NFL preseason Week 1 winners and losers: Rookie quarterbacks impress, Deshaun Watson struggles to make Browns debut

Week 1 of the NFL preseason had no shortage of storylines. Over the weekend, every team in the league was able to open their exhibition season and take a look at the roster in live play scenarios. Naturally, this change in action will give clubs a fresh perspective of their squad as they look to whittle down their roster to 53 men by the time Week 1 rolls around in September, when we got to see some of the players most anticipated hitting the field for the first time.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the good and bad moments from the weekend with our winners and losers from the first official week of pre-season.

Winner: Rookie Quarterbacks

It was a fantastic first for rookie quarterbacks all around the. At every turn, there was a young caller making a name for himself, either applying for a Week 1 starter request or opening his eyes to his organization possibly being the QB1 of the future.

The first quarterback to show up was Titans third-round pick Malik Williswho showed flashes of his ability to play against the crows. He completed six of 11 passes for 107 yards while rushing for 38 yards and a touchdown. Sure, Ryan Tannehill is solidified as a Week 1 starter, but if his struggles from 2021 carry over into 2022, it won’t be long before people are clamoring for Willis, especially if he continues to flourish.

Next up was the former Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Cavalierwho played the majority of the shots after Marcus Mariota relented after the opening set. He showed his ability to move the ball through the air and with his feet, passing for 103 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for a game-high 59 yards on six attempts. Ridder also showed clutch gene, completing a 21-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-9 attempt with 1:30 remaining in the game to help lead Atlanta to victory.

Choice of the day 3 Sam Howell has shown its potential to be a future option for the Commanders as he nearly led Washington to a comeback victory over the Panthers. After Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke got some work, Howell came in and threw for more yards (145) than the two combined. He also showed off his rushing ability that was on display during his days at UNC, rushing for two scores.

While all of those quarterbacks will likely be on the bench when the season begins, the first-round pick Kenny Pickett made a strong case for being Pittsburgh’s Week 1 starter. He came on to start the second half and completed all five of his assists in his first series while leading the Steelers on a touchdown drive. After the defense found a backpack in the final minutes of the game, Pickett threw the game-winning touchdown with just three seconds left.

You really can’t ask for much more from these freshman quarterbacks.

For the first time in 19 months, Deshaun Watson starred in a NFL game and he didn’t look exactly like the $230 million quarterback the Browns traded for. After publicly apologize for his off-court actions against CBS Sports’ Aditi Kinkhabwala, Watson took to the court and had some noticeable rust, completing just 1 of 5 passes for seven yards.

While the scrutiny of Watson’s acquisition given his baggage was inevitable, the rationale — in Cleveland’s eyes — was the talent upgrade the player brings to the table. So far, they haven’t seen that yet and maybe not for quite a while as the NFL pushes for a one-year ban in its appeal.

We all know Jalen Hurts is a threat with his legs, but there are still questions about his passing ability. Well, in Philadelphia’s preseason opener, he showed he might be taking a big step forward in that aspect of his game in 2022. In his only streak of the night against New York, Hurts was dynamite as a passer, completing his six throws. for 80 yards and a tight end touchdown Dallas Goedert. Hurts was the catalyst for the first seven-game, 80-yard drive that took just 3:47 to get into the end zone.

If he continues to look like that as a passer, Philadelphia will be a legitimate threat in the NFC.

Losing: Bear O-line

One of the biggest concerns with the Chicago Bears is the offensive line’s ability to keep the second-year quarterback. Justin Fields right. In the pre-season opener against the Chiefs, the group that took the start did little to allay those concerns. Early in the game, Chicago’s O line seemed to let the Chiefs’ defensemen worm their way into the backfield and disrupt plays a bit. Fields was also sacked twice and the offense went on his three shots to open the game in part because of that poor play up front.

Of course, you have to point out that Riley Reiff and LucasPatrick didn’t play in that game, so there’s room for this group to improve between that game and when snaps actually count for real in the regular season. When given time (and even sometimes when he didn’t), Fields showed an ability to make stunning plays, including some impressive scrambles and a nice touch on a few pitches for Darnell Mooney and Tajae Sharpe.

While he may make these plays on occasion, if he continues to be beleaguered every time he takes the shot, it will significantly impair his development.

Winner: Doug Pederson

Urban Meyer’s move to Doug Pederson will go down as one of the biggest additions of the past offseason. Already, the jaguars look like a better run organization with a capable head coach on the sidelines and, more importantly, Trevor Lawrence seems to be back on track. While most of the starters didn’t play in the Hall of Fame game, Jacksonville deployed them in their game against Cleveland. Lawrence played the first three series and led the offense in scoring in each of them while completing 6 of 12 throws for 95 yards and a touchdown.

He looked more like the quarterback we saw at Clemson, which is a terrific sign for Jacksonville’s future prospects and it’s a credit to Pederson – who is 20-1 to win. Caesars Sportsbook Coach of the Year – being able to right the boat.

Kenny Golladay has yet to fulfill the $72 million contract he signed with the giants last offseason and he didn’t start his pre-season on a high either. In the first exhibition of the summer in New York against the patriots, Golladay was only able to bring back one of his three targets on the night and seemed to be really struggling to create separation. Either that or I was running halfheartedly over this shot of Daniel Jones.

Golladay also had a fall on a third attempt inside the red zone, which may have given New York a first down and a chance for a touchdown.

Winner: the Lions first team attack

The Hard Knock stars came out of the gate strong in the first game of the pre-season against the Falcons and looked like a well-oiled machine on offense. Jared Goff and the starters only played the opening series and they made quick work of the Atlanta defense, moving 79 yards up the field and into the end zone.

Goff was 3 of 4 passing for 47 yards with his long incompleteness on a running back drop jamal williams. Second year expanded Amon-Ra St. Brown picked up where he left off last season, catching his two targets from Goff for 29 yards, while running back By Andre Swift rushed for 20 yards on four carries, including a nine-yard touchdown run.

Losing: Foals first team attack

The Indianapolis Colts are considered favorites to win the AFC South and a possible sleeper to exit the conference. While it’s admittedly very early, Indy’s starters didn’t look too hot against Buffalo’s second and third team defense. matt ryan started with his new club and played the first four series of the match. During that streak, the Colts only managed three runs and struggled to convert two fourth and four straight attempts.

As the star returns Jonathan Taylor wasn’t in the backfield, it’s not like By Miller and other star Buffalo defenses weren’t there either, so those absences may cancel each other out. Again, it’s early days, the Colts are working with another new quarterback, and there’s plenty of time between now and Week 1. Still, that wasn’t the best first impression.

I know we still call it a competition, but all signs point to Baker Mayfield being the guy under center in Week 1 for the Carolina Panthers. The former Browns QB got the nod to start the preseason on Saturday and played well in his debut, going 4 of 7 for 45 yards while leading Carolina to a field goal on its only streak of the day.

Its main competition, Sam Darnoldthrew a touchdown in his only practice of the day, but it looks like Mayfield has a noticeable lead in this QB battle, even if head coach Matt Rhule won’t make any definitive proclamations at this stage of the pre- season.

It was by no means a good weekend for Zach Wilson. The Jets The sophomore quarterback suffered a bone bruise and torn meniscus in New York’s preseason opener and is should now be missing two to four weeks. Wilson rushed to the right and appeared to be trying to work his way up the field and fell awkwardly to a non-contact injury. Although he’s undergoing surgery to fix the problem, Wilson’s ligaments in that right knee are said to be in good shape.

Before the injury, Wilson’s game also left a lot to be desired. He was 3 of 5 assists but had a poor interception for Eagles linebacker white kyzir in the middle of the field.

In his absence, veteran Joe Flacco will probably be the starter for New York.

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