There were six less-than-meaningless games across the NFL last night, twelve chances for fans and media to judge and project their quarterbacks over an entire season based solely on a quarter of half-speed action. That's the entire point of preseason football—unrealistic expectations take wing.
No one was more excited for their new centerpiece under center than the Redskins, and Robert Griffin III obliged with just three drives before giving way to Rex Grossman. Griffin QBed a three-and-out, a botched handoff that led to a fumble, and finally, an 80-yard touchdown drive. His final like was 4-for-6 for 70 yards, and according to CSN Washington (screengrab via Dan Steinberg), 1-0 as a Redskins starter. How are they interpreting those limited results in DC?
The third of Griffin's three drives during his abbreviated appearance in the Redskins' exhibition opener against the Buffalo Bills, a 7-6 Washington victory, transformed his night from a sobering exercise in reduced expectations to an unqualified success that will only enhance his standing with title-starved Redskins fans as the franchise's new savior.
What mattered was that Griffin did not merely survive - he shined. He stood behind a makeshift offensive line, and - after two dry runs - drove the Redskins down the field. He put the ball in the end zone. For one drive at least, he looked like a star, perhaps even a savior.
"The most heard comment I've seen is, "He hasn't even taken a snap yet! He needs years to develop." Basically, what people are saying is it is not ok for Redskins fans to get excited and have heightened expectations for Griffin before he ever takes a snap but it's ok for non Redskins fans to have lowered expectations for Griffin before he ever takes a snap?
I am here to let every single Washington Redskins fan know that, YES, it is ok!
It is ok for you to believe that Robert Griffin III will be the best quarterback of all time! It is ok for you to believe that He will play at MVP level from the first week of Pre-Season!"
"Is this the thread where we masturbate over RGIII? Pants are off, I'm all in."
Denver got its first look at Peyton Mannning, though not for long. Manning played a single series, going 4-7 with an interception. No worries!
There were encouraging throws. There was a discouraging interception. There was a lucky bounce. There was an unlucky deflection. There was evidence of rust. There were glimpses from a successful past in a 31-3 Broncos rout.
All in all, Peyton Manning showed the football world Thursday night in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears that he is back.
Exactly how much Manning is recovered is subject to conjecture, but against the Bears he did show he was healthy enough to complete a first-down pass to receiver Eric Decker on the the wide side of the field. Manning was also healthy enough to convert a third-and-17 by zipping a 19-yard completion to Decker on an "in" route that gave the Broncos a first down at the Bears' 14.
"Manning led just one drive that ultimately ended when a pass intended for Brandon Stokley was tipped by D.J. Moore and intercepted by Major Wright. Before that, Manning looked comfortable back out on the field and went 4-for-7 for 44 yards. Even though the drive kept the goose egg on the scoreboard, you couldn't help but get excited about the way he was leading the offense down the field. That 19-yard completion to Eric Decker on 3rd and 17 would not have happened last year, at least not in the first three quarters."
"If you think Manning was holding the ball longer than any other QB you have seen, it can only mean one of two things: the OL must have improved over 1000% since last year to allow him the extra time to do that, or else you are sadly mistaken in your observations about a quartetback well known for making the fastest decisions and having one of the quickest releases in football."
Michael Vick played two three-and-outs, going 3-of-4 before leaving with a non-serious thumb injury. Time to panic?
"OK, who had the second quarter of the first preseason game in the when-will-Michael-Vick-get-hurt pool? Twenty minutes. That's how long it took for the nervousness over the possibility of Life Without Mike to turn into genuine panic."
"Since x-rays returned negative, Vick's thumb should be just fine soon enough. However, if he can't get through the first preseason game without a new bruise, how can he escape 16 regular season games - and hopefully up to three or four playoff games - unscathed? If the Eagles have to answer that question, their season may be grounded right then and there."
"Vick is what he always was. A shiftless a$$hole that only cares about money. No heart. Could care less about the game. He played himself back into the league and then he returned you to your regularly scheduled program. F*ckin' fraud of a glass-jawed QB. Oh did I mention that he's also dumber than a box of rocks."
The only thing more foolish than making preseason judgments would be for any star player to give anything resembling a full effort in games that don't count. But it's totally fine to maintain hope as long as possible through August, when every team is still tied for first. So maybe Griffin could be a bust, or Manning's palsied neck could fail him, or Vick could stay healthy and take every meaningful snap though February. There's time to deal with that later. Preseason is about seeing what you expect to see, and envisioning the best—unless you live in Philly, where planning for the worst is often the only way to be pleasantly surprised.