MONDAY MORNING JOLT
By Leo Paciga @FFHoudini
Welcome to this week’s edition of the “Monday Morning Jolt” – a weekly look back at the happenings and performances from around the NFL, focusing on situations and players that caught my eye or made me scratch my head in either awe or disbelief. Let’s jump right in and take a closer look at week number three of the NFL preseason.
- I’m obviously not a doctor, so take this with a grain of salt, but I have more than a nagging suspicion Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell is going to be out longer than 6 weeks.
- Speaking of injuries, San Diego running back Ryan Mathews has danced with that fickle mistress too many times during his relatively short career. Mathews looks healthy this preseason (knock on wood) and is showing a nice combination of vision, burst and power. What baffles me, however, is his lack of involvement on 3rd downs. Mathews is skilled at catching the ball, has enough open field ability to be dangerous after the catch and is adequate in pass protection. With zero receptions so far this preseason, it’s as if the old Norv Turner coaching regime hypnotized new HC Mike McCoy into believeing Mathews is invisible whenever 3rd down rolls around.
- After reading all the glowing training camp reports and watching New England rookie wide out Kenbrell Thompkins torch the Lions’ secondary Thursday night to the tune of 8/116, I’m not sure if I should sell high or build my dynasty teams around this kid. In all seriousness, I’m trying to flip Kenbrell Thompkins for more value everywhere that I own him – even if I have to add some sugar to make that happen.
- Don’t look now, but the Seahawks are getting very good at drafting rookies that can control the “time space continuum.” Last year they selected Russell Wilson, a quarterback with the rare talent to mentally slow the game down to a crawl. This year the Seahawks added Christine Michael, a rookie running back with the innate ability to make defenders appear super slow, like they’re “stuck in quicksand.”
- Just when I thought Rex Ryan couldn’t do any more possible damage to the self-confidence of Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez, Rex ups the ante and sets a new standard for wreaking havoc with a player’s self-esteem. The decision to insert Mark Sanchez into the lineup during the 4th quarter against the Giants resulted in more than just a bruised ego for the much maligned quarterback. Sanchez suffered an injury to his right shoulder after being driven to the ground by a hard charging Giants defense. It looks like rookie QB Geno Smith may have won the week one starting job by default.
- That “gusting wind” sound you heard Saturday afternoon was the collective sigh of relief from C.J. Spiller owners everywhere once they realized his knee was fine and disaster was averted.
- It’s cliché to say that a team’s success hinges upon the play of its quarterback, but in the case of the Tennessee Titans it couldn’t be more true. With an improved interior offensive line, a talented wide receiving core and a running back that still has some “take it to the house” pop left in the tank, Jake Locker‘s play will either make or break the 2013 season for the Titans and HC Mike Munchak.
- Are quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn secretly the same person? I wonder if anyone has ever witnessed them both being in the same place at the same time. Hmmm, the more I think about it, the more I think I’ve been duped.
- Every time I’m ready to quit Felix Jones for good, the former Arkansas running back bites back with just enough “what if” to give me a case of fantasy football indigestion. Now that Felix has found a new home in Pittsburgh, I have to keep repeating to myself, “just say no, just say no” when submitting this week’s waiver requests.
- Talk about the difference one week can make to an assessment. In last week’s “Monday Morning Jolt”, I mentioned that Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden was showing significant improvements this off season. During Saturday’s game against the Colts, Weeden reverted back to his bad habits, locking in on receivers and failing miserably in pre-snap reads. This regression comes directly on the heels of being named the regular season starter by head coach Rob Chudzinki. I wonder if Cudzinski wishes he had kept Weeden in the dark just a little longer.
- While we’re on the subject of comparing weeks, last week I wrote that Reggie Bush would easily shatter the 50 reception plateau this season if healthy, something he hasn’t done since 2008. After watching the game Thursday night, Reggie may top 50 catches by week 5. That being said, I also believe the Lions need to get RB Joique Bell into the mix more often; Bell brings a nice balance of power and agility to the Detroit running game.
- NFL stardom meet David Wilson…….David Wilson meet NFL stardom.
- The combination of Roy Helu‘s impressive preseason and HC Mike Shanahan’s penchant for befuddling fantasy owners with his running back “shenanigans” has to make for some sleepless nights for Alfred Morris owners. I still love Morris for 2013, but I have to admit that Helu will probably end up with more 3rd down work than I initially thought when training camp first started.
- After watching as much tape of Brice Butler as I could get my hands on last week, I’ve decided that Butler’s play reminds me of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Both receivers have similar physical builds and seemingly effortless strides while running down field. Gordon “high points” the ball a little better and plays with more physical attitude, but Brice Butler is every bit the open field threat that Gordon is with the ball in his hands. Dynasty owners really should take note.
- Markus Wheaton will make Pittsburgh fans forget about Mike Wallace sooner rather than later.
- I swear Miami running back Daniel Thomas shuts his eyes whenever he touches the ball. Every time a hole opens up for Thomas, he misses the crease and runs right up the back of an offensive lineman. Prior to Saturday’s game, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman stated that Thomas and Lamar Miller were neck and neck in the RB competition. GM Jeff Ireland also mentioned the dreaded running back by committee approach a few times recently. Look, I get that Lamar Miller hasn’t done himself any favors with his recent play and he’s opened the door for the “competition coach speak”, but there’s no way Daniel Thomas should be in any discussion concerning the starting RB job in Miami.
- Sprinkle a little “maturity” into Dez Bryant‘s game and you get the dominant, game changing offensive weapon that many people envisioned when he first came into the league back in 2010.
- Staying with the Dallas Cowboy wide receiver theme, is it bad that I hear a pencil snapping in my head every time Miles Austin catches a pass and turns up field? While he hasn’t missed all that many games since entering the league in 2006 as a UDFA, Austin always seems to be less than 100% while constantly battling hamstring issues. Here’s hoping the talented, but often injured Austin can finally string together a healthy season.
- Every time I watch A.J. Green, I can’t help but compare his play to the gracefulness of a purebred greyhound racing dog. Strange analogy I know, but Green exhibits an amazingly smooth combination of speed, agility and fluidity while tracking passes all over the field.
- I’m all for practicing increased crowd safety in today’s dangerous world. Again, I get it completely…..but after watching studio announcers explain the NFL’s new “clear bag” policy over and over again during breakaways this weekend, I felt like NFL Network’s Chris Rose was going to ask me to attend my next game wearing only Saran Wrap instead of my favorite NFL jersey. Yeah, you’re right, sorry for that mental image.
Well, that wraps up this week’s “Monday Morning Jolt” and a look back at week number three of the NFL preseason. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me here at DFW or on Twitter @FFHoudini. Until next Monday, here’s hoping all your fantasy starters perform well in practice and stay injury free.
Read more DFW articles by: Leo Paciga