Tua, Fields, and Lance Check All the Boxes

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Tua Tagovailoa checked all of the boxes, good and bad, in Saturday's Miami Dolphins-Chicago Bears preseason game.

  • Scanning the whole field? Check.
  • Touch passes? Check.
  • Tight-window passes? Check.
  • Mobility and confidence in a collapsing pocket? Check.
  • Worrisome red zone decision making, resulting in an interception? Check.

A mixed bag, all in all. But at least it was a bag. The problem with trying to evaluate young quarterbacks in the preseason is that coaches are determined not to show us anything. Seriously, if I see one more play-action waggle to the tight end for 2 yards on second-and-10 I may headbutt my television. And while bombs from a clean pocket against backups playing vanilla coverages are exciting, they aren't exactly revelatory: if these lads couldn't uncork deep balls, they wouldn't have been drafted.

Tua, more than most of the other first- and second-year starters on display this weekend, had a chance to run something close to a full playbook against actual NFL defenders. That's because he's an uncontested starter for a team with postseason aspirations: the Dolphins are focused on getting him meaningful reps, not merely getting his feet wet. Hence the good news/bad news nature of his Saturday. If he can run the offense like he did for most of the first quarter, the Dolphins are solid playoff contenders. If he throws late into the middle of an end zone crowded with defenders too often, Brian Flores will be doubling his Lisinopril prescription and sending "miss u" texts to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Tagovailoa started nine games for a team that nearly reached the playoffs last year, but he looked more like a young emergency starter propped up behind the wheel of a don't-screw-up game plan than a former Heisman runner-up and fifth overall pick. Flores, meanwhile, never stopped coaching like an anxious dad taking Junior for his first driving lesson, turning the Dolphins over to the "proven" Fitzpatrick every time Tua failed to signal a right turn.

There were logical reasons why Tua appeared to be behind in his development last season—simultaneously learning a playbook and rehabbing an injury while in quarantine ain't easy—but he was behind nonetheless. Saturday marked the debut of the Tagovailoa we were supposed to see, the fully healthy and prepared version. It was mostly impressive with a troubling conclusion, not unlike a few of this weekend's "true" debuts.

The best outcome for a young quarterback in his first preseason appearances may well be a mix of very good and semi-bad plays: Tua's early drives and late interception, Trey Lance's awesome start and bumbling finish, Justin Fields' shaky start and subsequent surge, and so on. A complete bedwetting (Drew Lock, 2019 Hall of Fame Game) really can set a quarterback back for months. A sugar rush against third-stringers in tutorial mode (Lock on Saturday) can create unrealistic expectations for both coaches and fans. The cursory play-action waggles and slot screens we see in many young quarterback debuts are almost a waste of time. An up-and-down performance provides a little clarity of what a young quarterback is already good at and what he needs to work on.

It's silly to draw conclusions about preseason performances, of course. But it's not silly to gather evidence and reframe hypotheses. Tagovailoa ended last season with at least one toe on the Josh Rosen/Dwayne Haskins train to Early Bustville; despite one mistake, he now looks like someone who shouldn't have to hear any more Deshaun Watson trade rumors. The five first-round rookies mostly impressed. The quarterback competitions in Denver and New Orleans, for better or worse, remained competitive.

Here's a hype-and-drama free breakdown of this weekend's relevant quarterback developments:

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

One consequence of starting a journeyman such as Andy Dalton in the preseason is the possibility that the opponent embarks on a few long early drives, eating up most of the first half. Fields didn't get his second series until there was 4:23 to play in the second quarter, past the bedtime of nearly all the starters and top reserves on both teams. Giving a veteran multiple series as a starter can result in a false read, almost by design. Of course, that may be the unstated goal for an organization less interested in making the best decision than justifying an already-made decision.

Fields looked lost when he first took the field. It didn't help that teammates kept jumping offsides and one snap rolled up to his ankles. He was much sharper in the third quarter, when both teams were digging deep into their benches, creating opportunities for Fields to operate in space and show off his ability to sling the ball on the run.

If you feel compelled to form an opinion on Fields' readiness as a starter right now, it's best to take the mean of Fields' first- and second-half performances. I'm guessing that few people will.

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Hurts finished 3-of-7 for 54 yards, but with drops by Zach Ertz and Jalen Raegor. The Eagles offense is in 2019-2020 form, in other words. Hurts probably won't be the Eagles' biggest problem this year. There's no evidence yet that he's their long-term solution, either.

Mac Jones, New England Patriots

STEREOTYPICAL PATRIOTS FANS EDITION: Jones definitely looks the part. He displayed excellent poise and decisiveness, even making adjustments at the line when necessary. What he lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up for in his willingness to take what the defense gives him. Bill Belichick gave him reps with a mix of starters, backups, and third-stringers, shrewdly managing his workload, expectations, and development. And did you see that nearly complete bomb to Gunner Olszewski? Swoon! Let's hope we see more of THAT blue-collar pitch-and-catch combo in the future.


Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Here's a complete rundown of Lance's Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs:

  • First series: Dropped pass by Brandon Aiyuk; sack due to generalized offensive line collapse.
  • Second series: The Bomb to Trent Sherfield Heard 'Round the World.
  • Third series: Slot screen; sack where Lance holds the ball too long; checkdown completion on third-and-15.
  • Fourth series: Impressive touch pass over the middle to Charlie Woerner from the 1-yard line for 34 yards; dropped pass by River Cracraft after a scramble; completion just short of the sticks to Cracraft.
  • Fifth series: Drop by Richie James on third-and-9 after a pair of handoffs.
  • Sixth series: Two-minute drill. Lance's first truly off-target pass, then a screen for first down; a near-interception; another off-target pass; and a sack where Lance is chased down from behind.
  • Seventh series: One-minute drill. Strip-sack (Lance falls on it); 3-yard checkdown; near-interception.
  • Eighth series: Sideline throw wide of its target on first down; incomplete slant (Lance locks his eyes on his target) on third down.

(For the record, Jimmy Garoppolo went 3-for-3 on the opening series on passes which travelled approximately 15.3 Air Inches.)

Lance demonstrated obvious athleticism and a few soft skills, such as the touch on the Woerner pass and a willingness to find secondary targets. He was also increasingly jittery as the game progressed. But since the game was not nationally televised and the Sherfield bomb got about a zillion retweets just before East Coast fans logged off for the night, it's easy to believe Lance had some sort of transcendent debut, not just a solid one.

I'm about 70% ready to anoint Lance the 49ers' opening day starter. Those who claim to be 100% ready are either riding a popular narrative, made their minds up on draft night, or are basing their opinions on GIFs.

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Urban Meyer had no qualms about spreading the field, sending Jaguars receivers deep on vertical routes and letting Lawrence fend for himself. Lawrence sprayed the ball on some sideline passes and was strip-sacked on his first play, but looked comfortable scanning the field in search of a target.

My expectations for Lawrence hover in the "survive a year of Meyer dippiness and maybe develop a little" range. He looks capable of meeting them.

Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers

Love looked sharp and decisive, getting rid of the ball quickly on mostly prescribed throws and benefitting from a screen-and-go touchdown to someone named Kylin Hill before getting strip-sacked on a two-minute drill.

Imagine how delirious the storylines about Love's performance would have been if Aaron Rodgers were still holding out. We missed out on an Epic of Gilgamesh-level saga about human nature here, folks, a tale of ambition and jealousy worthy of being carved onto obelisks and resonating through the centuries. Instead, we'll just get perfunctory Love-to-the-Colts trade rumors.

Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos

The Vikings played like a team that spent the first two weeks of practice noodling around against fourth-string quarterbacks because Kirk Cousins is afraid of getting a magnetic atheist microchip in his arm. Lock looked like John Elway while leading the Broncos starters against Vikings backups. You will be shocked to hear that Teddy Bridgewater was gutsy and game-managery when leading the backups, throwing a touchdown pass to Trinity Benson (who should attend some Renaissance faires with River Cracraft) and losing a rugged up-the-gut scrambling touchdown to a penalty.

When vying for the Broncos' starting job, it pays to look like John Elway, no matter what the circumstances. The Broncos' job may now officially be Lock's to lose. Lock being Lock, there's still a chance he loses it, but that's starting to look like something that will happen in two months, not two weeks.

Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

Taysom Hill was surprisingly sharp on his first drive, finding open receivers and showing deft touch on a variety of throws. He backslid on subsequent drives into interceptions, near-interceptions, sacks, and general wobbliness. Hill's performance would be somewhat encouraging for a rookie and non-disastrous for a second-year player, but he's a soon-to-be 31-year-old in his fifth NFL preseason.

Jameis Winston appeared indecisive and off-target (with an underthrown tip-drill interception) on his early drives, then marched down the field on crisp passes against Ravens 2.5th-string defenders on a two-minute drill. Winston's performance would be non-disastrous for a prospect and non-noteworthy for a veteran game manager, but he's a former first overall pick entering his seventh NFL training camp trying to win a starting job from a wish-fulfillment fantasy come to life.

For those of you reading tea leaves: it sure looked like Sean Payton was trying to showcase Hill as a pocket passer by slinging the ball early. When Winston entered the game, suddenly the Saints were a ground 'n' pound team until the two-minute warning. Maybe Payton has seen all he needs to see from Winston in practice. Or maybe he just doesn't want to see much of Winston at all.

Zach Wilson, New York Jets

The boffo debuts of Justin Fields and Trey Lance may be the best thing that happened to Wilson this weekend: the New York tabloids may give Wilson the full back-page treatment, but the national talk shows will be busy elsewhere.

Graded on a Jets curve, Wilson's debut was a triumph: he didn't bounce a fumble off a teammate's jockstrap or accidentally detonate a nuclear warhead. Also, he missed the very start of camp and suffered a minor hand injury early in the week, so just seeing him out there distributing short, mostly prescribed passes was encouraging.

In a weekend full of debuts which are sure to generate far too much hype, Wilson is the best place that a New York rookie quarterback can be: under the radar.

Who's That Guy?

Ever watch the second half of a preseason game, see a highlight cross your feed, or scan the stat sheet on an August Sunday morning and wonder, "Say, who is that guy who ended up rushing for 82 yards?" Well, Walkthrough is here to provide answers. For those of you combing the NFL for potential ultra-deep fantasy sleepers, this week's edition of Who's That Guy? leans heavily on running backs .

Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona Cardinals
(five carries, 50 yards, one touchdown vs. Cowboys)

Benjamin rushed for 2,867 yards and scored 31 total touchdowns for Arizona State. He fell to the seventh round in 2020 because of A) collegiate fumbling issues and B) a lackluster 4.57-second 40 at the combine. Benjamin's 38-yard scamper on Friday night truly displayed that 4.57 speed: he made a nice cut to break free, but his "extra gear" in the open field is second.

I interviewed Benjamin at the 2020 Senior Bowl. He came across as a swell dude and has a reputation as a high character/effort player, the kind who sticks as a third running back for years (if he holds onto the ball) because he'll hustle on special teams. His career may now be headed in that direction.

Tony Jones Jr., RB, New Orleans Saints
(seven carries, 82 yards, one touchdown)

An undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame, Jones spent most of last season on the Saints practice squad. He became the Saints' workhorse in the second quarter on Saturday night when Sean Payton was making sure Jameis Winston wouldn't get many opportunities to outshine The Lovechild.

Jones is nothing special from a measurables standpoint, but he's behind veterans Devonte Freeman and Ty Montgomery for the third spot on the depth chart of a team that needs to save every single salary cap nickel it can find. Don't be surprised if he latches on to the back of the Saints bench.

Artavis Pierce, RB, Chicago Bears
(five carries, 50 yards)

Pierce lowered his pads and battering-rammed his way through the Dolphins nth-string defense for a 51-yard run on Saturday. That means he gained -1 yard on his other four carries (1, 1, -5, and 0 yards, all of them at or around silly time). That's a boom-or-bust profile if I ever saw one!

Pierce scored a 26-yard touchdown in the Bears' late-season blowout of the Jaguars in 2020. He's an all-purpose type who shared carries with Jermar Jefferson (see Craig Reynolds blurb below) at Oregon State in 2019. As his presence on the Foles string for the Bears suggests, Pierce is pretty far down on the depth chart. But David Montgomery limped off the field after one carry on Saturday and Tarik Cohen is on the PUP list, so Pierce may once again be needed for late-season work.

Sandro Platzgummer, RB, New York Giants
(four carries, 51 yards)

When I heard "Sandro Platzgummer," I assumed that Joe Judge had finally snapped and was spouting pidgin German gibberish like an assertive-discipline dog trainer. But no, Platzgummer joined the Giants last season from Austria as part of the NFL's international feeder program. A knee injury kept him off the field last year; he ripped off a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter against the Jets.

Corey Clement fumbled on Saturday. Devontae Booker was ordinary at best. Alfred Morris should have embarked on his assistant coaching career about three years ago. And we all expect Saquon Barkley to make triumphant returns from injury in Weeks 1, 4, and 14. That means Platzgummer could at least make the Giants practice squad and see some game action sometime this season. Ausgezeichnet!

Craig Reynolds, RB, Detroit Lions
(six carries, 49 yards, one touchdown vs. Bills)

Reynolds is so obscure that even the Lions didn't know who he was, even when he was on the field. "I introduced myself in the huddle at one point. They were like, 'Yo, what's your name?'" Reynolds said after Friday night's game, per ESPN's Eric Woodyard. "A couple coaches introduced themselves to me on the sideline during the game."

It turns out that multiple flight delays kept the former Jacksonville and Washington fringe player (one career catch, one career carry) from trying out for the Lions until Thursday. He was signed more or less on the spot and ended up playing most of the fourth quarter on Friday. Reynolds squirted through multiple tackles on one run and displayed a nifty jump cut and quick burst on his first NFL touchdown of any kind.

Reynolds must beat seventh-round pick Jermar Jefferson and undrafted Dedrick Mills to win the No. 3 job behind D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. He may get a chance to do so as soon as he suits up for his first practice with the team.

Asim Rose, RB, Minnesota Vikings
(25 carries, 100 yards)

Rose, one of the few Vikings who did not utterly humiliate himself on Saturday, is an undrafted rookie out of Kentucky. He shared the Wildcats backfield with Christopher Rodriguez Jr. in 2020 and was overshadowed by Lynn Bowden's quarterback/running back/receiver performance in 2019. Rose is evidence of the "fungible commodity" nature of running backs: a committee back for a second-tier program can look indistinguishable from a top prospect or experienced NFL veteran in certain conditions. That said, getting 25 carries in a preseason game is generally a sign that a player is NOT going to make a roster.

Trent Sherfield, WR, San Francisco 49ers
(one catch, 80 yards, one touchdown)

The guy who caught Trey Lance's first bomb (the ball is currently en route to Canton before being shipped to the Louvre and then blasted into low orbit so Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos can have a catch with it) was a core Cardinals special teamer for three seasons. Sherfield is likely to stick with the 49ers as a fifth/sixth receiver and kick gunner. He has 28 career NFL receptions and can handle a basic offensive role if called upon, but the 49ers are hoping to not explore the bottom of their skill-position depth charts this season.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots
(10 carries, 127 yards)

Stevenson ripped off a 91-yard touchdown so late in the fourth quarter on Thursday that it's better thought of as something that happened in an intersquad scrimmage.

Here's my short draft scouting report on Stevenson: "Stevenson missed the start of the 2020 season due to a drug suspension but finished the year with 186 rushing yards against Florida in the Cotton Bowl. He's a rectangular athlete with a punishing style between the tackles. He's also a better blocker than most running backs in this class. Stevenson maxes out as the burly power back in a committee." In other words: weak-tea Sony Michel. Stevenson will either end up on the practice squad or score 17 touchdowns in a LaGarrette Blount-type role.

Geno Stone, S, Baltimore Ravens
(two interceptions)

Stone was in the right place (on the field) at the right time (when Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston were quarterbacking the other team) on Saturday. He was a Ravens seventh-round pick out of Iowa last season. He suited up for a handful of games in 2020, was waived after a stint on the COVID list, and was picked up by the Texans, who subsequently released him because he was an inexpensive young player with potential instead of a career backup entering his seventh season.

Stone has a reputation as a hustle-and-instincts guy. The Ravens may have expected him to clear waivers so they could retain him last season. Two first-half interceptions should help him stick on the real roster this year.

Parting Thoughts

  • I read media reports from at least a dozen different teams on Saturday and Sunday along the lines of, "The big takeaway from the preseason opener is that the offensive line needs to play better." It's important to remember that established offensive linemen rarely play in the preseason opener, and that those who do are often surrounded by unfamiliar faces. But from a local storyline perspective, worrying about the offensive line sounds safer and more insider-y than gushing about this or that rookie. After all, the coaches are probably worried about the offensive line, too, because that's what coaches worry about. If an offensive line actually looks good at this time of year, it usually just means that the starters played multiple series against backup defenders who looked like they were going through the motions. But we've already covered the Broncos-Vikings game.
  • On a related note, I counted 50 holding penalties this weekend: six by the Falcons (!), four by the Eagles, four by the Cowboys, three by the Steelers and a scattering around the league. It's not clear entering this season if officials will be as lenient as they were in 2020. Results from Week 1 are inconclusive; the high number of penalties in the Eagles-Steelers game suggests that there may be some variations among crews right now. (The high Falcons total is because Falcons). Just about everyone who cares about NFL football except the defenders themselves prefers a game with fewer flags and negated completions. That preference will NOT be reflected in the league's ultimate decision in any way.
  • Local, team-employed preseason broadcasters are typically braying homers trying a little too hard to be hype men. But after taking 2020 off, too many of them sounded like they were either bad Madden impersonators or trying out to host Friday Night XXTreme Violent Wrasslin'. I heard enough 1960s Batman Boom!-Wham!-Yowza! sound effects punctuating routine catches and tackles this weekend to last a lifetime. Overselling the fifth-round pick after a 4-yard run is part of the job, but there's no reason. You aren't punching up the material with the Mean Gene Okerlund routine, dear broadcast colleagues, you're just underscoring how dreary most of the action is by trying so damn hard.


28 comments, Last at 17 Aug 2021, 5:03pm

#1 by Travis // Aug 16, 2021 - 10:22am

That means Platzgummer could at least make the Giants practice squad ...

The NFL's International Player Pathway Program gives teams an extra practice squad roster spot for players like Platzgummer.  The upside is that IPPP players don't count against the roster limit; the downside is that they can't be activated to the regular roster during the season.  He's a lock to make the practice squad, but the Giants have to decide whether to use the exception before the season starts.

Points: 0

#11 by Mike Tanier // Aug 16, 2021 - 1:53pm

Thanks! I was confused about the rules of the Pathway Program. 

Points: 0

#2 by andrew // Aug 16, 2021 - 10:25am

Asim Rose was never supposed to get 25 carries.   But after announcing that half the roster would not suit up they didn't have that many options left.

Apparently the plan was to feature Kene Nwangu.  But Nwangu also is vying for the kick returner job, and he returned the opening  kickoff 18 yards and injured his knee.

That left only Rose and Amir Abdullah who they also didn't want to risk so Rose got pretty much everything apart from one WR run and some Mond scrambles.

Points: 0

#3 by Harris // Aug 16, 2021 - 10:36am

I've heard all I ever need to hear from Ross Tucker.

Points: 0

#13 by Mike Tanier // Aug 16, 2021 - 1:57pm

Ross is a Friend of Walkthrough, and even if he was not, he would not crack the Bottom 15 of Homer Preseason Announcers.

I actually watched the Cardinals thinking "I hope that Jesse The Wannabe Ventura guy from the late 2010s is doing something else with his life." I was disappointed. Like, some of them are so bad they have left an indelible welt on my psyche that lasts from preseason to preseason. 

Points: 0

#14 by rpwong // Aug 16, 2021 - 2:47pm

I didn't watch a lot of preseason football this weekend, but I had the Panthers-Colts game on yesterday and this is exactly how I felt about Rick Venturi. He was so hard to listen to that I actually went on the Internet to find out his name, shortly before turning the game off.

Points: 0

#26 by JimZipCode // Aug 17, 2021 - 11:20am

There's a name I'm shocked to hear.  I was in my teens when the Baltimore Colts moved away to Indy; Rick Venturi has, to me, always been a symbol of the truly terrible coach.  The one who has never been associated with excellence at any time.  He was with Indy before they got good; then he was in New Orleans before they got good. 

But evidently he's beloved.  Here's a profile of him:

Go figure.

Points: 0

#16 by serutan // Aug 16, 2021 - 3:47pm

You did have to remind me of Wannabe Jesse.   He's definitely pretty bad.

Points: 0

#4 by serutan // Aug 16, 2021 - 10:46am

{...} and was picked up by the Texans, who subsequently released him because he was an inexpensive young player with potential instead of a career backup entering his seventh season.

If I didn't know better, I would say you were insinuating that the Texans' front office folks aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Points: 0

#5 by JimZipCode // Aug 16, 2021 - 11:03am

... picked up by the Texans, who subsequently released him because he was an inexpensive young player with potential instead of a career backup entering his seventh season.


Geno Stone looks better than he did last year: a little smoother or faster.  The Athletic's beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec, whose reporting is excellent, says he's in better shape.  But he's competing to be the Ravens 4th safety, against a beloved long-term veteran whose nickname is "Co-Cap", so I think he's still "on the bubble", though maybe on the right side of it this year.

A lot of Ravens-fan draftniks thought Stone was a huge steal in the seventh last year.  And his build is almost exactly the same as Co-Cap's.  So maybe he's the replacement and this is his time.

Points: 0

#17 by af16 // Aug 16, 2021 - 5:41pm

In reply to by JimZipCode

With all due respect to Co-Cap... Geno is very young and cheap and probably a better coverage DB at this point.

Points: 0

#6 by Raiderfan // Aug 16, 2021 - 11:36am

“Hurts finished 3-of-7 for 54 yards, but with drops by Zach Ertz and Jalen Raegor. The Eagles offense is in 2019-2020 form,”

Snarky trashing of Eagles? Check.

”Graded on a Jets curve, Wilson's debut was a triumph: he didn't bounce a fumble off a teammate's jockstrap or accidentally detonate a nuclear warhead.”

Snarky trashing of Jets? Check.

”Kirk Cousins is afraid of getting a magnetic atheist microchip in his arm.”

Snarky trashing of Cousins, while sneaking in a political statement? Check.

”And we all expect Saquon Barkley to make triumphant returns from injury in Weeks 1, 4, and 14.”

Snarky trashing of Barkley? Check.

Multiple snarking of the NO quarterbacks? Check.

”on passes which travelled approximately 15.3 Air Inches.”

invents witty new advanced football analytics method? Check.

”He displayed excellent poise and decisiveness, even making adjustments at the line when necessary. What he lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up for in his willingness to take what the defense gives him.”

Recycles comment on NWE from 2001-2019? Check.

this may be the ur-Tanier column.  And it is great!

Points: 0

#7 by Joey-Harringto… // Aug 16, 2021 - 11:39am

Some of the names in the "Who's that Guy?" section are straight out of the Key and Peele college bowl skit.  But we now live in a world where someone named "Case Cookus" was in serious danger of getting significant preseason action, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore.

Points: 0

#9 by Noahrk // Aug 16, 2021 - 1:11pm

How is Cookus pronounced, by the way? Like cook us? Or does it rhyme with doofus? Either way, it's a very... curious... name.

Points: 0

#22 by Joey-Harringto… // Aug 17, 2021 - 7:46am

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't initially know the reference, so I googled "Throatwarbler Mangrove".  The first link was a Marvel Wiki page that said it was the name of Tony Stark's yacht, which left me even more confused.  I read the article all the way down to the bottom until it said that Stark named his Yacht after the Monty Python character.  And now I will never get those five minutes of my life back.

Points: 0

#24 by Scott P. // Aug 17, 2021 - 10:31am

Here, I'll steal 12 hours of your life: just watch all of Monty Python.

Points: 0

#8 by Noahrk // Aug 16, 2021 - 1:09pm

I read media reports from at least a dozen different teams on Saturday and Sunday along the lines of, "The big takeaway from the preseason opener is that the offensive line needs to play better." It's important to remember that established offensive linemen rarely play in the preseason opener, and that those who do are often surrounded by unfamiliar faces.

If only that were true for the Dolphins. Their four young projected starters played most of the snaps and they did not look good, especially in the running game. They were destroyed on runs. It sort of reminded me of the Marino years, actually, except the defense played really well.

Points: 0

#10 by All Is On // Aug 16, 2021 - 1:15pm

Just about everyone who cares about NFL football except the defenders themselves prefers a game with fewer flags and negated completions.

While this is true, I think that's different than saying that people watching football think offensive lineman should be able to get away with all the holding they could ever want. Personally, I found the level of leniency last year to be pretty frustrating. I think it's just as bad for an offense to convert on a critical down where a defender got dragged down by an uncalled hold as it is for a completion to be called back for something ticky-tack.

Holding is always going to be subjective, but I think the league should try to be fair about it. I thought last year tipped too far in the favor of offenses. If, in tipping the scales back towards balance, we get more flags, I'm ok with it.

Points: 0

#19 by ImNewAroundThe… // Aug 16, 2021 - 6:47pm

Weird considering it's a new team...and he's bad.

Points: 0

#23 by Joey-Harringto… // Aug 17, 2021 - 7:49am

I thought that was bizarre, too.  Either they saw all they need to in practice (highly doubtful), or they're worried about his fragile psyche (in which case, why not let him sling it around against the opponent's 2nd team defense for a bit?)

Points: 0

#28 by ImNewAroundThe… // Aug 17, 2021 - 5:03pm

Big dislike on the way Carolina has handled the QB position under Rhule. 

I would've stayed with Cam for his final year but a new regime always wants what they want. But they wanted to replace the former MVP with...Teddy Bridgewater? At what price (I remember the notification coming on my phone and almost spitting whatever I was drinking)!? Wow. $23m (?) for one mediocre year of Teddy.

Then you go and trade for Darnold. Might be alright if it was for a Tannehill package (but even those are usually pointless, ala Denver taking him, or Nick Foles to Chicago). A future 2nd is pretty risky. And even if he hits, you're paying him right away! Now you're not playing the noob because...you're scared your new investment is gonna look bad? Yikes. He probably just needs reps on this new team.

Points: 0

#20 by Will Allen // Aug 16, 2021 - 7:39pm

Now, now, let us not denigrate Gene Okerlund by comparing his performances to that aspired to by preseason NFL homers. I have treasured memories of ill spent college years, which had a few evenings at a table in a saloon where Mean Gene, cocktail(s) in hand, put on magnificent performances for several hours, as I assisted him and some of his pals, putting together their fantasy football team, when that form of wagering was still pretty novel. It's been too long for me to remember the gags and one-liners in detail, but I remember it being nonstop, and how hard it was to concentrate on what guys to pick, when you're laughing that hard. A legend.


Points: 0

#21 by RobotBoy // Aug 16, 2021 - 9:11pm

The drumbeat for Mac Jones by a rabid contingent of Pats fans is either entertaining or annoying, depending on how much coffee I've had. Every completed practice pass starts a chant of 'Save us! Save us! Save us!' Along with an unseemly amount of venom spewed at Cam and even Belichick who 'hates rookies', 'is being blackmailed by Cam', 'made a deal with the devil', etc. In short, standard issue incumbent-who-struggled vs. high-draft-pick noise.

Besides the long run, I've liked Stevens in practice. He can block but past that, it seems like he has breakaway speed and burst that Michel has never demonstrated. There might be more upside there than Tanier believes.

Points: 0

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