- Giants QB Daniel Jones & Browns QB Baker Mayfield had impressive NFL preseason debuts
- Redskins & Cardinals: offensive lines struggle, could spell trouble
- Eagles have big question at backup QB after injury to Nate Sudfeld
The NFL preseason kicked off for 20 teams on Thursday, August 8th, while the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos started their preseasons with the Hall of Fame Game the Tuesday prior.
Although many starters didn’t participate and the overall play was sloppy, it was our first full glimpse at the 2019 football season.
While we don’t want to overreact to one week of preseason play, there were still many things to be learned from our first look at most of these teams.
Quarterbacks with Perfect Passer Ratings
New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones was probably the biggest winner of the night, finishing his preseason debut with a perfect passer rating.
Coach Pat Shurmer didn’t ask for much from the former sixth-overall pick, but Jones completed all five of his pass attempts for 67 yards and a touchdown.
However, only two of his passes traveled further than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and the rookie wasn’t forced to make it past his first read in his progressions.
Drive 1: Every single Daniel Jones pass
-5/5, 67 yds and a TD 👀
Say goodbye, Eli pic.twitter.com/MURmdOceVD
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 8, 2019
Credit Shurmer and the offensive coaching staff for getting Jones in a rhythm and giving him simple reads to be successful.
Another quarterback who finished the night with a perfect passer rating was the Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield. Last year’s top draft selection played just one drive, but he did a good job of taking what the defense gave him, completing three passes to his running backs before hitting Rashard Higgins for a 24-yard touchdown to cap off the drive.
The Browns went no-huddle for the entirety of Mayfield’s lone drive and the second-year quarterback showed great command of the offense.
How this shaped our opinion: Jones looked more poised and prepared than many rookies in their first game, which was a bit of a surprise because he’s not getting full starter reps.
For Mayfield, even without multiple starting wideouts, he looked as under control and accurate as we remember from many starts late last year. He could be in store for a fast start to the season.
What’s to come in Baltimore
Ravens quaterback Lamar Jackson had a bit of an up-and-down night. Jackson only threw six passes, completing four, including this beauty off of play-action:
Hope the Ravens’ regular season offense is just a whole lot more of this pic.twitter.com/Pi9vXhWm7n
— Dan Pizzuta (@DanPizzuta) August 9, 2019
Jackson later finished this drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead. Not every pass from Jackson was pretty, but the good outweighed the bad and there is hope the regular season offense will continue to bring that optimism.
How this shaped our opinion: We know it’s going to take time, but Jackson appears ahead of where we thought he’d be.
Bills Defense Dominate in NFL Preseason
The Buffalo Bills defense impressed last night, holding Jacoby Brissett to just two completions and 21 yards and Colts running back Nyheim Hines to a single yard on six carries.
In fact, only Colts third-string quarterback Chad Kelly was able to make any progress against Buffalo, leading the Colts in rushing yards and finishing the night with 121 passing yards, completing 13 of his 19 attempts.
How this shaped our opinion: We know it was only against Brissett, but the Colts have a great starting offensive line and typically defenses are not scheming for an opponent in the preseason. That makes the Bills’ first-unit defense look even better than we were expecting.
Offensive Line Troubles for Washington & Arizona
With Trent Williams still at home, waiting for a trade away from Washington, the Redskins struggled to protect their quarterbacks Monday night against Cleveland, allowing three sacks and five quarterback hits.
Case Keenum did take advantage of a blown coverage by the Browns secondary for a 49-yard touchdown, but he completed just three of his other eight pass attempts for 11 yards. Rookie Dwayne Haskins was constantly under pressure, getting sacked twice and throwing a pair of interceptions.
Wow! This Redskins o-line 😂
Watch every Keenum attempt 👀
✅ Four offensive holding penalties on the first drive
✅ Keenum under frequent pressure
✅ 3/8 for 14 yds on non-blown coverages
Are they missing Trent Williams??? pic.twitter.com/ltAvWEvvST
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 9, 2019
Arizona also had its share of troubles. Rookie Kyler Murray had to scramble and escape from pressure on one of his early throws and was instantly sacked with little hope of escaping on a third down that ended his only drive of the game.
Last year’s victim of Arizona’s offensive line, Josh Rosen, also saw some struggles in protection in his new Miami offense. Rosen came in as the backup and did get off some nice throws, especially to rookie Preston Williams when he did have time to throw.
How this shaped our opinion: We’ve seen bad offensive lines derail any promise of developing a young quarterback (Rosen is the latest example). As currently constructed, the lines in Washington and Arizona could have much of an impact on the performance of Haskins and Murray as anything they individually do on the field. Rosen, looking for a fresh start away from Arizona’s line, might not be in a much better position than the one he left.
Philly Backed Up
The biggest storyline coming out of Philadelphia last night was the broken wrist suffered by backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Sudfeld threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Marken Michel in the second quarter before taking a late hit on the Eagles next drive and leaving the game. It was reported Sudfeld will be out for about six weeks.
After undergoing surgery this morning for a broken bone above his left wrist, Eagles’ backup QB Nate Sudfeld is expected to return in six weeks, per source. Best-case scenario for Philly.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2019
In his place, Cody Kessler struggled mightily, completing three of six passes for just 12 yards. Rookie Clayton Thorson was somehow worse, going 2-9 for 7 yards and an interception. The loss of Sudfeld is huge for the Eagles, who have had to turn to their backup quarterback to finish the season in each of the last two years.
Carson Wentz has suffered an injury every year, dating back to his final year at North Dakota State. Nick Foles was able to win the Super Bowl in his place in 2017 and was an Alshon Jeffery drop away from advancing to the NFC Championship Game.
However, with Foles now in Jacksonville and Sudfeld sidelined, the Eagles should be in the market to upgrade their backup quarterback immediately.
How this shaped our opinion: The Eagles are a Super Bowl favorite and might have the deepest and most well-built roster in the league. The one glaring weakness is at backup quarterback and with Wentz’s health history and the performance of these players in game action, it could be a more meaningful weakness than we’ve given credit to this point.