Posted on August 17, 2018, by Travis Pulver
There is a beauty to the NFL Preseason. It is hard to see sometimes, but it is there. The players we get to watch may not always be the best. The coaches may not be too concerned about winning or developing game plans. But the game that fans see on the field is real. It’s basic. It is all about the fundamentals; no tricks.
The winning team is not going to be the one who calls the best plays or has the best athletes. It’s going to be the team that plays better football than the other.
Friday night saw eight teams take the field. The Kansas City Chiefs took on the Atlanta Falcons; the New York Giants took on the Detroit Lions. The Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills faced off, the Arizona Cardinals played the New Orleans Saints, and the Miami Dolphins took on the Carolina Panthers. Each game had its moments; some good and some not so good.
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The following are just a handful of observations from Friday night’s slate of NFL preseason action:
Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons
- Atlanta’s offense played much, much better this week. Last week, it was horrible, but a lot of guys didn’t play. Matt Ryan was sharp as ever in limited action completing five of seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown (a great catch by tight end Austin Hooper). Tevin Coleman had a good night running the ball, too (five carries for 35 yards).
- Calvin Ridley looked like a guy that deserved to be taken in the first round with three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown (a seven-yard pass from Matt Schaub).
- Fans that got a little nervous after last week’s lackluster performance by Patrick Mahomes had to like what they saw (8-12 for 138 yards, one touchdown, and one interception).
- His touchdown was an absolute thing of beauty, a 69-yard pass to Tyreek Hill. It showed just how strong an arm Mahomes has. But the play wouldn’t have been possible if Hill wasn’t as fast as he is.
- For those that like to keep score, the Chiefs won 28-14.
New York Giants at the Detroit Lions
- Davis Webb looked a lot better than he did last week (14-20 for 140 yards and a touchdown). It helped that he got reps with the first team since Eli Manning took the night off. But it didn’t help too much because the offensive line looked terrible.
“I just wanted to hit the reset button on everything that happened last week,” Webb said after the game.
- Don’t be shocked if Ameer Abdullah gets cut. He’s not getting many carries and not doing much with the carries he gets. He’s trying to be more useful to the team by taking kickoffs but that means little since he muffed one. Then again, no one else was impressive coming out of the Lions backfield.
- You have to love a second-year kicker like Aldrick Rosas that knocks a 55-yard field goal through the uprights.
- For those that keep score, the Giants won 30-17.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
- Buffalo’s quarterback race is now down to two guys with J. McCarron going down with an injury (hairline fracture in his collarbone). Everyone raves about Josh Allen and his arm strength, but he completed nine of 14 passes for just 60 yards and a touchdown. Nathan Peterman did a little better (8-10 for 13 yards and a touchdown).
- Cleveland’s QB ‘battle’ didn’t see any movement. Neither Baker Mayfield (7-13 for 75 yards) or Tyrod Taylor (4-7 for 22 yards) looked overly impressive. But neither looked bad. They just didn’t create much. On the plus side, they didn’t make anything worse, but they certainly didn’t make anything better.
- Either Buffalo’s run defense is garbage or the Browns have a great run game. Carlos Hyde made his debut and had nine carries for 64 yards and a touchdown. Nick Chubb had a much better day (11 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown). Duke Johnson didn’t look bad either (four carries for 27 yards).
- For those that keep score, Buffalo won 19-17.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
- Sam Bradford (6-6 for 61 yards) is going to start at QB for the Cardinals until he gets hurt. He is simply playing too well not to start over a rookie.
- Yes, even though the rookie, Josh Rosen (10-16 for 107 yards and a touchdown), is playing well also. What you don’t see in the stats are the smart plays he made like batting down a ball that had been deflected up. He’ll do fine once he gets in the game. But he is going to have to wait for the inevitable Sam Bradford injury.
- New Orleans needs to give JT Barrett (3-5 for 45 yards; two runs for 13 yards and a touchdown) some more game time. As much as they may like Taysom Hill, he looked awful (11-15 for 68 yards and two interceptions; 43 yards rushing). Tom Savage wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t good either (6-7 for 53 yards; sacked three times).
- For those who keep score, the Cardinals won 20-15.
Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers
- The Carolina Panthers better get Christian McCaffrey more involved this season. There is a reason why he did everything in college—because he can break a play wide open at any given moment. He showed that Friday night when he broke a simple run play open for a 71-yard touchdown run.
- You never want to lose a guy like Ndamukong Suh from your lineup, but the Dolphins defensive front doesn’t appear to miss him so far. Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake are going to be a lot of fun to watch this year.
- Miami’s offense didn’t look bad despite missing its top two receivers, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. Ryan Tannehill didn’t miss much (14-17 for 100 yards) but his throws were about as safe as you can get.
- Greg Olsen is Cam Newton’s buddy but don’t sleep on rookie tight end Ian Thomas. When you have a 6’3” 260 lb. guy with speed that can catch (two receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown; the touchdown came on a beauty of a 27-yard play), you get him the ball.
- For those that keep score, the Panthers won 27-20.