Preseason Takeaways: AFC West Week 2
By Ben Rolfe
Preseason football has its ups and downs. Nothing emphasises that more than the quarterback situation in Oakland and Denver. After a tough week last week there were some shining stars in Oakland in Week 2. Meanwhile in Denver things looked very ugly once again. As for the other two teams in this division, well preseason is currently more a speed bump on the way to the regular season than actual football right now. Let’s take a look at the five key takeaways from Week 2 of the NFL preseason.
1. Quarterback play shines in Oakland
All of the real story lines in Oakland remain off the field and mostly centre around Antonio Brown. Between his feet and the helmet things have gone so far that he was even called out to just get on the field by his General Manager Mike Mayock.
However there was a game this week and we need to start thinking about how things look on the field, and this week that quarterback position really shone. Derek Carr was 2-for-2 for 40 yards and a touchdown. Nathan Peterman 8-for-8 for 41 yards and Mike Gennon was 11-for-14 for 175 yards and two touchdowns. In total that is 21-for-24 for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Another big positive was that they were sacked just once in the entire game between the three of them.
Now this should all be considered in context. Firstly, this is preseason and secondly it was the Arizona Cardinals, whose defense looks woeful right now, and could easily be the worst in the league this season.
2. Darwin Thompson looks a steal for the Chiefs
It was a pretty ugly day for the Chiefs. After completing his first two passes, Patrick Mahomes missed on his next three and ended with just 11 yards on five attempts. More than anything that is a takeaway for the Steelers than meaning anything for the Chiefs.
It has not been in the key part of the game but some of Darwin Thompson’s plays this season have really stood out. So far he has rushed the ball nine times for 52 yards and added one reception on three targets for 29 yards. What has really stood out has been the physicality with which he has played with. Last week he barrelled through tacklers and this week he once again took people on head on. He may not be a force immediately this season, but this player looks to have a bright future in this offense.
3. Chargers run game steps backwards
After such positives last week the Chargers run game took a step backwards this week. The backs combined for just 68 yards on 22 rushes. Now it is hard to judge too much because the offensive line was mix and match, but after it all clicked so well last week Melvin Gordon might feel a little better about his chances of getting paid this week.
Outside of Cardale Jones out playing Easton Stick by a significant margin the other biggest takeaways here are on the defense. Derwin James being out for the first part of the season will be a major concern. On the field this week the notable thing is that Denzel Perryman is a beast. If the Chargers can keep their linebacker on the field in 2019 he could be a wrecking ball behind an offensive line containing some studs. This hit in the fourth quarter was absolutely brutal.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 18, 2019
4. Joe Flacco MUST stay healthy
When the Broncos traded for Joe Flacco they foresaw him being at least the starter this season. Well so far preseason has made that even more the case, because behind him they have nothing right now.
Anytime your rookie quarterback is splitting time with Kevin Hogan then things are pretty ugly. Combined Hogan and Drew Lock completed 12-of-27 passes for just 40 yards and an interception. The offensive line did not help them as they were sacked a whopping six times. This team has a chance to compete if Flacco is under centre. If he is not, then frankly a top-five pick is in play.
5. Emmanuel Sanders is back!
The return of Sanders is huge for the Broncos. Without him they faced going into this offseason with a very inexperienced group at their skill positions. Between the expected starting backs and receivers they had five players in their sophomore year or below. Now with Sanders back they have some much needed experience on the field, and it could make this Broncos team an outside bet for the playoffs. We know their defense will compete, and if the offense can hang tough then things could get fun in Denver.
Emmanuel Sanders is amazing!— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 20, 2019
• He tore his Achilles Dec 5 2018
• Avg return from Achilles rupture: 11 months
• Career ending injury for 28% of players
Just 8.5 months later later, Sanders is playing well at full speed in live game action. Just incredible!
Image Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel