Week 3 of the preseason is usually deemed the dress rehearsal week of the preseason. It’s the week where most teams are leaving their starters out there for an extended amount of time, for a lot of rookies, yesterday and Thursday were the days to show what they’re made of. Same goes for the guys who are on the verge of making a starting position, or trying to make a case for one. It’s usually the week where people make their strides and showcase what they’re worth.
Thursday and Friday left us with a few major questions regarding the upcoming NFL season, we’ll ask three major questions that arose from the last 3 weeks about the upcoming 2012 season.
1. Which rookie QBs can make a huge impact for their team this season?
Andrew Luck, RGIII, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill have already been declared the starting QB for their respective teams, with Russell Wilson and Nick Foles getting unexpected starts for their respective teams. While Weeden and Tannehill have had up and down efforts this pre-season, the most surprising play may have come from the two QBs who got the unexpected starts.
Russell Wilson was outstanding for the Seahawks yesterday, 13/19 185 yards, 2 TD, with 58 yards from 2 rushes on the ground. He lead the Seahawks to a 44-14 win, including 6 scoring drives (3 TD, 3 FG). We know Wilson has been impressing Seattle in camp, and with his performances this preseason (35/52 464 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT; 150 yards on the ground (15 ypc), and 1 rushing TD), one has to believe he’s really pushed the envelope and more specifically, Matt Flynn (17/26 102 yards, INT – to be fair, he only played limited time in 2 games), for the starting job. If Wilson gets the nod, and he looks like this in the regular season, one would believe that Seattle suddenly becomes a threat in the NFC West.
Nick Foles filled in for an injured Mike Vick, who will sit til Week 1 of the regular season, and was impressive early. The 2nd round pick from Arizona has been solid all preseason, but yesterday was his first game where he played heavily against a 1st team defense. 36/57 507 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT over the course of the preseason, and some fans are clamoring for a Foles start once the regular season comes, and while he may be impressive, it’s probably in the Eagles best interest to let Vick play the season out. If he can stay healthy, you have serious trade bait on your hands in Vick or Foles, either way, you’ve got to believe Philadelphia is going to be extra careful, last time they usurped a starter for a promising backup, it didn’t work out so well, and there’s nothing to say they’ll be as lucky this time around.
2. Is the Buccaneers defense a force to be reckoned with?
Let’s face it, the Buccaneers stifled Tom Brady yesterday, it may be that Brady and the offense have been rusty all preseason, it may be that the Buccaneers are just energized under new coach Greg Schiano, but let’s not forget that Raheem Morris built a pretty good defensive unit in his short tenure as Bucs Head Coach. In 2010, they allowed just 19.9 points per game (9th), and have drafted several key pieces on defense over the last 2 years, including Mark Barron (Alabama), Adrian Clayborn, Da’Quan Bowers, and Mason Foster. The Buccaneers defense hit Brady, caused fumbles and turnovers early, and if this is what we’re going to see from them defensively…the NFC….and the NFC South in particular, just got a whole lot tougher.
3. Which struggling offense is in the most danger?
Arizona, Jacksonville, Miami, New York (Jets) and Minnesota have all been struggling offensively this preseason. While most have young QBs at the helm, two in particular have QB controversies, or perceived QB controversies, that aren’t helping them. At all. In Arizona, John Skelton got the start in favor of Kevin Kolb and didn’t particularly impress against Tennesee. Kevin Kolb didn’t look too great either, keeping his passes short, and then tossing two ugly interceptions. It has gotten so bad in Arizona, many are believing that Whisenhunt is just waiting for the release of Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson. 2nd year QB Blaine Gabbert has looked sharp this preseason, but struggled against Baltimore on Thursday, while he looks more confident in the pocket, he still shows a lot of inconsistency that plagued him last season.
And then there’s New York, the center of controversy (that they create themselves). Sanchez is the starter, plain and simply, but he has looked ineffective, and so has his potential replacement, Tim Tebow. Sanchez has been efficient (13/17 80 yards, INT), but has failed to move the offense, while Tebow (9/22 96 yards, INT, with 39 yards on the ground) has been downright atrocious. It goes without saying that New York MAY be in trouble, especially if they can’t find a running game. It’s setting up a potential disaster this season if neither QB can get it together.