I loved the graphic Ted gave to describe the game last night, and since Ted gave us the invitation, I thought I'd write up my own edition of the Stock Market Report. I agree Ted...that game was berhd. Unfortunately, I missed the game live Friday night, but I was able to DVR the NFL Network rebroadcast and watched it this morning. While my style certainly isn't as witty as Ted's, and no, my Dad doesn't quite have the endearing qualities of Don Glover, I'll do my best! So, read on for my stab at the SMR.
Blue Chip Stocks
Jared Allen, DE - This is a no-brainer, and yeah, he was up against an undrafted, free agent backup. But, any multi-sack game deserves a nod. I would have liked to see Allen a little more fired up for the game, but he added a few tackles to pad his stat sheet, so I'll take it.
Chris Kluwe, P - He may have already won the internet, but he also dominated in the punt phase today. Granted, it's never good to see Kluwe in the blue chip section, but he was booming 50+ yard punts all day, and had a sweet coffin-kick to pin San Diego back at their own 5-yard line.
Jasper Brinkley, MLB - Finally, Jasper showed up to play! Brinkley notched two sacks, and looked engaged and took good angles to tackle the ball-carrier. I'm not sure what happened towards the end of the 2nd quarter where he totally gave up the middle of the field, but Brinkley generally had a good game, and that was awesome to see. It gave me hope that maybe he could get it done for us this season.
Percy Harvin, WR - He had an amazing catch deep down the sideline, and then caught a mid-range pass with a defender draped all over him. Yeah, he dropped another long bomb that was totally catchable, but damn if he doesn't seem like he'll take it to the house every time he touches it. I get the sense that the coaching staff is purposefully limiting his reps this pre-season, but he looked a bit rusty today. Never-the-less, he still caught 2 balls for 53 yards. Not bad at all.
Matt Asiata, RB - Did he fumble at the SD goal line, nullifying what would have likely been a TD? Yes. But he also had 48 yards on 9 attempts, which if I am doing my math right, comes out to over 5 yards per carry average. He looked like a beast out of the backfield, and based on the good game he had last week too, he's inching himself closer to a spot on the final roster. He's got to learn to hold onto the ball, but I like what I am seeing from this kid.
Sage Rosenfels, QB - Say what you will about Rosencopter, but he managed to find a way to get us a touchdown late in the 4th quarter. His passes looked sharp, crisp and on-time for the most part. I love the potential MBT brings, but I think Sage is too valuable, and too experienced for us to let him go. Oh, and he was 6/6 with a TD.
Tight End Depth - Is Spielman a genius? I'm not sure, but with Rudolph, Carlson, Ellison, Reisner and Shuler, we are DEEP at tight end. And the scary part is, only 2 of those guys were really on the team last year. Reisner had a great game, and Rudolph is continuing to show good rapport with Ponder as a security blanket.
Lex Hilliard, RB - "Sexy Lexy" as he used to be known in fantasy football circles hasn't shown much all pre-season, and today was maybe his worst game. 2 carries. 1 fumble. Come on, man.
1st Down Offense - Our first two series of the game were 3-and-outs. And this was largely due to ineffective plays on 1st down. Last week looked great, but we flat-out stunk up the joint all day on 1st down. It forced us into 3rd and long situations, and our team STILL isn't built to handle those.
Energy and Motivation - Was it just me, or did the entire team seem like they didn't want to be there? It was as if everybody was sad they had to waste a Friday night on the football field when they could have been out partying it up or something. Come on! Get fired up out there, try to make something happen. That was maybe the worst case of ho-hum attitude I've seen in a long time. The whole team lacked the spark that we saw last week. They need to figure out how to stay motivated, even if you start out the game with a pair of 3-and-outs.
Michael Jenkins, WR - I kept watching the replay of Ponder's interception and I couldn't figure out if he was targeting Harvin, or if Jenkins ran the wrong route and was supposed to run a come-back and catch the ball in front of the defenders. He dropped 2 other catch-able balls as well. Dude, you're the 8-year vet that is supposed to know Musgrave's system better than anybody. I'm beginning to wonder if he'll even make the team at this point, and I've been a supporter most of the off-season. Sure, he caught 1 ball, but he should have caught many more.
Offensive Line - They are supposed to be an improved unit, and for the most part, they are. But today, Kalil got man-handled and moved out of position multiple times. The San Diego D-Line dominated our O-Line and it showed for most of the game as we couldn't get our running game going. I think this was the first legitimate 3-4 defense we've seen, but guess what, we'll see many more this season. Hopefully they learn from it, but they looked totally unprepared for the scheme.
Buy - Kevin Williams returning to form. K-Will was putting the pressure on the SD quarterbacks all night. While he didn't net a sack, and only had one official tackle, he was getting penetration consistently.
Sell - The potential #3 running backs fumbling the ball. What the hell? 3 fumbles by 3 different guys? Granted, it's only pre-season, and it wasn't Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhardt out there. But we need a real #3 guy to step up, and fumbling the ball aint the way to do it guys.
Buy - Marcus Sherels as a Kick Returner. Sherels might have just solidified his spot on the roster with his return ability. He may not provide as much as other guys as a backup CB, but he's serviceable, and very shifty as a returner.
Sell - Trying to ice Blair Walsh on a 29-yard field goal in the Pre-Season. Really Norv Turner? Really?
Buy - Having to take our lumps with a 2nd-year QB. I like Christian Ponder and I want him to succeed. While I can't objectively say that he had a good game today (he didn't), he also didn't have all his offensive pieces around him, and we're going to have to learn to accept good and bad games from him this season. Jerome Simpson wasn't out there and neither was John Carlson. We can't underestimate the effect that Adrian Peterson will have on the game when he returns as well. But I'm willing to buy-in to taking our lumps with Ponder this season. I agree with Paul Allen when he said the real evaluation of Ponder begins Week 4 when Simpson returns and AP is closer to 100%.
Sell - Having to take our lumps with a 2nd-year QB. Wait, what? I'm going to play devil's advocate here, and claim that we shouldn't have to sit through an up and down season, if Ponder is truly the long-term answer at QB. He had a pretty bad game today, and while he's young, still learning, and missing some offensive pieces, he needs to take the reigns and lead this team. He seemed flat today, and so did the rest of the team. He should have taken it upon himself to fire everybody up and get this team ready to go. This was the 3rd preseason game...the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, and Ponder sucked. It should have been better, and the only thing to say is, "at least it's only Pre-season!"
That's all I got folks. Next week the team travels to Houston where the starters might play a couple of series if we're lucky. If I didn't have to work, I would totally drive the 4 hours up to Houston and catch the game. But hey, if I'm lucky maybe they'll actually broadcast the game live down here, and then I can join you all in the open thread. In any case, thanks for reading.