What we learned from Thursday’s preseason games
Week 2 of the 2019 preseason got underway on Thursday night with standout evenings from Sam Darnold, Ryan Finley and Mike Glennon and a major setback for Kyler Murray. Here’s what we learned from Thursday evening’s quintet of contests:
1. With Nick Foles watching on the opposite sideline, Philadelphia’s QB depth took yet another hit on Thursday night — a blindside hit, to be specific. Cody Kessler started for the Eagles with Carson Wentz suited up but sidelined and Nate Sudfeld nursing a broken wrist. But Kessler exited on Philly’s first drive with a concussion — the result of a blitzing Datone Jones running untouched past rookie left tackle Andre Dillard and into Kessler’s spleen — forcing fourth-string rookie Clayton Thorson into the thick for the game’s duration. Given Wentz’s injury history, the Eagles arguably did not do enough this offseason to bolster the backup QB position. The events of the last two weeks have bolstered that argument.
2. For the second straight week, Doug Marrone opted to sit any Jaguars player of substance short of Keelan Cole and rookie edge rusher Josh Allen. What to glean? Gardner Minshew looked more comfortable in his second start for Foles, leading a nice two-minute drill at the end of the first half with passes to roster bubble boys C.J. Board, Thomas Rawls and Michael Walker to set up Jacksonville’s first three points of the preseason. Two weeks in and we have no clue what the 2019 Jaguars will look like, just how team czar Tom Coughlin likely prefers it.
— Jeremy Bergman
3. Atlanta invested in the offensive line this offseason but the offensive live was not invested in protecting Matt Ryan on Thursday night. Ryan played four drives with the first-ish-team line and, while he was efficient in completing 10 of 14 passes, the Falcons starting quarterback also took three sacks and eight QB hits. Ty Sambrailo, the starting right tackle with Kaleb McGary out, was oft victimized. When he wasn’t getting smacked around deep into the second quarter, Ryan was seeing his second-string pass-catchers (Brian Hill, Justin Hardy) drop easy TD passes in the end zone.
4. Another solid night for Sam Darnold. Even without Le’Veon Bell and most of his offensive line in the starting lineup, Darnold (5/7, 46 yards) looked ready for Week 1 in Adam Gase’s system. More concerning than the quarterback position is the cornerback position, where Arthur Maulet, Darryl Roberts and Parry Nickerson struggled against Atlanta’s receivers in space. Even before injuries to Trumaine Johnson and Kyron Brown, cornerback was a position of need for New York. That’s even more the case after the rest played poorly on Thursday night.
— Jeremy Bergman
5. Ravens running back Mark Ingram, who signed with the club in March, made his Baltimore debut Thursday night against the Packers. Ingram toted the ball four times for 18 yards early in the first quarter. The Ravens‘ other big offseason acquisition, safety Earl Thomas, also made his first appearance, giving fans a glimpse at the Thomas-Tony Jefferson pairing that is sure to excite this season. Speaking of exciting, fullback Patrick Ricard recovered a Tim Boyle fumble while logging time as a defensive lineman in the third quarter.
6. Aaron Rodgers was slated to make his preseason debut against the Ravens, but the signal-caller sat out due to back tightness. So we shall wait another week to see Rodgers get some preseason action. The Packers‘ offense failed to get off the ground with DeShone Kizer, who went 5 of 10 for 70 yards. The Packers‘ defense was equally as unimpressive and failed to contain the potent mix of Lamar Jackson and Co. early in the contest.
— Andie Hagemann
7. Redskins coach Jay Gruden lost his first challenge call of the preseason. Case Keenum connected with wide receiver Steve Sims Jr. on a deep pass down the left side. Sims was pushed out of bounds on the 1-yard line and the referees called offensive pass interference. The call was ultimately upheld.
Dwayne Haskins entered the game midway through the second quarter, and logged his first touchdown of preseason play with a 55-yard pass under pressure to wide receiver Robert Davis. Haskins’ outing was impressive but not error free, as he fumbled the ball once.
8. Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley had a great night against the Redskins, throwing for 150 yards and two touchdowns and completing 20 of 26 passes. Finley’s play helped ignite the Bengals‘ offense after the team stalled during its first few series in the first quarter. After Joe Mixon‘s night was over (one carry), running back Jordan Ellis took over the workload, toting the ball 15 times for 52 yards. Quinton Flowers, Trayveon Williams and Giovani Bernard also logged carries. Receiver Alex Erickson returned a 75-yard punt in the fourth putting the capper on the contest.
— Andie Hagemann
9. Growing pains in paradise. Kyler Murray‘s second preseason game was not nearly as efficient as his first. In four drives, Murray’s Cardinals gained just 12 yards, failed to pick up a first down without help from penalties and punted thrice. Murray showed his inexperience by taking a sack (one of two) deep in Arizona’s territory for a safety on his final series. Making matters worse, Arizona was flag-happy, committing six offensive penalties on Murray’s drives, three of them pre-snap.
“Obviously, from the outside looking in, it looks a little disappointing, Murray told ESPN’s Lisa Salters during the game. “At the same time, we know what’s important and that thsi is only preseason. Really vanilla right now. We’re not doing everything. Yeah, it is what it is.”
Murray was flying high after one flawless preseason drive last week, but the No. 1 overall pick came back to the desert earth in his first extended professional appearance.
10. Sure, marvel at the majesty of the Mike Glennon revenge game. Oakland’s most impressive drive was its first of the evening, the Raiders‘ first of the preseason with Derek Carr at the helm and with new weapons at his disposal. Oakland’s QB1 connected with Tyrell Williams on a pretty 27-yard pass down the sideline and with Ryan Grant on a 13-yard TD toss. Rookie back Josh Jacobs broke off four strong runs for 21 yards. It took just over three minutes Thursday night for Oakland to hard-knock off the bad vibes from last weekend’s Antonio Brown drama.
— Jeremy Bergman