We got to see a little bit more of the starters and other key players during Week 2 of the NFL preseason. Which performances really jumped out?
It’s safe to say that teams like the Jaguars and Bills are envious of the Chiefs. We were also underwhelmed with the performances of the Patriots, Raiders and Steelers, arguably the AFC’s best three teams. On the other hand, the up-and-coming Titans gave their fans something else to be excited about. In Seattle, an injury to a key player completely marred an otherwise fine day for the Seahawks.
These are the top takeaways from each Week 2 NFL preseason game.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins: Jay Cutler showed rust, and some promise, too
Cutler’s preseason debut on Thursday didn’t exactly give Miami fans reason to believe that he’ll be great. But it wasn’t awful, either. Overall, Cutler was 3-for-6 for 24 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was only 1-for-3 when targeting DeVante Parker, but that one completion went for 16 yards. He also completed a 31-yarder to Parker that was nullified by a holding penalty.
In a way, it was a typical performance from Cutler in that we can call it average. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that while Cutler has had an average career, that’s come from a balance of great games and terrible ones. So, maybe this was more atypical. It wasn’t great or terrible. It was perfectly average. His preseason debut certainly gives us reason to look forward to next week’s game against the Eagles.
Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles: Tyrod Taylor struggles under center
Taylor struggled mightily in his first game since Sammy Watkins was traded. The quarterback was 8-for-18 for 53 yards with no touchdowns. On their own, those stats are noticeable. But when we couple those with two interceptions, Taylor’s day looks really bad, especially given that both interceptions can be blamed on him.
The first was a matter of Taylor hurrying a throw in the face of a blitz, which resulted in a tipped interception. On the second, he decided not to throw the ball away, but to throw deep — off balance and into coverage. Former teammate Ronald Darby knew what to do with that one. While the plan in Buffalo is still for Taylor to be the starter come Week 1 of the regular season, this certainly wasn’t the performance that anyone in the Buffalo organization wanted to see.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles does nothing to quell nerves
If you were thinking that Bortles would show well in his first extended preseason game action of 2017, then you were sadly mistaken. Bortles didn’t throw any interceptions, but since he wasn’t around to pick up second half garbage time minutes, he didn’t get to throw any touchdowns, either.
The Jacksonville quarterback was 8-for-13 for 65 yards. That’s just a shade over eight yards per completion, folks. He completed a lot of short routes but when it came time to go vertical, Bortles was no better in the game than he was in practice. Bortles is not only failing to get better, but he is actually getting worse. He just can’t have that many chances left.
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks: George Fant’s season-ending injury
Russell Wilson played well on Friday. Unfortunately, any positives regarding his play were immediately marred when Fant, the starting left tackle, was carted off of the field. He will miss the entire season with an ACL injury. Before the regular season begins, an offensive line that wasn’t great to begin with is forced to move to Plan B when it comes to protecting Russell Wilson’s blind side.
Seattle is still one of the league’s better teams overall. But while it’s still a good unit, the defense isn’t quite what it was from 2012-2014. If the Seahawks are going to get back to those levels and become true Super Bowl contenders, the offense will need to be better in 2017 than it was in 2016. That will start with protecting Wilson. Seattle should really consider a trade. If it doesn’t, keeping Wilson upright will be a significant uphill battle.
Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans: Tennessee’s defense shows off ball-hawking tendencies
Tennessee’s offense had an impressive day for itself, scoring 17 points in the first quarter. But if we’re being honest, the Tennessee defense deserves a great deal of credit. After the offense kicked a field goal on the opening drive, the defense wasted no time getting the ball back when Logan Ryan forced a Devin Funchess fumble on Carolina’s first offensive play. Two Panthers’ possessions later, Justin Staples intercepted Derek Anderson, creating another short field for the offense, and another touchdown.
The Titans have a lot of talent offense and figure to score plenty of points. If the defense can create short fields (those two scoring drives totaled 30 yards), it will be a very good year in Tennessee.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals: Do the Chiefs already have two quality QBs?
Alex Smith might have had visions of Colin Kaepernick replacing him in 2012 when he saw Patrick Mahomes on the field during Saturday’s game. Mahomes was stellar when he came into the game after Smith. The Texas Tech rookie completed 10-of-14 passes for 88 yards and two scores. Of course, Smith wasn’t bad himself. The game manager actually had a significantly higher yardage per attempt number than the gunslinger (9.2 to 6.3). Smith started the game and went 8-for-9, passing for 83 yards and a touchdown.
So many teams are lacking a quality starting quarterback. While Mahomes is still very raw, the Chiefs might have two. The present and future of the Chiefs’ quarterback position looks pretty darn good.
Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys: Fans shouldn’t fret about Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension
There’s no question that Elliott is a fantastic talent. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Elliott’s appeal is denied and his controversial suspension is upheld. Things will be okay in Dallas, and Saturday’s game showed precisely why.
Darren McFadden rushed for 59 yards on nine carries. Alfred Morris went for 49 on nine carries. That’s a staggering six yards per carry between the two. McFadden and Morris are not Elliott. Make no mistake about it. But running behind the league’s best offensive line, the two of the can do a decent job replacing the suspended star. Neither man may represent a long-term option as a featured back. But for six games, there’s no reason to get too concerned.
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins: Samaje Perine stands out in otherwise poor effort
Perine didn’t have an especially strong preseason debut. But he does know how to make a solid second impression. Perine rushed for a solid 5.6 yards per clip, toting the ball eight times for 45 yards. For good measure, he added a reception for 29 yards.
Saturday was generally a disappointing game for the Redskins, who looked quite flat in a loss to the Packers. But for a team looking to replace quality players like DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Perine’s game was a nice breath of fresh air.
Source: Yard Barker