The Bills’ quarterback battle, a resilient Josh Rosen and—of course—some thoughts on the new helmet rule highlight Friday night’s five-game slate.
With Week 2 of the preseason underway, here are five thoughts off Friday night’s exhibitions.
1. Lots of talk about this Chiefs offense and sophomore quarterback Pat Mahomes (who had a much better second exhibition with his careless second-quarter interception leveling out his beautiful 69-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill), but if the Chiefs are going to win the AFC West for a third straight season this defense has to be better than what we’ve seen so far in the preseason. The Falcons had drives of 65, 69 and 75 yards to start Friday night, with two of those resulting in touchdowns and the other a turnover on downs in the red zone. Last week against the Texans, the Chiefs allowed Brandon Weeden to go 9-for-11 with two touchdowns in his first three drives. Sure, the Chiefs ended up winning the game 28-14, but what the mostly first-team defense has done against mostly first-team offenses in two exhibitions hasn’t been impressive.
2. In 2012, Marty Hurney drafted Josh Norman in the fifth round out of Coastal Carolina. A few months later, Hurney was out as general manager. Fast forward six years in his first draft as Panthers GM 2.0 and Hurney may have found his next Norman. Donte Jackson, the second-round corner out of LSU, has star potential for Carolina. Against the Dolphins, Jackson had two tackles in the first drive, including a third-down stop, and had overall great coverage in the first quarter against Miami’s first-team offense.
3. The Bills have done their best to feign a quarterback battle in Buffalo, but it’s clear that Josh Allen is the best of the three signal callers. The entire mood of the Bills’ offense changed once Allen replaced A.J. McCarron against the Browns, and Allen showed deft movement in the pocket on his touchdown pass at the goal line when he probably could have run the ball in but trusted his arm more. McCarron suffered a right shoulder injury during the game, and the Buffalo News reported it's a fractured collarbone. That narrows the competition to Allen and Nathan Peterman, and while Bills coach Sean McDermott may drag this competition on a few more weeks, but don’t be surprised when he finally announces Allen as the Week 1 starter around Labor Day.
4. Adversity is a serious word that gets thrown around far too much in sports. What we should say is on-field adversity, and rookie Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen overcame plenty of on-field adversity in his first series. He had his second pass of the game tipped at the line and he smartly batted the ball down. The next play, he took a deep drop, stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 14-yard pass on an in route to Chad Williams. Once a defensive pass interference call got the Cardinals inside the 10, left tackle D.J. Humphries jumped offside, Rosen then got away with an intentional grounding on the next play and then he got flagged for a delay of game. Finally, on third-and-goal from the 13, the Saints rushed four and dropped seven into coverage and Rosen hit rookie Christian Kirk at the goal line for the touchdown.
(As an aside: we all saw Rosen’s pre-draft video with Aaron Rodgers and heard how alike they are. I noticed two on-field mannerisms they share, as well. The way Rosen motioned to the referee that his arm was going forward on a fumble [that was really an incomplete pass] and how he dismissively spiked the ball on the delay of game looked just like No. 12 in Green Bay.)
5. Jarrad Davis came to play and was shot out of a cannon to start the game. The Lions forced the Giants into an opening three-and-out thanks to three tackles from the second-year first-round pick, including a huge tackle for loss when the Lions stacked the box on third-and-1.
6. Davis Webb looked really good after a very ‘meh’ game against the Browns last week. After the opening drive, Webb engineered a 17-play, 79-yard drive over 9 minutes that ended in a touchdown pass. Two series later he connected with Russell Shepard for 40 yards when he looked off the safety and tossed a perfect pass to Shepard with cornerback Jamal Agnew in great coverage.
7. This wouldn’t be a preseason post without some complaint about the new helmet rule. I ultimately think that, if legislated correctly, it will eventually be good and smart for the long-term health of not only players, but also the game itself. But Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich got flagged for lowering his helmet to initiate contact on an everyday linebacker blitz on third-and-5. The running back tried to pick him up, got blown up and the quarterback was sacked. But Herzlich got penalized for a play that every blitzing linebacker has done for years.