NFL Q&A with Allen and The Ace is a weekly Thursday column featured on TJRsports.com. Allen and The Ace are big time NFL junkies and are Falcon and Packer fans, respectively. Each week the guys will ask questions and discuss the previous week’s games along with picking the Top 5 Games of the Week!
Ace: One week away from our NFL Preview. One week away from kickoff. I don’t know what more I can say to make you excited about the NFL Season. We just completed a Fantasy Draft together the other night and I’ve got one more to go this weekend. I’m playing in five money leagues this year. Five! I had to develop a spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel just so I can keep track of my guys. I could potentially win up to $1,200...but with five teams, it’s going to be awfully tough to win five leagues.
One week from tonight the Broncos host the Ravens and less than 72 hours after that my team travels to San Francisco to face the defending NFC Champions and your team travels to the Bayou to face the cheating New Orleans Saints. Those are some pretty good matchups. I can’t wait to get the iPad in place, the Bloody Mary’s ready and enjoy my day on the couch which will be a great 10 days from now!
Allen: We are one week away from football games mattering again. The pre-season buzz begins to wear down, after week three begins to fade away. A full deluxe of fantasy football drafts has happened over the past week for me to offset the wait of the regular season. This is the last week of our shortened columns, since next we’ll be picking five of the top games each week. Also our season preview and predictions will be up as well. With more added content, it’s for the best of the weekly column.
Ace: The Green Bay Packers have been predominantly a pass first team hopefully until now. They drafted star Running Back from Alabama, Eddie Lacy in the 2nd round and UCLA Running Back Johnathan Franklin in the 4th round. The news just broke today that DuJuan Harris is out for the year with a knee injury, but Franklin and Lacy will be teamed with James Starks and/or Alex Green.
How do you think the Green Bay Packers will fare on the ground this season?
Allen: The running game should improve slightly this year simply because of the better talent there. Even though Lacy can be considered overrated, he can carry the load and be the closer that Green Bay needs. It was supposed to be Cedric Benson last year, but he was hurt and they couldn’t find a proper replacement. The reason the running game won’t take a tremendous leap is due to the offensive line still being one of the worst units in the league.
The offensive line hindered the Packers’ offense to an extent last year and it could very well do so again this year. The loss of Bryan Bulaga was a huge blow at left tackle, along with questions on the right side of the line and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. It lacks stability, which will lead to even more quick passes from Aaron Rodgers this year. Lacy will break many tackles this season, but this is going to be a major transition from Alabama’s elite offensive line to Green Bay’s below average offensive line. They need to address that come next off-season or one of the young tackles steps up.
NFL Story of the Week
The New York Jets and Oakland Raiders are still undecided about who is going to start off the season as their starting quarterback. Even though both teams won’t get much praise this year, it’s still a hot topic right now going into the end of the pre-season. Who would you start at quarterback, if you were the coach of either team?
Ace: The New York Jets are just a flat out mess. I was still very confused by the drafting of Geno Smith. The Jets had quarterback problems to begin with before bringing in Smith and then in a make or break season for Rex Ryan, (in my opinion, he will be fired after this season) they bring in a rookie to compete with Mark Sanchez. What boggles my mind is Mark Sanchez playing so late in a preseason game to the point where he gets hurt. Chris Simms actually looked pretty competent at quarterback for the Jets and then yesterday they bring in former Packers backup Graham Harrell. If I were Rex Ryan I would go with Sanchez, but obviously his leash would be very short.
As for Oakland, people have said that Matt Flynn is a ‘system’ quarterback. I think Matt Flynn is very talented quarterback and people that watched him put up insane numbers in the season finale game against Detroit at the end of the 2011 Season know exactly how good he is. Terrelle Pryor is a different kind of monster, he’s a quarterback who can run the read option and scramble around. Matt Flynn has a great arm but no talent around him, it would be hard for Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady to succeed if they were thrown into Oakland.
Matt Flynn will settle down when the regular season starts, you might see some crazy packages where they bring Pryor in for a few plays per game. Flynn will be the starter for Oakland, they invested money in to bring him in. When it comes to the Jets, Sanchez will start if he’s healthy, if not it will be Geno Smith. I’m not sure I could live in a world where Aaron Rodgers starts for Green Bay and Graham Harrell starts for the Jets during Week One.
Allen: For all the criticism he’s received, Matt Flynn hasn’t been as horrendous as people have made him out to be. Out of the three-preseason games, he’s had two above average performances with his quarterback rating over 90. It’s not his fault that the offensive line is constantly allowing him to get hit on numerous occasions. Flynn has taken a beating in the pre-season, but he deserves the opportunity to prove himself as a starting quarterback.
The buzz of Terrelle Pryor has been evident and he’s brought some energy to that offense when he’s played. There are still major question marks about his overall mechanics as a quarterback from his accuracy to decision making. Oakland made the move to get Flynn in the off-season and it’s only right for him to finally get an opportunity. Pryor may be able to make plays with his feet and get the crowd excited. At the end of the day, a quarterback needs to make plays with his arm and Flynn has a much better chance of doing that.
I’m going to go a different route with the New York Jets. Unlike Matt Flynn who hasn’t gotten a fair shot yet as a starter, Mark Sanchez has gotten far too many opportunities to start for the Jets. After his countless mistakes over the past two seasons, it’s time to give someone a chance. As terrible as Geno Smith looked against the Giants, I’d start him in week one and throw him out there right away. Most teams have started their prized rookie quarterback right away. I’m not a believer in possibly hurting a quarterback’s development by playing him too early. The Jets have zero expectations this season, so what is the issue with playing Smith right away?
There is nothing that the Jets can get out of by starting Mark Sanchez. His confidence is diminished to the point, where there is zero upside in continuing to play him unless he’s their only option. Unless something drastic happens to Smith, there is no reason why Sanchez should play this season. I’d let Smith develop and gain experience playing in every game rather than sit on the bench. There are no expectations for Smith, since the Jets have done absolutely nothing to boost their receiving corps. He’ll learn this year from every game, before there are expectations set for 2014.
Allen: There has been a lot of buzz in Chicago with Mark Trestman as their new coach. He is expected to get the best out of Jay Cutler.
Are you buying into Chicago as a dark horse in the NFC?
Ace: Absolutely. While Chicago’s offensive line might have some question marks in it, they were a 10 win team last season and come into this year with many familiar faces on offense. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall will continue to put up big numbers and Alshon Jeffery in year two will be much improved off his rookie campaign. I absolutely love the signing of Martellus Bennett at tight end as a big time redzone threat for Cutler and Company.
Defensively, they should still be towards the top of the NFL. Losing Brian Urlacher to retirement hurts, but it hurts in the leadership department. They have the talent on defense to have one of the best defenses in football and with Marc Trestman being able to work with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall on offense they should put up some big numbers.
I worry that they might not be able to close some games, but I absolutely believe that they will be a 9 win team and could sneak in as a Wild Card team. This division is Green Bay’s to lose, the Bears are easily the 2nd place team with Minnesota coming in 3rd or 4th.
Allen: This is the dull week of pre-season for most people. Some people may be interested in what players make the final cut and achieves their dream of making the 53-man roster. I’ll be working on my predictions this weekend for the entire season going through every game on every team’s schedule. It’s the only right way to do, so the predictions are legitimate as possible.
Ace: That’s it for this week. I’ll wrap it up with this. Next week will be a fun article as Allen and I will make our Division predictions, playoff teams and predictions, annual awards and bold predictions. Also, be sure to check out next week’s edition of Macho Men Radio as we will have several guys on to preview the 2013 NFL Season and we’ll make our picks. We go live at 7pm/CT on Wednesday, September 4th. Join us, won’t you?
You can hear The Ace on Macho Men Radio with C-Mac every Tuesday night on BlogTalkRadio at blogtalkradio.com/machomenradio