Week 3 of the preseason is usually reserved for players competing for spots at the bottom of the roster. But we saw several star players on Saturday, including quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen. There were some eye-opening performances that could have an impact on the 2023 season. So, without further ado, here are the five biggest takeaways from Saturday's games.
5 Week 3 Takeaways from Saturday
Rodgers-Wilson Connection In Midseason Form
We finally got to see Aaron Rodgers suit up in a game for the New York Jets. And it only took him one drive to shake off the rust. On the Jets' second drive, he took a shot downfield to Garrett Wilson that drew a pass interference call. Two players later, Wilson caught a fade pass from Rodgers, the quarterback's first touchdown pass in a Jet uniform.
🚨AARON RODGERS 1st JETS TD🚨
— NFL (@NFL) August 26, 2023
Rodgers and Wilson only played two series together, but they already are clicking. Wilson caught three passes for 30 yards and the score on just 10 snaps and could have had an even bigger performance if it weren’t for the DPI call.
Wilson is set to get the Davante Adams treatment for Rodgers, meaning he should see double-digit targets every week. After racking up 1,100 yards as a rookie, Wilson is a legitimate threat to lead the league in receptions, yards and touchdowns in Year 2. Rodgers clearly trusts him and will pepper the former Ohio State star with targets. It’s pretty shocking to see how well Rodgers and Wilson have clicked already. Wilson is a sneaky bet to win the Offensive Player of the Year award a year after winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Expect More Growing Pains For Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson got his first preseason action, and it was a bit of a mixed bag. Watson struggled with accuracy, missing high on several throws. Even when he wasn’t throwing, things looked clunky for Watson. Twice, Watson and the running back mishandled a handoff, one of which was recovered by the Kansas City Chiefs.
The good news is that Watson showed why the Browns were willing to gamble on him later in the quarter. On a third-and-long, Watson got out of the pocket and found a wide-open Amari Cooper down the field. He also connected with TE David Njoku for a touchdown on a beautiful throw in the back of the end zone.
There are flashes of brilliance from Watson and the Cleveland offense from time to time, but everything still feels a bit off. While it’s assumed things will be better this season, expect the Browns and Watson to still have growing pains early in the year as they try to find a way to fit the former Pro Bowl quarterback into their offense.
Browns Have A Major Kicking Issue
One other note on the Browns worth mentioning is kicker Cade York's preseason struggles only got worse. York missed his first kick of the game (an extra point), but a penalty negated the poor kick because he was run into by a Chiefs defender. York briefly left the game before returning to kick later in the quarter.
To his credit, York made three extra points and another field goal after being hit. However, the Browns again gave him an opportunity to make a winning field goal with less than a minute left. And for the second week in a row, he missed the kick despite it being only 43 yards out.
For a team with playoff aspirations, the Browns have a major hole on their roster that could wind up costing them games this season. York has been so up-and-down in the preseason and he had a poor rookie year. The Browns must consider moving on and getting a veteran option.
DJ Moore Will Unlock Bears' Offense
DJ Moore played just 15 total snaps in the preseason and that was more than enough to feel his impact on the Chicago Bears' offense. In Week 1, Moore took a screen to the house. He made a few defenders miss and outraced everyone to the end zone. This week, he caught a 15-yard pass in the middle of the field and took it another 25 to flip the field for the Bears. It was a routine throw by Justin Fields that ended up as a chunk play for Chicago.
D.J. Moore is that guy. pic.twitter.com/Lro1fT0vlu
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) August 26, 2023
These types of plays are exactly what the Bears were missing last season when they couldn’t create chunk plays in the passing game. They didn’t have a receiver who could add this kind of value after the catch and make life easier on the quarterback. Moore will help take the Bears' offense to the next level with his athleticism and dynamism after the catch.
Moore's addition for the Bears isn’t too dissimilar from the Buffalo Bills getting Stefon Diggs early in Josh Allen's career. That move helped Allen become a more efficient passer and helped improve his accuracy. The hope is that Moore can do the same for Fields, and evidence in the preseason suggests it could.
Adding a top-tier playmaker like Moore is sometimes all it takes for a quarterback and offense to take off. Look for Moore to revamp the Bears' passing attack and make this one of the more balanced units in the league.
Chiefs Still Seek Answers at Receiver
The reigning Super Bowl champions are still searching for answers at wide receiver. Kadarius Toney is questionable for Week 1, and the Chiefs hope one of their young receivers (Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Justyn Ross) can take a big step forward early in the season.
Rice has flashed this preseason, but he is still too inconsistent to be a reliable option. Saturday was a perfect example, as Rice had three drops in the first half. One of the drops would have been a touchdown, but it clanked off his hands. He’s got a lot of talent and appears to be a great fit in the offense, but there still is a lot of growth that needs to happen for the second-round pick from SMU.
The same can be said for Ross, who just finished his first preseason of his career. Ross, who missed all of last season due to injury, is refining his route running and working on finding a role in the offense. But his talent is obvious. That was displayed when he made a gorgeous touchdown reception on a back-shoulder fade.
Justyn Ross might actually be a thing. pic.twitter.com/YAJUwdlkDv
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) August 26, 2023
Ross might not be ready for an every-down role, but he has unquestionably made himself part of the equation at wide receiver for the Chiefs. The hope is that he can grow into a bigger role after making some strides throughout training camp.
The Chiefs are expected to use several receivers this year, but ideally, one or two would step up and become reliable targets for Patrick Mahomes. But from everything we’ve seen from the preseason, it appears that the wide receiver room remains a major question mark for the Chiefs.