Week 1 of the preseason is done and once again it was all over the spectrum. From injuries to the hype candidates, from quarterback questions to the problem candidates: SPOX editor Adrian Franke will bring you up to date after the start of the preseason.
Chicago’s offensive line is a problem
We all knew it wasn’t going to be an easy season in Chicago.
The new regime had inherited a cadre in need of radical change, which probably no outsider would criticize if it weren’t for Justin Fields. To have a young, potential franchise quarterback on the cheap rookie contract is a strong argument against at least one radical reboot of the squad. Primarily to ensure the quarterback’s development and meaningful evaluation, but also ultimately to take advantage of the window while he’s cheap.
Getting that balance right will define the Bears season and the first year of the new regime, and I can already imagine that the majority of discussions during the season will revolve around the offensive line.
Chicago’s preseason opener against the Chiefs was a clear point in that direction. With most of the starting lineup on the field, Fields regularly had no time in the pocket at all, the Chiefs attacked him heavily on play-action rollouts, and the running game saw no land.
Fields seemed even quicker to make decisions at times than last season, but with the line shaky, Chicago will also have massive problems building their new offense. The problems in the line continued even after several D-Line starters had gone home for the Chiefs. Here, Chiefs rookie George Karlaftis continued to shine with a strong debut – little consolation for the Bears.
Fields still had some very positive moments in his first game under the new regime given the circumstances. But this offensive line will be in focus right at the start of the regular season against a very dangerous 49ers front.
Quarterback duel in Seattle remains open
Mitch Trubisky in Pittsburgh and Baker Mayfield in Carolina both appear to be the frontrunners, Marcus Mariota has already been declared the starter for the Falcons – the real open quarterback duel this preseason is in Seattle, and after the preseason opener, Keep should swing the pendulum roughly in the middle.
Geno Smith, probably a little ahead, started against the Steelers and had an up-and-down game. His best drive was the 2-minute drive before halftime, while Drew Lock, who played the entire second half, made a few better impressions against multiple backups, but also fumbled Seattle’s game-winning drive.
We all knew it wasn’t going to be a high level duel. So far, I don’t really understand why the Seahawks would want a lock as part of the Wilson trade; if they wanted more of the reliable, consistent game manager and ball distributor of the post-Wilson era, Lock would have been one of the last young quarterbacks in the league I would have bet on. Now it remains to be seen whether his upside or Smith’s comparatively higher consistency will prevail. That will remain an issue for the rest of the preseason.
It’s worth noting that while Seattle played most of the starting offensive line, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Freddie Swain, Dee Eskridge and Marquise Goodwin all had wide receivers who weren’t expected to play a role in the regular season, at least originally. was of the party.
Asleep or overreacting?
Week 1 of the preseason is also the perfect opportunity to get an idea of some of the young players who may have gotten a lot of hype in camp – and consider whether to continue the praise. Hype is always at your own risk, but here are a few candidates I had in mind before the preseason started that, at least for once, did nothing to curb my hype:
Romeo Doubs, WR, Packers: Has any player received more camp media attention than Romeo Doubs? I really doubt that, and to some extent it’s also a perfect situation for the Packers’ rookie receiver: Green Bay is a title contender, but after the departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the wide receiver corps, it has Totally reordering. it is that formative history around the team, and when a young player not only plays himself in the foreground, but stands out almost every day in camp, it naturally comes into focus all the more. In the preseason opener against San Francisco, he continued that with a 33-yard touchdown catch that showcased his downfield playmaker qualities. Doubs was already a staple of my camp recaps, and the days when you could get him as a late flyer in fantasy drafts may soon be over.
Greg Dortch, WR, Cardinals: There was no more training camp hype for a Cardinals player. It felt like every day Dortch was there with a spectacular catch, the former undrafted free agent spent last season on the Cardinals’ practice squad and now appears to have a real chance to not just make the ’53 roster, but a part in finding the offense. He also had against the Bengals again a catch worth watching, like a 55-yard punt return. That role could further cement a roster spot for him if Arizona moves Rondale Moore away from return duties in pursuit of a bigger offensive role.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Texas: Granted, I would have liked to see Pierce see snaps and move into a rotation with Marlon Mack as early as the first quarter. Mack got the start and Pierce didn’t enter until the second quarter, but even against the backups, the rookie showed his explosiveness, rushing for 49 yards on just five carries. I’ve been saying all this offseason that Pierce with his physical style could be the ideal back for what the Texans want to play offensively in my prediction. Saturday night was a taste of how much more he can bring to the offense compared to Mack, and I suspect Pierce will get the starting job along with receiving back Rex Burkhead later this season. If it happens early, Pierce is a Darkhorse offensive rookie of the year candidate for me.
George Pickens, WR, Steelers: Another player whose stock I bought during the offseason, and frankly before that, anyone who followed my pre-draft analysis will know that I outperformed the consensus on George Pickens, and by all reports having his training camp – no matter how much weight you want to put in there – confirms this for me. Of spectacular touchdown against the Seahawkswhere you saw all his body control think At least don’t ride the Hype train!
How secure is Antonio Gibson’s place?
Washington opened the game against the Panthers with the expected backfield pecking order: Antonio Gibson as the early down runner, JD McKissic as the receiving back on third downs. That alone puts clear limits on Gibson’s upside, but those limits could be much more severe.
Gibson fumbled on his second run, only to have two more runs later in the game, finishing the game with four attempts for two yards. Instead, rookie Brian Robinson took over the backfield on the Commanders’ next drive and immediately looked much better than Gibson.
Not only did Robinson finish the game with a rushing touchdown and 26 yards on six carries, he emphasized that he is ready if Gibson falters. And the fact that Gibson came back with backups afterward is certainly not a good sign either. Robinson is limited as a pass catcher, but that role goes to McKissic anyway on Washington’s offense. It’s very possible that the primary runner for the Commanders will soon no longer be named Antonio Gibson.
Still a lot of work for the Colts offense
“Bumpy” might be a pretty good description of what the Colts’ starting offense offered in Saturday night’s game against the Bills. All the more so because it was the second – and in parts then third – Bills Defense Guard that caused noticeable problems for Indianapolis’ offense.
Perhaps Colts coach Frank Reich gave his new quarterback Matt Ryan, who performed comparatively even better, and the starting offense — missing running back Jonathan Taylor — four drives in the first preseason game; on the one hand to work with the joint coordination, but on the other hand to remove a sense of accomplishment.
However, that did not happen. Receivers continued to struggle to create separation, and Ryan swallowed a sack. The Colts are next up against Detroit, and I highly expect the starting offense to get some more preseason snaps.