Sunday, September 04, 2005

Lowlights of the preseason

So much happens in the preseason, yet so little means anything.

THROWS LIKE A GIRL: I have no idea how anyone could have looked at the three-headed monster that was the 2004 Chicago Bears' reserve quarterbacking corps and decided that any of these guys was the answer. Regardless of what the qquestion might be. Yet as the preseason opened, all three of these guys had their names on the back of NFL jerseys (good luck finding them at Sports Authority, tho). Chad Hutchinson was penciled in as the Bears' starter after Rex Grossman got hurt. Jonathan Quinn, who spent six years working toward his chance to start and blew it pretty much immediately, was on the Chiefs roster. And Craig Krenzel -- Craig Krenzel! was third on the Bengals depth chart behind Carson Palmer and Jon Kitna.

This is preposterous. As a trio, these boys had a passer rating of 63.9, meaning that all of them, pooling their talents, made for a lousy quarterback. Why would you want one-third of a lousy quarterback?

It appears sanity has two-thirds prevailed. Hutchinson, given his chance to be The Man, promptly threw it to the opposing cornerback and was flushed out the bottom of the depth chart. It's not a good sign when a team keeps four quarterbacks on its 53-man roster, and you aren't one of them. Quinn, meanwhile, did a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and got cut. The Chiefs decided they'd be better off with Damon Huard and Todd Collins backing up the somewhat-wobbly Trent Green, which tells you all you need to know about Jonathan Quinn.

But amazingly, future Nobel Prize winner Craig Krenzel will go into the 2005 regular season drawing a full paycheck. It's tempting to say it doesn't much matter who's No.3 in Cincinnati, because Palmer is starting to look like the real deal and Kitna may well be the best backup in the game, but remember, Krenzel started last year as a glimmer in nobody's eye in Chicago, yet still managed to start a handful of games. The man is a molecular biologist. God knows what he's slipping into the FroYo at the training table.

IT'S NOT THAT DIFFICULT: Here are some things I know ...

I know that when a punt touches a player on the receiving team but that player does not establish possession, then it is a muff, not a fumble. I know that you cannot advance a muff.

I know that pass rushers are not allowed to slap the quarterback in the head. I know that this was once not a penalty, but it is now. (And yes, I know -- I KNOW -- that "pretty soon you're not going to be able to touch the quarterback at all.")

I know that "down by contact" is not subject to replay review, and I know that even when a call is subject to review, if it occurs in the last two minutes of a half, then it is up to the booth official, not coaches, to initiate a replay.

I know these things. You know these things. Why do the ninnies who call the preseason games not know these things? Watching preseason on NFL Network is really something, because you get one team's local announcers in the first half, and the other team's in the second half. Many of these guys are national pros tuning up for the regular season: During the second half of the Bucs-Titans game, you got to hear the Bucs' team of Fox's Chris Meyers and ESPN's Ron Jaworski. But during the first half of the same game, you got Team Titans: Eddie George (who was all right, actually) and some local sports guy. Yee. The locals seem to have trouble grasping the rules. And they seem to judge NFL players by their fantasy value. So too often during the preseason, I found myself screaming at the screen. There's no need to scream during the preseason.

THEY'LL PLAY THE JETS FOR HOMECOMING: Some teams' redesigned uniforms (Broncos, Patriots, Eagles and, surprisingly, Cardinals) are better than what came before. Others are worse (Seahawks, Bills and, not surprisingly, Bengals). But whether the new unis are bootiful are boot-oogly, someone will always declare them to look like college or high school uniforms. That's not always fair, or true. The Lions' new alternate jerseys, with the blue numbers on black, are rather handsome. They really pop. But in the final analysis, they have an air of desperation about them. I say "Arena Football League." The Giants, who last year trotted out ridiculous red home jerseys, now have a road jersey with red numbers and red stripes on white. Look like barber poles out there. Yes, they look like college uniforms, but NAIA.

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