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Preseason Week 3

   by Al McMordie - 08/23/2006

Most players and coaches aren’t that motivated to win in preseason. Their goals are primarily health and personnel, deciding who to cut or what players to move around. One key betting factor to understand is the importance of depth. We’ve all seen how teams use three and four quarterbacks each preseason game. Depth and quality are essential. The dropoff in quality is severe with a team like the Colts, for instance.

Peyton Manning and the first team offense moved the ball well last week, but the dropoff was sharp when Jim Sorgi and Shaun King came in behind center. The money rolled in on the Colts last week, but they were steamrolled by Seattle at home. After taking a 7-0 lead, Sorgi and King couldn’t move the offense much. In fact, Sorgi got hurt and won’t be available this weekend.

Less noticeable is depth in other areas. Take a close look at the Arizona Cardinals. They have talent at the skill positions on offense, but are woefully short of talent and depth in many other areas. They have offensive line problems, as starting RT Oliver Ross (knee) is out two months. The Cardinals traded a late-round draft pick this week to New England for offensive right tackle Brandon Gorin.

On the defensive line, defensive end Bertrand Berry will miss the final two preseason games after suffering a left knee injury. And they are thin at linebacker, with Karlos Dansby hurting and two other starters, Calvin Pace and Darryl Blackstock, playing new positions. The Cardinals' lack of depth on offense was highlighted during their 30-3 loss to New England. "I guess we're concerned we don't have three deep," Dennis Green said. "Our first offense can move the ball. I just don't think we have as much talented depth as the people we're playing against.â€쳌 As for their still non-existent running game, Green added, "I'm concerned. I'm concerned about every phase of the offense right now."

The Browns are only averaging 13.5 points in preseason and also have depth problems on the line. The offensive line is thin with the loss of center LeCharles Bentley, their star free agent signing. They just traded for another center this week, which means QB Charlie Frye will have worked with five starting centers! If you watched the Saints get manhandled by the Cowboys Monday, that’s another team with a lack of depth on both lines.

This week the Falcons made news trading for WR Ashley Lelie and added free agent defensive tackle Grady Jackson. Both will be interesting stories to watch, as Atlanta had big problems searching for a third wideout and has a defensive line that is getting run over. Perhaps Jackson will help them against the run. Tennessee is another team with injuries all over its defense.

Another more important factor this time of year is motivation, mainly because it’s tough to find. Last week NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin was furious with his team’s defensive performance in Week 1, and asked for a determined effort in Week 2. They got it, shutting out the Chiefs 17-0. Lovie Smith was furious with the way the Bears defense failed to show up in the opener, getting run over at San Francisco. He asked for an intense effort and got it, as Chicago routed San Diego 24-3.

Some things to keep an eye on this weekend: Bill Cowher was upset after the loss to Minnesota, ordering his team to wear their full pads for practice Monday. Normally, they would wear shells in the first practice after a preseason game. "We're not where we need to be," said Cowher. "We set too high of standards. We're much better than we performed the other night.â€쳌

The Chiefs have looked awful starting 0-2 SU/ATS. They are finally home this week and coach Herm Edwards said, “This is a game we’ve got to play with much more urgency and emotion. I’m pretty sure guys will do that.â€쳌 Added QB Trent Green, “Is it time to panic? No. But I think we definitely have to have a sense of urgency going into this week’s game.â€쳌

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was disgusted in a terse three-minute post-game news conference. "I'm concerned about the team," Gibbs said. "You've got to play good as a team, and we're not. I couldn't pick out one positive thing." This is the weekend when starters play the most time, usually, so it can be a fun (and profitable) time for football fans! Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss my Preseason Football Game of the Year going this week.

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