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NFL AM: Big Plays by Leonard Williams, Jeremy Maclin Fuel Friday’s Winners

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Williams, Turnovers Fuel Jets’ Rally

Todd Bowles experienced his first win as head coach of the Jets on Friday, although it came in an ugly, meaningless game. In other words, a typical Jets victory.

Ryan Fitzpatrick got his first extended playing time of the preseason and led the Jets to just one touchdown in six possessions — even that came against Atlanta’s backups. He finished 13-of-19 for 118 yards and a pedestrian passer rating of 85.0.

The Jets were able to rally from an early 14-0 hole thanks mostly to their defense — a trend that’s likely to reappear during the regular season. First-round pick Leonard Williams got New York on the board with a safety in the second quarter as part of his two-sack, three-TFL outing. Rontez Miles capped off a 30-0 Jets run by returning a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter.

“Sacks feel the best, but tackles for loss definitely feel great, too,” Williams said after the game.

The Falcons can hardly be disappointed with their showing after jumping out to a 14-0 lead before the starters called it a night. Terron Ward ran for a 4-yard touchdown on Atlanta’s opening drive and Leonard Hankerson caught a touchdown pass from 2 yards out one possession later. Hankerson’s score was set up by a 59-yard punt return by Devin Hester, who brought the ball all the way back to the New York 4-yard line.

Once Atlanta’s starters took a seat, the game got sloppy and the Jets took full advantage. The Falcons turned the ball over three times, including a T.J. Yates pass that was picked off on a brilliant play by Jets LB Jamari Lattimore.

“The real story of the game came down to minus-3,” head coach Dan Quinn said afterward, referring to the turnovers. “That’s a hard way to go, no takeaways on defense and three turnovers offensively, that’s a hard way to go about it.”

The Falcons have started fast in both of their preseason games. They will try to prolong that success in their third preseason game next week, when the starters are expected to play into the second half. The Falcons will be on the road again as they travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins.

Up next for the Jets is the one meaningless game that actually means something in New York — the annual preseason clash between the Giants and Jets. The Jets will likely be shorthanded in the battle for the Big Apple, as Jeremy Kerley, Daryl Richardson and Durell Eskridge all suffered concussions against the Falcons.

Maclin, Chiefs Hold Off Seahawks

Jeremy Maclin did something no Chiefs receiver did all of last season — caught a touchdown pass — and Kansas City held on for a 14-13 home win over the Seahawks on Friday.

This was another ugly game — most preseason games are — marred by poor offensive line play and inconsistent offenses. The offensive line woes were glaring on both sides, as the Chiefs played without Eric Fisher (high ankle sprain) and Jeff Allen (MCL sprain) and the Seahawks played with three new starters from their preseason opener last week.

The Chiefs finished with two sacks and two QB hits while holding Russell Wilson to just 9-of-15 passing for 78 yards.

“We’ve got some stuff to clean up,” said head coach Pete Carroll.

Wilson was not the only quarterback to struggle. Alex Smith went 11-of-18 for 81 yards and threw an interception that was picked off by Bobby Wagner and returned 25 yards for a touchdown. In fact, for the second consecutive week Smith was outdone by his backup, Chase Daniel, who hit 8-of-12 passes for 82 yards and a score.

The good news for both teams is their prized offseason’s acquisitions made their presences felt. Maclin caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Smith early in the second quarter to put the Chiefs on the board. On the subsequent Seattle possession, Jimmy Graham caught three balls for 39 yards.

“I was pleased with the intensity of the running and the hitting across the board,” Carroll said. “A ton of good things happened. I can’t wait to see the films.”

Redskins Trade for Carrier

The Redskins had to add another tight end after losing Niles Paul (ankle) and Logan Paulsen (toe) to season-ending injuries over the last two weeks. GM Scot McCloughan made his move on Friday, sending a 2016 fifth-round pick to the 49ers in exchange for Derek Carrier.

The third-year tight end caught nine passes for 105 yards last season but is viewed as an ascending talent. The Bears and Saints were also interested in trading for Carrier before the Redskins swooped in and closed the deal, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

One of the things that made Carrier so desirable is his team-friendly deal. He is under contract for the next three seasons with annual salaries under $1 million, which gives the Redskins time to develop him further.

The Beloit product has also spent time with the Raiders and Eagles.

It helps that Carrier is an experienced contributor on special teams. He figures to be heavily involved in the kicking game in Washington, especially after the Redskins lost Adam Heyward to an ACL injury in the preseason opener against Detroit.

Carrier figures to back up starter Jordan Reed, a talented pass catcher who has missed 12 games due to injury over the last two seasons. Carrier is more of a two-way player and should carve out a significant role in Jay Gruden’s offense.

This is the second time this week the tight end-rich 49ers have traded away a player at the position. On Wednesday, they shipped Asante Cleveland to New England in exchange for OL Jordan Devey. The Patriots tend to view tight ends like Aaron Hernandez views pieces of evidence — they are only there to be moved.

Want to talk more about these and other headlines? Join Michael Lombardo for his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … you can ask your question now


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.