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Every week I will give my insight of the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY from the past week in the NFL. I will highlight the play of a particular person, team or franchise giving in depth analysis and facts. I look forward to your input at as to whether you agree, disagree or have anything to add.
Be sure to follow Football and Futbol @fballandfutbol on Twitter for constant updates or follow me @TheJADUKES.
The NFL reached the halfway point of the preseason this week, and there was plenty of drama.
The New England Patriots got a scare when Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn drove tackle Nate Solder into Tom Brady’s left leg. Injuries put starting bids by rookie quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Geno Smith on hold and Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller suffered a horrible knee injury.
DARYL SMITH SHINES IN HOME DEBUT
While Arthur Brown got his first preseason start and registered a pair of stops in 39 snaps, it was Daryl Smith who stamped his authority on this game for the Ravens at linebacker. Both players registered a pair of stops but it was Smith’s work leading the charge to lay waste to the Falcons’ screen game that stood out in particular in this game. Smith registered a third down stop on a screen to Harry Douglas and just past the midway point in the first quarter combined forces with Elvis Dumervil to shut-down another Atlanta attempt at a third down screen. While Dumervil got around Lamar Holmes to knock down Matt Ryan, Smith attacked Jacquizz Rodgers, knocking him down as he looked to release to the flat, cutting off the screen at the source. Combined all of that with a pass defense on the Atlanta starters’ final drive and this was an extremely encouraging display as Smith prepares for his first Week 1 game since 2011.
RGIII AND SHANAHAN RELATIONSHIP
No, not the relationship itself but the fact that the media tries to make an ant hill into a mountain; RGIII and head coach Mike Shanahan disagree on whether Griffin will play in the preseason. That has prompted speculation regarding a possible disconnect between the two men. The Washington Redskins have a very competitive player who’s dying to play football and a very experienced coach who’s doing the right thing.
GREG JENNINGS AND AARON RODGERS “FEUD”
By any standard, Rodgers is either the NFL’s best quarterback, or near the top of a short list. His career numbers — a 65.7 percent completion rate, 171 touchdowns, and just 46 interceptions in 78 regular-season starts — tend to boggle the mind. So, why is it that Rodgers’ former receivers are taking shots at him? Greg Jennings, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings in March after seven years with the Packers, has had all sorts of interesting things to say about the guy who delivered most of his 53 touchdown catches and helped him win a Super Bowl at the end of the 2010 season. “I need to go back to my college days where the quarterback wasn’t just viewed as oh-so-great and still prove that I can be successful.” Jennings said. “A lot of times when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team,” he said. “It should always be the team … Don’t get me wrong, ‘12’ is a great person. But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it’s hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says ‘Man, come on, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable for this.’ It’s hard for someone to see that now because all they’ve heard is I’m doing it the right way, I’m perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws.”
If Jennings wants to prove that he doesn’t need a top-five quarterback to succeed, catching passes from Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel in Minnesota will certainly take care of that. But implying that Rodgers doesn’t account for his own mistakes, or somehow throws his receivers under the bus? You don’t see Rodgers do that publicly, though I’m sure he — like most NFL quarterbacks — will let a guy know after a while if ball security is an issue.
Rodgers has said that he wants to be the best and wants to be counted on by my teammates. “I want to be counted on by this organization and the fans. I want to be someone they know is going to bring it every single week. I prepare to be the best. I train in the offseason to be the best. I take it very seriously, and I’ve still got a long way to go,” Rodgers said.
Sounds like a leader to me. Do leaders occasionally rub people the wrong way? Only if they’re doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.
CLEVELAND BROWNS OFFENSE
Porous defense, anemic offense and undisciplined penalties. In the minutes that mattered, the Detroit Lions (1-1) were embarrassed by the Cleveland Browns. The Browns emerged victorious in the second preseason game for both teams, 24-6. With star wide receiver Calvin Johnson sidelined with a right knee contusion, the Lions’ starting offense struggled to move the ball in the first half, going three-and-out on their first three drives and failing to reach the red zone on five possessions. Brandon Weeden’s performance has to be encouraging for Browns fans. He was not afraid to attack deep, and threw with solid accuracy. A few of his passes were placed perfectly between defenders, and the Browns moved the ball very well during Weeden’s time at the controls. Look for this team to be a tough out during the regular season.
RIVERS AND HIS OFFENSIVE LINE
The Chargers still have a problem protecting Philip Rivers. The team’s No. 1 flaw of 2012 reared its ugly head Thursday night when the Bears sacked Rivers twice in the first quarter at Soldier Field. The Bears sacked Rivers again in the second quarter. The Chargers were playing on the road for the first time, and crowd noise favors the home team’s pass rushers. Still, the Bears held out their top two defensive linemen. The Chargers won’t go anywhere in 2013 if they expose Rivers to constant pressure. But the offense did show promise. Chargers run blockers opened holes for Ryan Mathews, who ran nine times for 45 yards, and Antonio Gates looked sharp when Rivers had time to find him. Starters against starters, the Bears mauled the Chargers in building a 17-0 lead. The Bears intercepted Rivers in addition to sacking him three times and forcing him to fumble.
COWBOYS OFFENSIVE WOES
With the temperature outside reaching a record 114 degrees, the offenses inside University of Phoenix Stadium were anything but scorching. There was a total of one touchdown, thrown by Dallas’ fourth-string quarterback, in the cardinals ‘ 12-7 victory over the Cowboys. Not surprisingly, coaches on both sides praised their defensive efforts while finding plenty to fault on offense. Dallas committed six turnovers, five in the first half, but still allowed only 12 points, leaving Arizona’s first-year coach Bruce Arians to say it is “unacceptable” for his team to score nine points on 51 first-half plays. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, meanwhile, called his team’s turnover total “inexcusable.” The first came when Romo threw short to Lance Dunbar, who raced 43 yards downfield before being tripped up at the Arizona 7. As he went down, he lost the ball, but the officials ruled he was down by contact. Arians challenged and the ruling was overturned, with Arizona’s Jerraud Powers recovering at the Cardinals 4. Later, Romo threw deep to Dez Bryant, but Powers stripped the ball away and recovered.
Even though he couldn’t get his team in the end zone, Romo looked sharp for the most part, completing 7 of 10 for 142 yards with no interceptions. Romo indicated it wasn’t all his fault.
Although Romo look somewhat sharp, the team still could not score more than 7 points against Arizona, which to me causes much to be concerned about.
So there it is, The Good Bad and Ugly from the past week in the NFL. Be sure to follow Football and Futbol @fballandfutbol on Twitter for constant updates or follow me @TheJADUKES.
JA Dukes is a NFL writer for footballandfutbol.com.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJADUKES