The second week of the preseason has seen all of its games played and so it’s time for me to bang on about what I saw with regards to the eight teams that will be coming over to the UK to play at Wembley or Twickenham Stadium as part of the NFL London games.
Right, I thought I’d start with the Jaguars as I have a genuine question of you all. Why has the Blake Bortles hate train fired up already and why are people jumping on it so soon into a season that isn’t even near the end of its preseason? I’m genuinely confused! I imagine it’s very much the usual blind following and retweeting/sharing etc. on social media as people try to look like they’ve done research into something when they’re actually just copying what others do, but the number of people calling for him to be gotten rid of and replaced is baffling me right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s a standout QB who’s going to change the fortunes of a franchise but he looks better than what else is available out there currently (don’t even think about starting with the Kaepernick BS!)
Sure, he under-threw Allen Robinson when he was past his defender and would have gone for the TD but, other than that, I actually thought they looked very good as a combo for the time they were on the field together.
Yes, HC Doug Marrone has come out after the game and said the starting QB job is wide open for someone to take (like he’d say anything else at this stage!) but he also said that Bortles is still their #1, but people don’t seem to mention that part when “reporting” and would rather jump on the first bit of the comment.
Look, I’m not a fanboy of Bortles or anything like that but I just don’t see why the hate hype for him has suddenly escalated after only the second preseason game. He looked no worse than any of the other QB’s out on the field in that game including Jameis Winston who everyone seems to be raving about. Winston messed up more than once but I don’t see people posting about him in a negative way and, whilst I’m banging on, did anyone watch the Bills @ Eagles game? Tyrod Taylor was awful in that one but I guess people would rather just say, “Hey, it’s only preseason”. If anything Nathan Peterman should be given the chance to start in Buffalo and Tyrod Taylor should be shipped out for more draft picks as the team tanks the season in an attempt to be in a position to take one of the good QB’s that will be available in the next draft.
Even the likes of Kirk Cousins, Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan plus plenty of other QB’s have been under and over throwing passes all preseason so far.
I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something here, but from what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s way too early to be bashing on him the way people are and so I’ll wait until the preseason has played itself out before making a judgement on him and who should be the Jaguars starting QB come regular season week one as Chad Henne certainly didn’t look any better than Bortles. Also, Brandon Allen needs to start earlier in a game to be accessed against better opposition as he has looked decent so far.
Moving on, you could certainly see the difference in the Jaguars running game with the absence of rookie Leonard Fournette. TJ Yeldon started the game and looked half decent early on but soon seemed to be going backward. He ended the game with 2 runs for 2-yards and 1 reception for 2-yards – not a great day at the office but, then again, neither was veteran Chris Ivory’s. He ran 7 times for 4-yards as he was stuffed constantly and never looked like breaking a tackle or pushing the pile for yards. He did, however, catch 2 passes which he took for a total of 14-yards but one of them was for 17-yards.
The Jags defense didn’t look that good to me this week as there seemed to be massive holes in it that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers exploited very well for large portions of the game. They were making the most of the holes in the pass coverage as well as opening up some nice holes for their running backs. I’d hope to see improvements on this side of the ball before the regular season starts or it’s going to be a long season for the Jags. With all that talent on the defensive side of the ball, I think we will. The bright spots on defense for me were veteran LB Paul Posluszny, who had a good game, and the fact that good pressure was put on Jameis Winston on a play making him decide to lob the ball up into the endzone as he was being knocked down onto his butt and it was intercepted. Unfortunately, the refs decided it was a sack instead and the play wasn’t reviewable because forward motion had been halted…or something, god knows but the Bucs and Winston got away with one there.
Skipping back to the offense briefly but sticking with bright spots, we were treated to a bit of a show from rookie WR Dede Westbrook who the Jaguars took in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL draft. He and QB Brandon Allen connected on 6 receptions for 131-yards, of which one went for 30-yards. Westbrook looked to have good hands and skills to gain yards after the catch. Definitely one to watch as the season progresses.
Something that has already been a problem for teams in the preseason is fumbles and penalties but the Jags can at least be happy with the fact that they only give up 4 penalties and didn’t fumble the ball once.
New Orleans Saints
I’m dying to see just how well the New Orleans Saints running backs unit is going to perform through the 2017 season as, on paper, it looks pretty special to me. Mark Ingram is going to be the main back with Peterson splitting time with him. Add into that mix a talented, young and hungry 2017 3rd round draft choice in Alvin Kamara and things could get exciting in New Orleans. The potential of that offense is sky high even with the loss of WR Brandin Cooks.
Alvin Kamara exposed the LA Chargers’ defense right from the start with a nice run through the left side of the offensive line to take it 50-yards to the house as he was hardly even touched by any defenders.
Another rookie who’s getting his chance this season is 1st round pick OT Ryan Ramcyzk. He was at left tackle due to the shoulder injury of Terron Armstead and looked ok but got called for holding on more than one occasion as he got beat by the defender.
I’m hoping the Saints’ offense can be as good as or better than it was last season so that we get to see two of the greats – Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson – play in a high scoring game at Wembley against the Miami Dolphins. This has the potential to be one of the highlight games of the NFL London series.
The Saints’ defense had a field day against that bad Chargers offensive line and recorded 8 sacks in total and lots of pressure all game long. The Chargers QB’s had no chance and they desperately need Phil Rivers back and performing well if they are to do as well as many have predicted they will this season. They didn’t score a single point in the first half and averaged just 2-yards per carry – the Saints defense dominated. I can imagine the Chargers are kicking themselves about the injury to MLB Denzel Perryman and to then see ex-Charger Manti Te’o play so well against them – he had 7 tackles, 1 assist and a sack.
A bright spot for the Chargers was the pick-6 of Saints QB Ryan Nassib as he tried to force the ball into WR Tommylee Lewis late in the game. The interception was returned 99-yards.
All-in-all, the Saints looked good in this one but the opposition wasn’t up to much, really.
Erm, what’s going on in LA? This wasn’t the piss-boring LA Rams of last season that we got to see this week! They put up 24 points and the offense looked good in doing so.
First overall pick from a year ago, QB Jared Goff finally stepped up and performed as he threw for 160-yards and a TD on 16 completions from 20 attempts. He seems to have found a new favourite target in rookie WR Cooper Kupp who snagged 6 of those passes for 70-yards and his second TD in two weeks. It looks like Goff his also connecting well with another rookie, TE Gerald Everett. He helped himself to 4 catches for 30-yards.
It was good to see the recently acquired WR Sammy Watkins play for a bit and he had 2 receptions for 8 yards which ain’t going to wow anyone but it’s good to see him out there in a Rams uniform and this receiving unit has potential to be exciting and put up numbers.
A factor that could help the receivers put up good numbers is if the Rams have a running game. RB Todd Gurley looked better this week than he did in week one of preseason as he ran the ball 8 times for 38-yards and a TD. A passing game AND running game in LA? Surely not! I’m still not sure about that offensive line but time will tell on that.
The defense did look like they were missing star DT Aaron Donald this week as there seemed to be a lack of pressure on Raiders QB Derek Carr. Maybe it’s because the Raiders also have a fantastic offensive line making Donalds absence more obvious. They did, however, manage to get an interception which they offense then turned into a TD, which is a promising sign.
Some are saying that this will be QB Carson Palmers last season as an NFL quarterback as he’s at an age where he could easily decide to retire. I know it’s only the preseason, but he is looking good to me so far. He did do a Bortles and under throw a pass or two but he’s still looking good for the upcoming season. He generally looked good when he had time and equally so when he was under pressure.
The running game didn’t impress for the Cardinals with Andre Ellington probably being the best of a bad bunch with his 5 attempts for 11-yards. The passing game did look better, however, and I’m sure we’ll see considerable improvements to the running game come regular season time.
I believe Carson Palmer has shown he’s good to go again for another season and I think Drew Stanton has been handed the backup job but I’d like to see more of Blaine Gabbert in the remaining two preseason games. He’s looked very good so far and it would be interesting to see him against better opposition, maybe even the 1’s.
The Cardinals defense didn’t look too good in this one against the Chicago Bears. They struggled against the run especially when RB Tarik Cohen was in the Bears backfield. He, basically, made the Cardinals defense look very average on his way to 77-yards off 11 carries.
The special teams also gave up a 109-yard missed field goal return as well which the Bears made look very easy. I hope Bruce Arians blasted them for that as it looked like they gave up on it.
It might be because the Cardinals weren’t at their best but I think the Bears looked pretty good on both sides of the ball. I’m intrigued to see more of QB Mitchell Trubisky as he certainly has an arm on him and RB Tarik Cohen looked very good in this one.
Yes, it’s only preseason but the Cardinals @ Rams game at Twickenham might be better than I have been expecting.
The first thing I noted in this game was just how good DE Danielle Hunter looks for the Vikings. He was getting some great pressure on the Russell Wilson and definitely is an exciting one to watch as the season goes on. He had 2 tackles, 1 assist and a sack in his time from this game. This is the most worrying thing I have for the game in London as the Vikings take on my Cleveland Browns. If he lines up on the right then we’ll have a great contest between him and LT Joe Thomas, but if he lines up on the left, as I noticed he did in this game, then our QB could be in for a long day.
The defense as a whole, though, looked good against the run but not brilliant against the pass, but let’s be honest, they were up against the mobile and strong armed Russell Wilson.
Sam Bradford seems to have very much settled in now and looked good hooking up with WR Stefon Diggs who had 4 receptions for 65-yards. Diggs took a big hit during the game but held on to the ball well – he’s looking good so far despite some nay-sayers talking him down during the off-season.
In the early phases of the game, it was all Bradford, Diggs and Cook as the offense looked good and consistent.
RB Dalvin Cook is potentially one of the best players to come out of this year’s draft and he’s looked very good so far this preseason. He followed up his good week 1 showing with another as he ran for 40-yards on 7 runs. He also caught one for 10-yards. I think he’s going to be good for the Vikings this year and will be the starter in no time.
I wonder if the Vikings regret losing kicker Blair Walsh as he booted 2 field goals from over 50-yards out.
A final note I made about the Vikings was to do with QB Taylor Heinicke. He went 6 or 9 for 89-yards, 1 TD and an interception. Despite that interception, I think he looked good with some nice accuracy and a good arm. He also looked good running on broken plays – he ran 3 times for 25-yards.
The Baltimore Ravens’ defense looked really good last week against the Washington Redskins as they held them to just 3 points. This week they looked just as good as they held the Miami Dolphins to just 7 points. On the showings so far, this defense could carry the team quite far this season after they picked well in the draft.
QB Ryan Mallett still looked average as he completed 13 of 22 for 113-yards with 1 TD but 2 interceptions. If they are to go quite far this season they’re desperately going to need Joe Flacco back and healthy. Mallett did look good against the 2’s but that just shows he’s nothing more than a backup.
A player I like that is now on the Ravens roster is RB Danny Woodhead. He’s a workhorse and is good out of the backfield catching passes. This week, though, he was targetted a few times but by poor passes meaning he had no catches and he only ran once for 2-yards. I’d assumed he and Terrance West were going to split time this year but I’m not so sure right now as West didn’t look good either.
Young QB Josh Woodrum looked good and mobile again as he completed 8 of 10 for 110-yards with no passing TD’s or interceptions. He did, however, look mobile again and actually ran for two TD’s as the Ravens went on to a good looking 31-7 win. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of Woodrum earlier in the remaining game(s) of the preseason.
RB Jay Ajayi was back with the team this week after clearing concussion protocols and looked good in the short time he had in this game. He ran ok after contact before being replaced by backup Damien Williams with 2 runs for -2-yards. He actually looked good after contact on the pass he caught and took for 11-yards.
New QB Jay Cutler also looked good in his first game as a Dolphin as he played 2 series in which he looked composed and good in the pocket. Time will tell if this was the correct signing after the Tannehill injury, but people seem to like it. No Dolphins QB played great in this one as potential #3 David Fales saw the most playing time and was underwhelming after #2 Matt Moore stepped out after a couple of series.
Some of the young defensive players looked good and showed promise, especially along the defensive line as they managed to create pressure on the Ravens backfield.
The game was full of false starts, dropped passes and fumbles as well as lots of slipping by players trying to cut and change direction. The playing surface didn’t look that good to me.
The Dolphins will have to improve on this performance and I’m sure they will after it was mainly left to the 2’s and 3’s in this one.
I’ve not missed out the Cleveland Browns from this weeks roundup, but have instead given them their own article seeing as I can bang on about them for ages which would have made this post far too long to keep anyone’s attention – I’m sure it’s too long anyway but, MEH!