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Believe It or Not: Preseason Week 3

A look at coach speak and media darlings in the preseason and whether you should buy the hype.

It's week three of training camp and the hyperbole is kicking into high gear. This week we're asked to believe that one of the worst offenses in the NFL may turn into one of the more efficient and that one NFL team that returns last year's starter at quarterback still doesn't know who their 2013 starter is. What's more interesting is that those might not be the most audacious claims. Let's get to it.

The Chiefs pass offense is going to go from anemic in 2012 to efficient in 2013, because of Andy Reid and Alex Smith.

The bromance between Smith and Reid is reaching historic levels. First came the stories about how Reid has always wanted Smith. Then came Smith explaining why Reid is a great coach. While that all may be amusing and make for great camp fodder, the truth is that Reid and Smith were made for each other.

Verdict: Believe it. There's a reason that Reid always wanted Smith as a quarterback. It's because Smith has the intelligence and short-range accuracy to excel in Reid's system. There's also a reason that Smith enjoys being coached by Reid. Smith is a very cerebral player that wants to know the why behind things. Most football coaches are looking for players that will run through a brick wall without asking why. Andy Reid is not that kind of coach. While it's unlikely that these two turn the Kansas City offense into one of the best in the league, the improvement will be noticeable.

The Browns concluded their training camp without figuring out who their starting quarterback is.

Head coach Rob Chudzinski was pretty clear with his take on the situation. "There's a point where I will name a starting quarterback," Chudzinski said as the Browns wrapped up their first camp under him on a day that felt like October. "I am not ready to do it yet." this does not bode well for Weeden, who has not attachment to the current regime.

Verdict: Don't believe it. This pretty clearly a motivational ploy from Chudzinski, and about as transparent as they come. Weeden is getting virtually all of the first team snaps and he's performed at a very high level in his first two preseason starts. In fact, the question isn't really whether Weeden should start but whether you should draft him as a QB2. The suspension on Josh Gordon makes me a little leery, but I still think Weeden is someone to keep an eye on.

Pierre Garcon is healthy and ready to deliver what the Redskins expected in 2012.

Garcon and Robert Griffin III just starter practicing together, but they're already in sync. Garcon has bounced back from a foot injury and been a workout fiend in practice. He's so excited that he's even proclaimed that the Redskins could have the best offense ever. Griffin was a beast in 2012 without Garcon, but with the star wide out he could go to a whole other level.

Verdict: Believe it. Garcon once caught 70 passes for nearly 1000 yards and 6 TDs from Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky. Griffin was the #1 QB for the first ten weeks on 2012 with Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson as his top options at receiver. Put these two together for a full year and Garcon may well produce WR1 numbers. Of course, the issue comes when you say full year and Garcon in the same sentence. He's played 16 games exactly once in the first five years of his career.

Marc Trestman's arrival in Chicago means a more balanced attack in Chicago and a huge reduction in targets for Brandon Marshall.

The Bears have spent most of the offseason telling anyone who will listen that they don't want to throw the ball to Brandon Marshall 192 times again in 2013. Trestman has a history of getting the running backs involved in the passing game, which should bode very well for Matt Forte. Also, the team added Martellus Bennet at tight end and expects to see a huge improvement from second year wide out Alshon Jeffery.

Verdict: Don't believe it. I absolutely believe that Trestman wants these things to happen. I also believe that Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback and checking down is not his thing. I don't expect Marshall to get 192 targets again, but I do expect he'll continue to be one of the most highly targeted receivers in the game. Cutler and Marshall played their first preseason game together on Thursday night. Cutler threw five passes in the game and all of them went to Marshall. It's one thing to game plan for more diversity, but when Cutler drops back to pass he's still looking for #15.

Contact Heath at cummings@footballguys.com or on Twitter @heathcummingssr 


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