Though preseason games often are not the most accurate indicators for regular season success, the third week of the preseason offers us the best chance to see how players are doing before the regular season begins as teams play their starters for long periods of time, often into the third quarter.
Compare that to the fourth and final week of the preseason, in which most of the starters hit the bench early, and it’s easy to see the importance that the third week of the preseason holds.
For quarterbacks, it’s especially important because it gives them time to adapt to the flow of the game, something which may not happen in any of the other preseason games.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly quarterbacks from the third week of the preseason. Apparently there wasn’t much pass defense played because there are a lot more good quarterbacks than bad and ugly ones this week.
Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Brady played for a while against the Washington Redskins and played well, as he finished 12-for-19 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Watching the Patriots offense led by Brady against the Redskins evoked memories of the 2007 New England team, when Brady broke the passing touchdowns record.
One thing to note was that for as well as Brady played, he did take a nasty hit from Washington defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who wrapped Brady up and took the pile to the ground, where Brady’s right shoulder was the first thing to hit.
The Patriots say Brady’s fine and it’s no big deal, but we have seen too many quarterbacks suffer from shoulder injuries sustained on similar hits. So be sure to check the injury updates, as well as see how Brady does in the final week of the preseason if he plays.
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
Though it came against the Oakland Raiders, Brees and the Saints offense were nearly flawless in the third week of the preseason.
Brees finished 14-for-17 for 179 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It should also be noted that Brees accomplished all of that on just three possessions.
Oh yeah, and the Saints’ top two running backs, Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, did not play in the game. Not that we expected any less of Brees, but to see him and the Saints offense firing on all cylinders is great and confirms that Brees is in fact the top fantasy quarterback this season.
Jason Campbell (Washington Redskins)
After a downright atrocious performance last week, Campbell rebounded well and displayed the great potential we’ve known he has with a good game against the Patriots.
Campbell went 13-for-22 for 209 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was in complete control of the offense and made some really great passes while leading the Redskins on some scoring drives.
As it remains, however, Campbell needs to prove he can be consistently good on a weekly basis for him to ever become more than a spot starter in fantasy football.
Daunte Culpepper and Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Culpepper started the game, but both quarterbacks played against the Colts’ first team defense, and both of them did well.
Culpepper finished 7-for-12 for 67 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, and Stafford was 13-for-19 for 160 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.
Stafford’s interception came at the very end of the second quarter when the Lions were trying to heave the ball downfield, hoping for a touchdown. Other than that, Stafford was actually pretty impressive, as he made some throws that not many other quarterbacks in the NFL can make.
Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
If there was one performance that stuck out above the rest, it would be Flacco against the Carolina Panthers.
Flacco was composed in the pocket despite facing a heavy pass rush, and it showed, as he finished 23-for-28 for 247 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He led the Ravens on multiple scoring drives, and the throws he made were very impressive, especially his touchdown pass to Todd Heap that beat double coverage in the corner of the end zone.
He has clearly grown a lot since last season, when he was playing not to lose.
Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle Seahawks)
Hasselbeck has shown no signs of being slowed down by the back injury that sidelined him during parts of last season.
Against the Chiefs, Hasselbeck finished 19-for-25 for 216 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Hasselbeck was extremely precise with the ball and spread it around to multiple receivers.
From what we’ve seen in the preseason, it appears you can forget about 2008 and go back to valuing Hasselbeck the way he once was, which is as a fantasy football starter. He certainly could finish among the top 10 quarterbacks this season.
Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts)
There’s really not much to say here.
Against the Lions, Manning was 12-for-15 for 123 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The turnover in the coaching staff does not appear to have affected Manning that much, and if you watched this game you would’ve seen how powerless the Lions were in trying to stop the Colts.
It also appears as if Manning is going to find Dallas Clark often this year. Clark is a matchup nightmare because he can play tight end or slot receiver, and it seems he always is able to exploit huge holes in coverage.
Either way, Manning was great again and has proven his value as a top three fantasy quarterback.
Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles)
McNabb played for a while against the Jaguars and performed well, as he finished 21-for-36 for 244 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
It was important to see this out of McNabb this week because he’ll probably play just one series in the final week of the preseason.
However, as well as McNabb played, it was his comments after the game that seemed odd.
Backup Michael Vick was rotated in for McNabb at times during the game, and McNabb was not too happy in the post-game press conference. McNabb suggested Vick’s presence was merely a gimmick and that McNabb needed more time with the offense to establish a rhythm.
He has since deflected talk of him being unhappy with the situation, but it remains something to keep your eye on once Vick does return from his suspension in the regular season.
Chad Pennington (Miami Dolphins)
Pennington continued his good play during the preseason as he finished 9-for-16 for 128 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions against Tampa Bay.
It was a game where defense reigned supreme, and Pennington accounted for the only touchdown on a two-yard pass to tight end Anthony Fasano.
While Pennington played well, backup Chad Henne struggled, as he was 2-for-5 for 55 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. It’s been rumored that Henne would take over for Pennington at some point this season, but if Pennington continues to play well, then there would be no reason for a switch. So far, Pennington has played pretty well.
Brady Quinn (Cleveland Browns)
In the closest quarterback competition of the preseason, Quinn once again took a slight edge over Derek Anderson.
This past week, Anderson also played well against the Titans, as he finished 7-for-11 for 77 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. But it was Quinn that stuck out. Quinn finished 11-for-15 for 128 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He led the Browns on consecutive scoring drives—their first two of the game as well—and displayed not only great accuracy with the ball, but also some good arm strength.
His only touchdown pass was a 20-yard strike to Braylon Edwards, on a post where Quinn fit the ball perfectly between the corner and the safety and right onto Edwards’ numbers.
Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers)
Despite not having running back LaDainian Tomlinson or tight end Antonio Gates on the field, Rivers excelled again, this time throwing for 185 yards and a touchdown on 10-for-15 passing against the Falcons.
Rivers led the Chargers on scoring drives on two of their first three possessions.
To be fair, Rivers’ touchdown pass came on a screen play to Michael Bennett where Bennett did most of the work. However, watch the rest of Rivers’ completions from the game, and you’ll see how good he was with the football. He has cemented his status as a top five fantasy quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Rodgers and the Packers offense have been awesome thus far in the preseason, and the third week proved to be no different.
Rodgers finished 14-for-19 for 258 yards with three touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals. He was nothing less than great in this game, and it just goes to show how much he has improved over last year.
From watching the game against the Cardinals and how well Rodgers played, it’s a wonder how any of his passes go incomplete in the first place.
He is just that good.
Mark Sanchez (New York Jets)
It was Sanchez’s first start since being named the starter, and he made head coach Rex Ryan’s decision look good.
Against a very good New York Giants defense, Sanchez finished 13-for-20 for 149 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His touchdown came on a 31-yard pass to Chansi Stuckey where Sanchez evaded three New York defenders and then hit Stuckey on the sideline.
After catching it, Stuckey made an incredible play to get in the end zone, but it was impressive to see Sanchez avoid a blitz and still throw a good pass.
Trent Edwards (Buffalo Bills)
So much for Edwards and the offense progressing with each game. Against the Steelers, Edwards finished 6-for-13 for 31 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.
Pittsburgh is a tough defense no matter how you slice it, but Edwards and the Bills' first team offense needed a better performance than that.
Buffalo was still without Terrell Owens, who missed his third consecutive game with a toe injury, but that should be no excuse for Edwards.
Kyle Orton (Denver Broncos)
Putting Orton under “the bad” category may seem weird considering he completed 12 of his 16 attempts for 96 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
However, Orton only managed to lead Denver to one scoring drive—a field goal—on six different possessions. To make matters worse, he apparently broke a finger on his throwing hand.
The Broncos didn’t acknowledge that it was broken or say how long he may be out, but the injury to Orton leaves the Broncos with rookie Tom Brandstater as their top healthy quarterback.
Byron Leftwich, Luke McCown, and Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Buccaneers quarterbacks are all in a competition for the starting job, yet none of them played well enough against the Dolphins to separate himself from the others.
Byron Leftwich was just 9-for-17 for 100 yards, Luke McCown was 5-for-11 for 38 yards, and rookie Josh Freeman was 6-for-16 for 50 yards. None of the three had a touchdown.
Leftwich overthrew an open receiver in the end zone, and while he may have been named the starter by coach Raheem Morris over McCown and Freeman, that spot is not by any means secure.
Vince Young (Tennessee Titans)
Young had some good and some bad against the Browns. He finished 17-for-24 for 174 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which would look good to somebody who only took a quick glance at the box score.
What you may have missed is Young fumbling away the ball on Cleveland's one-yard line and later throwing a pick-six to a backup linebacker.
Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs)
It’s tough to grade Cassel’s performance in this game because he didn’t attempt a pass.
Cassel left the game after suffering what the team is calling an MCL sprain. If that’s in fact what the injury is, then Cassel should miss anywhere from two to four weeks and avoid surgery.
The rumor going around Monday afternoon was that Cassel will miss the first game of the regular season, so if you have him as your starter, be prepared to use your backup.
Shaun Hill (San Francisco 49ers)
It’s a good thing Hill was named the starter last week because he played even worse this week than he did in the second preseason game.
Against the Cowboys, Hill finished 9-for-17 for 79 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. That’s right—Hill played into the third quarter and only managed to complete nine passes for 79 yards. That equates to 4.9 average yards per attempt. If that’s not ugly, then we don’t know what is.
Eli Manning (New York Giants)
Whether he was feeling bad about the Plaxico Burress decision or he was daydreaming about participating in the ODSRL (Oreo Double Stuf Racing League), Manning was not in the game at all against the Jets.
Manning finished 9-for-21 for 91 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He constantly overthrew his receivers, and even when they could get their hands on the ball, it seemed they would drop it.
*THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY BRUNO BOY CORY STEGER. FOR MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL INSIGHT AND ADVICE, CLICK THE LINK BELOW.*
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