Here it is, another week of NFL preseason games. Hopefully your fantasy football starters play a bit more, so we might get a few more glimpses into what each team will look like in the regular season. Keeping up with the latest news is very important as it can get you a jump on the waiver wire and possible trade scenarios. My efforts concentrated on the younger players and/or new team additions. Here are some quick observations based on around the first three-quarters of each game:
Jags vs Bears
There wasn’t anything of note on the Bears side due to the broken collarbone of second year receiver Marquess Wilson. The Jaguars brought out one of their biggest free agent acquisitions, running back Toby Gerhart. He has good leg drive, uses a nice stiff-arm, and does well when running north and south. His problems start when the runner gets forced to run east and west; Gerhart does not have the speed to turn the corner and usually gets spread out to cause a negative or unproductive play. Rookie receiver Marqise Lee ran smooth routes, caught the ball in stride, and was heavily targeted. The wide out tells a story with his routes. On his touchdown catch, Lee played possum acting like it was a run play; then he reversed his direction sharply to break free into the end zone. Even though Jaguars aren’t saying it right now, first round quarterback, Blake Bortles, is fighting for the starting job now. The young signal caller gets the ball quickly, scans the field, and shows good ball placement. Bortles looks confident in the pocket, stepping up from danger, and sets his feet to deliver the pigskin accurately.
Eagles vs Patriots
The hype train on rookie running back James White slowed down against the Patriots. Stevan Ridley took more of the meaningful meat grinder carries. The rookie runner started playing during the second series with the starters. He has quick feet, jukes around a lot, but struggled to find space early. I didn’t see the power and leg drive I saw in Mobile with him. White’s best carry was a draw on a third and long, so that along with his soft hands, might make him a better third down back than a starter. Second year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was active in the passing game running clean routes and improved his sideline awareness. The wide out fooled his corner by coming back to the ball and shielding the defender on his way into the end zone. While time still remained in the first quarter, Tom Brady made a quick exit allowing rookie Jimmy Garoppolo to see time with the starters. Without pressure, Garoppolo moves around the pocket effortlessly making good, quick throws. The problem is that the zero pressure moments in the NFL happen very rarely in the NFL.
For the Eagles, my hopes of Josh Huff having a significant role in the offense this season seem to be slipping away. The former Oregon receiver got limited in the first half to kickoff return duties. Fellow rookie wide out, Jordan Matthews, made a limited impression in the first half to explode in the second half of the game. I love the way he accelerates thru tackles while lowering his shoulder. The story of the game was second year tight end Zach Ertz. He lined up a lot outside and in the slot. The tight does a great job boxing out his coverage and powered through a safety on the way into the end zone. On his next target, Ertz skies over a linebacker to make a ridiculous catch in the middle of the field. If you can still buy Ertz shares, do it now!
Chargers vs Seahawks
Thanks to the local Patriots game, I only viewed the second and third quarter of this game. There wasn’t a lot to see with the Chargers offense because journeyman quarterback, Kellen Clemens, played with the starters. The Seahawks front seven generated too much for San Diego to overcome early. It looks like Russell Wilson is advancing his gamesmanship even more. He is very accurate, seemingly more confident (a Super Bowl win should do that). Wilson looks like he is ready to make the next step increasing the Seahawks reliance on the passing game. Luke Willson continues to impress with his ability to get open in the flat and take what the forgetful defense gives him. For the second week in a row, Robert Turbin saw more time with the starters than everyone’s favorite runner in waiting Christine Michael. Turbin slashes defense with his quickness/elusiveness, while Michael uses diesel power and drive demanding multiple tacklers each time he runs the ball.
I apologize to my IDP brethren, because there weren’t any players that jumped off the screen at me on the defensive side during these games.
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