Analysis

2022 NFL Preseason: Week 2 Expert Analysis & Takeaways

Baker Mayfield

Here are some key takeaways from the second week of the preseason, from the former NFL coaches, players, executives and scouts at The 33rd Team.

Panthers QB Battle Taking Shape

“It is time for coach Matt Rhule to name the starter at the quarterback position for the Panthers, and that should be Baker Mayfield. Rhule and his staff have more than enough information for a through evaluation. At this point, the sooner the better for the individual QBs, the team and the entire organization. I suspect this will occur in the next couple of days. If not, the perception of the Panthers will be one of hesitation and indecision.” —Marty Mornhinweg, before the Panthers named Mayfield the starter on Monday.

“He knows who his starting quarterback is. He’s just learned the business side of the NFL. This isn’t college anymore—there’s constant moving pieces at this level. Especially after losing Matt Corral, you don’t show your hand until you have to.” —Drew Stanton

“Rhule may not be ready to name a starting QB, but if anyone other than Mayfield takes the first snap against Cleveland in Week 1, there are no words adequate to express the surprise. Mayfield became QB1 in Carolina the second the trade was official.”—Charles Davis

“Pay absolutely no attention to preseason statistics . They mean nothing for too many reasons to list here. What the coaches are evaluating is performance within the scheme and within the match ups they face . That is why coach Rhule is not yet ready to make a decision. He has not yet seen enough of both QBs within the context of the above criteria in just two preseason games.”—Bill Polian

Kenny Pickett Creates More Buzz in Pittsburgh

“Kenny Pickett has to be the most intriguing story of the preseason. After two preseason games, the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie passer has been solid and has made a strong case for becoming QB1. He has demonstrated great command of the offense, shown poise in the pocket, ability to make plays outside of it, and has been very accurate. What stands out most has been his execution during two-minute drives. Particularly, I loved his two-minute drive this week against Jacksonville when he led the offense on a 67-yard scoring drive at the end of the second quarter. He took what the defense gave him, stood confident in the pocket, and finished the drive with a touchdown.” —Matt Cassel

“Kenny Pickett saw more time with and against the starters and had another strong performance going 6 of 7, 76 yards and a touchdown.”—T.J. McCreight

“Pickett has played a total of 42 snaps through the first two preseason games. He has been very impressive. Watching him this past week against Jacksonville, he looked like a vet. He was in full control of the offensive leading Pittsburgh to a touchdown in a two-minute drive before the half. I was very impressed on how he handled himself in the pocket under duress. He was under pressure numerous times but showed poise and delivered the ball on time. Most rookie QBs will use their legs first if they feel pressure in the pocket. Numerous times, knowing he was going to get hit, the ball was out of his hands before the receiver was out of his break…and he hit the receiver in stride. Based off these 42 preseason snaps, he looks like he is ready to start Week 1.”—Rick Spielman

“It appears that Pickett has seamlessly transitioned from college into the National Football League. The talented Pickett has displayed quick decision making, good accuracy and the understanding of NFL timing. He also shows excellent instincts and maturity for a rookie. What a positive future outlook the Steelers have with Pickett, at some point, replacing the great Ben Roethlisberger.” —Marty Mornhinweg

“Having coached some young and rookie QBs, one of the really important things to see is how they handle two-minute drives.  Picketts’s drive was impressive—not just because he scored (and really scored twice), but he did it while dealing with significant pressure by the Jaguars.  He took some shots, remained poised and threw really catchable balls. Moments like that makes talking about him as the starter more realistic.” —Eric Mangini

“Preseason or not, that’s an important and impressive sequence for him. The NFL is all about situational football and most games are won or lost within the last two minutes of the game. You either have that ability to process and operate or you do not. Kenny Pickett obviously does!” —Drew Stanton

“Pickett’s decision to stay in school an additional year is evident this preseason. His elevation in play at Pitt in 2021 bred confidence, poise, and additional skills that have been on display in the first two preseason games. He’s making his new teammates believe in his talents and leadership.” —Charles Davis

Pederson Has the Jaguars Believing

“Jacksonville’s defense has looked legit this preseason and might be a Top-10 defense this year. They have two legit pass rushers in Trevon Walker and Josh Allen. Folorunso Fatukasi, who they signed from the New York Jets, should solidify the interior vs the run. Arden Key, an under-the-radar signing, looks like he is going to be a handful to block as a third inside pass rusher. They are fast and athletic at the linebacker position with Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun—another big-money signing this off-season from Atlanta. They have three legit cornerbacks in Shaq Griffin, Tyson Campbell and Darius Williams, who they signed from the Los Angeles Rams. I also believe that Caldwell, a Todd Bowles disciple, will be very aggressive with his play calling and let these athletes play fast and go make plays.” —Rick Spielman

“It’s easy to take preseason results with a grain of salt, but the early showing of the Jacksonville Jaguars defense should not be taken lightly. A new staff, led by a first-time defensive coordinator in Mike Caldwell, and players adapting to a new system, voices and techniques is building some needed confidence quicker than expected after a beyond-difficult 2021 season.” —Charles Davis

“Doug Pederson is a proven winner and motivator. This isn’t the same Jaguars of the past few years and his leadership has already taken effect. These men believe in what he is preaching.” —Drew Stanton

Offensive Fireworks for Buffalo

“I was very impressed by all three Buffalo Bills’ QBs going 26/29 for over 300 yds, two touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s hard to do in a preseason game.” —Dirk Koetter

“The Bills offense looked in mid-season form against the Broncos. They scored 42 points, had 32 first downs and 510 total yards. Josh Allen, Case Keenum and Matt Barkley were a combined 26 of 29 with a rating of 133.0.” — T.J. McCreight

Special Teams Make the Roster

“Cleveland Browns rookie kicker Cade York continues to impress both in practice and in the pre-season games. Against the Eagles on Sunday, York made a 50-yard field goal in wet conditions and had enough leg on a 55-yard field goal but it hit off the right upright.” — T.J. McCreight

“Preseason is a great chance to identify young players who may become future stars. Pickett and KaVontae Turpin of the Dallas Cowboys were both fun to watch this weekend.” —Wade Phillips

“Not so special. The Chargers allowed two touchdowns on special teams against the Cowboys—both by Turpin. The former USFL MVP had a 98-yard kick-off return and an 86-yard punt return.” — T.J. McCreight

Backup QB Heroics

“I personally saw one hell of an elusive player in Titans rookie QB Malik Willis who is fun to watch improvise but is not yet capable of using his elite arm talent as a passer. I don’t believe there is a legit QB competition, but head coach Mike Vrabel is giving the young kid a good long look in the preseason.” —Ronde Barber

“Cleveland Browns backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs had a strong outing against the Eagles going 14 of 20, 141 yards and a rating of 89.8. In four series, he engineered two touchdowns and two field goals. He also produced with his legs with a 36-yard run.”—T.J. McCreight

“Colts’ quarterback Sam Ehlinger has really impressed in the preseason so far. He is 19/22 with 224 Passing Yards 4 TD’s 0 INT’s for a QB rating of 148.7. He has looked very comfortable operating Frank Reich’s offense going into his second season. He is making a case for the second spot on the Colts QB Depth Chart.”—T.J. McCreight

Odds & Ends

“There comes a time as a player when you realize you don’t have the leverage. That’s where Chicago Bears Roquan Smith is at. As a man, you uphold the life of that rookie deal, but when the time comes, that he does have leverage, he will take full advantage.”  —Drew Stanton

“I don’t expect the Tennessee Titans to experience lingering effects from their disappointing end to the 2021 season. The defense which began last year with plenty of question marks has developed into a dependable strength. I believe QB Ryan Tannehill will bounce back in a big way after his four-interception disaster against the Cincinnati Bengals in the postseason. Tannehill has been sharp and consistent all camp and he was really good in joint practice sessions competing with Tampa Bay’s strong defense. Head coach Mike Vrabel has come into his own and is one of the best in the NFL.” —Charles Davis

“Miami will play good defense this year, but they have to be concerned about the depth at cornerback. They don’t have much depth behind Xavien Howard and Byron Jones (who is currently on PUP). Miami has enough offensive weapons, and QB Tua Tagovailoa should be able to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, but unless the offensive line improves, they will struggle. The key to Mike McDaniel’s offense is being able to run the ball. In Miami’s first two preseason games, they have really struggled to establish the run game. Mike Gesicki, who they franchised this past offseason, has also struggled in this new scheme. Tight ends must be able to block in this scheme, and that is not Gesicki’s strong suit. Will Miami potentially try to trade him?”—Rick Spielman

“Seattle Seahawks rookie first-round left tackle Charles Cross had three false start penalties and a holding infraction in their game against the Bears. The Seahawks had 13 total penalties, fumbled three times and punted 10 times.”— T.J. McCreight

“The Raiders’ rushing attack has continued to impress this preseason. They have rushed for at least 140 yards collectively in all three of their preseason games. Josh McDaniels’ offense emphasizes the running game so expect this to continue. They have deep depth at running back with Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and Ameer Abdullah. Austin Walter and Brittain Brown have had nice showings this preseason to add to that group.”—T.J. McCreight

“Old school football. The Cowboys only threw 18 passes on Saturday against the Chargers. They rushed 33 times for 115 yards (3.5 yards per rush).”— T.J. McCreight

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