NFL preseason Week 1 winners and losers: Rookie quarterbacks impress, Deshaun Watson struggles in Browns debut


Week 1 of the NFL preseason had no shortage of storylines. As the weekend progressed, every team across the league was able to open the exhibition season and view the roster in live game scenarios. Of course, that change in action will give clubs a new perspective on their squad as they look to narrow their roster to 53 by the time week 1 rolls around in September as we’ve seen some of the more anticipated players taking the field for the first.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the good and bad from the weekend with our winners and losers from the first official week of the preseason.

Winner: Rookie Quarterbacks

It was a fantastic first show for starting quarterbacks all the way around. At every turn there was a young signal caller making a name for himself, either branding a claim as a Week 1 starter or opening his eyes to his organization to potentially be the QB1 of the future.

The first quarterback to come out was Malik Willis, Titans’ third round, who showed flashes of his playing skill against the Ravens. He completed six of his 11 passes for 107 yards as he rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown. Of course, Ryan Tannehill is solidified as the Week 1 starter, but as his 2021 struggle moves into 2022, it won’t be long before people will be clamoring for Willis, especially if he continues to thrive.

Next up was former Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, who played the majority of snaps after Marcus Mariota broke down after the opening series. Showing his ability to move the ball through the air and with his feet, he passed 103 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for a game-high 59 yards on six attempts. Knight also showed a link gene and completed a 21-yard touchdown pass on a fourth and 9 attempt with 1:30 left in the game to help lead Atlanta to victory.

Day 3 pick Sam Howell flashed his potential to be a future option for the Commanders as he nearly led Washington to a comeback win over the Panthers. After Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke got some work, Howell came in and threw for more yards (145) than both combined. He also showed his rushing ability on display during his days at UNC, rushing in for two scores.

While all those quarterbacks will likely be on the bench when the season starts, first-round Kenny Pickett made a strong case for being Pittsburgh’s Week 1 starter. He came in to start the second half, completing all five passes in his opening streak while leading the Steelers on a touchdown drive. After the defense came up with a clutch strip-sack in the closing minutes of the game, Pickett threw the game-winning touchdown with just three seconds left on the clock.

You really can’t ask for much more from these freshman quarterbacks.

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Playing in an NFL game for the first time in 19 months, Deshaun Watson didn’t quite look like the $230 million quarterback the Browns traded for. After apologize publicly before his off-the-field plays against CBS Sports’ Aditi Kinkhabwala, Watson took the field and had some noticeable rust, passing just 1-on-5 for seven yards.

While the check for acquiring Watson was inevitable given his baggage, the justification – in Cleveland’s eyes – was the talent upgrade that brings the player to the table. So far they have yet to see that and maybe not for a while, as the NFL is pushing for a one-year ban in its appeal.

We all know that Jalen Hurts poses a threat with his legs, but there is still some doubt about his ability as a passer. Well, in the Philadelphia preseason opener, he showed he could make a big leap forward in that aspect of his game in 2022. In his only run of the night against New York, Hurts was a dynamite passer, completing all six of his throws for 80 yards, and a touchdown to tight end Dallas Goedert. Hurts was the catalyst for the opening stage of seven games and 80 meters which took just 3:47 to get into the end zone.

If he continues to look like this as a passer-by, Philadelphia will pose a legitimate threat in the NFC.

Loser: Bears O-line

One of the bigger concerns with the Chicago Bears is the ability of the offensive line to prop up sophomore quarterback Justin Fields. In the preseason opener against the Chiefs, the group that started didn’t do much to allay those concerns. In the early stages of the game, Chicago’s O-line seemed to let the Chiefs’ defenders find their way into the backfield and disrupt the game quite a bit. Fields was also fired twice and the offense hit on all three drives to open the game, in part because of that poor play up front.

Of course, you should point out that Riley Reiff and Lucas Patrick didn’t play in this game, so there’s room for this group to improve between this game and when the snaps really count in the regular season. When given the time (and sometimes even when he wasn’t), Fields showed the ability to pull off some dazzling moves, including some impressive scrambles and a nice touch on a few throws to Darnell Mooney and Tajae Sharpe.

While he can make those plays every now and then, if he remains besieged every time he takes the shot, it will drastically hurt his development.

Winner: Doug Pederson

The move from Urban Meyer to Doug Pederson will be seen as one of the biggest additions of the past season. The Jaguars already look like a more well-run organization with a capable head coach on the sidelines, and most importantly, Trevor Lawrence seems to be back on track. While most starters didn’t play in the Hall of Fame game, Jacksonville rolled them out in their matchup against Cleveland. Lawrence played through the first three series and led the offense to score drives in each as he completed 6 of his 12 throws for 95 yards and a touchdown.

He was more like the quarterback we saw at Clemson, which is a great sign for Jacksonville’s future and that’s a credit to Pederson — who is 20-1 to win Coach of the Year at Caesars Sportsbook — that he is able to control the ship.

Kenny Golladay has yet to honor the $72 million contract he signed with the Giants last season, and he didn’t start his preseason on a positive note either. In New York’s first summer exhibition against the Patriots, Golladay was only able to land one of his three goals in the night and seemed to have a really hard time creating separation. Either that, or half-heartedly on this Daniel Jones shot.

Golladay also dropped on a third down attempt in the red zone, which may have given New York a first down and a chance for a touchdown.

Winner: Lions First Team Offense

The Hard Knock stars came out strong in the preseason opener against the Falcons and looked like a well oiled machine on offense. Jared Goff and the starters only played the opening series and they made quick work of the Atlanta defense by moving 79 yards down the field and getting into the end zone.

Goff was 3-for-4 and passed 47 yards with his long slump coming on a fall from Jamaal Williams’ run-back. Sophomore wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown picked up where he left off last season, catching both of his goals from Goff for 29 yards, while running back D’Andre Swift rushed 20 yards on four carries, including a nine- yard touchdown run.

Loser: Colt’s first team foul

The Indianapolis Colts are seen as the favorites to win the AFC South and a possible sleeper to get out of the conference. While it’s admittedly very early, Indy’s starters didn’t look too good against Buffalo’s second and third team defenses. Matt Ryan started at his new club and played the first four series of the game. On that stretch, the Colts managed just three points and struggled to convert two fourth-and-4 attempts on back-to-back drives.

While declining star Jonathan Taylor wasn’t in the backfield, it’s not like Von Miller and other stars along Buffalo’s defense were there, so those absences may cancel each other out. Again, it’s early, the Colts are working in yet another quarterback, and there’s plenty of time between now and week 1. Still, it wasn’t the best first impression.

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I know we still call this a game, but all signs seem to point to Baker Mayfield being the man in the middle in Week 1 for the Carolina Panthers. The former Browns QB got the nod to start the preseason on Saturday and played well in his debut, completing 4-of-7 for 45 yards while leading Carolina to a field goal in his only series of the day.

His main league, Sam Darnold, did hit a touchdown on his only run of the day, but it looks like Mayfield has a noticeable lead in this QB battle, even if head coach Matt Rhule doesn’t want to make final proclamations on this stage of the game. preseason.

Anyway, it wasn’t a good weekend for Zach Wilson. The Jets sophomore quarterback suffered a bone bruise and a meniscus tear in the New York preseason opener and is now expected to miss two to four weeks. Wilson scrambled to the right and appeared to be trying to juke onto the field and went down clumsily from a non-contact injury. While he will have surgery to repair the problem, Wilson’s ligaments in that right knee are reportedly in good condition.

Before the injury, Wilson’s play also left a lot to be desired. He passed 3-of-5, but had a poor interception from Eagles linebacker Kyzir White in the middle of the field.

In his absence, veteran Joe Flacco will likely be the starter for New York.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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