NFL Preseason Snap Judgments


Despite the fact that outcomes don’t matter, there’s a lot you can learn about preseason football.  We’re going to spend a few minutes shedding some light on what we saw during Thursday night’s two exhibition contests and what can actually carry over to the regular season.

Dolphins 17, Falcons 6

Quarterbacks- Ryan Tannehill showed some nice poise in the pocket and an ability to go through his progressions.  His arm talent shouldn’t be questioned and he has athleticism.

So why isn’t he mentioned among the best young QB’s in the game?  

For as many “wow” types of throws and plays Tannehill makes, there are plenty of head-scratching ones.  Would he be better with an elite wide receiver?  Sure, but he’s underachieving in terms of his actual talent level.

Matt Ryan may be broken, or maybe he never was as good as we thought early on in his career.  Ryan has one of the top receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones and he makes the former Boston College star look better than he actually is.  Ryan has a mediocre arm and it seems as if he lost a lot of confidence when wide receiver Roddy White began to decline.  At this point he’s no better than Alex Smith and probably not as good (certainly not as athletic).  He can captain a good team, but he won’t resurrect a bad one.

Other Observations:

Although the Atlanta secondary has some nice young talent, their pass rush is anemic and they will likely struggle on defense again, as they did for the second half of last season.  Vic Beasley might turn into a very good pass rusher, but with nobody opposite him he will face double-teams and his growth will be stunted.

Dolphins rookie offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil looks like a seasoned pro at the left guard position.  He can be a fixture there for the next decade unless Miami decides to kick him outside at tackle, where he’ll no doubt be able to adjust and become a solid football player.  Great pick at No. 13.

If Devante Parker can develop into a true No. 1 receiver, the Dolphins will have a nice set of pass catchers.  Jarvis Landry is a great No. 2 who can line up anywhere and Kenny Stills looks like a real deal deep threat.  Parker’s development would make it all fit together nicely.

Arian Foster looks like the best running back in the Miami stable, as he looked great in his first real action coming off of his Achilles surgery.  I’m not sure Foster is worth a particularly high fantasy pick, but as the weeks go on he will receive the bulk of the carries.

It’s good to see Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon back from injury.  The former Atlanta first-round pick missed all of 2014 and played sparingly last season in Arizona.  He’s back to where his professional career began and although he’s not quite as fast as he was, he’s a very instinctual linebacker who is a team leader.

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 17

Quarterbacks- Tony Romo left the game three plays in with a back injury, that’s being reported as “not serious.”  Isn’t this enough of a reason to shorten the preseason?  Soon, no teams are going to play their starting quarterbacks at all in the preseason and the bad deal for ticket buyers is only going to get worse.

Dak Prescott looked like a stud for the third straight game.  He looks like the steal of the draft as he’s entirely more poised than a young quarterback in his position should be.  Not so quietly, Dallas isn’t all that concerned about their backup quarterback position and they shouldn’t be.

Russell Wilson looks ready for the regular season to start.  He had an amazing “Wilson-esque” type of double spin back move where he hit Tyler Lockett for a touchdown.

Other Observations:

Christine Michael’s day might actually have arrived.  The Seahawks have waited patiently, and also not so patiently (they waived him) for Michael to live up to his second round draft billing and he finally looks the part.  With Michael and Thomas Rawls, and of the course the ultra-mobile Wilson, Seattle isn’t going to miss Marshawn Lynch nearly as much as some believe.

The Seahawks have professional wide receivers.  Let’s move past the obvious part of the statement and get to what it really means.  Sure, there’s no Julio Jones or Dez Bryant who can jump out of the gym, but the combination of Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse are plenty good enough to get the job done.  With a run-based offense, those guys can get open and occasionally sneak past safeties for big plays.

Frank Clark is going to be a key contributor for the Seattle defense.  Clark plays a different position than Bruce Irvin, who left in free agency, but he’s shown an ability to consistently get to the quarterback and having him and Michael Bennett on the field at the same time gives the team a lot of diversity where they can show many different defensive fronts.

Jimmy Graham is a luxury item.  The former Pro Bowl tight end was acquired from New Orleans for a first round pick and Max Unger and thus far the deal hasn’t worked out for the ‘Hawks.  What’s done is done, but the Seattle offense can be an explosive unit with or without him.  If they only end up using Graham as a red zone threat, he will add a nice dimension.

The Cowboys need a No. 2.  Dez Bryant is amazing, but there’s no real complement to him in the passing game now that tight end Jason Witten is aging.  Maybe Terrance Williams can finally step up and be that guy, but it’s not likely.



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.