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Preseason Week 3 NFL Quick Hits

August 23, 2013


With week 3 of the NFL preseason under way it got my football juices flowing so I decided to write about a few NFL related items that have been gathering in my mind lately.

Luke Kuechly: Coming on the heels of the Sean Lee extension I couldn’t help but think how Kuechly is the type of player deserving a 6 yr $42 million extension. In only 1 half of football he showed that he is at worst the second best inside linebacker in the NFL, behind Patrick Willis, as he was all over the field. He read an outside run brilliantly in the first quarter and knifed through the line to get a tackle for loss and a forced fumble on the play as he tossed the running back aside like a rag doll. Later in the game he laid a massive hit on a wide receiver going across the middle that popped the ball up in the air for an interception and when the referees called him for a personal foul (borderline call but I was fine with it as it was a high hit on a defenseless receiver) he didn’t gripe but on the very next play read Joe Flacco’s eyes and stepped in front of a pass for an interception. Luke led the NFL in tackles last year, was named as the defensive rookie of the year, and appears to be noticeably better. That is a scary thought. It’s also not a surprising one as when he came out of BostonCollege I saw a future superstar, “Kuechly is the greatest LB prospect I’ve graded since Patrick Willis and looks like a future Pro Bowler who has no holes. He’s strong, athletic, tough, durable, instinctive, a playmaker, a great leader, and a hard worker. I’m not sure as a GM that I would ever sign off on using a Top 10 pick on a linebacker but that’s for the GMs to discuss amongst themselves as that’s the grade I’m giving him. Top 10 as my #1 LB who has the highest grade of any LB since Patrick Willis in 2007 4/10/12.”

Joe Flacco: I’ve been saying it for the past 6 months or ever since sports writers began making the case that Flacco deserves to be paid +$100 million so don’t think I’m saying this just because I watched one crappy preseason performance of his but Joe is going to have a very difficult season in 2013. The bullseye will be on his back as he’s not just one of the 3 highest paid players in the NFL but is also the reigning Super Bowl MVP and will be looked upon as the Ravens locker room leader with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed no longer around. He also lost Anquan Boldin to free agency, Dennis Pitta to a torn ACL, and could be without Ed Dickson for awhile so he’s going into the season with an average supporting cast. Unlike the great QBs like Rodgers, Brady, Manning, and Brees you can’t put any group of skill position players around Flacco and have it work well. His contract makes it seem like that should be the case but in reality he’s not a Top 10 QB, anyone who disagrees with me needs to google articles written 3 years ago when sports writers were proclaiming the same thing about Mark Sanchez and his great postseason performances, and I suspect the Ravens will very soon regret giving Flacco that huge contract. I have the Ravens missing the playoffs and Flacco having a statistical season that lumps him in the middle of the pack among QBs. The media will be calling his blockbuster contract a mistake by midseason.

The Bottom Dwellers: The NFL is a parity league and every year there are teams that come out of nowhere to grab a playoff spot. Last year the three teams were the Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, and the Seattle Seahawks with the Vikings especially surprising me as I looked at their roster and saw a 5-11 type team at best and was impressed how far Adrian Peterson led that offensively challenged squad. This year there is a group of teams in the Chiefs, Rams, Cardinals, Eagles, and Bills who appear weak but have just enough talent to warrant consideration as surprise playoff teams in 2013. The same cannot be said of the Raiders or the Jaguars as they both look like they are about to begin horrendous seasons and neither team has any real chance to compete for a playoff spot this year. My NFL preview will come out in a few days but I can give you a sneak preview and let you know that the Raiders and Jaguars will be sitting at spots #31 and #32 in my team rankings. One of these two teams will probably earn the honor to make Jadeveon Clowney their #1 Overall Pick next April yet when looking at the rosters of each team it’s evident that the team that finishes #2 could actually draft the more helpful player. While Clowney is getting all the publicity, and for good reason as he looks like he will challenge Julius Peppers as the greatest pass rushing prospect I’ve ever graded, he doesn’t play quarterback and the play of Matt Flynn and Blaine Gabbert are the #1 reasons for their team’s poor play. Put Aaron Rodgers on either roster and Super Bowls won’t be suddenly coming their way but Flynn and Gabbert are just atrocious and I suspect that whoever takes Clowney #1 will be in the Top 5 of the draft a year later as well with the objective next time being to get a QB. Unless a freak injury occurs that derails a good team and turns them into a joke, like two years ago with Peyton Manning, the Jadeveon Clowny sweepstakes will be all year long and will pit these two moribund franchises against each other. May the worst team win.

Broncos: Is it just me or is anyone having second thoughts about the Broncos as the team to beat in the AFC this year? First it was the Elvis Dumervil fax fiasco, then it was the string of DUIs, then it was Dan Koppen their starting center tearing his ACL and out for the year, then it was Champ Bailey getting hurt, then it was Derek Wolfe’s scary neck injury that sent him on a stretcher to the hospital, and now it’s Von Miller’s 6 game suspension. They are a deep and talented team but they sure do seem cursed right now and my suspicions were raised even more when I saw they were blown out by Seattle 40-10 last week. Yes it’s preseason but by the time Brock Osweiler took over for Peyton Manning midway through the second quarter they were already down 27-7 and there are a fair number of holes in that defense to make me wonder whether they are being overvalued by the media. In my opinion the Seahawks and the 49ers were and still are the class of the NFL but if I had to predict today the team I think will be playing for the AFC in the Super Bowl I no longer would say the Broncos and would have to side with the Texans. There are just too many issues cropping up each and every week for the Broncos and I suspect they’ll be more of a 10-6 team than the 13-3 juggernaut they were last year.


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  1. Eric permalink

    I want to start off by saying I agree Flacco isnt in the top-tier of NFL qbs. However, nobody needs to go read three year old articles about the Sanchize. The Ravens knew what they were risking when they let their qb play out his contract. This is the same qb that won a road-playoff game in each season hes played. They knew this was all great negotiating material fpr he and his agent. It back fired. Whats the max you’d agree to give before releasing the superbowl winning qb? Because im sure that money was there for him in or outside of Baltimore

    • Baltimore was in a tough spot no doubt but I didn’t see why everyone was so against the franchise tag for one season. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, and others were leaving so it’s not as if anyone expected them to repeat so there’s no reason they couldn’t let Flacco play this season on the tag and then, when the last memories of his previous season no longer were playing flawless football and winning the Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP, THEN you begin a long term negotiation. Ozzie knew better than to try and lock up a player long term when he’s coming off an abnormally great year. I would have been fine with a 5 yr $75 mil deal and if Flacco wants much more than that then I’d franchise him in 2013 and then re-offer the same contract one year later after the Ravens miss the playoffs this season. If he still says no to the offer then I’d pull the trigger and trade him for 2 first rounders in the spring of 2014 (Carson Palmer netted the Bengals a 1st and a 2nd so I’m sure some team like the Jags would agree to two 1st rounders for Flacco). Newsome is the best drafting GM in the league and arming him with 4 first rounders in 2014-2015 would probably end up pretty good. At the end of the day I’d rather have 2 first rounders and $20 mil a year in salary cap space over Joe Flacco. He’s clutch but he’s not a Top 10 QB and those are the only guys worth +$18 mil a year.

      • Eric permalink

        Well Im not sure you could get two first rounders, Palmer retired and had years left on his contract and a promise never to play for Cinci again. No way he signs your offer 5 for 75 so you tag him for around 20. No chance of him playing twice under the tag, so he walks without a fair market offer in his view. I agree they might not be as seriosof a ccontender this year, but that defense last year wasnt even close to being elite. If they MISS the playoffs he can argue that Ozzie inexplicably traded Boldin for a sixth round pick, Pitta was out all year, and the defense was awful. Mainly their top picks from the last three years, not all…but many. Franchising him this year and subsequently trading would be the best way to get him off if you really want him out, but i dont see two first round picks for player under the tag.

      • In regards to your comment that the Ravens couldn’t get two first round picks for Flacco I will agree with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio who said, “Plenty of teams would gladly give two first round picks for a reigning Super Bowl MVP who is still on the front end of his prime.”
        It would be a bidding frenzy between teams like the Browns, Jaguars, Cardinals, Raiders, and any other team that was unsure about their QB situation. Flacco isn’t a Top 10 QB but he is a Top 18 QB which still leaves a minimum of 14 teams who would be interested in him if he became available. Also I don’t see any contradiction between my willingness to sign a player like Luke Kuechly to Sean Lee’s deal and my unwillingness to sign Lee to that deal. First off it was stating a player like Kuechly not Kuechly himself. He’s in year two of his career so he isn’t even eligible to be extended until the end of his year 3. Also Kuechly already has been named Defensive Rookie of the Year, played a full NFL season, led the NFL in tackles, and put up stats (his 164 tackles in 1 year are eerily close to Lee’s 195 career tackles after 3 seasons) that make him worth a Top 5 contract. Lee has done none of those things. Simply put: Kuechly is a far superior player to Lee and by the end of the year will be considered one of the 2-3 best linebackers in all of football. He’s an emerging superstar.

  2. Eric permalink

    And i also cant believe your Kueckly boner and saying that he Luke Kuechly is the type of player deserving of Sean Lees contrac with all one year under under his belt. Hes got a team option 4 yrsleft so youre ready to lock him up ten years at this years MLB salary for top tier. I love Kueckly but c’mon. Contradicting and everyone says it too often but its the PRESEASON. Barely any game planning or match ups are attacked, its just Preseason.

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