NFL Preseason Week 1 Notebook: Evaluating the Young QB's

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HIT & RUN GETS THE SWEEP AS REDS (-155) AND YANKEES (-160) WIN MONDAY!!!

Jim Sez

OUR NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1 NOTEBOOK –ALL THE CHATTER’S ABOUT THE LEAGUE’S YOUNG QUARTERBACKS

WE’VE GOT PLENTY TO SAY ABOUT BUFFALO’S MANUEL, NY JETS’ SMITH AND OTHERS (INCLUDING JACKSONVILLE’S GABBERT AND KANSAS CITY’S ALEX SMITH TOO)

By Jim Hurley

Go ahead and ask:

Who were really the biggest winners/losers when it came to the first full week of 2013 NFL Preseason action?

Ohh, that’s easy!

One of the biggest winners were those “totals” players out there in the wagering world as – including the Hall of Fame Game played two Sundays back – the folks that played all the “overs” went a scorching 12-5 ATS (against the spread) for a rollicking .706 winning percentage.

Also, if you went strictly with the away or road team NFL Preseason Week 1, than you cashed on 11-of-16 wagers for a rock-solid .688 winning rate.

Not bad, eh?

And – in no particular order – some of the on-the-field winners included the likes of Buffalo Bills rookie QB E.J. Manuel, the whole New England Patriots starting offense and the stirred-up Seattle Seahawks defense.

The losers?

Well, the offensive lines of both the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers were pretty shaky in their respective weekend setbacks, and no one was throwing any kind of parade either for the passing games of the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Tampa Bay Bucs as both clubs need to rev things up sooner rather than later in the Sunshine State.

We, we know.

It’s oh-so-early in this NFL Preseason but never too early to analyze and dissect the all-important quarterback positions and so let’s jaunt ‘round the league a bit and weigh in with our pertinent comments:

BUFFALO 44, INDIANAPOLIS 20 – The final game of the NFL Preseason Week 1 menu occurred Sunday afternoon in the Hoosier State and, while critics may state Bills’ first-round draftee Manuel operated a low-risk offense here, the fact of the matter is he completed 16-of-21 passes for 107 yards with one touchdown and furthermore he played the entire first half.

Hear, hear …

We think more young quarterbacks should have done likewise this past week/weekend because that can only help speed up the developmental process and Manuel – who sported a more-than-respectable QB rating of 102.7 against the Colts -- showed major dexterity in the two-minute offense when he engineered a 10-play, 92-yard TD drive capped off by a 17-yard scoring strike to WR Dorin Dickerson with just 14 seconds remaining before the halftime break.

Okay, so afterwards the humble Manuel gave himself a grade of “B”, but consider that the Bills needed to know right away what they had with the first overall quarterback in last spring’s NFL Draft (you had forgotten that, didn’t you?) and Manuel was a breath of fresh air here in his debut and there appeared a major “connection” between the Florida State rookie and Bills’ first-year offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

Hey, nobody’s saying that Manuel now is gonna have a better pro debut then Indianapolis slinger Andrew Luck (who happened to complete 4-of-6 passing for 51 yards in two series against the Buffalo defense), but it’s a dandy start and a whole lot better than that second quarterback drafted last spring (re: second-round draftee Geno Smith).

DETROIT 26, NEW YORK JETS 17 – Let’s hit the re-wind button and go back to last Friday night in Motown:

There were the oft-dysfunctional New York Jets playing at Ford Field and trying to discover who would eventually be their No. 1 quarterback for this 2013 season.

“Incumbent” Mark Sanchez got the starting nod and promptly threw a “pick six” just three plays into the game when Lions rookie DL Ezekiel Ansah leaped up and snatched away an ill-advised screen pass thrown by Sanchez who – to be quite fair – played considerably better following that errant toss while completing 10-of-13 passing overall for 125 yards with one TD to go along with that one glaring interception.

But we’re here to talk about Jets’ rookie QB Smith and we’d like to dispense some advice to ole Geno before he ever plays another down in the NFL …

Please make sure your ankles are taped before you take the field!

Smith – who the Jets are dying to be their starting signal-caller by the time we get to the Sept. 8th opener against Tampa Bay – suffered a mild sprain of the right ankle on a freaky twist/turn while heading up-field early in the third quarter, but when TV cameras caught Smith sitting on the sideline trainer’s table they saw a Jets physician/trainer remove Smith’s right shoe and he didn’t have any tape on his ankle … heck, even CBS/Jets game analyst Greg Buttle thought it strange.

Now how does an NFL team send out its “future” in his pro debut and the dude’s not even taped up?

We’ll let you inject your own punch line considering the teams is owned by Woody Johnson – one of the Johnson & Johnson heirs--so one would think there’s plenty of athletic tape at the team’s disposal!

Better yet, Smith – who wasn’t nearly as good as his 6-of-7, 47-yard stat line (the Jets’ offense really didn’t go anywhere when he was on the field for a handful of possessions) – was back on the team’s practice field in Cortland (N.Y.) on Sunday afternoon, and there was ESPN reporting that he didn’t seem to be moving great and yet was taking all the snaps with the first-team offense in preparation for Saturday’s home game against Jacksonville.

Like, what’s going on here, J-E-T-S?

It could be that the AFC East team will sabotage this 2013 season by chucking the not-ready-for-prime-time Smith to the “wolves” too soon – and that could well spell another year behind center for Mr. Sanchez (see 52 turnovers in all the past two seasons).

Before we go further, now hear this …

My veteran Handicappers and Bloggers and I will bring you a bunch of summertime winners with NFL Preseason Sides & Totals Winners for the next three weeks.

Remember there’s NFL Preseason Week 2 games all week/weekend long beginning with Thursday’s quartet of games that include Atlanta at Baltimore and San Diego at Chicago (ESPN), plus there’s four more NFL Preseason Week 2 games on Friday, six more tilts on Saturday, and then stand-alone single games Sunday (that’s Indianapolis at the New York Giants on Fox) and Monday Night (that’s Pittsburgh at Washington on ESPN).

So make sure you hook up with me, Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper -- plus make sure you cash in with loads of Major-League Baseball Winners, too as we’ve been raging hot ever since the All-Star Game.

Check with us right here online at www.jimhurley.com or call toll free at 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight NFL and MLB action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Football/Baseball Winners.

Okay?

Now, back to a couple more NFL quarterbacks who were under the proverbial microscope in Preseason Week 1 action:

One year after the Jacksonville Jaguars finished tied with a league-low two straight-up wins, the start of this “next year” wasn’t any better last Friday night in a 27-3 home loss to the 1 ½-point favorite Miami Dolphins.

Jaguars’ QB Blaine Gabbert was awful in this tilt while completing 5-of-10 passes for 19 yards with one interception, and he sure didn’t get much help as two of Gabbert’s throws were clear drops – but after Jacksonville committed two lost fumbles (both on special teams gaffes) and two picks – you’re getting a sense that panic is setting in quickly on rookie coach Gus Bradley’s team, plus the first-year coach already had to discipline loud-mouth/suspended WR Justin Blackmon for some sideline trash talk that escalated with opponents and teammates alike.

Finally, let’s examine the NFL Preseason Week 1 results of Kansas City QB Alex Smith in his team’s 17-13 loss at 3-point home fav New Orleans.

The former numero uno signal-caller in San Francisco wowed new Chiefs boss Andy Reid by directing a near-flawless 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive capped by a one-yard scoring run by RB Jamaal Charles.

Smith operated out of the shotgun on eight of those 14 plays in the first-quarter TD drive and only two plays failed to produce positive yards: a sack of Smith (and a loss of only one yard) at the Kansas City 47-yard line and then there was a second-and-six incomplete pass from the Saints’ 14-yard line.

Otherwise, Smith was super-sharp and gave you the feeling that the Chiefs have a whole lot more promise to bounce back from their 2-14 season than do the wrecked-up J’ville Jaguars.

Hey, let’s do a little stat-check with a couple of numbers from this past week’s NFL Preseason action …

Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins – who started his team’s come-from-behind 22-21 win at 3-point home favorite Tennessee last Thursday night in Nashville – finished up that game with 6-of-7 pass completions for 52 yards and a touchdown en route to generating a QB Rating of 137.2. Just please don’t say anything about RG3 who? …

Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub completed all five of his aerials in a 27-13 win at 1-point underdog Minnesota last Friday night. Schaub – who last year helped the Texans win 13 games overall but lost by a composite score of 83-to-42 in a pair of games at New England – engineered a field-goal drive in his own possession, and take note that rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) nabbed one of those completions although it didn’t lead to a first down. If the Texans are gonna get over the proverbial hump in 2013, the Schaub-to-Hopkins pass/catch combo has to be super special. So stay tuned.

Note: Catch the start of our NFL Preseason Week 2 Previews plus lots more in the next edition of "Jim Sez".

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