers game, writes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News. The true quality of the Lions' secondary is unknown because of so many preseason injuries, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com. Safeties Louis Delmas and C.C. Brown both sat out Thursday night, while cornerback Jonathan Wade played with a cast on his hand.
Next: Sept. 12 at Chicago Bears*
Kansas City Chiefs 17, Green Bay Packers 13
Preseason record: 2-2
Of interest: In a bit of a surprise, Packers coach Mike McCarthy sat a number of key veterans, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and removed the rest of his starters after one series. The move helped the Chiefs win their first preseason game in two years. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn started in Rodgers' place and threw for 304 yards, although I'm still trying to figure out how his 77-yard pass to a wide-open Brett Swain didn't go for a touchdown; probably a combination of a short throw and Swain's less-than-devastating speed. The Packers worked tailback Kregg Lumpkin hard (11 carries, 36 yards) to give him a final chance to make the roster. Kick returner Jason Chery probably didn't win much confidence after a fumble and no returns longer than 17 yards.
Local coverage: Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thought Swain and Lumpkin "looked the most like NFLers among a medley of soon-to-be practice squad and indoor football players Thursday night at New Arrowhead Stadium." The Packers are entertaining trade offers for offensive lineman Jason Spitz, the Journal Sentinel reports. Chery "probably did just enough to stay in contention for a roster spot, depending in part on the shaky health of Will Blackmon," reports Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Long-snapper Brett Goode's departure after a big hit left it difficult to measure the Packers' punting competition, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Next: Sept. 12 at Philadelphia Eagles*
Minnesota Vikings 31, Denver Broncos 24
Preseason record: 3-1
Of interest: The Vikings started 20 backups, including quarterback Tarvaris Jackson -- who concluded a worrisome preseason with a terrible outing. His accuracy-challenged 2-for-8 performance brought his preseason numbers to 12-of-26 for 60 yards. No. 3 quarterback Sage Rosenfels didn’t do much better, completing 1 of 4 passes, but you have to wonder how coach Brad Childress remains so committed to Jackson. Brett Favre hasn’t missed a start in 19 previous seasons, but there have been occasions when he’s left competitive games due to injury. At this point, would you trust Jackson even for a half? Rookie Joe Webb continued to show raw potential, dashing 41 yards against a blitz on one play and tossing a 63-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Javon Walker. With two touchdowns in two preseason appearances, you wonder if Walker hasn’t made the team.
Local coverage: Jackson was booed off the field by the Metrodome crowd, reports Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. But Childress said Jackson will remain the No. 2 quarterback “as it stands right now.” Cornerback Lito Sheppard said “I don't see why not” when asked if he will be a Week 1 starter, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune. Safety Tyrell Johnson took advantage of extended playing time to likely win the strong safety job, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Next: Thursday at New Orleans Saints*
*And it counts!