Though technically last night marked the “second” week of the NFL Preseason (they haven’t quite caught on like the NCAA and March Madness did in 2014), football fans across the country were glued to their TV screens as they watched 24 teams return to live action, many for the first time in 7-8 months. Despite most starters getting limited work in last night, a number of storylines still played out across the NFL- from the 1st and 2nd overall picks in the 2018 NFL Draft squaring off (Baker Mayfield & Cleveland against Saquan Barkley & the GMen) and Lamar Jackson’s debut with Baltimore against the LA Rams, to Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin’s developing rivalry and the first showings of last year’s Super Bowl matchup with the Patriots taking on Washington and Philadelphia up against Pittsburgh. But in case you missed the games last night no need to worry! Here are some of the storylines and quotes from Thursday, August 9th.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 Miami Dolphins 24
Both teams have major questions on offense. The Bucs have to figure out what they are going to do as Jameis Winston serves his suspension for sexual assault, and it looks to be that Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely lead the way. Winston looked sharp though, completing 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards. Likely 3rd stringer Ryan Griffin threw for 179 yards and a TD. Besides Mike Evans, Tampa does not have a serious threat at any other skill position. Cameron Brate caught 5 passes for 48 yards, and Desean Jackson hauled in a catch for 18, but between a weak WR corps and crowded backfield that includes Peyton Barber, Dare Ogunbowale, Charles Sims and Ronald Jones II, the defense is gonna have to bail the Bucs out to give them a chance this year. “We were prepared. It’s great to play against another defense,” Winston told the press when asked to assess the QB crew after a victory over Miami.
Coach Dirk Koetter on balancing QB reps in the first game of the season: “Well, we have to be more balanced in the reps. In fact, I just looked at the reps so far from when we’ve come back and I think Jameis [Winston] has taken like 300 reps and [Ryan Fitzpatrick] is around 285 and [Ryan Griffin] around 250, so we have to be that way. That’s not our normal design, but I really thought that all three of those guys played well last night. I thought they all did what they were supposed to do and for an offensive football team, that’s what you want. When Griff went in there and took that third group down and moved them when they had to, did a good job in the two-minute [drill]. Again, 20 out of 26. I thought Jameis really did a nice job of controlling the football, playing under control, keeping two hands on the ball, making good decisions, he had a couple drops and Fitz got us in the end zone. That is what he is supposed to do.”
For Miami, the good news is that Ryan Tannehill is back after missing the entire 2017 season. Brock Osweiler also threw for 83 yards (10/21) and David Fales and Bryce Petty played as well. Kalen Bellage will look to be the main RB on this team, as he touched the ball 10 times with no other tailback seeing more than 4 carries. “To get on the field… for my first time hitting the field in a long time, it felt good to get back out there,” Tannehill said. He added that he had “more appreciation” than he’d normally have for a week 1 preseason game.
Panthers 28 Bills 23
If you haven’t see the video yet, check out TWN on Instagram for Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin’s encounter in warmups ahead of this game. It was awkward to say the least, after Benjamin made comments about Newton following his departure this offseason. The Panthers looked good as the QB group combined for nearly 300 yards passing, including 84 from Newton (6/9). The resources in Carolina might be dwindling though- Greg Olsen is coming off an injury-plagued season and while Christian McCaffrey headlines the backfield (which also includes CJ Anderson, Kenjon Barner and Cameron Artis-Payne), the only suitable target for Newton down the field is Devin Funchess. In a competitive division, the Panthers might not have the firepower to compete with Atlanta and New Orleans.
1st round selection Josh Allen highlighted the QB corps for the Bills which includes newly signed free agent AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman. LeSean McCoy did not have a touch in the game, as he has reaffirmed his focus is with the team despite assault claims from his former girlfriend- which also claim that McCoy used illegal steroids as well as beat his son and dog. The Bills, like the Dolphins and Jets, will be looking up at the Patriots in the AFC East once again.
Saints 24 Jaguars 20
Sean Payton after getting a W: “Look, I told the players afterwards it was good to get the win. Those later groups did a good job of kind of switching the momentum. Obviously, we’ll look at the tape when we get back, and there will be a lot of things that we’ll have to clean up, too many to go through one-by-one, but, we kind of go from there.”
Doug Marrone on what the Jags need to work on heading into joint practices with Minnesota: “Well, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re going to use [the practice] as much as we possibly can. It’s all scheduled out and there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to work on and we’ve got to get better at so we’re going to be practicing right away, ‘Come back and go.’ We should be ready because the first two groups went — play count-wise — not that much, less than a practice, so we’ll go out there and start and get after it again.”
Blake Bortles (JAX) on the gameplan for this year: “I think as far as picking up right where we left off with [Offensive Coordinator] Nathaniel Hackett being back and the same offensive coordinator running the same plays. For the most part, it’s the same guys out there on the field together. What [Head Coach] Doug [Marrone] said is exactly right, you start over every year. Nothing matters from the last year or the past. You’ve got to find a way to go win football games and get where you want to be. It’s definitely that.”
Patriots 26 Redskins 17
Bill Belichick talking to the media about his initial thoughts on the game: “I thought we gave a good, competitive effort in the second half. I thought there were a lot of guys that tried to play hard. Certainly there were a lot of mistakes in the game, a lot of things we need to work on. It’s good to see us make some plays there in the second half. We played a lot of people. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll evaluate how things went tonight and just move on to next week. It’s always good to get started. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve taken a couple of steps but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll just keep grinding it out through camp like we’ve been doing.”
Brian Hoyer (NE) on the team’s mentality: “You want to win the game. So, I think being able to kind of weather the storm – like I said, it didn’t start great for us offensively – but to be able to kind of rally, I think, like I said, to get that two-minute drive going and get some points before halftime, give us a little momentum and then come back out and I think it was a 19-play drive. The O-line did a great job of kind of just mashing those guys and the running backs were hitting it, we made a few passes and take it all the way the down and score.”
Jay Gruden on what he saw out of his team: “I think there’s a lot you can take away from game situations like I told them in there. At the end of the first half we had a 17-0 lead and all of the momentum in the world and we let them go 60 yards in 30 seconds with I think two timeouts to kick a field goal. And then they get the ball to start the third quarter and they go 80 yards in 16 plays, whatever it is, and all of a sudden momentum has totally switched and that’s something that we got to figure out. We’ve got to stop the bleeding somehow. Make a play. So a lot of lessons to be learned in this game from that standpoint. Bottom line, really, I’m looking for the players that stepped up and made some plays. First half, I saw a lot of great things. Second half, some good things we’ll take out of it, but a lot of learning experiences for all of us.”
Texans 17 Chiefs 10
Bill O’Brien on Deshaun Watson coming back from injury: “I think it was important for him to go through the whole warmup process and preparation for the game and get out there and operate the offense. Without having watched the film, I thought he did what we asked him to do.”
O’Brien also discussed the enthusiasm from the bench throughout the game: “That is another thing we have talked about here in Kansas City to go out there and root for each side of the ball. Root for special teams and show enthusiasm. Have some fun, I mean this is what we practice for is to play games. You know this game does not count but it is important to go out there and have some fun and be enthusiastic and celebrate your teammates when they make a big play.”
Patrick Mahomes (KC) on getting the start and his performance: “Yeah, it was awesome. Just getting out there in front of those fans. We had a pretty packed house, it was really loud. Getting out there in front of those guys, it’s always a great experience. I think we did a lot of good things. There’s stuff we need to keep working on. A lot of new guys on the offense. As a whole we need to keep perfecting our craft, keep perfecting the plays and hopefully move the ball and score a few more touchdowns.”
Steelers 31 Eagles 14
Head Coach Mike Tomlin following the Steeler win: “It’s great to get the win. Whenever we step into a stadium, regardless of the circumstance, that is our singular focus and then the evaluation of the play comes after that. We wanted to focus on some really fundamental things tonight: putting our conditioning on display, trying to play clean football from a technical standpoint, to minimize penalties, and to win the possession of the ball – to take better care of it on offense and to hunt it on defense. And largely those things happened throughout the game. Of course there will be a lot to learn from this video, as there always is, but generally I was pleased with the fundamental things that we all collectively focused on as a group. We’ll go back and digest this tape and use it as a teaching tool moving forward, but simply in a nutshell, it’s just good to step into a stadium and get a win. [It’s the] first time for a lot of the guys. A lot of good effort out there.”
Doug Pederson on the Philly 1st team defense: “I thought the defensive line really came off the ball early. Two three-and-outs which is exciting to see. I thought they played really aggressive and really fast. Something you want to see from your defensive, especially early in games.”
Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins on the National Anthem protests: “From how last season went to where we are now I just think it’s important to continue to keep this conversation going and we don’t let it get stagnant. As we understand it everybody is kind of waiting to see what the league is going to do. We won’t let it stop what we’ve been standing up for. That’s just my personal decision to make sure that we keep these things in the forefront.”
Browns 20 Giants 10
HC Hue Jackson on QB Baker Mayfield: ” “I thought he did some good things, I’m not surprised by anything Baker does because I see him do it on the practice field. Obviously, the throws he makes, the poise he has, he demonstrated all of that in college so I’m not surprised by it.”
Pat Shurmur remarks on the game: “I mentioned before the game, it’s important that we learn about our team in these preseason games. You want to win the games, and it’s always the same in the locker room when you don’t win. You get that feeling of disappointment that you didn’t win the game, but on the flip side, there were moments, there were stretches of this game that were positive, there were things that we did that were positive. Running the ball, I wanted to run the ball especially early with Saquon to kind of get him going, I thought he had some nice runs in there. And throughout the game, I thought our running backs did a good job. I thought we did a good job run blocking, but we had a stretch there in the middle of the game where we didn’t get it done in the passing game and I was trying to throw the ball a little more than the law allows with Davis Webb in there. I thought our run defense was good and then I told the team, we were tight in coverage, but at times we just didn’t make enough plays. I think that’s what it comes down to in a 20-10 ballgame. But, there’s a lot that we can learn from, the players can all learn from. I think the guys that played today got better in some ways, all the young players played, and now we’ll go back and watch the tape and get ready to play Detroit.”
Saquan Barkley on playing his first career NFL game: “It felt weird, the feelings are hard to describe. I really didn’t get that nervous for this game, I have been preparing for this moment my whole life, I was just excited to get out there and show my team what I have. I only got a couple of carries, but I wanted to show that I’m willing to get the gritty yards, break big plays, and be productive in this offense.”