5 observations of Week 1 NFL preseason.
Now I know preseason doesn’t count for the most part but I’m not going to criticize on the performances of players but instead observe/emphasize on how well/bad they did. Please bare with me if I do observe something in some starters because starters only play from 1-3 series depending on the coaching staff. The observations are not in any particular order.
1. EJ Manuel two minute drive against the Colts 2nd/3rd team defense and his overall perfomance: Now I know what people will say is that I’m taking credit away from Manuel. But I’m not. I actually liked how Manuel took control of the no huddle/two minute offense. When the Bills offense go the ball back and there were about two minutes left in the first half I actually thought that they would be stopped from scoring any points. Boy I was wrong. Manuel short passes got the edge of the Colts 2nd/3rd team defense and when Manuel decided to throw it deep it resulted in a 17 yard TD. However I will have to say that the majority of Manuel’s plays were short passes. According to usatoday.com, three of Manuel’s 16 completions were 9 yards+ which showed that the Bills offensive play calling was more conservative. However to fully give a good observation of Manuel I need to see more deep passes to see how strong his arm really is. Overall it was a strong performance by EJ Manuel and it is worth noting that Manuel increased his chances of becoming a starter with his week 1 preseason start. Note: When the first string defense was on the field, EJ Manuel didn’t score any points.
2. Manti Teo (remember him) invisible in his NFL debut: Manti Te’o went to the field with the Chargers first team defense as the right inside linebacker. Te’o didn’t record a sack or any batted passes but did show the aggressiveness to go to the ball even though the only time that he had a chance to get the Seahawks 2nd string RB Te’o was well defended by the fullback. I can’t really say much about Te’o performance because he only played in 9 snaps. Overall people are going to continue to observe his play throughout the preseason and going into the regular season. This player will be the player to watch if you are a Chargers fan.
3. Rebound drive from Jets QB Mark Sanchez: Mark Sanchez really couldn’t afford a bad first series to start his 2013 NFL season. Well that’s what he actually did. On his fourth play of the game, Mark Sanchez threw a screen pass only to be intercepted and returned for a TD by Lions rookie DE Ziggy Ansah. However what’s impressive is how Sanchez rebounded to score a TD and it seemed that Sanchez rebounded pretty well by completing 10 passes out of 13 total passes. Also a good thing was that Mark Sanchez was not sacked so it shows that the O-line for the Jets have improved.
4. Cowboys defense seemed improved in their first two preseason games: Cowboys defense in 2012 was pretty bad. Alone with just turnovers, the Cowboys defense was in the bottom in turnovers which didn’t help them at all. During their first two preseason games the Cowboys defense have not allowed a TD in the first half, according to bleacherreport.com. The cowboys even forced three turnovers (2 INT and 1 FF) and they have more turnovers than 24 NFL teams in the preseason. It’s worth noting that the Cowboys have played in 2 games while the other 30 teams have only played in one game. Overall the Cowboys defense seem to take a different approach to the game and seem to be better than their 2012 defense.
5. Three rookie WRs impressive debut: If I had to choose three rookie WRs that were impressive I had to choose the following: Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Bills WR Marquise Goodwin and Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins.
- Let’s start with Cordarrelle Patterson. Vikings chose Patterson to ultimately fill the void that was left with the Percy Harvin trade. Patterson didn’t disappoint when he exploded with a 50 yard return in the opening kickoff. Patterson showed that he can fill the void in special teams. Patterson also grabed 5 catches for 54 yards and which one of his catches went for 20+ yards.
- Marquise Goodwin was more explosive in special teams than Patterson. Goodwin recorded a 53 yard return and a 107 TD return against the Colts. Goodwin can seriously add another demension for a Buffalo Bills special teams that ranked 4th in kickoff return average last season. Overall opposing kickoff coverage units must be afraid when going against the Buffalo Bills kickoff return unit.
- DeAndre Hopkins didn’t get the most yards by a WR but he did show everyone that he was worth the first round pick by catching a 34 yard TD even though he was well covered. If Hopkins can play in the level that he showed against the Vikings then he could be a real asset for Andre Johnson who was targeted 58.1 percent of all pass attempts to WR which was the highest rate last season.
- Overall all three WRs showed that they can perform well and help their team score points and gain yards. Wouldn’t be surprised if all three of them have productive seasons.
Sources: USAToday.com, SBNATION.com, utsandiego.com, CBSSports.com, huffingtonpost.com, bleacherreport.com, foxnews.com