- Thursday night was a strange night of meaningless football, starting with a game played on an 80-yard field and ending with Cam Newton in a walking boot and a game shortened for weather. Takeaways from the first six games of NFL preseason Week 3.
An oddly consequential night of preseason football, from Cam Newton’s foot injury against the Patriots to the complete botch job in Canada. Let’s get right into it…
Patriots 10, Panthers 3
• Tom Brady and Cam Newton both played the first quarter, and Brady into the second quarter. Brady went 8-of-12 for 75 yards (83.7 rating). Newton was 4-of-6 for 30 yards (78.5 rating), but was sacked twice and popped pretty good a third time.
Brady’s arm strength looked fine on a few intermediate to deep level throws he made, though he was visibly frustrated after what seemed to be some miscommunications with undrafted free agent rookie Jakobi Meyers (the broadcast team speculated Meyers was the reason for Brady’s passive-aggressive sideline helmet toss).
Newton, on the other hand, ended the night in a walking boot after looking completely unnatural throughout the night. Though initial x-rays came back negative, Newton was diagnosed with a sprain, and the team will know more about the injury on Friday (so stay tuned).
I would say that colleague Jonathan Jones, a long-time Panthers beat writer before coming to SI, echoed my thoughts on Twitter during the game. Also, there was this. And this. While the Panthers seemed to be running some seriously bland preseason looks, making Newton a sitting duck for New England’s edge rushers, Carolina fans probably don’t come out of that game feeling excellent.
• Patriots’ breakout rookie linebacker Chase Winovich got on the field for his first third down, which feels significant. New England may project ahead to some situational pass-rushing responsibilities for the hybrid linebacker/third-round pick out of Michigan. The Patriots are loaded at the position, but Winovich has had a great training camp.
• What a great open-field tackle by Donte Jackson, second-year Panthers cornerback out of LSU. The Patriots set up a screen to Phillip Dorsett with room to run, and Jackson upended one of the fastest receivers in the NFL.
• Boffo chance for rookie Brian Burns to get his hands on Brady early. His first game action appeared to be on the second series with New England backed into a first-and-28. Alas, he was battled back. Curious to see if he’ll get to rush from a few more advantageous spots during the regular season and not just straight up outside edge.
Packers 22, Raiders 21
• How on earth do you not anticipate problems when you unearth a CFL goal post to fit the dimensions of an NFL field? Ultimately the game was played on an 80-yard field featuring no kickoffs. This was just a ridiculous outing in general for the NFL; an understandable cash grab that resulted in a Nate Peterman-Tim Boyle showdown that isn’t bringing any new fans into the fold.
• Because there were no kickoffs, the fringe roster players—the only players for whom this game actually matters—cannot showcase one of the most realistic avenues they have to make the team. Also, Aaron Rodgers told reporters afterward that the field conditions were responsible for him sitting out.
• One thing that I did stay tuned for (a situation that, unfortunately, ended with Rashan Gary being carted off with a head/neck injury… he says he’s fine, by the way): Gary may need some time to develop a deeper rolodex of pass rushing moves, but he’s going to be the perfect fit in Mike Pettine’s defense. Gary is a load to stop off the edge and will probably shine more against the run this season. That being said, I’m kicking myself for overlooking just how natural he looks in this simulated pressure scheme. And he is athletic enough to make that quick sprint from the edge to the middle of a defense and play some zone.
Giants 25, Bengals 23
• I think that the narrative that Eli Manning is going to find some second life is wishful thinking; it’s also something people just seem to say this time of year, when in reality a little more speed on a football might just be the product of no pass rush, or by comparison, thanks to the fact that you aren’t dragging at the tail end of a 16-game season.
Manning’s first two throws—a low fastball to Cody Latimer and a dump off to Bennie Fowler, who was a sitting duck for a charging Preston Brown—were bad. He also had two great, high-velocity throws on the first drive for first downs. It’s possible that the Giants’ future is just more of the same with Manning. There’s going to be those muscle-memory throws that almost never go bad, and, he’s going to fire a wormburner at the knees of a speedy, open receiver with room to run.
• This bleeds into my next point: I don’t think the team is in position to start Daniel Jones now, even if he’s appeared better against inferior competition. Had the Giants kept Odell Beckham Jr. and there were going to be scenarios where the Giants had some open wideouts deep with some regularity, maybe you pick the guy with the more accurate deep ball. But, throughout the preseason, Manning has at least shown a maintained functionality on the types of mid-range throws that will probably remain the lifeblood of the offense.
• Daniel Jones went 9-of-11 for 141 yards (118.8 rating). He was sacked once and forced into some contested throws. He got the third series through the half, and, like his first two appearances, was solid. He got some extended time with the Giants’ starting offensive line, even if that wasn’t necessarily a good thing (Carl Lawson buzzed past Nate Solder and wrecked Jones from the blind side).
• More Giants offensive line woes: Three penalties on Will Hernandez, including on a fourth-down attempt in Bengals territory. Though, if you have to get beat by someone in the preseason, Geno Atkins isn’t the worst person.
• C.J. Uzomah might end up having the best post-Zac Taylor life in this Bengals offense, especially if that five-to-10-yard screen game develops as a tool to get Andy Dalton some confidence throws early in drives.
Redskins 19, Falcons 7
• Matt Ryan (9-of-14, 74 yards, 77.7 QB rating) completed each of his first six passes to six different wide receivers.
• Cheeky moment on the first drive with Dan Quinn faking a punt to extend the first-team offense’s time on the field. He also tried to go for it again later in the drive, but a false start forced his hand to kick a field goal.
• Hello, Derrius Guice (11 carries, 44 yards). The former second-round pick, who is seeing his first action since a 2018 preseason ACL tear, got the start and looked good. The faint Marshawn Lynch resemblance was alive, thanks to a stiff arm and a hard shoulder on Washington’s opening drive. I was surprised at how heavy the workload was, especially with an incomplete offensive line up front.
• Two straight Falcons muffed punts in the second half (Olamide Zaccheaus and Marcus Green).
• Dwayne Haskins (7-of-13, 74 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) and Case Keenum (9-of-14, 101 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) split by half, with Keenum getting the first 30 minutes. Haskins didn’t get to showcase as much as he did in the second preseason game. It feels like he’s locked in as the team’s No. 2 (or 3 when Colt McCoy is back). While Haskins did throw two straight incompletions from the five-yard line, only one was a hair overthrown. The other was tossed out of the back of the end zone due to what looked to be solid coverage.
Dolphins 22, Jaguars 7
• Probably safe to say Ryan Fitzpatrick has won the starting QB gig. He finished 12-of-18 for 126 yards and a touchdown (105.3 rating), and Rosen finished the game upon his exit, going 5-of-7 for 59 yards. While you could argue that playing Rosen this season to evaluate him before a presumably high draft pick comes available atop the 2020 slate, you also want to set the tempo as a new head coach. Fitzpatrick vacillates wildly, but he can win.
• Nick Foles’s first action of the preseason results in completing 6-of-10 for 48 yards, one touchdown and one interception (65.8 QB rating). Have always been concerned about the lack of weapons here, and Leonard Fournette (seven carries for 27 yards) wasn’t quite lighting the world on fire to supplement his new quarterback. Foles made it to the first play of the second quarter, which was his lone interception—a forced pass left short and inside, enough for a defensive back to come up and make a play.
• Another good night for Josh Allen, who looked quick squeezing between a downblocking tight end and tackle to bust Kallen Ballage for a loss of five. It was good to see him in a fuller context of the Jaguars defense, which should allow him to attack first, while getting his legs underneath him later.
• Going to double down and say the Dolphins may end up having a top-15 defense this year. And while those numbers might get skewed due to a lack of complementary offense, they have been fun to watch this offseason and they’re making big plays.
Baltimore 26, Philadelphia 15
• A lightning-canceled game between starters Cody Kessler and Trace McSorley... McSorley did not look bad, throwing 19-of-28 for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for six yards and another touchdown. Josh McCown did get some time for the Eagles as well.
• Eagles RB distribution: Corey Clement (seven carries, 25 yards) and Josh Adams (seven carries, 18 yards).
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Making sense of the cocaine charge on Patriots safety Patrick Chung. … An NFL team should just smarten up and hire Carli Lloyd already. … Welcome to Cleveland, where Browns hype is real this time.
1. About that turf in Winnipeg…
2. A major heel turn from the Giants, who have all of a sudden puffed their chests out on Daniel Jones.
3. While the Patriots were spectators for the biggest injury of the night, they didn’t escape without some of their own getting nicked up.
5. All of the Beatles’ seediest songs played backwards.
Alright NFL season, show me what you can do.
Question or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.