Thursday, August 30, 2007

Preseason Game Three Analysis

I know this post is quite overdue, but I was on vacation when the Tampa Bay game was played. I didn't get to see the whole thing live, so my observations will be somewhat brief.

The Bad
Screen play INT - This play seemed pretty poorly set up from the beginning, but Ronnie Brown looked as if he gave no effort in trying to prevent Cato June from intercepting the ball. It's understandable that he probably doesn't want to get whacked in a preseason game, but his effort on that play was noticeably lacking.

Kick Returners - Again, Ronnie Brown was back returning kicks to start the game. I've said my piece on this issue, and I strongly disagree with the decision. I hope Cameron changes his mind about this before the regular season starts. It makes little sense to risk the best running back on the team, when there are guys like Ted Ginn Jr. and Az-Zahir Hakim who can return kicks - most likely with a higher degree of success. Who knows, maybe this will all work out in the end and the decision to use Brown as the kick returner will prove to be genius, but until I see positive results, I can't get behind this move.

Travares Tillman - This guy kills me. I understand that he's a solid special teams contributor, but that can only make up for so many botched plays in the secondary. It seems like every other long pass is completed over Tillman's head. Granted, I know the touchdown catch by Joey Galloway came after Jeff Garcia scrambled around for about an hour behind the line with absolutely no pressure, but it would still be nice to see Tillman make a play on that ball. I don't really remember the last time I've seen Tillman make a positive play in the secondary. The fact that he is likely to make this team should speak greatly to the depth, or lack thereof, that the team currently has at safety.

Run-blocking - The run-blocking throughout the game was generally poor. The running game averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. The line clearly is still lacking in consistency and cohesion. Although I really like the kid, I think Samson Satele is going to struggle early on with run-blocking. He's coming from a school where he was asked to pass protect on almost every play. Paving the way for a strong running game is something new to him, and it's going to take some time to see some progression in his skill.

The Good
First Team Offense - Finally the first-stringers on offense got their act together and put together some impressive drives. What makes it all the more special is that the unit was able to bounce back from a potentially devastating INT returned for TD on just their second play of the game. Trent Green came back out and drove his guys the length of the field, executing 18 plays and chewing up over 9 minutes off the game clock. It was great to see that mental toughness.

Ted Ginn Jr. - Ginn came to life in the receiving game for the first time this preseason. He caught 3 passes for 29 yards, all of which resulted in a first down. It was encouraging to see Green look Ginn's way, especially on a fourth down. Ginn delivered by moving the chains. Ginn also took some crunching shots after catching the ball, but he bounced back up, and didn't seemed shaken by it.

Lorenzo Booker - It was also nice to finally see Lorenzo Booker play a significant role in the offense. Even though he ran the ball just once for 2 yards, he hauled in 6 passes for 41 yards. I would not be surprised if Lorenzo finished this season with more receptions than rushes. Let's face it, he just isn't very good at running between the tackles. In space though?...Look out.

Matt Roth - Roth made a tremendous INT at the line of scrimmage. If he can carry that kind of big-play potential into the regular season, this defense will be amazing.

John Beck - Once again, Beck looked solid in his performance, and he almost led another late game comeback. Although the team lost, Beck did his part by tossing two long TDs. He's still making some mistakes in reading the defense and deciding where to go with the ball (despite a perfect throw, P.K. Sam was tripled covered), but it's clear that he is learning well.

Health - There were a few scares on the injury front, but luckily they all seem to be minor issues. NT Paul Soliai (knee), DT Vonnie Holliday (shaken up), and LB Robert McCune (groin) all sustained injuries, but they have all returned to practice since.


Play of the Game - Jesse Chatman's 11 yard TD run on the Statue of Liberty play. (Duh. Did you think I would choose anything else?)
That was a thing of beauty, executed to perfection. Didn't see it? Take a look:


Player of the Game - John Beck. 11 for 22 with 162 yards and 2 TDs while almost leading his third consecutive come-from-behind victory.

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