Week 2 of the preseason is in the books, and these are some notes from all of the games, what I saw to be the most relevant takeaways.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Washington Redskins
Andy Dalton completed 5 of 9 attempts for 36 yards, and had a tipped ball go for a pick-six. Dalton played three series before handing off his duties to Ryan Finley. Keep a radar lock-on Finley, especially in dynasty leagues. The rookie is 33 of 44, with 259 yards and three touchdowns, against just one interception. It would not be surprising to see Finley take over at some point during the season, especially if the Bengals struggle.
Dwayne Haskins showed some improvement, demonstrating poise and recognition while under pressure, when he delivered a perfect 55-yard touchdown pass to Robert Davis. Haskins, the 14th pick of the draft, finished 7 of 14 for 114 yards. He was sacked once leading to a fumble. Haskins was not perfect, but he was undoubtedly better than starter Case Keenum, who went 3 of 7 for 52 yards. Keenum is learning to adapt to a new offense on a new team, and the competition with Haskins is making it even tougher for him to learn Jay Gruden’s elaborate scheme, and get in rhythm with his wide receivers. It should be no surprise that Haskins will be the starter at some point in the regular season.
New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons
The New York Jets are facing a long road if they cannot fix their offensive line issues. Even with the damaged offensive protection, Sam Darnold was able to lead the Jets on a 67 yard touchdown drive, capped off by a Ty Montgomery score. Darnold was in command of an up-tempo offense, and is looking comfortable in the new scheme designed by Adam Gase and OC Dowell Loggains. He finished 5 of 7 for 46 yards, including a connection with Robby Anderson on an excellent 21-yard back-shoulder throw. Le’Veon Bell sat out again this week, and could possibly make his first start next week in preseason game number three.
Matt Ryan connected on nine straight passes, while being active for most of the first half in his preseason debut. In total, Ryan was good on 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards. He should have had a touchdown, but both Brian Hill and Justin Hardy dropped their targets in the end zone. The offensive line also needs to protect Ryan better. He was sacked three times and consistently under duress. Ito Smith scored from four yards out on a drive by Matt Schaub.
Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Aaron Rodgers was a late scratch, and sat out with back stiffness. “No long-term concerns. He was a little tight yesterday,” Matt LaFleur said. “This is all precautionary. You never want to put him at risk, put him out there, if he’s not 100%. It was a game-day decision.” Unfortunately, the rushing game for the Packers has looked paltry by the end of the first half in each game. Collectively, the Green Bay running backs had just seven yards on seven attempts in the first half. Last week, the Pack had 38 yards on 13 carries (2.9 ypc) against Houston. A total of 45 yards on 20 carries (2.3 ypc). Yuck! The problem could either be the absence of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams (hamstring injuries), or there is a need to change the scheme. The answers better come quickly.
Lamar Jackson seems more comfortable as a drop back passer, however, his bob-and-weave 18 yard touchdown run was pretty exciting – even if it was called back because of a penalty. Jackson finished with 58 yards passing on 6 of 10 passing and two runs for 14 yards. Jackson is learning a new playbook designed by Greg Roman. In two games, he has played five series total, and completed 10 of 16 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Oakland Raiders vs. Arizona Cardinals
Rookie Josh Jacobs looks the part of a bell-cow. Jacobs ran the ball four times for 21 yards on his only series. Jon Gruden expressed his thoughts about the first-round selection in Jacobs: “He’s really picked up the offense fast. He’s improved in the passing game. We’re really excited about him.”
Kyler Murray went backwards in his progression. The first overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft went just 3 of 8 for 12 yards, including a 4 yard run, in four series. Murray also had two penalties. One for a false start on a clap count, and the other was a delay of game. He also went down in his own end zone to avoid a sack. Murray had difficulties adjusting to the Oakland Raiders blitz packages.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Eagles rested Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Darren Sproles, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor. Miles Sanders looked effective, rumbling for 31 yards on five carries. Much better than his 3 carries for 3 yards against the Tennessee Titans in the previous week. Jordan Howard contributed 15 yards on four carries, after a 3 for 8 versus Tennessee last week. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside caught two balls for 20 yards.
Nick Foles, and Leonard Fournette both sat for Jacksonville.
Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers
Josh Allen was impressive, yet again, passing for 102 yards on 9 for 11 passing, and leading the Bills to a pair of scores. Allen and Cole Beasley teamed up often as he hit the former Dallas Cowboy five times for 44 yards. Rookie Devin Singletary rushed twice for six yards, and caught three balls for an additional 25. That brings his two game preseason total to 33 yards rushing on 11 carries, plus 46 yards on 6 receptions.
Carolina sat Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Greg Olsen. Rookie running back Jordan Scarlett was impressive, after he took over for starter Cameron Artis-Payne. On eight carries Scarlett rushed for 35 yards, including one reception for 14 yards. Scarlett could make for a good backup and complement to McCaffrey’s running style. He runs tough and physical when carrying the ball, despite not showing strong receiving abilities.
Miami Dolphins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Rosen got the start, and chance to move pass Ryan Fitzpatrick on the depth chart. He was solid on a few passes, but almost threw a pick-six, and played the entire first half. Overall, Rosen was average. The second-year quarterback completed 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards. Fitzpatrick was worse. The Harvard grad completed just three passes on nine attempts for an ugly 20 yards. This competition will continue next week in a possible season of revolving door quarterbacks.
Jameis Winston was done after just one series. He completed two of four passes for 24 yards, and rushed for another five. The Bucs offensive line continues to be an issue, as Tampa Bay gave up 11 hits on the quarterback and three sacks, including one to Winston. This needs to be cleaned up in a hurry.
Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants
Mitchell Trubisky, and David Montgomery did not see live action.
Eli Manning was perfect on his four attempts, including a touchdown to Bennie Fowler. Daniel Jones was good on 11 of his 14 attempts for 161 yards and a touchdown. Jones hit T.J. Jones for a score from 15 yards out. Unfortunately, Jones also had two fumbles.
Cleveland Browns vs. Indianapolis Colts
Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr, and Nick Chubb all sat. Kareem Hunt made his first start as a Brown and carried the ball two times for six yards in two series.
Andrew Luck, and T.Y. Hilton both sat. Jacoby Brissett looked good going 8 of 10 with 100 yards and one touchdown, which was a beautiful strike to tight end Eric Ebron from 12 yards out in the corner of the end zone. Deon Cain continued to impress at wide receiver, since returning from an ACL tear, as he caught seven passes for 80 yards.
New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans
Tom Brady, Phillip Dorsett, N’Keal Harry, and Cameron Meredith all sat. Rookie running back Damien Harris was given a heavy load, carrying the rock 14 times for 80 yards. He also caught four passes for 23 yards. Jakobi Meyers caught 6 passes for 82 yards, building off of last week’s performance when he caught 6 passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Meyers, an undrafted rookie from South Carolina State, is quickly making a name for himself. Wide receiver Josh Gordon was officially re-instated by the league on Friday.
After two three-and-outs, Marcus Mariota took on his best drive in his last two games, capping a ten play 87 yard drive that ended on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker. Mariota finished 6 of 9 for 63 yards, after being awful last week with 4 of 8 for 20 yards against the Eagles. Ryan Tannehill was again impressive, going 7 of 11 for 84 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was to tight end, MyCole Pruitt. Tannehill was sacked once. Against Philadelphia last week, the QB was 12 of 16 for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Mariota has started both games, and I want to see what Tannehill can do as the starter now.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Patrick Mahomes struggled against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, completing just two of five passes for a disappointing 11 yards in two series. He was much better last week against the soft Cincinnati Bengals defense, completing all four passes. Who wins the starting running back job between Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, and Carlos Hyde will be fascinating. Thompson has not only looked good in camp, but also in live action. The rookie has a total of nine carries, and has gained 52 yards (5.77 ypc). He also added a touchdown on a reception going for 29 yards. It is not a far thought to see Thompson take over Williams’ starting role sometime during the season. They are both complementary to each other.
Jaylen Samuels caught a touchdown from Mason Rudolph in the second quarter. Samuels took the pass 14 yards out and sprinted in for the score. James Conner rushed six times for 26 yards. Rookie wide receiver Dionte Johnson made a great diving catch in the end zone from quarterback Devlin Hodges.
Detroit Lions vs. Houston Texans
Matthew Stafford did not play for the second straight week. Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson had one grab for 22 yards. Kerryon Johnson received the start, and had three carries for 16 yards in one plus quarters.
Deshaun Watson was in for just one series in his debut this preseason. Watson was on target driving the Texans to a 79 yard touchdown, that culminated with a score to his number one receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The QB was 5 of 7 for 60 yards, and scrambled once for 7 yards. The offensive line looked quite different. Last season the Houston protection wall gave up 62 sacks, which led the NFL. However, against the Lions, they gave Watson plenty of time against most of their defensive starters. Hopkins in his preseason debut caught two passes for 17 yards, including the touchdown.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams
Dak Prescott was impressive without Ezekiel Elliot. Prescott completed all five of his passes in his lone series. The drive went 97 yards in 12 plays, which totaled six minutes. Rookie Tony Pollard finished the trip with a 14 yard touchdown run. Prescott has been perfect on all nine of his attempts in two preseason appearances. Pollard was steady in place of Elliot, as his five carries went for 42 yards, including the touchdown. Last week, Pollard had four carries for 16 yards against San Francisco. Michael Gallup caught one pass for 31 yards.
Darrell Henderson rushed six times for 16 yards, while catching six passes for 38. Thus far the rookie has disappointed in the run game. Against Oakland, Henderson put up just 13 yards on six carries. In two games, the Memphis college product has a 12-29-0 stat line (2.41 ypc). Henderson will try to earn some stripes against the Broncos next week.
New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Drew Brees, and Michael Thomas both sat. Alvin Kamara gained 15 yards on four carries, bringing his two game total to 8 carries for 26 yards. Latavius Murray has carried the ball seven times for 27 yards in both contests.
Philip Rivers did not play. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson got the carries in Melvin Gordon’s absence, and did not do very well. Ekeler gained just nine yards on three carries. On eight carries, Jackson gained 33 yards. The Saints rushing defense clogged the lanes well, which contributed to Ekeler’s and Jackson’s poor performance.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings
Russell Wilson made his preseason debut going 6 of 9 for 82 yards. His most significant completion of the day was to Jaron Brown for 33 yards. Wilson’s incompletions were just slightly off. His two possessions went for a punt and a field goal, with Jason Myers connecting from 33 yards out. D.K. Metcalf did not play, and head coach Pete Carroll later stated that Metcalf needs minor knee surgery. The offensive line was impressive outside of a couple false start penalties. They protected Russell Wilson well. Tyler Lockett caught three passes for 27 yards.
Dalvin Cook did not play for the second straight week. Rookie Alexander Mattison got the start and carried the rock 10 times for 41 yards. Mattison had nine carries for 30 yards last week, and is now 19 for 71 yards (3.7 ypc). Irv Smith Jr, the Vikings second round draft choice had five receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown, from backup Sean Mannion. Kirk Cousins was 6 for 8 for 68 yards. One completion was a 34 yard pass to wide receiver Adam Thielen, who caught it over his shoulder near the right sideline. Thielen finished with three catches for 45 yards. Laquon Treadwell caught four passes for 47 yards. Perhaps in his fourth season, he can turn the corner?
San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos
Jimmy Garoppolo saw his first game action since September 23, 2018. He needs to go through his progressions quicker, and looks uncomfortable in the pocket. Garoppolo has a long road to go. His first two passes went for an incompletion and an interception. Included in that mess was a nearly a second interception, and he also had two passes batted down. Jimmy G. finished 1 of 6 for zero yards. Yes, zero! On top of his poor performance against Denver, Garoppolo throwing five interceptions in practice and making bad decisions going back to last season has me wondering what is in store for the future. Tevin Coleman in his preseason debut had three carries for 21 yards. On the first offensive play, Coleman had his longest run of 12 yards.
In his preseason debut, Joe Flacco was above average with his 7 of 11 for 59 yards. Emmanuel Sanders looks healthy. His one run for 19 yards showcased his skills and shiftiness as a runner. Sanders also had one catch for 5 yards. Flacco hit him for a 45-yard play, but it was called back for holding. Courtland Sutton caught two passes for 28 yards on back-to-back targets from Flacco, with the first going for 21 yards. If Flacco has the arm strength still, Sutton could be in for a big season. Phillip Lindsay struggled as he ran for only 14 yards on five carries. Royce Freeman struggled against the San Francisco defense. His longest run of five yards was eventually canceled four carries later, and he finished with zero total yards on five rushing attempts. Lindsay is showing he is the better of the two, but it still appears both will split time.