Biggest Winners & Losers of Friday's Week 3 NFL Preseason Games
Last night I took a look at the winners and losers from Thursday's small slate of preseason NFL action. Considering that there were only a handful of games last night, I didn't have a whole lot to work from.
Tonight's slate of preseason action promises to be much more exciting as a number of teams have their final true dress rehearsal prior to the start of the regular season in a couple weeks.
This article is going to focus on the winners and losers from around the National Football League tonight.
Once again, I am not going to look at proven players such as Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan, they all have little to prove at this point. Instead, my primary focus is going to be on individuals that need to prove their worth heading into the regular year.
Winner: Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Talk about taking the starting job and running with it. Russell Wilson absolutely dazzled onlookers in his first NFL start for the Seattle Seahawks.
This performance nearly matches what we saw from Andrew Luck in his NFL debut against the St. Louis Rams a couple weeks ago. Pretty mighty praise if you ask me.
Wilson is now the unquestioned starting quarterback for Seattle heading into the regular season. An amazing feat considering many skeptics concluded he was too small to play quarterback in the National Football League.
Loser: Matt Flynn, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Matt Flynn is a loser for the night because he had to rest a sore shoulder, pretty much giving the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback job to rookie Russell Wilson.
In a dramatic change from three weeks ago, it appears that the Flynn will be in the same role he was in with the Green Bay Packers the last couple seasons, the primary backup.
While this isn't an ideal situation for Flynn or his new team, it makes sense for them to go young here.
Winner: Doug Martin, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin seems to have taken the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting running back job from incumbent LaGarrette Blount. While many of us expected this to happen sooner rather than later, the franchise made that decision relatively quickly.
Martin proceeded to score a first quarter touchdown and compile a total of 65 yards on 16 touches.
The real winner here should be those of us who made the decision to buy low on Martin in our fantasy football drafts. He is going to provide RB1 production and a ton of value.
The other winner here has to be considered Josh Freeman (more on him later), who will only be a successful NFL quarterback with balance on the offensive side of the ball.
There is a reason why Tampa Bay traded back into the first round of April's draft to select the Boise State product. We acquired a larger understanding of that reason Friday night.
Loser: Brandon Weeden, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns
After starting out Friday night by completing his first four passes, Brandon Weeden struggled a great deal against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The rookie quarterback completed just 5-of-17 passes after that initial surge and looked extremely uncomfortable in the pocket. He hesitated a lot, couldn't put the ball on the money and just seemed lost out there at times.
This is to be expected considering the Cleveland Browns really don't have the players to pick him up on the outside. I still want to see continued progression from the 2012 first-round pick, something we definitely did not see Friday.
Winner: Mychal Kendricks, Linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles
I know it was a relatively small sample size, but I absolutely love what I see from the rookie second-round pick from CAL. Mychal Kendricks just seems to have a feel for playing linebacker in the Philadelphia Eagles defensive scheme.
He was flying to the ball, recognizing offensive formations and showing everyone why a lot of experts considered him one of the underrated defensive prospects in April's draft.
Philadelphia got a real steal here.
Loser: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins
Not good, not good at all.
Ryan Tannehill came out against the Atlanta Falcons with that "deer in the headlights" look. He wasn't anywhere near as comfortable as we saw in the first two preseason games, continually holding onto the ball too long and struggling with accuracy.
Whether it was timing issues or overthrowing intended receivers, the Texas A&M product just doesn't seem to have a feel for the football field yet.
It is obviously going to take some time considering that you could define Tannehill as raw, but his performance Friday was definitely not a progression from his first two games.
Winner: Mark Barron, Safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Mark Barron in the top 10 of April's draft to be a difference maker and turn a game around by his amazing play-making ability.
This is exactly what the Alabama product did Friday night against the New England Patriots. He racked up three tackles, a pass defended and an interception return for a score.
What impresses me even more about Barron is the fact that he seems to have a good feel for coverage underneath. This is something that I definitely thought he would struggle with.
Loser: Josh Freeman, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Freeman looked really good to start Friday's preseason game against the New England Patriots, but that changed really quick.
A continuing theme for Freeman has been making bad decisions down the field. This was evident in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' third preseason game. He throws into tight windows, which indicates that the former first-round pick just doesn't seem to possess the field vision to be an above-average quarterback at this point.
According to Evan Silva over at Pro Football Talk, Freeman is averaging less than five yards per pass attempt.
Silva had the following to say about Freeman's performance Friday.
Continuing to look uncomfortable in new coordinator Mike Sullivan’s offense, Freeman completed 10-of-19 passes for 102 yards. He has leaned heavily on $55 million wideout Vincent Jackson throughout August, but otherwise relied mostly on checkdowns for his completions and failed to deliver the football accurately to receivers.
That's pretty much sums it up.
Winner: David Wilson, Running Back, New York Giants
David Wilson, who I had marked as nothing more than a project running back, pretty much spit on that idea Friday night against the Chicago Bears.
He looked decisive and strong at the point of contact. Moreover, the New York Giants rookie seemed to possess both the balance and field vision that I believed he needed to work on prior to becoming a standout player in the NFL.
To make matters more intriguing, Wilson did this against what has been a stout Bears rush defense. The Virginia Tech product gained 49 yards on just five rushes, adding another two receptions for 26 yards.
Fantasy owners might also want to take notice as it seems Wilson has made a strong push for the Giants primary backup running back job behind Ahmad Bradshaw.
Loser: Kansas City Chiefs
I could care less if it is a preseason game. You need to show up, put the pads on and prove that you can compete on a football field.
The Kansas City Chiefs failed to do this as they were embarrassed Friday night at home against the Seattle Seahawks.
Their defense got picked apart by a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start. Their offense struggled against what is quickly becoming an elite Seattle defense.
It was a disaster of epic proportions.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson combined for nearly 250 total yards, leading seven scoring drives, while picking on what had been considered a solid Kansas City secondary.
Matt Cassel seemed to revert back to 2011 form after playing extremely well in his first two preseason games. The veteran quarterback had an interception returned for a touchdown and compiled a quarterback rating of 66.8.
Considering that the third preseason game is the most important, this is not a good sign for a Kansas City team that was hoping to return to the postseason after a year hiatus.
However, it is important not to jump the gun. We still have to remember that this was a preseason game in August.
Winner: Nick Foles, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles got off to an inauspicious start, throwing a first quarter interception. That is where the struggles ended for the rookie quarterback against the Cleveland Browns on Friday.
While Foles isn't going to compete with Michael Vick for the starting job, he does seem to have the inside track on the primary backup job. This is something that would have been considered a stretch just a couple weeks ago.
More than statistics can explain, Foles looks comfortable in the Eagles offensive scheme. He also seems to have honed his technique a great deal from last season. Those are more important indicators to long-term success than statistics alone.
Loser: Sam Baker, Offensive Tackle, Atlanta Falcons
By the estimation of Bleacher Report colleague Scott Carasik, Sam Baker played some horrible football for the Atlanta Falcons on Friday. He is being tasked to protect their franchise quarterback, but continues to struggle a great deal.
Lamar Holmes, 7 positive plays, to one negative. Sam Baker 3 positive plays to 6 negative (5 pressures, 1 holding penalty).
While it might be premature to say there is going to be a competition between Baker and the rookie third-round pick from Southern Mississippi, the Falcons are going to have to look at other options if Baker doesn't start to play better.
At this point, I would have to conclude that there is little hope of him improving. Mr. Carasik pretty much verified that for us tonight.
Winner: Seattle Seahawks
What Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks did tonight against the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead was nothing short of amazing.
They made what has been a good Chiefs defense look completely lost. Wilson, a rookie from Wisconsin, combined for nearly 250 total yards and led seven scoring drives against Kansas City.
He did a tremendous job finding veteran receivers on the outside, using his feet to gain large chunks of yards and maintaining the poise that made him an intriguing prospect in the first place.
While Wilson and the Seahawks will definitely struggle to an extent on offense this season, they finally have a franchise quarterback to call their own.
The entire offensive identity in the Pacific Northwest changed Friday night and with it the future of this franchise seems to be getting brighter by the minute.
It might not be enough to challenge the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West, but Seattle is going to be a damn good football team for a long time. They're not going anywhere.
Loser: Davin Joseph, Guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Davin Joseph has been one of the best guards in the National Football League over the course of the last four seasons. He was going to team up with recently acquired Carl Nicks to form one of the best interior tandems in the entire league.
That all changed when Joseph, a former first-round pick, went down with what appears to be a serious knee injury against the New England Patriots on Friday.
Joseph will undergo further examination to determine the extent of his injury, but the early prognosis was that it was that the injury was quite serious.
The injury would be a tremendous blow to the Bucs, who have built around their offensive line as the most experienced unit on their team. Joseph and left guard Carl Nicks have been hailed by many as the best pair of guards in the league.
A bad break for both Joseph and the Buccaneers. Let's hope they get some good news tomorrow.