Five Headlines After NFL Preseason Week 1
The NFL kicked off its first full week of preseason games with a marquee matchup between the New York Giants and get this, the Cleveland Browns. After reading that sentence you might think I’m drunk, but the Browns are actually one of the hottest stories in the league in the preseason. Our first observation after NFL preseason week 1 is, quarterback Baker Mayfield is a football messiah and so is Saquon Barkley. The Browns drafted Baker Mayfield, Heisman winning QB from Oklahoma number one overall in this off-season’s draft. His receivers will include free-agent Jarvis “Juice” Landry and Josh Gordon, along with second-year TE David Njoku. Playing mostly against the Giants’ second-team offense, Mayfield had some highlights, looked poised, and was able to use his legs to keep drives alive. The Dawg Pound has its newest wet dream. The Browns won the game 20-10 and Njoku caught two touchdowns.
Thursday night’s game also featured three of the top four picks from this year’s draft–Mayfield, CB Denzel Ward, and the Giants top draft pick, RB Saquon Barkley. The ex-Nittany Lion dazzled audiences on his first run in the NFL. Some slick jump cuts led to an incredible 39-yard pickup along the right sideline. That boy can run.
Eli Manning was without his favorite target Odell Beckham Jr. for the game, so the offense sputtered. But adding the dynamic Barkley to an offense with OBJ, WR Sterling Shepard, and, TE Evan Engram could be fun to watch. That must be why the game was the tenth-most watch preseason game ever on the NFL Network.
II. Luck Survived and Advanced
When your job is to throw a football, an injury to your shoulder is the worst-case scenario. In the case of Colts’ franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, the problems in his right shoulder began in 2015 and have persisted ever since.
Luck took a beating from the Tennessee Titans in a week three game, so much so that he missed the next two games with a “shoulder” injury. Luck came back that season, but what fans didn’t know is that Luck had torn his labrum and damaged the cartilage around his shoulder. The injury was so bad, his shoulder couldn’t remain in place even a season later. Credit to the Indianapolis Star for publishing a complete timeline of Luck shoulder injury.
#Colts Andrew Luck sports a new Aaron Rogers'ish mustache during their preseason training camp at Grand Park in Westfield on Sunday, August 12, 2018. #Colts #LuckMustache @Colts #ColtsNation #NFL #NFLPreseason @IndyStarSports @indystar pic.twitter.com/thSswXHeCs
— Matt Kryger (@MattKryger) August 12, 2018
Before Thursday, August 9, it had been 585 days since Luck played in any kind of NFL game. To actually get back on the field is in a minor miracle. I am not a lawyer, but medical negligence and malpractice this bad merits a major lawsuit. The Colts incompetent medical staff, lack of talent on the offensive line, and mistreatment of a star player nearly torpedoed one the purest throwers the league had seen in the last decade.
Luck was obviously rusty in his first game back and still hasn’t shown his previous arm strength and velocity. We don’t know if he will ever be the same kind of QB he once was. But somehow, Andrew Luck has recovered from all the health issues. Winning.
III. Darnold Has the “It” Factor
There was a lot of hype surrounding the 2018 quarterback class, with comparisons to the 1983 draft (Elway, Marino, and Kelly) or more recently the 2004 class featuring Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. The top four QBs in this year’s draft Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Sam Darnold each had as many detractors as supporters. But it appears the New York Jets may have struck gold by selecting Darnold.
The former USC Trojan led the Jets to 17-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night and appeared poised, mobile and calm under the bright lights. He’s displayed laid-back Cali swag and has good arm strength and poise in the pocket. Sure, year one will be a learning experience and Darnold may not start right away, but the Jets may finally have the next best franchise quarterback. It’s about time.
IV. Watson and Mahomes Got Incompletes
Fans who tuned into the Week 1 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans got to see a sneak peek of a QB matchup that could shape the AFC for the years to come. At least their respective GMs hope so. The Texans got back DeShaun Watson under center who lit up the league for four games last season before being lost for the season with a torn ligament in his knee.
Kansas City new starter Patrick Mahomes made his debut as the starting QB for the Chiefs. Veteran QB Alex Smith was allowed to sign with the Redskins for one reason, Mahomes’ arm talent. At Texas Tech, he showed fans and evaluators he’s got a canon. But will his arm strength be enough to become a winning quarterback? The jury is still out.
Unfortunately, the Week 1 matchup was a letdown. Watson’s final line was 1-1 for 4 yards. Mahomes went 5-7 for 33 yards.
V. Players Took a Stand, By Kneeling–Still
Several players across the league didn’t let the unhinged rants of the President and NFL owners silence their protests against police brutality and criminal justice reform. Dolphins WR Kenny Stills, along with teammate Albert Wilson, knelt during the national anthem during Week 1 versus the Buccaneers. They were not alone either. SI.com has a wrap up of the players and teams who continue to protest peacefully.
The NFL may pay players salaries and Trump may have been elected, but you can’t take the right to speak truth to power from grown ass men. Our country is strengthened when citizens exercise their First Amendment rights in a peaceful and respectful manner. The flag and our nation are more powerful than its symbols and will endure. Our voices should never be silenced. Well done fellas, I respect your courage.