NFL: Takeaways following the Preseason

By Mason Mesbah

With the NFL preseason behind us and the regular season now underway, let’s take a look back to see what signs the preseason gave us about 2022.

Worst Rookie QB class we’ve seen in years…Right? Wrong!

It seems that all of the criticism about this quarterback draft class pushed them all to play really well when they had a chance this preseason. Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell, and even Skylar Thompson all played exceptionally well for what was expected from them and made some quarterback battles even more competitive. Kenny Pickett is gaining more and more ground on Mitchell Trubisky, Malik Willis is making it really hard for Ryan Tannehill to have more mediocre play, Desmond Ridder is knocking on the door of Marcus Mariota, and many more rookie quarterbacks beat out veterans for roster spots as backups. This class really surprised with their impact and is a good start in proving the critics wrong.

Big Spending Paying off in Jacksonville?

The Jaguars starters, even though they didn’t have a lot of snaps, looked productive and finished in the endzone easier than it seemed last year. Seeing Travis Etienne on the field was a sigh of relief for Jags fans and his explosiveness will be a great combo to James Robinson’s power. Trevor Lawrence looked sharp, Travon Walker showed signs of dominance, newcomers on offense and defense both showed promise, and even Evan Engram scored. Christian Kirk and the starters had a few effective drives through their first action together, showing that Lawrence can take a major step with his new weapons. But the biggest part of Jacksonville’s potential success is Doug Pederson. The Jags unfortunately had to deal with Urban Meyer wasting a year of their young core, but now bring in a super bowl winning coach who has had great relationships with his young quarterbacks in pursuit of success.  Jacksonville has a long way to go, but this pre-season definitely made their fans hopeful for this season and for the future.

Good organizations stay good, bad organizations stay bad.

Every year, it seems we are always talking about the same teams as winners of the offseason, and the same as losers. Teams like the Ravens or the Steelers seem to always find steals and good players all over. The Ravens additions of Kyle Hamilton, Tyler Linderbaum, Isaiah Likely, Kenyan Drake, Demarcus Robinson, and more were all exceptional value and will be huge contributors next season. The same goes for George Pickens, Mitchell Trubisky, Myles Jack, Calvin Austin, Connor Heyward, Taylor Vaughns, and more of the Steeler pickups were also steals and will help them contribute this year. On the other side of the spectrum, teams like the Raiders and Browns who have had a miserable last 20 or so years can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. Although both teams are on the way up and have had some success in the past few years, the Browns paid a lot of money for the success, and the Raiders had some luck for theirs. The Raiders‘ draft woes continued into this offseason, they didn’t pick up the fifth year option on any of the three 2019 first round picks, they cut 2020 first round pick Alex Leatherwood, and got rid of numerous more picks before they really ever played. As for the Browns, they traded the first good quarterback they’ve had in 20 years, and a former first overall pick, for a fifth rounder, got news of their new quarterback, who didn’t even look exceptional in his couple drives, being suspended for 11 games. It is always interesting to see how every year, even when it looks like things are turning around for the Browns, there is always something that makes us remember why they are a bad organization.

Packers WRs dropping their opportunities. Literally.

One of the biggest moves of the off season was the Packers dealing Davantae Adams to the Raiders. This raised many questions for the Packers and reigning back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers. Who will be the guy at receiver? The Packers failed to make any big move for a pass catcher outside of drafting Christian Watson in the second round. As camp progressed, there were numerous highlights and tons of excitement around rookie Romeo Doubs as a potential star and number one receiver. But even with Doubs making some highlight plays in the preseason, the Packers receiving corps as a whole had too many drops to count. This is a cause for concern for Rodgers and the Packers as they are looking to get over the edge, but as of right now, they have no one at receiver anywhere close to Adams, and no one with a connection with Rodgers that he can feel good about throwing to.  If these drops persist, we could be looking at a big down year for the Packers.

Maybe this can work.

Another major move from this past offseason was the Miami Dolphins making a move for Tyreek Hill, forming a dangerous and exciting offense that even Tua can’t screw up.  It wasn’t until week three of the preseason that we got to see Hill and Tagovailoa on the field together for real, and it didn’t take long for Hill to make plays. The first play of the game was a bomb to Hill, followed by another 20 yarder to Hill, and two plays later, the drive ended in the endzone. That one drive showed the most promise the Dolphins offense has shown in some time. If all of the training camp hype and excitement turns out to be real, this Dolphins team could end up being a lot better than most think, and if Tua can turn things around, we are potentially looking at a top contender in the AFC.

Good things come to those who wait.

Free agents like Odell Beckham Jr and JC Tretter, and players like Jimmy Garoppolo and Darious Slayton, who are good enough to be starters on a team, are waiting to be moved or for a decision which could end up being the best case scenario for them. The part of football that we all hate, and see way too much of, is injuries. The preseason had plenty of injuries, pointing to the fact that as the season starts and gets a few weeks in, there will be plenty of injuries, opening up opportunities for these players. We could very well see a winning caliber team lose their quarterback, meaning a potential Jimmy Garoppolo trade, and also see teams who are successful going into the second half of the year making moves for vets who are saving their bodies for the playoffs.

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