Can you believe we are just two Fridays away from the return of NFL Pick ‘Em? It’s been too long. But we’ve got to be patient. We’ve got to get through this hurricane Irene scare and we’ve got to get through Labor Day Weekend and then it is on. In case you were wondering, I have been keeping a casual eye out for NFL Pick ‘Em muses. What an honor it will be for the one that gets to kick off the season.
I don’t know if watching pre-season football can give you any kind of edge in picking games week one. I’m sure there is no correlation, but I know I’d have a tough time picking the Eagles right now. I didn’t have the pleasure of watching them get destroyed by the Steelers last week, but it sounded like a putrid effort across the board. I suppose last night was an improvement, but we have to speak in relative terms. It was the Browns. Is your defense automatically going to look better against Cleveland than it will against Pittsburgh? Yes.
I’m not that concerned about the defense, though. The bigger problem appears to be the Eagles complete lack of pass protection. I heard someone talking about the line last week and they said, “What are you worried about? Peters and Todd Herremans are fine. Jackson is coming back, you’ve got a first round pick playing right guard and the only real question is right tackle.” Well, right tackle is a pretty big question mark. And, just because Danny Watkins is a first round pick doesn’t mean he’s going to step in and solidify the position. Michael Vick was running for his life last year, and he was doing pretty much the same last night. Hurries, knockdowns, fumbles, sacks…and that was just the first possession.
It was a signature first drive for the Eagles. They shocked the world by running on the first play and picked up a nice chunk, setting up 2nd and 3. From there, maybe you keep running the ball, establish some control up front? Nope, the Eagles throw two straight times, can’t protect Vick and turn the ball over. I can’t decide if that, or when they used a tight end around later to pick up a 4th and 1 was the most definitive Andy Reid play of the night, but it’s pretty clear that results aside, the Eagles aren’t clicking in the passing game.
Their success on offense last night came on dump-offs, actual running of the football and broken down plays where Vick scrambled. It was an interesting look into Vick’s fantasy value, because he had no connection with any of his wideouts, but still looks like a guy who is going to be piling up 8 or 10 points rushing every week. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran for 10 scores this year. But, it’s a dangerous way to play. He took plenty of hits last night and he’ll take more. The Eagles offense still looks dangerous, but it doesn’t really look high-powered. Where’s the efficiency? It’s all broken plays and home run swings.
Elsewhere in pre-season action, Andy Dalton did exactly what you’d want him to do. Sorry, Gradkowski, it’s the Dalton show. The public deserves to see this week one. Dalton outplayed Cam Newton, who was pretty horrific, but still looks like the week one starter. I think a reasonable fantasy strategy this year will be to take the defense that is playing Cincy or Carolina. The Panthers open with Arizona, though. Does anyone have that much courage?
Also last night, Rex Grossman and John Beck waged a war for the ages as the Redskins’ starting job remains up for grabs? They put up pretty similar lines in a loss to the Ravens, but I think we all know deep down that Grossman got the better of it. The real question is, how did the Ravens give up 31 points to the Redskins under any circumstances? Luckily, the offense was in mid-season form. There’s a lot of talk about Anquan Boldin being finished. Personally? I’m a Boldin guy, and who else is Flacco going to throw to? Last night, 73 yards and a TD. Sounds like a solid WR3 to me.