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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Coach Ron Meyer, who created a special “Baker’s Dozen” weekend package in the NFL, went 3-1 Friday Night in Preseason action. The top play of the night was Green Bay over Arizona. Miami over Carolina and Washington over Indianapolis also cashed their tickets. The fun continues Saturday Night here at VSM with another active NFL slate. Be sure you put a coach in your corner for the rest of the Preseason, and all through the 2011 pro and college campaigns.

Some key stats from tonight’s action…as we go through the evening in rotation order.



Total Yardage: Washington 415, Indianapolis 150

Yards-Per-Play: Washington 6.4, Indianapolis 3.4

Third Downs: Washington 43%, Indianapolis 25%

Turnovers: Washington 1, Indianapolis 1

Indianapolis looked to be in the tank for the second week in a row, continuing a long trend in this era for blowing off the Preseason and focusing on the regular season. A clear statistical rout up and down the boxscore. Note that John Beck was a very sharp 14-17-0-140 in his much hyped start for the Skins. Of course, he was facing a very soft defense. Washington had better stats than their score last week vs. Pittsburgh too. This offense isn’t finding the end zone consistently in August…which is a bad sign for when they face more intense defenses in September and beyond.



Total Yardage: Detroit 411, Cleveland 268

Yards-Per-Play: Detroit 5.6, Cleveland 5.4

Third Downs: Detroit 17%, Cleveland 22%

Turnovers: Detroit 1, Cleveland 2

Detroit had the ball longer, which is how they turned a slight YPP edge into a big yardage advantage. Neither team sparkled on third down tries. Colt McCoy had three touchdown passes for the Browns, but only completed 55% of his passes. As we mentioned last week, the fact that Detroit had a few quarterbacks getting regular season snaps last year helps their sharpness in exhibition games. The Lions won the second half here 17-7 to rally for the win and cover.



Total Yardage: Carolina 199, Miami 417

Yards-Per-Play: Carolina 4.2, Miami 5.4

Third Downs: Carolina 25%, Miami 46%

Turnovers: Carolina 0, Miami 1

Strong numbers for the Dolphins. Cam Newton of Carolina was 7-14-0-66 for a passer rating of 63.4. He’s not really inspiring much confidence at this point that he’s ready to have a big impact as a rookie. You obviously have to be careful about over-analyzing Preseason games. But…in a case like this…there’s more solid footing. Should a rookie have a great Preseason, he will still probably struggle in the regular season. If that rookie is struggling in the Preseason, it’s VERY unlikely he’s going to suddenly ignite once the season starts. Over two games, Newton is 15-33-0-200 for a passer rating in the 64-65 range. That’s VERY poor accuracy for a Preseason passing line. The regular season will probably see a continuation of poor accuracy but add in turnovers.



Total Yardage: Kansas City 288, Baltimore 352

Yards-Per-Play: Kansas City 4.1, Baltimore 5.6

Third Downs: Kansas City 29%, Baltimore 53%

Turnovers: Kansas City 1, Baltimore 1

The Chiefs join the Colts on the short list of teams who barely show up for exhibition games at the moment. Remember, they lost 25-0 to Tampa Bay last week. Maybe there will be more of a sense of urgency in the dress rehearsal next week. Joe Flacco was a disappointing 12-24-0-124 for a passer rating of just 65.3. The Ravens didn’t get dominant until after he left. In fact, they won the fourth quarter 21-0!



Total Yardage: Arizona 384, Green Bay 382

Yards-Per-Play: Arizona 5.6, Green Bay 7.1

Third Downs: Arizona 46%, Green Bay 38%

Turnovers: Arizona 1, Green Bay 1

Green Bay’s tendency to make sure the offense stays sharp while letting the defense rest until the regular season can create some exciting Preseason games. This one moved up and down the field. The big blow came on a 97-yard TD pass for Matt Flynn of the Pack.



Total Yardage: Atlanta 264, Jacksonville 316

Yards-Per-Play: Atlanta 5.4, Jacksonville 4.3

Third Downs: Atlanta 25%, Jacksonville 47%

Turnovers: Atlanta 1, Jacksonville 2

Atlanta did more per play, but Jacksonville moved the chains much more effectively. We’re trying to keep you abreast of what rookie quarterbacks are doing in these games. Blaine Gabbert of Jacksonville was 11-23-0-96 for a passer rating of 59.3. If you watched the “quarterback camp” shows with Jon Gruden on ESPN, you’ll recall that Gabbert seemed best prepared of the bunch to handle the complexities of an NFL playbook right away. Poor accuracy tonight, though.


Moving quickly through Friday's action in baseball’s pennant races…

*In the AL East, both the Yankees and Red Sox coasted to blowout victories, which keeps the Yankees lead at 0.5 games.

*In the AL Central, Detroit beat Cleveland 4-1 to start the showcase series of the weekend. The Tigers extend their lead to 2.5 games over the Tribe. Max Scherzer went seven innings and only allowed one run. He threw 127 pitches though, so look for some potential arm fatigue in his next outing. This was a high pressure game that had to be draining.

*In the AL West, Texas beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4. The second place LA Angels finished after publication deadlines. Texas led by six games entering the evening.

*In the NL West, both Arizona and San Francisco lost. Arizona fell to Atlanta 4-2, and is now down 19-8 on the scoreboard four games into their brutal Eastern swing vs. playoff teams. If not for the ninth inning rally against Roy Halladay, they’d be winless on the trip. San Francisco had to be very disappointed to lose to lame duck Houston 6-0. You can’t catch Arizona if you’re losing to the likes of Houston!

The VSM blog will have a post Saturday morning from Jim Hurley's Network Notebook…as that feature returns to its college football conference previews that have been running on weekends this summer. The Mid American Conference will be under the spotlight Saturday and Sunday. Wayne Root will check in a bit later Saturday with some notes about Tim Tebow to get you ready for Denver’s TV game against Buffalo in prime time on the NFL Network. A busy sports weekend awaits!

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