Thursday, August 26, 2010

The all-important third preseason game

It seems that game three of an NFL's preseason schedule is never referred to as "game three" or "the third game" or "I lost my thumb and forefinger sneaking a pinch of Chuck Negron's cocaine so it's this many games." It is called "the all-important third preseason game." Since I'm not one to let such an event slip past uncelebrated, and since I'll probably watch a lot of tonight's first half while sipping white wine and waiting for Project Runway to start, I'm going to make a few lazy observations concerning the Patriots' upcoming actual season—where every game counts. Until weeks sixteen and seventeen.

Aside from the obvious (big years for Brady and Moss; Welker being super-human… unless/until he gets injured again; Gronkowski, Hernandez and Tate revitalizing the offense), here's what has me scratching my head:

I doubt Chung's viability as a starting safety. Really, what has this guy done beside get drafted ahead of Jarius Byrd, who turned out to be the better (much better) Oregon safety? Meanwhile our other starter (Merriweather) only made the Pro Bowl because like ten other safeties chose not to play—I was actually hoping the team would trade him, taking advantage of the rest of the league believing he really is a stud. I'm not convinced that either one of them knows how to tackle, but people are saying Chung has practiced really well this preseason. You know, sessions where you're not allowed to tackle. I guess Harrison and Milloy aren't walking through that door though.

I really want McKenzie to succeed on this team. He's got a difficult background, he seems like a nice guy based on extended interviews and he reminds me of Keith David. I almost want him to get an unnecessary roughing penalty tonight so he can stare down the ref and shout "He was provokin' me."

I'm the only man in New England who still likes Maroney. He comes off very full of himself in interviews, which turns everyone off around here, especially when there's a humble, hard-working white guy like Welker on the team (hey, I'm just sayin'). Despite a lot of issues (indecisiveness, fumbling) he is one of the most exciting players on this team when he gets a little room. I wasn't sold on the offensive line even before Mankins turned out to be a no-show and I think Maroney generally gets too much of the blame for short gains. At the same time, if he doesn't average 4.5 against a shitty Rams team that won't be scheming much then even I might give up on him.

Is Mayo really so great? He seems adequate to me. Spikes is really coming on and will probably start, but everyone assumes it will be Mayo he pairs up with. Not so sure Spikes won't be the guy who plays every down, with Mayo rotating in and out with Guyton and McKenzie.

(Only historically Patriots-related.) Remember when the Pats traded Bledsoe to the Bills, a team within their own division? And everyone said it's because the Pats knew he was basically done and weren't worried about facing him twice a year? Someone might want to tell every Redskins fan that they—and McNabb, who has been a total hack for years—are in the same division as the Eagles.

(Certainly not limited to the Pats.) Get ready to start hearing the word "cadence" again. It has to be trademarked by the NFL and those who cover it. There's no other explanation.

(Not even remotely related to the NFL.) How many goddamn "Wolf" bands do we need?

The above list acts as this year's version of an NFL preview. I got a little gimmicky prior to the 2006 and 2007 seasons and, honestly, neither post was an example of good writing. Probably why I took a couple years off. Next up will be a discussion of the events leading up to the Velvet Revolution and/or Trout Mask Replica.