- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Well, Achilles heard boos, too, when he returned to the Trojan War after his holdout, but he still picked up a couple of game balls. And the talent drop-off from George to Jack Trudeau, who will open at quarterback, is considerable. And. really, hasn't George paid his dues, taking all those relentless hammerings behind the worst offensive line in football?
Give it a go, Jeff. Will Wolford and ex-Viking Kirk Lowdermilk make the O-line more respectable. Top draft pick Sean Dawkins is a big, fast receiver. Second-rounder Roosevelt Potts is a 255-pound runner with a burst. Defensive end Steve Emtman and linebacker Quentin Coryatt are healthy, which should mean tougher defense. The only people you have to convince are your teammates.
The NEW YORK JETS made the kind of off-season moves a team makes when it's going for a championship, bringing in defensive tackle Leonard Marshall, 31, quarterback Boomer Esiason, 32, and 34-year-old safety Ronnie Lott. Is this team rebuilding or plugging holes, or what?
All three came with question marks. Marshall is supposed to supply the inside push that will free up right defensive end Jeff Lageman for the pass rush, but the Giants, Marshall's former team, say he has been slipping. Esiason had been benched in Cincinnati, and in the exhibition season he was able to run an offense but could not throw to the perimeters of the field. Almost all his passes were over the middle. Lott has been a great warrior for 12 years, but as a former Raider teammate says. "I don't know how many more knockouts he can take. Usually one ammonia cap will bring a guy around. With him it took two or three."
Coach Bruce Coslet turned his team over to an unproven quarterback, Browning Nagle, last year, but the receivers couldn't hold on to his rising fastballs—or much of anything else—and now Nagle has gotten a quick hook. At times the Jets seemed capable of mounting a big league ground drive, but something would always screw it up: penalties, blown assignments on the line, you name it. They're working seriously at that again, and the drive blocking in the exhibition games, particularly by much maligned left guard Dave Cadigan, has been impressive.
One terrific draft-day move brought the Jets' Pro Bowl tailback Johnny Johnson from the Cardinals for absolutely nothing, and maybe his arrival will light a fire under Blair Thomas, a streak runner with an occasional—repeat, occasional—burst.
At best the Jets will be a competent ball-control team with a good enough defense to back it up; at worst they will be a club that dies in catch-up situations.
Remember Dick MacPherson, beloved Coach Mac of the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who would race up and down the sideline, fist in the air, jacket flapping? Who would hug his players alter a 34-0 loss and tell the press, "They're busting their bazookas out there"? His two-year era ended, and out of NBC came Bill Parcells. The picnic was over for the Pats. "Fellas, I go by what I see," he said.
After Parcells had brought the house to order and selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe as the draft's No. 1 pick, he mentioned that the kid would be brought along slowly. Then he got a look at the other quarterbacks in game situations, and Bledsoe was named the starter, working behind an offensive line that's actually decent and running a system geared to heavy ground power.
The Patriots gave up 65 sacks last year, second most in the NFL. "I'll never see a team of mine give up 65 sacks," Parcells says. "I'd slash my wrists before we have that many." The Patriot offense led the league in penalty yardage, 93 yards ahead of the field, "I expect my team to behave," Parcells says. Idle talk? Last year the Patriots were called for illegal procedure five times on the first offensive play of the game. In the first exhibition game this summer they didn't commit a penalty until a minute was left in the first half.