NFL

More NFL Preseason Week 1 Observations

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Now that we have (mostly) real football games to watch, we can begin to make some observations about what we’re seeing.  Of course outcomes mean virtually nothing and you must watch how the guys play to try and spot trends.

Here are some things that stood out through the first two nights of preseason action.

The Jaguars offense could be really dynamic

Although it didn’t show in the win column last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars offense took some giant leaps forward in 2015.  They appear to have picked up where they left off as the starters moved the ball at will against a pretty good New York Jets defense.

“Looking back at it, I was very pleased with how we started fast,” Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said. The offense came out, I think Blake (Bortles) was six-for-seven, one-for-two on third down. Good execution. I thought our tempo was really good. The running game, getting that established. Allen Robinson making some plays. Good job up front. So, pleased with how the first group came in and executed offensively.”

Allen Robinson has all the traits of a true No. 1 receiver and he’s just one of many targets Bortles has to throw to, including Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas and Marqise Lee.  The backfield is twice as potent as Chris Ivory was added to team up with T.J. Yeldon.

After one preseason game, nobody should be saying anything about the Super Bowl, or even the playoffs for that matter, but the Jaguars will light up the scoreboard as long as Blake Bortles stays healthy.

Bucs struggle at quarterback

Many have pegged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a potential break out team in 2016.  Perhaps the brakes should be somewhat pumped.

Tampa Bay lost their last four games of the 2015 season and although they drafted to improve a mediocre defense, they may have issues on the other side of the ball.

Quarterback Jameis Winston wasn’t as good as the numbers showed in the preseason opener and the team turned the ball over five times.

“Before you start winning games, you’ve got to stop losing them,” new Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter explained. “And in two of the three phases last night we beat ourselves. And that’s taking nothing away from Philly, they did what they did, I’m coaching this team not that team. Defensively, [we] played good enough to win. [The] other two phases, we beat ourselves. It starts off with turnovers – five turnovers, four on offense, one on special teams – and penalties and lack of execution, lack of precision and detail more than anything else on offense.”

Backup Mike Glennon was an absolute mess, completing just 50 percent of his throws against Philadelphia backups, with an interception.  Perhaps Tampa should’ve sold high on him in the offseason?

Controversial second-round pick Roberto Aguayo even missed his first extra point attempt.  Aguayo is in a difficult position as it’s almost impossible for a second round kicker to ever live up to his draft selection, if he’s anything short of perfect.

“Again, take it for what it’s worth but we knew there was going to be a huge outcry whenever he missed his first kick, so he actually missed that on purpose so we could just get it over with,” Koetter joked.

“I think this guy’s a tough-minded guy. I think he’s showed up well in practice every day, that’s what you go by. I think all of our rookies, it was first time playing an NFL game, it was an NFL stadium. He’s played in big games, in big stadiums before, I don’t know if he was nervous or not. He missed it, and I didn’t think he kicked off particularly well either. It was a little windier on the field than maybe it appeared, but I’m still glad he’s our kicker.”

Broncos have a legitimate QB competition

It’s difficult to put too much stock into reports of Denver Broncos journeyman Trevor Siemian competing for the starting quarterback job.  The former Northwestern alum was selected with the 250th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and he’s competing with Mark Sanchez, a veteran former first round pick, as well as 2016 first rounder Paxton Lynch.

Although Siemian played just over a quarter, it was easy to see what many liked about him.  His 7 for 12, 88 yard statline won’t jump out at anyone, Siemian displayed really good arm strength and a nice delivery.  He looked composed in a spot where many young quarterbacks don’t, and although he’s still a long-shot to win the job, he has impressive qualities.

“Just kind of do what I’ve been doing, stay within myself, and the plays will come,” Siemian said after the game. “I’m on a pretty good team. Whoever’s pulling the trigger back there, guys are going step up and make plays.”

As impressive as Siemian was, veteran Mark Sanchez didn’t do anything to lose the job.  The former USC Trojan was able to move the team down the field and completed 10 of 13 throws, for 99 yards with a touchdown and a tipped ball interception.  The touchdown toss was especially impressive as Sanchez stood in the pocket with a defender hitting him and delivered a strike to a wide open Demaryius Thomas.

“Just keep improving. Keep improving and having fun out there. Don’t overthink it. We’re having a great time, we’ve got a great squad and it’s a great opportunity. I’m just going to keep maximizing every opportunity I get, like I did tonight,” Sanchez said of his performance.

Even rookie Paxton Lynch was impressive in his mop-up duty.  Lynch completed six of his seven throws against the Bears third-string.

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.