A whole week of preseason matches is behind us, I’m back on the road and the season is on its way …
• Sean Payton’s mood the other night grabbed headlines — he told the media he did not feel like talking quarterbacks after a meltdown of six turnovers in the Saints’ opening season against Baltimore. But really, his reaction should say a lot to anyone who follows the competition. I talked to Payton a few times about the dynamics of Jameis Winston / Taysom Hill during the offseason, and I remember his reluctance to put non-negotiable on what he needed from his quarterback, for “what if none of They have it? “Eventually, he dived into what he saw as important. “The most important thing is to lead this team, lead the offensive to scores, protect football and score,” he said. “There are certain bids that we think are really important. Both have shown great leadership qualities, both have been very selfless, it has been a really good room here for a while, even back when Teddy [Bridgewater] was in the room. The rest will take care of themselves. Of course, it’s up to us to give these guys the best things we feel they can accomplish and let them play. But yes, that’s the approach we take. “So we can quite easily judge them by that standard.
Hill played the first three series of the game. The offense turned the ball over on the first two, with Hill standing for one on an interception. He also took a 12-yard sack to finish the third drive on a third-and-12 from Ravens 40, which was not ideal. On the bright side, the Saints picked up the first five downs and converted four third downs while Hill was in.
Winston played the next five — with two finishes in touchdowns, two more that ended in turnovers (one of which was a Winston pick) and one in a three-and-out. Winston led two seven-play, 80-yard drives in the second quarter and threw a touchdown pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey in the two-minute practice.
So even though Payton wanted to hold up Saturday night, it is fair to say that the round went to Winston. Which is not exactly why the previous top pick became comfortable, based on how his coach felt about it all afterwards.
• In the wake of the weekend, many teammates I spoke to talked about how their rivals may regret passing Justin Fields in April. It’s early, of course, but what got a couple of scouts I touched on was how comfortable Fields looked when they drove Matt Nagy’s offensive. And I do not think it surprises the Bears guys, based on what they’ve seen at this point. Then there’s how important pre – season fights would be for Fields all the time, which was reflected when I asked Nagy a few weeks ago if he would be ok. put Fields in a regular season game, based on where he was. “We’re working on it right now,” he said. “This is what we really want to see from now until the first week: Is he ready? Also, What is the scenario? Because every team is a little different. But I believe in this – he’s going to give everything he cares about so much. I will again use the word ‘prepared’. He will always be prepared and he has talent. So there have been a lot of quarterbacks who have been able to get into their rookie years and do things. And each situation, teams build a little differently than the next, they have all had their own situations and scenarios. So that’s the ultimate goal is to get him ready as soon as possible. But we need to be able to see more. “At the time, I told Nagy that Fields’ job was to make Nagy’s decision difficult, right? “Yes,” Nagy replied, “and I told him so.”
“If you do, check it, nothing else matters,” he continued. “But yes, man, make it difficult. All [the quarterbacks]- make it difficult. “
It definitely feels like Fields might be in the process of doing that.
• While we’re at the Bears, I have been intending to write this since I was at the Bears camp three weeks ago: The players are over the moon on the promotion of Sean Desai to the defensive coordinator. The 38-year-old has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the team, so he has standing relationships to much of the locker room, and his energy has spilled over onto the entire group. Also, a return to a pure version of Vic Fangio’s defense, the scheme that made Chicago so intimidating to the defense in 2018, has been welcomed by veterinarians in space.
• I’ll probably do more with the topic “What can you really do with pre-season games?” next week, but I asked around about it the last few days, and an interesting principle emerged: Second half-year sacks can mean almost nothing. The reason for? Because the offensive depth is really bad across the NFL, so pass-rushers who hack those sacks after halftime probably don’t manage as much as you think they do. So dampen your enthusiasm for the sixth-round pass-rusher that looked good in the third quarter last weekend.
Related: Sniffing around the trading market, offensive line still seems to be the most coveted position. That is, if you have a good extra lineman or two, you may be able to get a good return for them.
• Washington edge terror Chase Young put the Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn in a body bag last Thursday, and to see him come to Cam Newton as fast as he did should only illustrate what the WFT defensive line, filled with first-round picks on all fours places, should be able to do in the fall. And here’s another reason why they feel good about where they are: Improved depth on the corner with veteran addition William Jackson and rookie Benjamin St. Which should only allow them to be more aggressive up front. Which, reasonably, can be a really bad deal for the offenses they face.
• The Jamal Adams situation in Seattle was definitely part of the equation in the Jets’ decision to trade their star safety last summer. They knew, apart from Adams’ dissatisfaction with his situation there, that he would be very, very difficult to sign. And the Seahawks are now caught in a little bit of a Catch-22, after giving up a few picks in the first round to get him without extending in advance. And if you want an idea of how that kind of can swing leverage, take a look at what the Texans ended up paying Laremy Tunsil and what the rams gave Jalen Ramsey.
• A looming piece of business for teams – deciding how to use the remaining pre-season games. Previously, they would routinely use the third game as in the dress rehearsal / regular season optimization and the fourth game as a last chance to look at each guy at the bottom of the roster. But this year, when the fourth game got off, that script needs to be rewritten. Some may want to use this week’s game as the dress rehearsal, even if it leaves a gap of three weeks up to the openers. Some will keep it during the third game at the expense of yet another evaluation of the bottom of the roster. The bottom line is that there is a downside to either / or, and therefore teams that have joint exercises over the next two weeks are likely to have a better shot at managing things.
• Tim Tebow not appearing on special teams is not a good sign of his viability to stay on Jaguar’s roster. If he does not reach it, it will be interesting to see if they put him on the training team. Things are generally 33 too old for a player to be a development project, and that’s what these training squads tend to be for.
• The end of the Lions game against the bills on Friday night was instructive in how teams generally use pre-season games in different ways. New coach Dan Campbell caught some shit for his handling of the watch. Down by two, the Lions had second and ten on Buffalo 15 with 1:49 left. Campbell and OC Anthony Lynn called two passes. In second place, receiver Javon McKinley ran without limits to stop the clock at 1:46. Third down was a David Blough imperfection. So Randy Bullock trotted on after a 28-yard field goal, 1:38 was left and the bills ran after the game-winning field goal. And if this was a regular season match, it would have been mistreatment of Campbell and Lynn. But in this setting? Campbell saw a shot to evaluate Blough in a red zone and get a look at his two-minute defense. Which, of course, made sense as he was still teaching the team. So yes, everyone uses the pre-season in a different way. But winning the actual games is never really crucial.
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