After five months without football, it feels great to see a live NFL game again even if it is preseason. Despite the games being played at half speed, having minimal game planning, and the starters playing only a few series, there’s a lot to be taken from them that show what to expect in the near future. Unfortunately, many journalists and so-called ”experts” have misinformed the public by spewing their propaganda or at least over exaggerated the performances. Today, I will be dissecting their observations in an effort to see whether or not they are true. This week, I will analyze three myths I heard several times in the aftermath of preseason week one.
Myth No. 1: Peyton Manning was rusty in preseason debut.
My Take: While I will admit that the Peyton Manning of 2012 is currently nowhere near the level of the ’08 Peyton Manning, I disagree with the general public with how rusty Manning was. Manning was pinpoint on every pass and I truly believe every pass was put where he wanted it. The problem was the chemistry.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Goto 1:10, which was the incompletion before Manning’s interception. The play was classic Manning, as he threw a beautiful spiral to receiver on the fade route that was a split second faster than Eric Decker. Over the years that play was the bread and butter of Manning’s red zone offense when he was a Colt. For years, Manning did this for years with Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and even Dallas Clark with it resulting in this. Manning’s not the player he used to be, and he survived this long due to system and personnel familiarity and his throw became instinctive and quicker because of that. I’ll even say that the interception wasn’t Manning’s fault; I feel that it was simply great awareness by D.J Moore and even better effort to tip that ball. Even then, Stokely still had a chance to catch it before it was intercepted.
Basically, I feel that none of Manning’s throws were bad or off topic. The issue is his chemistry with the receivers. I have no doubt that they will be clicking by Week One. Does he have things he needs to improve on? Yes. Is he rusty? Not by a long shot.
Myth No.2: Andrew Luck has great in preseason debut.
My Take: I’m a firm believer of giving credit where credit’s due; I just can’t give Luck all the credit the national media has given him. In his NFL debut, Andrew Luck went 10/16 for 188 yards, including 2 TDs. Most of the love is coming from the fact that Luck’s first pass was an 63 yard TD. The problem is that the play should have been stopped within the first five yards and holding should have negated it.
Take a look at the following pictures. They were taken on Luck’s first drive.
Pictures Courtesty of SB Nation:
This picture was taken following Luck’s throw. While I do admire Luck’s quick release in an effort to evade the pass rusher, I can’t help but notice two things.For one the defender behind Donald, the receiver of the pass, looks to stop the play in the backfield. The Colt’s left tackle is preventing him from doing so and as you can see, one hand is on his back while the other is grasping his jersey sleeve. Many of you are willing to argue that the move is perfectly legal and while that is debatable, that is not where my argument lies. The other thing I wish to point out is the battle between guard Joe Reitz and DT Brockers next to the debatable flag. They will play an important role in the next picture.
When I played football for my school team all those years ago, the one thing we were taught when blocking was that we were allowed to hold to an extent. As long as we grabbed the jersey inside the frame (between the shoulder pads) and were pushing the defender back (we were only allowed to do this during the run game and subsequently when the receiver of a pass play needed blocks to get a few more yards down field). On this play, Reitz is clearly not grabbing the jersey within the shoulder pads. Some of you might be critical, saying that it is near impossible for the refs to catch it and had little impact on the play. But as Brown gets close to the two:
This happens. Reitz has his left hand on Brocker’s chest and his other on his back. To quote Keyshawn Johnson, “C’mon man.” The pictures may not do what happened justice, so here’s the video. Watch were I pointed out earlier.
Even if you still deny the fact that the play should have been wiped out, the fact that it was 63-yards has to be taken into account since it did inflate his statistics. Without that pass, Luck has 125 yards and 1 TD on 9 out of 15 passes (60%). It’s solid alright, but amazing and No.1 overall pick are pushing it.
Myth No. 3: The Steelers revamped O-line was terrible at pass protection vs the Eagles and will do similar in the regular season
My Take: While the first two myths were exaggerations, this next one is false. The opinion that the team would once again have one of the NFL’s worst O-lines came after the Steelers started a rookie (maybe two if Mike Adams beats out Starks) and a vet moving positions. The myth’s belief was strengthened following a rather poor showing in the preseason game against the Eagles. While how the unit does this season is up for grabs, I feel that the Eagles game was a misinterpretation of what to expect. It should be taken in account that the Eagles led the league in sacks last year. Even without their two DE starters, the team should have been expected to give the guys some level of problems.
The offensive line didn’t struggle; on the contrary, two guys performed what could be considered a poor job. The two guys were Ramon Foster and Mike Adams. Both players were back ups; starter Willie Colon (who was previously an OT) did not play the game against the Eagles due to injury while Starks was on the PUP list (Physically Unable to perform list). With Colon healthy again and Starks removed from the PUP list, expect the Steelers line to be better. Add to the fact that the team had limited experience and some flaws in their technique (both problems which I expect to be solved by Week One) and its easy to see why they underperformed.
I strongly believe that this unit will be among the league’s best when it’s all said and done. G David DeCastro has lived up to his hype as the best guard in this year’s draft class, and the team still has All Pro C Maurkice Pouncey and OT Marcus Gilbert (a guy who played pretty good down last’s years stretch). When you consider that Willie Colon was considered one of the best tackles in the NFL a few years back and the move only helps him no longer needing to deal with speedsters, and this line could be the x-factor the Steelers have needed for a few years. The only problem is chemistry, which should no longer be a problem soon. Overall, journalists have painted a very bad picture of the Steelers O-line.
Journalists have spread misconceptions around the league on various situations. Whether it’s through exaggeration or something that isn’t true to begin it, they plant a seed in the fan’s mind that makes them think its true. While this week I didn’t really list a bunch of myths and analyze them, I felt the above three were the biggest and needed to swiftly dealt with. Should I continue this segment? Or just straight out analyze the games? What about this segment should I change if anything? Leave it in the comments. This is Shrederdude63 signing off.