We’re formally on the midway mark of the NFL’s preseason slate.
With solely the all-important third preseason recreation and the starter-barren fourth contest left to go, time is working out for groups to get themselves prepared for Week 1.
Listed below are 5 of the most important issues we realized from the second week of preseason motion:
The (2) gloves are off in New York
The New York Jets quarterback continued to remind the NFL world that he possesses starting-caliber expertise throughout Thursday’s loss to the Washington Redskins. When you should not learn too far into preseason statistics, Bridgewater’s numbers – 17 of 23 for 212 yards (9.2 YPA) with two touchdowns and one interception – leap off the display screen.
Bridgewater has by no means been essentially the most bodily proficient quarterback; he gained in Minnesota by navigating the Vikings‘ usually defender-filled pocket and handed to each degree with elite contact, permitting his receivers to flourish after the catch.
All of these abilities had been on show Thursday, however extra importantly, Bridgewater confirmed no concern when dealing with strain, or when requested to take successful as a way to make a play. Any lingering questions on how he’d be affected by such a ugly knee harm, which was so extreme that he was at risk of shedding his leg, have been answered.
Bridgewater, naturally, regarded way more snug below strain than the No. Three total choose, who flashed extra indicators of his potential however did make rookie errors. Most notable amongst them was Darnold’s lack of ability to push the ball downfield, with yards-per-attempt averages of 5.Three and 5.6 over the primary two preseason video games, respectively.
Darnold will doubtless nonetheless win the beginning job even when Bridgewater outperforms him for the remainder of the preseason, however the former Viking is making the Jets’ resolution to maneuver ahead with the rookie far tougher than doubtless anybody might’ve predicted.
Steelers could have discovered lacking piece
Pittsburgh’s offense is brimming with expertise. No trio is arguably extra feared than Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster; the offensive line is among the many league’s greatest, and Ben Roethlisberger, whereas previous his prime, remains to be greater than able to making magic occur along with his top-tier weapons.
If the Steelers have one flaw offensively, nevertheless, it is their lack of a receiver who can struggle for 50-50 balls and persistently win on deep routes – a task that Martavis Bryant was purported to fill earlier than he was shipped to the Oakland Raiders.
Pittsburgh has apparently discovered the key components for locating standout pass-catchers within the draft. Whereas Brown and Smith-Schuster would be the group’s dominant targets, the second-round choose can take the highest off defenses.
The Steelers’ protection may not be good with out Ryan Shazier, however with yet one more game-breaking expertise on offense, Pittsburgh might put up sufficient factors that it barely issues.
Deshaun is able to go
Dropping Deshaun Watson to a season-ending knee harm within the midst of an unprecedented begin to his NFL profession was one of many largest blows to the 2017 season.
It appeared simply too merciless to rob soccer followers of what might’ve been a particular marketing campaign. To make issues worse, Watson’s ACL harm meant it was no assure he’d be wholesome for the beginning of this yr.
Thankfully for Houston Texans followers, and followers of offensive soccer generally, Watson confirmed no indicators of discomfort throughout one collection of motion in opposition to the San Francisco 49ers.
Watson stood tall in opposition to strain and had no points planting his foot and letting it rip, ending the drive with a landing move. Contemplating his harm and the Texans’ subpar offensive-line play final yr, it could be comprehensible if Watson’s pocket presence suffered.
However the former Clemson standout seemed to be the identical calm and picked up passer that he was as a rookie.
Now, it stays to be seen how snug Houston can be with permitting Watson to run as a lot as he did in 2017, however the Texans can breathe just a little simpler after lastly seeing their franchise quarterback again in motion.
Payments’ QB battle is finished
Josh Allen was among the many most polarizing draft prospects in latest reminiscence. Nevertheless, even those that believed in his plain bodily skills would’ve agreed he wanted at the very least a yr of using the bench earlier than turning into the Payments’ starter.
Buffalo did not precisely give the rookie the stiffest competitors, placing him up in opposition to Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron. However the rocket-armed passer has regarded surprisingly sharp via two preseason video games and is now a near-lock to be below heart for Week 1.
In opposition to the Cleveland Browns, the rookie completed with 60 yards on 9-of-13 passing and one landing, however the stats do not inform the entire story. The play beneath, specifically, highlights Allen’s innate really feel for the pocket and strong footwork – areas of his recreation most criticized in the course of the draft course of.
Allen is ready to begin the all-important third preseason recreation after McCarron suffered a minor shoulder harm in opposition to the Browns, and barring a catastrophic efficiency, it is unlikely the No. 7 total choose relinquishes his beginning spot.
Whereas Buffalo’s lack of weapons outdoors of LeSean McCoy remains to be a serious concern, the Payments haven’t any alternative however to throw Allen into the deep finish and pray he can swim.
Vikings’ offense has some work to do
The quarterback, and the offense generally, got here again to Earth with a bump in opposition to the uber-talented Jacksonville Jaguars protection. Cousins went Three of Eight for simply 12 yards and no touchdowns, Latavius Murray fumbled twice, and the Vikings took till the third quarter to lastly get into the top zone.
In equity, a patchwork offensive line containing 4 backups did not assist, however Cousins merely regarded off. The veteran remains to be studying Minnesota’s system, so rising pains are to be anticipated. However, it’s regarding that Cousins struggled most when he was below strain and compelled to shortly undergo his reads.
The Vikings’ protection is Tremendous Bowl worthy, and Cousins was purported to be the ultimate piece to the championship puzzle. He confirmed he might be simply that in opposition to Denver, however his struggles within the loss to Jacksonville proves the Vikings should not anticipate a seamless transition into a brand new period.
(Pictures courtesy: Getty Pictures)