The Los Angeles Rams gave up a ton to move up to the No. 1 pick and draft Cal quarterback Jared Goff. It’s the kind of gamble that makes or breaks a franchise for a long time.
Goff might end up being a fine quarterback, maybe even a Hall of Famer someday. We don’t know. But the Rams have to feel at least a little anxious after Goff’s uneven preseason.
Goff got the start on Thursday in the preseason finale, on a night when many starters sit. Goff isn’t the Rams’ Week 1 starter, Case Keenum is. And Goff completed just 6 of 16 passes for 67 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Rams’ 27-25 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. And 22 of those yards came on a play in which Goff was past the line of scrimmage when he threw, but no penalty was called.
Each of the last five quarterbacks drafted first overall won the starting job before Week 1 of their rookie seasons (Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston). Not only is Goff not the Rams’ starter, he’s not even the backup right now. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said after Thursday’s game that Sean Mannion, who was 15-of-23 for 135 yards and a touchdown in the second half Thursday, is probably the Rams’ backup now.
“You know, I think it’s going to take a little bit more time,” Fisher said, according to Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register. “That’s not to say he can’t be a two [backup quarterback] or start, but if we were starting right now, I’d probably have Sean as the two. Because it’s all about being patient with [Goff].”
While Fisher said Goff has made “significant progress,” it’s shocking Goff couldn’t pass either Keenum or Mannion on the depth chart before Week 1. Goff should have been able to beat out Mannion to be the backup, at very least.
Goff’s final preseason stat line was 22-of-49 for 232 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. That’s a scary 44.9 completion percentage and a paltry 4.7 yards per attempt. Goff didn’t always get a lot of help from the fellow backups he was playing with, though he was usually playing against backup defensive players. Goff had a learning curve coming from a spread college offense but 2015 second overall pick Marcus Mariota made the same transition just fine.
Goff could be good in time, and maybe he’ll even be great when he gets his chance to start this season. And even though he’s not the backup going into the regular season he will probably start at some point this year; Keenum isn’t the long-term answer and 22 of the last 24 quarterbacks drafted in the first round started at least one game their rookie seasons.
Goff also made some nice throws on Thursday. His back-shoulder touchdown pass on Thursday night to Kenny Britt was very impressive.
But the preseason wasn’t what you want to see from a quarterback drafted first overall, after giving up an astonishing amount of draft picks to move up. And it might be a while before we see Goff again this year.
On a night in which the NFL’s starting quarterbacks included Zac Dysert, Ryan Nassib, Brandon Allen and Joel Stave, the few fans who attended the New England Patriots’ preseason finale at the New York Giants got a treat.
There was a rare sighting of Tom Brady playing in the fourth preseason game. And he played a lot.
For the first time since 2011, Brady played in the preseason finale. As everyone knows, he’s suspended for the first four games of the regular season. The Patriots started key starters on both sides of the ball, something very few NFL teams do in the fourth preseason game. Brady played the entire first half of the Patriots’ 17-9 loss to the New York Giants, even though he took some hits early on.
It wasn’t pretty right away. Brady’s first pass was for a 3-yard loss to Julian Edelman. On his second pass he got hit by defensive end Kerry Wynn, while all Patriots fans held their breath. After a defensive holding call on third down, there was a dropped pass and then Giants cornerback Trevin Wade fought through receiver Aaron Dobson for an interception (give Dobson the blame for that pick).
The second drive was better. Brady moved well in he pocket and delivered a nice third-down pass. Then he hit Edelman over the middle for another first down. On the third drive Brady hit Edelman again over the middle on the fourth drive for 20 yards. That combination looked like it was in early-October form, which is good because that’s the next time we’ll see Brady play.
Brady hit Keshawn Martin for a short touchdown late in the first quarter. Brady was hit as he threw on the ensuing two-point conversion, and at that point it seemed dangerous that he was still in the game. There was also a Brady run on that touchdown drive, and more anxiety until the moment Brady slid down.
Brady stayed in for the entire second quarter too, behind a second-string offensive line. At halftime he was pulled, after completing 16 of 26 passes for 166 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Patriots wanted to get their starters some extra reps before the regular season, especially with their star quarterback who will miss the first quarter of the season.
Derrick Henry was a player draft writers could not agree on. The flaws in his game were picked apart, most notably his lack of short-area agility. On the other hand, he was a big, fast back with a great track record of college success. He won the 2015 Heisman Trophy at Alabama.
The Tennessee Titans took the plunge on Henry in the second round, and they have to like the pick so far.
Henry looked very good in the preseason. He showed off some good moves on Thursday night in the Titans’ preseason finale in a 21-10 win against the Miami Dolphins. He had 22 and 26 yards on back-to-back carries. He also had a 1-yard touchdown on Tennessee’s first drive. After 62 yards on seven carries, the Titans had seen enough. Henry’s preseason was over.
Henry’s final preseason stat line: 34 carries, 216 yards, three touchdowns. Not too shabby.
The question becomes how the Titans will use Henry in the regular season. They traded for DeMarco Murray, who also looked good this preseason. The Titans want to be a run-heavy team (which is a little strange considering quarterback Marcus Mariota looked so good as a rookie, but whatever), so Henry should still get some carries as part of a two-headed rushing attack. He has earned some playing time with his preseason performance.
Atlanta Falcons 17, Jacksonville Jaguars 15: Jaguars rookie linebacker Myles Jack had a sequence that reminded everyone why he was one of the biggest names in the draft. On the Falcons’ first three plays, Jack was in on all three tackles and Atlanta went three-and-out.
Jack played weak-side linebacker, which was new for him this week. The Jaguars had him at middle linebacker most of the offseason, which allowed him to learn the entire defense. Jack, a top-10 talent in this year’s draft who slipped to the second round due to concerns about his knee, has been pushing for a starting spot. Telvin Smith is the team’s weak-side linebacker and Paul Posluszny is the starter in the middle, but Jack will contribute plenty in sub-packages, even if he doesn’t start right away as a rookie.
Philadelphia Eagles 14, New York Jets 6: Read all about Jets rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad game.
Carolina Panthers 18, Pittsburgh Steelers 6: Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne, one of the primary backups to Jonathan Stewart, had a solid game. He rushed for 77 yards on 18 attempts, and also had 18 yards receiving.
Indianapolis Colts 13, Cincinnati Bengals 10: The Colts are still sorting out their backup running back situation. Rookie Josh Ferguson, a sensation early in camp who has struggled in the preseason, had just one carry for 2 yards (though he also had five catches for 33 yards). Jordan Todman had 33 yards on five carries. Robert Turbin had 16 yards on three carries. Recently-signed Stevan Ridley had just 11 yards on nine carries. The Colts will go into the season with a lot of questions behind Frank Gore.
Detroit Lions 31, Buffalo Bills 0: The Bills broke out the wishbone formation for a number of plays. If any coach was going to try it, it’s Rex Ryan (though the fact that he did it in the preseason probably means there’s zero chance he’ll do it in the regular season). But the Bills had to scrap those plans when running back James Wilder Jr. suffered a concussion and Buffalo didn’t have enough backs who were suited out to run it, Bills sideline reporter Sal Capaccio said.
Chicago Bears 21, Cleveland Browns 7: Rookie running back Jordan Howard gave the Bears coaches something to think about. Howard, a rookie from Indiana, had a huge final preseason game. He rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Perhaps that will result in a few carries once the regular season starts.
Houston Texans 28, Dallas Cowboys 17: Because of Tony Romo’s injury, Cowboys quarterback Jameill Showers went from a developmental third quarterback to being a Dak Prescott injury away from playing. His final preseason showing was not great: 10-of-25 for 91 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Kansas City Chiefs 17, Green Bay Packers 7: Packers tight end Jared Cook had a nice touchdown catch in the back corner of the end zone against the Chiefs, a good sign for Green Bay’s only significant free-agent addition this offseason. Cook disappointed with the St. Louis Rams, but he was playing with below-average quarterbacks. Maybe he reemerges with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers haven’t had a legitimate threat at tight end since Jermichael Finley had to retire due to a neck injury.
Baltimore Ravens 23, New Orleans Saints 14: Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman, the team’s 2015 first-round pick who sat out all last season with a knee injury, made his long-awaited NFL debut. He caught two passes for 25 yards.
Arizona Cardinals 38, Denver Broncos 17: Because the Broncos have picked Trevor Siemian as their starter and didn’t want to risk Mark Sanchez to injury, since he might be cut this week, first-round pick Paxton Lynch got to play the entire game. He was 13-of-22 for 214 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Seattle Seahawks 23, Oakland Raiders 21: The Raiders gave backup quarterback Matt McGloin some playing time, then let fourth-round pick Connor Cook finish the game.
San Francisco 49ers 31, San Diego Chargers 21: Amid the national anthem controversy, Colin Kaepernick is trying to impress the 49ers coaches and make sure he’s on the 53-man roster. Kaepernick was OK on Thursday, completing 11 of 18 passes for 103 yards. He also rushed for 38 yards.
• San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem again, as part of his protest. This week, he wasn’t alone. Read all about it here.
• Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls, who was recovering from a season-ending ankle injury, played on Thursday night. He had just two carries for 7 yards but his stats don’t matter, just getting back on the field was a great sign for the possible Seahawks starter.
• Did the Patriots strike gold with Barkevious Mingo? Acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, Mingo had a fine first preseason game with New England. He looked like the playmaker the Browns thought they were getting with the sixth pick of the 2013 draft. He flew around the field and caused fumbles on back-to-back plays. The Patriots recovered the second fumble he caused. The Patriots gave up a fifth-round pick to get Mingo from the Browns.
• There has been a lot of speculation that running back Ronnie Hillman could be cut by the Denver Broncos. In the preseason finale, he had 9 yards on just three carries. One of the players he’s competing for a spot with, Kapri Bibbs, had 51 yards on 10 carries.
• Arizona Cardinals first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche didn’t play in the first two preseason games, so he got some playing time in the finale. He had a sack and two tackles. Nkemdiche could be a good rotational player this season for the Cardinals.
• If the Kansas City Chiefs were showcasing quarterback Aaron Murray for a possible trade, it didn’t go that great. Murray threw two interceptions on his 18 attempts against the Packers.
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