Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 7:00 PM
We have to admit that the hype was more intense a couple of weeks ago than it is right now for Monday Night’s Preseason battle between Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns and Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins. On paper, this was going to be HUGE!
On the field…
*Manziel didn’t impress in is debut at Detroit last week
*Manziel has been outclassed in practice by projected starting quarterback Brian Hoyer
*Manziel made headlines by being late to a time-changed early morning meeting, extending the storyline that he lacks the discipline it takes to thrive at this level.
And, those struggles are more glaring in light of the hot starts from other rookies Blake Bortles in Jacksonville and Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota (16 of 20 for 177 yards in the Viking win over Arizona if you missed that late Saturday boxscore). This is no longer “the next big thing” against “a really big thing from two years ago”). It’s still a battle of Heisman winners…and it could still be the breakout game for “Johnny Football” that his fans are hoping to see.
The media storyline is set. What about the handicapping storyline? It’s easy to forget the strengths and weaknesses of these teams if you get swallowed up in the hype. Let’s review what went wrong for Cleveland and Washington last year. Hey, it’s a “battle” of teams who went 4-12 and 3-13 last year. There’s a lot these teams need to work on!
CLEVELAND’S 2013 WEAKNESSES
Passing Offense: 6.4 yards-per-attempt was one of the worst marks in the NFL
Rushing Offense: 86.4 yards-per-game topped only four other teams in the NFL
Third Down Offense: 35% was poor, but unsurprising given the first two stats
Turnover Differential: -6, because the defense didn’t force many miscues
As we mentioned in our preview of the AFC North that ran Saturday, this division played very weak schedules in 2013. Cleveland’s woes came against the #26 ranked schedule of 32 teams. They desperately need Hoyer to play to his peak at full health. Or, they desperately need Manziel to “arrive” quickly.
WASHINGTON’S 2013 WEAKNESSES
Passing Defense: 8.0 yards-allowed-per-attempt was second worst in the NFL
Pass Offense: 6.6 yards-per-attempt was second worst in the NFC
Turnover Differential: -8 keyed by a sloppy offense
Struggles in Nailbiters: 2-6 in games decided by seven points or less
RGIII played hobbled last year…and it just killed the offense. He couldn’t throw deep with any accuracy. He became more turnover prone. He didn’t have the fourth quarter magic needed to win close games. In fact, his performance suffered when defenses really clamped down in crunch time. He’s better than he showed last year…but he has to avoid running into any new injuries.
Of course, RGIII had little to do with that awful pass DEFENSE of the Redskins. Part of the reason Griffin was under the gun so much was that his defense wasn’t giving him much help. Jay Gruden has been hired as head coach. The offensive guru may be able to fix one side of the ball. Can he fix both?
That’s another storyline you should be paying attention to. NEW COACHES! Mike Pettine in Cleveland and Gruden in Washington will want to put their stamps on these teams very quickly. See what you can learn about the coaches as you watch the game on ESPN.
If you want to watch and win, hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK before kickoff. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS in football and baseball right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm service, call us in the office during normal business hours this week at 1-888-777-4155.
Back to the baseball Pennant Races for a couple of days until DRESS REHEARSAL WEEKEND arrives in the NFL. Here’s this week’s NOTEBOOK schedule…
Tuesday: MLB Big Game Preview: Atlanta at Pittsburgh
Wednesday: MLB TV Preview: LA Angels at Boston
Thursday: NFL TV Preview: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia on NFL Network
Friday: NFL TV Preview: Oakland at Green Bay on CBS
Saturday: NFL TV Preview: New Orleans at Indianapolis on CBS
Sunday: NFL TV Preview: San Diego at San Francisco on CBS
Whatever the day…whatever the sport…you’re always going to GET THE MONEY with BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!