Five Things We Learned in the NFL this Week: Preseason: Week Two

So, let’s be real here for a moment. It’s still the preseason. I know that we’re all excited to see NFL Football, but let’s not crown a new Super Bowl Champion just yet. Week two rarely shows us anything new, with most teams only letting the starters out of the gates in week three. So, hang tight as we try to figure out what can truly be learned in by watching smoke, mirrors and practice squad dudes.

1. Kyler Murray might not be the next coming of Joe Montana

I know. Tough to believe, right? After his ninja-like precision in cutting up the Bengals in week one, I recommended caution. Here’s why. In week two, against the Raiders, Murray was…less than effective against a defense that wasn’t exactly a heavyweight last year. Murray was sacked twice, committed two false starts and went 3-for-8 for twelve yards. Here’s the list of quarterbacks who looked significantly better than him: Brett Hundley (10/15, 139 yards TD), Chad Kanoff (2/6, 65 yards, TD), and Drew Anderson (6/9 59 yards, TD). And those are just the guys on the Cardinals. The Raiders ran out Derek Carr for a series (2/2 40 yards, TD), plus journeyman Mike Glennon (11/14 175 yards 2TDs) and walking d-backs jugs machine Nathan Peterman (8/8, 41 yards). Nathan Peterman for heaven’s sake. The Cardinals are once again extremely likely to be picking very early in the next draft.

2. The Patriots did something new this postseason

They did. Seriously. They beat the Titans. Hoodie, Brady and crew had never bested Tennessee in seven previous preseason attempts. They’re looking better this preseason than most years, and I think I know why. They’re carrying some defensive momentum into this year, instead of building from scratch as they have for a few years now. There’s a chance they might not be as porous as last year’s slow-starting unit. Michael Bennett looks to be a solid investment. He’s hit opposing quarterbacks 103 times over the past few seasons and can make a real difference by requiring double teams. Rookie Chase Winovich looks like he might be the real deal as well, recording two QB hits, two tackles for loss and a sack in the first half of the game. If he listens to Brady and studies his playbook, he might be fine…

3. Baker Mayfield can backpedal

Man. That GQ article was an especially bad look, even for a dude rocking a 1978 porn moustache. ICYMI, Mayfield expressed some incredulity that the Giants selected Daniel Jones at sixth-overall, based on his win-loss record at Duke. I’m with you Baker. But I questioned the Browns for taking you at number one…so at least we agree on something. Let’s get the Browns above .500 for a season before we start throwing shade, shall we? In week two the Browns rested most of their starters in a 21-18 win over the still Andrew Luck-less Colts. But that’s not the story of this game. That would be all the practice that the zebras got in this one. Neither team was immune to the penalty bug. A whopping twenty-nine penalties were accepted for almost three hundred yards. Yikes.

4. Dwayne Haskins looks like the leader in Washington

Once again, this was against the Bengals, so caveat emptor, but Haskins looks like what we thought he was coming out of the draft. He was by far the most productive Washington QB, going 7/14 for 114 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Adrian Peterson looked good in limited doses, and he’ll make things easier for the young signal caller. If they can keep him upright and play defense like they did last season, Washington can make some noise in the NFC East.

5. Melvin Gordon is between a rock and a hard place

So, what do you do when you’re pretty sure the team will meet your payroll demands, but they have a very capable backup…who might be better? The Chargers are a pass-first team with Philip Rivers, so Melvin Gordon brings balance, as opposed to driving the offense, like Ezekiel Elliot in Dallas. Gordon’s backup Austin Ekeler has been pretty much the same guy statistically. If not better. That’s not good for breaking management. Last season Gordon carried the ball 175 times for 885 yards. Ekeler carried the ball 106 times for 554 yards. Quick maths: that’s 5.2 yards per carry to Gordon’s 5.1. Ekeler is equally effective catching passes out of the backfield, averaging 10.4 yards per catch to Gordon’s 9.8. There’s no drop off whatsoever here, and since the Chargers don’t focus on running the ball the way some teams do, Gordon’s holdout simply doesn’t have enough leverage to be successful. If he’s smart, he’ll suit up.

Image Source: AP Images

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