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I was smitten with an idea the other day, and decided to go through with it for the next few days or so…before the football news really starts going in a few weeks.
I was thinking about how we all get way too excited when we first get football news, and that includes me. I got to thinking that I should go back and re-read all the early preseason game recaps I did, and see what massive mistakes or pure genius I was onto upon witnessing the first preseason games.
So, I am going back through each Week-1 preseason game recap from 2014, and critiquing myself on the spot (my 2015 notes are in teacher-correcting red font). Below is an original, unfiltered, untouched up to avoid my embarrassment, Fantasy-Dynasty game recap from Week-1 of the preseason with my random comments from re-reading them today.
Note – I did not go back and re-watch these games before critiquing myself a year later. I’m just reading and reacting to what I wrote after what I saw last year. I hate re-reading my own stuff, so this will be the first time seeing it since I wrote it. Actually, it’s kinda like photo album or yearbook review. You know, where you look back and think, “What was I thinking when I wore that?”
These 2014 preseason games ‘Rewinds’ will be posting in random order. Here we go…
**Original 2014 reporting in black font, new commentary in red:
— Do my eyes deceive me? Was that really an innovative offense displayed by the Pittsburgh Steelers? Todd Haley, you better not be suckering me in with this…only to go back to 80% of all throws going to Antonio Brown (2 rec. for 21 yards on 2 targets).
*Actually, that seems like a pretty good plan after all. I did not think Antonio Brown could become a TD force in this league–I was wrong.
Brown’s TD counts in a season during his career: 0-2-5-8-13…are you betting on 13 again in 2015?
Where do we begin here?
The third play of the game, after two wonderful Le’Veon Bell (3 carries for 18 yards, 1 rec. for 6 yards on 1 target) runs, the Steelers, on 1st-down, went four wide, and ran an innovative WR screen to Dri Archer (2 carries for 9 yards, 2 rec. for 50 yards on 2 targets).
Let me reset this: Rookie RB/WR Dri Archer was in on the third play of the game, and all the normal starters ‘started’/were there, and playing. They purposefully brought Archer in on the third play, and ran a nifty WR screen that totally fooled NYG. First it was the play that fooled them, but after the catch Archer fooled them…as he ran through the middle of the field like he was returning a kick through traffic brilliantly. 46-yards later he was finally forced out-of-bounds.
Archer was very Tavon Austin-ish impressive…only he’s a better Tavon Austin, to me.
After that play, later in the 2nd-quarter, Archer was in as a single-set RB, and took handoffs…up-the-middle. Like a real RB! Todd Haley, you crazy evil genius! Bravo on taking a weapon like this, and then actually putting him to work. As exciting as this is, I have to use caution. The 49ers ran brilliant preseason plays for (then rookie) Vance McDonald last year, and I went into orbit on his Dynasty potential, and then they ran that play like once during the regular season.
*OK, I was too-hyped here. Sometimes, I’m so excited by preseason Week-1 action with guys I think have a real potential to be used as weapons (like Archer) that I start seeing ghosts. I’m human, sometimes. However, Archer looked great–like he was supposed to as a 4.2+ runner. He went on to see 10 carries and 10 targets total in 2015…and be a disappointing Kick Returner (17.9 yards per return).
I wonder if Archer will see extended time as a potential answer during the Le’Veon Bell-suspension?
Get this…not too much longer after the creative screen to Archer…Markus Wheaton (1 rec. for 28 yards on 1 target, 1 carry for 10 yards) took an end-around run! Say what?
ESPN asked me what my impressions were after watching the Steelers first team offense in this game, here is that footage of my reaction to that question:
I think I have to give credit to Todd Haley. He ‘let it rip’ in a few games in 2014. However, the memory of it seems better than it was. This might blow your mind…
Big Ben had those two six passing TD games last season, remember? In his other 14 games, Ben threw for a more ‘good’ 20 TDs in total (1.42 per game…projected 23 passing TDs over 16-games).
— LeGarrette Blount (3 carries for 10 yards) was in quickly after Bell started the game, which has caused a mild unease from the Le’Veon faithful. I get it. This makes me a touch nervous too. I still believe that Bell is too dynamic, and too useful in the passing game to ever just split with Blount. I can see Blount getting 3-7 carries a game, and Bell seeing 20+ touches (rec. + rush). It’s just smart football to have a 2nd RB like Blount.
Like I said, it was smart to have Blount as a 2nd-RB…that’s why the Patriots won the Super Bowl…
— Rashad Jennings (5 carries for 85 yards and 1 long TD) had a 73-yard TD run in this game. It’s what a Rashad Jennings long TD run is expected to look like: Wide-open hole up the middle, and Jennings ran straight through it, and never looked back. For those who are in the ‘Jennings as a major sleeper’ camp…this was a nice moment. You should be happy. There is one little/big problem here…rookie Andre Williams (7 carries for 35 yards) is nearly unbelievable as a power runner this preseason. His massive college output numbers were not lying.
Williams took his first carry for a yard, and then had runs of 17 (called back), 9, and 10 yards after that. He has amazing acceleration for his size…and then his size is just silly combined with his straight-line speed. Rashad Jennings is good, and has the ‘experience’ upper hand, but Andre Williams can be a star runner in the NFL…like now, but with the Achilles heel of having bad hands for the passing game. if I owned Jennings for FF-2014, I’d be petrified of Williams. Most likely, they’re just going to split into each other off and on this season.
Did you know Andre Williams averaged 52.5 yards rushing and 0.54 rushing TDs per game over his final 13 games in 2014? He’s a better power runner than Rashad Jennings…or most RBs in the NFL.
Jennings rushed for 60 or more yards in a game just twice last season. Minus his one huge effort vs. HOU last season, Jennings averaged 56.9 yards rushing and 0.33 rushing TDs per game–in games where he took 10 or more carries.
How anyone has full confidence on Rashard Jennings’ main-carry status for FF-2015 is beyond me. The Giants should dump him and roll with Williams + Vereen. It could be a three-way cluster this season.
— IDP Deep Sleeper alert: Steelers’ LB Dan Molls (9 tackles, 6 solo) had an impressive showing in this game, running with not the first-team. Molls was one of our higher rated ILBs on College Football Metrics.com last year, and he went undrafted. All he did in 2012 for Toledo was make 166 tackles, and pick off 3 passes his final season. It’s a smart depth play for Pittsburgh…and maybe more than depth down the road.
Pittsburgh is becoming the home of the young, and the talented on defense…and there were some impressive showings in this game from the youth movement:
Jarvis Jones (1 tackles, 1 sack) was lining up as a DE/OLB, and basically being a Jadeveon Clowney bum rusher. He abused an OT to make a quick sack on Eli. He is one helluva pass rusher.
FFM fave Shamarko Thomas (4 tackles, 1 TFL) has bulked up an already impressive frame. He has put in a ton of offseason work, and it’s showing. I’d like to say Thomas is going to have a huge tackle-output year, as one of the best tacklers at Safety in the NFL (as many will come to realize soon enough), but I don’t know how much legacy time Troy Polamalu will see on upcoming Sundays. Before long, Shamarko may be the favorite defender for the Steelers’ faithful. He is an old-school hitter at safety…a Bob Sandersreincarnation.
I was excited to see Ryan Shazier’s debut, but he was inactive.
Shazier, Shamarko, Jarvis, Molls…the Steelers are going to be a force in upcoming years if they stay healthy, and retain Big Ben. Our computers have already predicted them to win the AFC North this season, after what I’ve seen to start 2014…I’m as confident as ever in that call.
Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones got hurt, and missed games or played banged up most of the season.
Shamarko was a special teamer, but is the favorite to takeover for Polamalu.
Dan Molls? He’s off to the Canadian Football League in 2015.
If the young guys can stay healthy in 2015–this Steelers group has the makings of quite a defense, but they still have holes. New D-C this year too. Hard to project the Steelers DST.
— Just so there is one bad thing written about the Steelers: Rookie Martavis Bryant (1 rec. for 19 yards on 3 targets, 2 fumbles and 1 of them lost) was a wasted draft pick. He was a shaky player in college against top oppositions…and he looked lost in this game. You cannot win them all.
Well, this Bryant-commentary looks bad for me…maybe. The following article gives a little more of my perspective on Bryant’s 2014: (link unavailable) M. Bryant ‘Rewind’ report
— OK, let me perk Giants’ fans up with something no one on the planet will agree with me on…
From the perspective of looking at ‘not obvious’ starting QBs this preseason (backups, rookies, shaky starters): Ryan Nassib (12-21 for 81 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) has been the best-looking QB among them in all the preseason so far (he’s played twice, so extra advantage).
I kid you not…and this is not a ‘Hey, he ain’t so bad‘ head nod. I’m saying if Eli Manning (0-2 for nada in this game) continues to play horribly, the Giants need to make this switch early in the season, and trade Eli…jumping off while there is value, and starting anew. Nassib, I might argue, is the better QB now. He’s inexperienced, true, but he doesn’t ‘suck’, and for as good-great as Eli has played over the years…he looks terrible now. He looked awful last year, and garnered no enthusiasm after two preseason games so far this year.
Eli is owed the right to show what he has left. He should be the opening day starter. My point is, if the season turns down quickly, and Eli is the heavy ingredient as to why…the Giants have an answer on the bench. At least, they need to explore it. Tom Coughlin will never do that, but he should. He and Eli will ride off together, as maybe it should be to some degree. However, it is criminal to the business, if the season flops quickly, and that Nassib is not pushed as the future QB in development. Giants fans should riot if they are 2-6 halfway through, and Eli has more picks than TDs…and yet is still in there.
Ryan Nassib is playing wonderfully this preseason. He has a Jay Cutler arm with sneaky mobility, but more than that–he is making terrific 2nd and 3rd reads on passing plays. He is delivering balls in the right spots, at the right time, without happy feet in the pocket. His numbers in this game were 12 of 21 passing…they shoulda/coulda been 15-16 of 21 with some better hands being displayed.
Because most football beat writers don’t know what they’re watching, the post-game story line was straight from the box score afterwards: Curtis Painter went 7-7 (in the junk 4th-quarter of this game), so some clever beat writer is clamoring about how Painter is ahead of Nassib on the Giants pecking order after Week-2 of the preseason. You should have your football license taken away if you do not see what Nassib is doing…and how much better he is than Painter.
The Nassib story probably won’t be a Fantasy Football story until Coughlin leaves, but when that story hits…watch out. This is not another junk-QB washout from the weak 2013 NFL Draft class. He was overlooked then, wrongly so…and is now.
I only went more bananas on Nassib as the preseason rolled on–as he was brilliant in every appearance. How no one of note nationally saw this and banged a drum is a testament to ‘the shield’ circling the wagons around the hallowed word of: ‘Manning’.
Now, to his credit, Eli played better in 2014 as the season progressed. However, his time should be up…and Nassib’s time should be now–thinking of the future of the organization. It will be interesting to see if the Giants just let Eli play out this season as a lame duck (free agent at year’s end). The more you see no contract activity between the Giants and Eli–the more the end might be near.
If the Giants fall apart quickly in 2015, this could be a story…maybe. I doubt it. it’s all in my head. Someday you’ll see…
**Our ever-evolving, ever-updating to opening-day, Moneyball scouted, 2015 Fantasy Football e-Draft Guide and Cheat Sheets are available now. Direct link: Draft Guide 2015 options **
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