FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 11: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots along with Bill O'Brien and Tom Brady #12, talk with Brian Hoyer #8 in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars on August 11, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The first week of the preseason is almost done with 15 of the 16 games completed. What did we learn from the first week of the preseason? Here are five things to remember.
The first week of the 2011 NFL preseason is nearly in the books. The New York Jets will take on the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football but outside of that we've seen 15 preseason games. You can catch recaps of Thursday's night's games, Friday night's games and Saturday night's games.
What should we take away from the preseason so far? Here are five things to remember:
The Patriots are still really, really good. Sure, it's just preseason and QB Tom Brady didn't even play. But that's why the Patriots 47-12 stomping of the Jaguars is even more impressive. Both quarterbacks -- Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett -- looked really solid. We've seen this story before -- two and a half years ago they traded QB Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second round pick. He was the backup at the time with Brady coming back from a knee injury. The Patriots are in a similar position where they have a couple of quarterbacks some team will want to pluck in the next couple of years. My prediction has one of those guys leaving via trade before the 2013 season.
The hype surrounding the Detroit Lions won't be leaving this week. Despite a couple of key injuries early in training camp, the Lions still have some hype surrounding them from folks who think this is finally the year they compete for a playoff spot. After their 34-3 shellacking of the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend, that hype train won't be slowing anytime soon. QB Matthew Stafford looked terrific hitting on 6-of-7 passes for 71 yards and a 26-yard touchdown pass to WR Calvin Johnson. If this team can stay healthy -- which past history tells us is a big if -- they're going to be legitimate playoff contenders.
Interesting quarterback situations in the Broncos-Cowboys game. First, the Cowboys have a backup quarterback named QB Stephen McGee and he's looked sharp the last three times we've seen him. I'm not saying he's making himself a starter but he is getting the attention of a few folks in the league.
As we talked about with the Patriots backup quarterbacks, McGee can be an asset for the Cowboys, or another team. Second, the Broncos quarterback situation still points to QB Kyle Orton as the lead dog but QB Tim Tebow returned after a miserable first series to produce a solid outing that lead the team down the field. He was more accurate than usual and made you think twice -- briefly -- about Orton as the starting quarterback.
QB Matt Hasselbeck and QB Jake Locker have the Titans in a good position. Hasselbeck completed 5-of-6 passes for 55 yards while Locker had perhaps the best day of any rookie quarterback last week completing 7-of-10 passes for 89 yards and an impressive touchdown passes which came off of a fumbled snap. Hasselbeck has a three-year deal so it was believed that Locker would likely sit for a couple years. If he continues playing well, the Titans are going to have a good problem on their hands.
It's hard to figure out how seriously to take the preseason. I'll use my Kansas City Chiefs as an example. They were blown out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night, 25-0. The Chiefs didn't play a lot of starters -- QB Matt Cassel didn't attempt a pass -- so clearly this can't be taken completely seriously. But on the other hand you have to wonder about the state of your team if you get blown out of the water by that score.
Were the Chiefs working on different things without worrying about the score? Or were they truly struggling this much? That's the main debate looking at the results of preseason games. It's hard to tell with the Chiefs considering they went 0-4 in the 2009 preseason, and went on to win four games, and went 1-3 in the 2010 preseason, and went on to win 10 games.