Preseason Takeaways: AFC North Week 1

By Ben Rolfe

Who stood out and who struggled in Week 1 of the preseason in the AFC North?

Football is back and it feels good. Yes, it is only preseason, but competitive football is fun to watch. A lot of what we see in the preseason ca lack meaning. However, there are also a lot of things that matter, both to teams and individual players. Let’s take a look at the five things that stood out in the AFC North this week.

1. Defensive fears overblown in Baltimore?

Strangely for the Ravens the biggest question entering this season revolved around the defense. After an offseason of turnover on that side of the ball this preseason is about making sure they have the right pieces to ensure that defense does not miss a beat.

Well the preseason started off in the right way as they shut out the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes it is just preseason, and Nick Foles did not play for the Jaguars, but the Ravens set the tone for the season in a big way this week. In fact, nothing set the tone more than this hit from Kenny Young on Gardner Minshew.


2. The Steelers really know how to draft receivers

The role of secondary receiver in the Steelers offense remains an open question mark right now. In the first week of preseason James Washington made a statement about making the role his own. Targeted five times, he pulled in four of them for 84 yards and a touchdown. His only missed target was very nearly a superb touchdown catch.

Now Donte Moncrief and Diontae Johnson did not have any snaps in this game, so it is hard to compare what Washington did against the Buccaneers to those guys in this offense. However, it was an extremely impressive performance and a lot of eyes are now open to the second-year receiver. In fact, I will leave you to judge for yourself about Washington’s performance.


3. The Browns roster looks deep

So it was the Washington Redskins, and for a large part it was the Redskins backups but this Browns team has a lot of talent and depth. They held the Redskins to just 10 points, picked off three passes and allowed just 18 completions on 34 passes. 

Offensively they did not have anything from Odell Beckham or Jarvis Landry and still they moved the ball with ease. Baker Mayfield went 5-of-6 for 77 yards and a touchdown on his solitary drive without his two star receivers. 

The depth on this team is going to be something to watch as the preseason continues, especially if Week 1 is anything to go by.

4. A tough first outing for the Bengals

This was undoubtedly the hardest game of the first preseason week in the AFC North. It is hard to grade the defense when it was a mixed unit and facing one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, so let’s focus on the offense.

The results are pretty impressive actually. A 14-play drive culminating in a one-yard touchdown for Trayveon Williams. Andy Dalton was 7-for-9 for 80 yards and the team showed they were capable of grinding out a drive. The run game looked pretty stagnant, but Ryan Finley looked solid going 13-of-18 for 109 yards a touchdown and an interception. Overall a solid day for the offense on a tough outing in Kansas City.

5. A nice story steals the headlines in Cleveland

In amongst the Browns impressive performance was one fantastic story. Late in the fourth quarter the Browns sent Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi out to return a punt. 85 yards later he put the finishing touches on the Browns day. However, as the tweet from Warren Sharp below will tell you, that is just another chapter in a fantastic story.


Ben Rolfe

Head of NFL Content



Image Credit: USA Today