Usually, when I'm watching NFL games and the San Diego Chargers aren't playing, I just throw on the Red Zone Channel and avoid commercials all afternoon. Yesterday, I had a different goal. I wanted to scout the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. These four teams will oppose the Chargers in 6 of their 16 regular season games in 2012, and I wanted to know how good they were.
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs
- Matt Cassel is an accurate QB with a strong arm that can lead a team. However, he is indecisive. When he does make decisions, they're usually the wrong ones. When he has time, he holds on to the ball too long. When he doesn't, he tends to throw it into coverage with staggering regularity.
- Jamaal Charles looked timid. Yet, he still ran for 87 yards on 16 carries (including a 46 yard run) on speed and vision alone. As he gets more comfortable making strong cuts on his knee, he'll get even better. Thankfully, Peyton Hillis looked absolutely terrible.
- Matt Ryan gets a little bit better every year. If it weren't for the occasional bonehead throw into coverage, he would be right there with the "elite QBs" in the league. This could be the year he makes that leap, because....
- Julio Jones looks unstoppable. Actually, he looks like Calvin Johnson. Considering the Falcons still have Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and a strong running game....they're pretty stacked on offense.
- Both pass-rushes looked relatively weak. The Falcons' 3 sacks were coverage sacks. Justin Houston's sack was when they tried to block him with a TE. It's possible that both teams' offensive lines are very good.
- Eric Berry still gives up as much as he gets. He takes a lot of chances and will leave guys wide open several times per game. Something to keep an eye on when facing teams that have deep threats.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
- First off, let it be known that the Steelers were playing without their starting Free Safety and their best pass-rusher. That left two very big holes on their defense.
- Peyton Manning still makes throws that other QBs couldn't comprehend making. They don't take a ton of physical skill, per se, but they just don't make sense. There was one throw, it went for about 15 yards, that he made to Jacob Tamme's front shoulder that was unbelievable. I still, obviously, can't find the words to describe it.
- Is Peyton Manning back? Yes and no. This was a home-opener with a crazy crowd against a weakened defense. Everything was in his favor. He didn't show much in the way of arm strength, but his brain and his accuracy alone can make him a Top 10 QB.
- The Broncos team is basically "Manning and a pass rush". I guess that's how those old Colts teams were built too, but it only worked out real well when they added a DPOY at Safety. There's nothing much in the way of coverage on defense or a running game on offense.
- The Steelers look old. For the first time in a long time, they don't seem to have any rookies or second year players that are worth a damn. They couldn't run, they couldn't throw and their defense only seemed to get by on the scheme. They're in real trouble in that division.