21 Aug Pre-Season Week 2 Wrap: Part I
Week two offers an extended look at the quarterbacks that will be under center come September. With more to chew on, let’s get right into the best and worst from NFL quarterbacks – week 2, pre-season edition.
It’s difficult to find a more stark contrast than where these the Bucs and Jags are at the quarterback position. Winston had the most Jameis Winston performance imaginable. He was terrific. That is until his 14th pass attempt when he inexplicably heaved the ball to the heavens with his back nearly parallel to the ground. The interception was negated by replay, but positive results do not excuse poor process.
I do want to reiterate, prior to this throw, he was dazzling. He’s smooth in his transition from the top of the drop to the release and he trusts his eyes completely. It’s as simple as cleaning up the egregious plays for him to join the ranks of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
On the other side, the Jaguars are not as fortunate with their former top three draft choice. Blake Bortles was serenaded by the boo birds, and rightfully so. Statuesque in the pocket, guiding the ball down the field opposed to ripping it, and short arming open throws, this quarterback is a disaster. The only place Bortles can get his mechanics sorted out are from the bench.
Pouring salt in the wound was Chad Henne. Henne’s first two pass attempts were dimes that should’ve gone for six points, but were both dropped by Jaguars receivers (Allen Robinson on the latter.)
Chad Henne isn’t the definitive answer to the Jags quarterback woes, but he gives them a hell of a lot better chance to win games than Bortles does.
Jay Cutler –
Cutler’s Miami debut was a glorified extended scrimmage. Getting him comfortable running a game day huddle, seeing a live pass rush and uncorking the arm for a few fastballs was the mission, and it was accomplished. It’s difficult to evaluate six throws, but there was some apparent rust. The best throw was one that didn’t count. Negated by a hold, he climbs the pocket and throws a back shoulder strike to Devante Parker for 31 yards.
Carson Wentz is lauded as the unquestioned answer for the Eagles quarterback position. After his hot September during his rookie year, his regression was the worst in the NFL. Sailing simple throws are a mechanical issue, and it showed up again on Thursday night.
Tyrod Taylor is a limited quarterback. He struggles going through progressions and his underneath accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. The Bills are not setting him up for success in 2017 with a receiving crew that fails to create separation across the board. These receivers are going to allow teams to blitz Taylor, hem him into the pocket and force him to throw hot – his biggest weakness.
I can’t objectively say either of these plays were Taylor’s fault, but this is what he’s going to see this year. Teams will blitz the edges and squat on the underneath routes. Receivers have to be able to run away from coverage and the Bills don’t have anyone capable of that basic skill requirement.
Friday’s lone game featured a pair of elite quarterbacks dueling in the Pacific Northwest. Russell Wilson and Sam Bradford saw extended playing time deep into the second quarter (Wilson 26 reps, Bradford 20 reps,) and put on a passing clinic. Wilson’s numbers jumped off the screen, but this game was a good example of why stats are rarely a singular accomplishment. Doug Baldwin turns defensive backs around with the best of them and Kasen Williams was a one man wrecking crew.
That’s not to say that Wilson wasn’t as sharp as usual. Wilson’s mechanics are flawless. He generates torque from any throwing position, evident by this rollout pass to Baldwin.
Wilson has one of the quickest triggers in the business. The ball goes from the top of the wind-up to release in the blink of an eye allowing Wilson to see routes opening up.
Bradford’s numbers weren’t equal to Wilson’s, but his ball placement was on point. Location is important, but anticipation is its equal. Here, Bradford starts his motion before Diggs makes his break and the ball is right on time.
On this play, Bradford takes a deep drop and builds up momentum into his throw. With the rush bearing down, Bradford waits until Stefon Diggs completely uncovers, then hits him in stride.
Velocity required? No problem. Bradford reaches back with the 100 MPH fastball in the one place he could fit it in.
Mariota will forever be linked to Jameis Winston, and it’s starting to look more and more like that is a good thing. Mariota had a sense of control and command in Saturday’s contest against the Panthers. His attention to detail has improved, and his mechanics look cleaner.
The one clip I have of Mariota is him operating in a crowded pocket with patience and a smooth climb before delivering a strike. Like Winston, Mariota does a good job moving defenses with his eyes, and trusts what he sees. It’s a small sample size, but I think I’m ready to turn my tide on the former Oregon Duck.
Fireworks were set off from the jump in this game as each quarterback had a touchdown drive under their belt before five minutes of game time had winded down.
Jared Goff looked the best I have ever seen him. If you’re a fan of the site, you know I’m not too keen on the 2016 first overall draft pick, but he played with a sense of urgency, poise, and showed off the big arm that had scouts drooling.
The play Goff made to set up a touchdown and throw on the touchdown were exemplary plays – seen below.
Derek Carr saw limited action because of the peak and valley of his own performance. On his first series since breaking his leg on Christmas Eve, Carr dropped a dime for a touchdown. Later, he tossed in excusable interception after tucking the football and resetting his base.
Once again, however, the Raiders offense made plays. The best supporting cast in the NFL is going to take Carr from a fringe top 10 season, and insert him into the MVP discussion once again.
The location of this throw is great, but attacking triple coverage only works when the wide receiver is immensely talented.
The competition in Denver is over. Trevor Siemian will be the Broncos opening day starter by default. In July, I wrote that the Broncos desperately need Paxton Lynch to seize the starting gig, and the opposite has happened. Lynch is slow in everything he does. His footwork would suggest that he’s wearing ankle weights, his long looping delivery is slow and he’s late to process information post-snap.
There’s nothing to get excited about with the Broncos quarterbacks. Lynch couldn’t have been happier to take the first check down that came available. The same could’ve been said about Siemian in 2016, with utterly sporadic accuracy to boot.
Brian Hoyer had a rough night in the box score, but the film shows reasons for optimism. Kyle Shanahan is a creative play caller even during these August scrimmages. As a far as formation and alignment variations, Shanahan has already adapted to his personnel in San Francisco. Bunching tight packages and tunneling Hoyer’s reads to the middle of the field, Shanahan takes advantage of Hoyer’s quick decision making and hides his sub-par arm strength.
Despite a throw behind his target for an interception and an errant fumble slipping form his hand, Hoyer was in rhythm and moved defenders with fakes and eye manipulation.
The veteran, Hoyer, knows how to open passing lanes with his eyes.
Two more weeks of exhibition until the real thing kicks off. During the regular season, I will have these recap articles up on Monday and produce the grades later in the week (like Thursday morning.)