- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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Michael Vick caused a bit of a stir back in July when he stated the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that has never won even one Super Bowl, have a chance to be a “dynasty.” The quarterback of last preseason’s Dream Team then doubled down on that sentiment several days later and his teammates backed him up.
A few days later, Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil came along and took out a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer guaranteeing that the Panthers would win the Super Bowl this season. Kalil’s declaration has received support on the Panthers by everyone from Cam Newton to team owner Jerry Richardson.
So the Eagles and Panthers will undoubtedly be great this season. But what about the other NFL teams? Oh, you have no idea.
Here’s your 2012 NFL Preseason Greatness Report.
Have you heard that the New York Jets' quarterback situation won’t pan out? Have you heard that New York Jets backup Tim Tebow hasn’t played well? Wrong and wrong. “Tebow stars” was the headline this week. But Tebow has a long way to go to supplant Mark Sanchez. Jets coach Rex Ryan knows how awesome Sanchez is regardless of the conditions: “I've been around quarterbacks who, for whatever reason, struggle when the weather gets bad. But you see Sanchez, just zipping the ball. You see the confidence he has. It doesn't matter -- wet football, wind -- the way he can spin it, it doesn't matter."
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said in the offseason that he views himself as the best quarterback in football. But he’s not resting on his laurels. John Clayton writes that John Harbaugh feels Flacco, who is urging the Ravens to attack on offense under his control, is about to have a “breakout year.” Eat even more of his dust, other NFL quarterbacks.
But believe it or not, Flacco might have another quarterback nipping at his heels in the AFC North. According to Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren, Colt McCoy is having a “good camp and he's looked good.” Head coach Pat Shurmur does Holmgren one better: “Colt’s doing great.”
But what about receivers? What about Randy Moss? He’s the property of the San Francisco 49ers now. Says quarterback Alex Smith of Moss: “The physical skills everybody knows. The thing you appreciate a lot is the guy's a true pro.” Randy Moss: true pro? Who are we to doubt what the 49ers see in camp? Put it down as fact.
Another fact? Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Culter sees rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery as being “a dominant force out there.”
Some other NFL rookies who have impressed:
• Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Says coach Mike Shanahan: “I’ve been very impressed with the way he handles himself both on and off the football field. He’s an overachiever with a lot of talent.”
• Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson has “dazzled” the training camp crowd.
• Matt Kalil of the Minnesota Vikings “not only looks as if he was built to play left tackle, it seems he might also be able to do it at a high level in the NFL. That's the initial reaction after Day 1.”
• While the Seattle Seahawks were criticized for drafting linebacker Bruce Irvin so high, coach Pete Carroll says “Bruce has made an impression already.”
• Ryan Tannehill was another widely debated pick. But after his first practice with the Miami Dolphins, there’s only one word to say: “Impressive.”
Of course, it might be hard for any of these rookies to reach heights of the Indianapolis Colts this season. Says Colts quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen on Andrew Luck: “He just has a maturity, a football maturity and a life maturity that we couldn’t have anticipated. Even though he’s a sharp guy and a mature guy, it’s more than I anticipated. ... He surprises all of us, even our high expectations were exceeded.”
Colts safety Tom Zbikowski followed up: “[Luck] is not a rookie quarterback, really. He’s smart. He’s wise beyond his years.”
As for the wise man Luck is replacing, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is now working with “two of the most promising young receivers in the NFL in third-year pros Erick Decker and Demaryius Thomas, the biggest downfield threat he's ever had. They lead a deep group of players vying to become the next Reggie Wayne or Marvin Harrison in Manning’s aerial show.”
Speaking of AFC West aerial shows, Carson Palmer is ready to lead one with the Oakland Raiders. “I still have a lot of football left in me. I'm excited about the guys around me. It's an exciting time for the Oakland Raiders." "I think we’re a playoff team.”
Things would be really exciting for the Raiders if Palmer would have been able to reunite with new Dolphins wide receiver Chad Johnson. “Why? Because I'm good," said Johnson. "I'm really good.”
Good. But great? Because a handful or so of NFL players reported to training camp in “great shape.”
Then there are the Dallas Cowboys. They may have only one playoff win since 1996 and they play in a division with the reigning Super Bowl champions, but owner Jerry Jones knows they are ready to dominate this year. "Y'all should come to that (Cowboys) stadium and watch us beat the Giants' ass,” he told fans at training camp.
As for the Super Bowl champs themselves, the New York Giants? Two Super Bowls in five years? They must be feeling really good about themselves. DYNASTIC even. Take it away, Eli Manning!
“No, no, we are not. We had a little break and the two years prior to last year we didn’t make the playoffs. We have work to do. We have good players on this team. We have potential to be a playoff team and make a run once we get into the playoffs. It’s a matter of going out there and proving that, and everybody playing to their level of play.”
Wait, what? He says they have to prove how good they are on the field? Huh?
Wow. This guy is hopeless.