“Wake me up when preseason’s over,” goes my usual sarcastic rhetoric when speaking about the weeks of glorified scrimmages preceding the pageantry of the NFL season’s real beginning.
After last night’s Browns vs Redskins game, though, I caught myself uttering words I’d normally be too embarrassed to speak: That was a really good preseason game!
Ugggh…the horror, right?
Considering Monday night’s battle was between two teams for whom most people have, at best, conservative expectations, we were still able to learn a lot about the QBs.
For one, Johnny (lose the “Football” moniker already) Manziel is as ill-prepared to lead an NFL team and as immature as many critics predicted. Manziel gave the inglorious middle finger to the Redskins bench in the 3rd quarter after Redskins safety Ryan Clark taunted Johnny, reminding him that his Texas A&M fast feet are no match for big-league speed.
Had it not been for Johnny’s obscene gesture, it’s likely he’d barely be in today’s conversation since most of his performance was forgettable. Actually, 7 of 16 for 65 yards and one touchdown is probably less performance and more rough start, but since Brian Hoyer’s play was equally (maybe more) dismal, there’s still hope that Manziel will earn the starting position Week 1. As for flicking off the Redskins bench, Johnny apologized for his “lapse in judgement.” The “F You” gesture, though, is pretty consistent with Manziel’s “it’s my world and all of you are just worshipping me” behavior, but good PR damage control effort.
Speaking of good effort, Connor Shaw gave one that should’ve given everyone pause. This is one undrafted quarterback, we learned, that should be on everyone’s radar.
The former University of South Carolina star completed 8 of 9 passes for 123 yards which was better than Manziel and Hoyer (Hoyer completed just 2 of 6 passes for 16 yards). So what if Shaw came in during the 4th quarter where the playing field is full of 10th-string hopefuls? He looked strong and confident and seemed to have a command that neither Manziel nor Hoyer has shown so far. Perhaps the starting QB position in Cleveland should be a 3-way battle.
We also discovered that RGIII — after that stellar career at Baylor and two solid years as an NFL starter –still hasn’t learned that going for the slide is better than taking the hard hit while on the run out of the pocket.
While I won’t go as far ESPN’s Colin Cowherd who said on his morning show that RGIII reminds him more of a cornerback than a quarterback, I will say that the Redskins have more to worry about than just their offensive name and mascot if their 3rd year starting QB doesn’t know how to slide and is still having problems with false starts.
If there’s such thing as thriving in a backup QB role, we saw that Kirk Cousins is doing just that. Cousins was 12 for 21, passing for 145 yards with a touchdown and one interception in the Redskins’ one point victory over the Browns.
Of course, no one’s hanging his hat or head on a lone preseason showing, but Cousins’ consistence versus Griffin’s unpredictability could very well become a “thing.” Considering RGIII’s shaky start, I think Kirk Cousins is in a perfect position to at least get coaches to contemplate the possibility of having him start. And rumor on the street is that Griffin’s not the most popular guy with teammates these days anyway, soooo …
Like I said, Monday night’s preseason game was off the chain, or, according to the ratings, off the charts.
It was entertaining and it gave us valuable insight into some likely QB drama to look forward to in 2014.
Editor’s Update: Browns announced Wednesday morning that Hoyer will start Week 1.