It’s still just pretend and nobody will be searching back for this particular post in Week 9 of the regular season. But Week 2 of “Imaginary Football” revealed a few reality checks that could play deep into the 2012 NFL Season.
Injuries continue to blast away at the preseason plans of many NFL front offices. Highly hyped rookies have been brought back to earth (at least for a week) and some veterans have returned to exceptional “mid-season” form. But as I’ve stated in the past to fans & the media, “Everything in moderation”, it’s way too early to be anointing anyone with a trip to Super Bowl XLVII. (“The Fog” of predicting the 2012 NFL Season)
That said, these things jumped out at me over the games from Thursday to Saturday, Week 2.
Last week a 7-6 victory at Buffalo in RGIII’s premier had the Hogs singing “Hail to the Redskins” once again. Griffin went 4 of 6 for 70 yards and his 8 play, 78 yard TD drive masked a 3 and out, along with a turnover fumble, on his first two possessions.
Things went a bit differently against Chicago this week. The Redskin rookie went 5 of 8, 49 yards, but was sacked 3 times. The offense under RGIII punted 4 times (two 3 & outs), a fumble, one FG and a first half ending kneel down. The signature play came when the Bears’ Julius Peppers chased him down from the backside and stripped the ball loose.
2 Games – 9 of 14, 119 yards, 0 TD, four 3 & outs, 2 fumble turnovers, 3 sacks (-19 yds), and 10 total points.
Last week the Miami rookie came in after starter Matt Moore had finished his quarter and a half of work, and went 14 of 21, 167 yards and led the Dolphins to their only TD. Tannehill’s first professional drive stalled out on the Tampa Bay 3 yard line after 10 plays just before half.
Tannehill was given the start against Carolina this week and went 11 of 23, 100 yards and was sacked 3 times (-16 yards). He managed one touchdown, but five other drives ended in punts, four 3 & outs.
2 Games – 25 of 44, 267 yards, 1 TD. 3 sacks, 6 punts (five 3 & outs), turnover on downs, missed FG.
The Manning era began in Chicago with only one series of work, 10 plays – 4 of 7 for 44 yards and ended with an interception on 3rd & 8 from the Chicago 12. But here in Denver the fans & media were giddy with excitement in the ease of which Manning moved the Broncos offense down the field against the tough Bears D.
Starting for the first time in front of the frenzy, Manning was very effective, but… (16 of 23, 177 yards, 2 INT’s). It’s evident that the future Hall of Famer is comfortable finding the open receiver and the Broncos are taking to the up tempo pace. But Manning now has 3 interceptions, and 4 of 7 drives have ended in a turnover.
Rookie Brock Osweiler, John Elway’s second handpicked QB, struggled over five second half drives; 5 punts, three 3 & outs, 18 total plays. 5 of 11 for 38 yards, 1 sack. 0 points.
Sam Bradford vs KC Defense
The Rams were crushed in the debut of Andrew Luck in Indy, 38-3. The former #1 pick went 7of 9, 57 yards and no TD’s. His first drive ended in a failed 4th down attempt, his second a fumble/aborted snap. The week was followed up by speculation that Bradford needed ankle surgery.
Bradford quieted critics (at least for now) against Romeo Crennel’s KC defense, going 6 of 9, 102 yards and 2 TD’s. 17 first half points. No sacks, no interceptions.
The surprise rookie of 2011 opened up the 2012 NFL Preseason 4 of 9, 54 yards, 0 TD’s. He engineered a 15 play, 75 yard drive that ended in a FG for the Bengals.
Dalton bounced back on the road against Atlanta, going 8 of 14, 125 yds, 1 TD and stood toe to toe with the Falcons’ Matt Ryan.
None of these performances are definitive of the potential in 2012. Preseason Week 3 will give all of these QB’s three quarters of work with their starting units, against starting defenses. Keep a close eye on these critical predictors; Offensive Pass Efficiency (net yards per attempt), sacks taken, and 1st down % passing. Then you can start getting “giddy”, or downright nervous about those reservations you already made to New Orleans.