It's almost too bad that the Raiders have to wait two weeks for the regular season to start because they're ready to roll now. There's a reason why the Raiders are a popular playoff pick this year and that reason is because Derek Carr slings fire every time he throws the ball.
The Raiders quarterback started off hot against Tennessee and never really cooled off during the five possessions he was on the field during the Raiders' 27-14 loss.
On the Raiders' second offensive play from scrimmage, Carr hit Michael Crabtree with a perfect over-the-shoulder pass on the sideline that went for a 41-yard gain. Carr didn't stop there. He also threw a sweet 29-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.
.@DerekCarrQB.@AmariCooper9.— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
That AC⚡️DC connection is BACK. #TENvsOAKhttps://t.co/zHNgWVQqRa
Overall, five of Carr's 12 completions went for 14 or more yards in the game. That's the kind of big play capability that's going to make the Raiders offense scary this season. Carr played one possession into the third quarter and finished the game 12 of 18 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper had three catches for 52 yards, while Crabtree ended his night with just that one big catch.
Raiders fans probably don't need anything else to be excited about because their heads are probably close to exploding from optimism, but guess what, there's more. Let's talk about DeAndre Washington.
Although Latavius Murray is the Raiders starter, Washington got most of the snaps on Saturday and he made the most of them. The 2016 fifth-round pick made a bid for some serious playing time with his performance against the Titans.
Not only did Washington carry the ball eight times for 55 yards, but he also added a six-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
Anyway, Raiders fans better keep their fingers crossed that Carr never gets hurt because things got pretty ugly for Oakland's offense after he left the game. Matt McGloin and Connor Cook each threw an interception during their short time on the field in the second half.
Here are 12 more things to know about Saturday's preseason action:
2. The Bears' offense was embarrassingly bad
The Bears' starters (most of them, anyway) were simply embarrassed by the Chiefs in the first half. The ugly numbers: Chicago ran 18 plays before halftime en route to being out-possessed by the Chiefs, 21:54 to 8:06. Those 18 plays totaled 20 yards. That's an average of 1.11 yards per play. They were out-gained 239-20. They totaled -7 (yes, negative 7) passing yards in the first half, and only 27 rushing yards.
They allowed the Chiefs to go on three drives of 10 plays or more, all of which ended in scores. Had Andy Reid not elected to kick two field goals from inside the 10-yard line, they might have totaled more than 13 points, too.
The final indignity showed up on the last two plays of the first half. After Spencer Ware was penalized 15 years for unsportsmanlike conduct on his touchdown celebration, the Bears got the ball on a short field with six seconds left in the half. They attempt to run a quick-hitting pattern to gain a few extra yards, but Jay Cutler threw the ball into the ground, missing a wide-open receiver by a mile.
On the next play, he was strip-sacked by Dontari Poe. The fumbled was recovered for a loss of 10 yards.
The final: 23-7 Chiefs, but it wasn't really as close as the score.
3. The Chiefs do more with less
Kansas City was missing several starters on both sides of the ball ( Jamaal Charles, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, Josh Mauga, and center Mitch Morse, who was ruled out shortly before the game), but their starters really took it to the Bears. Alex Smith was his usual efficient (20 of 30) but not very explosive (6.0 yards per attempt) self, though he did lead the Chiefs on the aforementioned three scoring drives.
Not bad, Alex Smith...— NFL (@NFL) August 27, 2016
Not bad at all! 🏈 #KCvsCHIpic.twitter.com/HtDhogXzAn
Spencer Ware found the end zone with a short plunge and had four catches. Jeremy Maclin had five and Travis Kelce had three. Andy Reid's crew mixed in some multi-tight end sets to get guys like Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis involved.
The defense may have looked even better than the offense. Derrick Johnson was flying all over the field, making plays in the backfield and near the line of scrimmage. Poe had a sack and another quarterback hit, and rookie Chris Jones practically took up residence behind the Bears' offensive line. Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, and Daniel Sorenson got help from a couple Chicago drops, but they held their own in coverage for the most part.
4. Bears quarterback Connor Shaw carted off
Shaw led the Bears on their only scoring drive of the afternoon, but suffered what looked to be a fairly serious injury on Chicago's next possession. He was ultimately carted off the field after going 5 of 6 for 68 yards and a touchdown toss to Cameron Meredith.
The Shaw scramble...— NFL (@NFL) August 27, 2016
The Meredith dive...
A @ChicagoBears touchdown! #KCvsCHIhttps://t.co/WcbLpfJct1
Connor Shaw injury: pic.twitter.com/C13ArjdtIw— Dane Noble (@WindyCGridiron) August 27, 2016
5. Ravens lose Ben Watson for the season
The Ravens signed Ben Watson to a two-year, $7 million deal this offseason after his 74-catch, 825-yard, six-touchdown year with the Saints in 2015, hoping he would provide another reliable target for Joe Flacco over the middle. On the first play of their third preseason game, Watson's 2016 campaign came to an end. He tore his Achilles on a non-contact play, and he's expected to be out for the year.
TE Benjamin Watson has torn his Achilles.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 27, 2016
Ravens TE Benjamin Watson tore his Achilles on first play of game. He's out for season. https://t.co/avAx5tOiaU— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 27, 2016
It's a pretty big blow for a Baltimore offense that already has Joe Flacco coming off a torn ACL and Steve Smith returning from a torn Achilles of his own.
6. Two Colts leave with injuries
The injury hits keep on coming across the league. Early on in the Colts-Eagles game, cornerback Darius Butler picked off Sam Bradford on a pass that Nelson Agholor dropped. He then exited the game with an ankle injury, dealing a blow to the Colts' defensive backfield. As if that weren't bad enough, what might be the weakest position group on Indy's team got even weaker when guard Jack Mewhort left the game with an injury of his own in the third quarter. How bad might that be for the Colts if his injury is serious?
A Colts blog felt compelled to tweet this at the end of the third quarter:
Here's the good news: there's only one more quarter of this.— Stampede Blue (@StampedeBlue) August 28, 2016
Luckily Andrew Luck is still upright.
7. Colts still have issues up front and over the middle
If, like me, you watched Colts-Eagles on NFL Game Pass with the Colts' broadcast feed, you no doubt heard the Indianapolis announcers repeatedly bemoan the fact that so much of Philadelphia's offensive production was coming on plays right up the middle. Sam Bradford's two touchdown tosses (to Dorial Green-Beckham and Trey Burton) were both wide to the left side of the field, but the majority of their work moving up and down the gridiron came right over the middle of the defense.
This is something that plagued the Colts last season. Per Football Outsiders, they ranked 21st in DVOA on passes to the deep middle of the field and 20th in passes to the short middle. Bradford took advantage of that weakness for much of the night. Additionally, Indy yielded over 5.5 yards per carry to the Philadelphia running game. Kenjon Barner, Ryan Mathews, and Byron Marshall each rushed for over 30 yards, and the Eagles have five separate runs of 9 yards or longer.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts couldn't get their run game going in any way whatsoever. Their two backs that got first-team snaps (Frank Gore and Josh Ferguson) combined for 10 yards on nine carries. Andrew Luck was sacked three times on his 22 drop-backs and again, Mewhort left the game with an injury.
The second- and third-team Colts lines held up better in front of Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris, which allowed them to matriculate the ball down the field a bit. Morris, in particular, was able to make plays by moving around inside and outside the pocket, finding guys like Tevaun Smith and Chase Coffman for big-gainers.
8. Ravens get their studs back
Baltimore may have lost Watson (as mentioned above) and potentially running back Kenneth Dixon as well (sprained ankle), but it had to feel good to get Joe Flacco and Terrell Suggs back on the field. Flacco acquitted himself rather nicely, completing 11 of 16 passes for 94 yards, and that stat line would have looked even better if it weren't for an easy drop. His first drive, on which he went 4 of 6 for 48 yards, was a very nice way to come back.
.@JoeFlacco is BACK. #DETvsBALhttps://t.co/7yBLMT29cF— NFL (@NFL) August 27, 2016
Suggs finished with two tackles and didn't sack the quarterback, but looked healthy and affected the game more than the box score indicated. He was in the backfield a few times and near the ball down the field a whole bunch as well.
9. The Giants' first-team offense might not ever score again
A week after getting shutout 21-0 by the Bills, the Giants offense somehow managed to look even worse against the Jets on Saturday. They couldn't run the ball, they couldn't pass the ball and on one play in the first half, they couldn't even punt the ball.
Instead of looking better, offensive coordinator turned head coach Ben McAdoo has the Giants offense looking uglier. In the first half against the Jets, five of the Giants' seven offensive possessions ended with a punt, and the two that didn't end with a punt ended with a blocked punt and an interception.
🚨🚨BLOCKED PUNT ALERT!🚨🚨 #NYGvsNYJhttps://t.co/Bg2TP5BWqi— NFL (@NFL) August 27, 2016
The Giants only put up 47 yards in the first half.
Although Eli Manning put up decent numbers in the first half (8 of 13 for 52 yards), that was mostly because he was throwing short, safe passes. When Manning finally took a shot downfield against the Jets, it didn't go well: Darrelle Revis picked him off.
Eli Manning completes a pass to...@Revis24. #Picked#NYGvsNYJhttps://t.co/fpd91GO220— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
Manning finished the game 10 of 15 for 65 yards and led the Giants to zero of their 21 points in the 21-20 win.
You can't really blame Manning for his atrocious showing, but you can blame the Giants' offensive line. They couldn't protect Manning, they couldn't open up holes for their running backs, and well, they really couldn't do anything right.
The only good that came out of Friday's loss was the return of Victor Cruz. The receiver was on the field against the Jets, marking the first time since Oct. 12, 2014 (685 days) that he played in a game. Cruz didn't do much, but that wasn't a big deal because no one expects you to do much after taking 685 days off. The receiver caught one pass for 4 yards.
Welcome back, @TeamVic! 🙌 #NYGvsNYJhttps://t.co/xkKRbg9QRE— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
The Giants now have two weeks to fix all the kinks in their offense, which really means they have two weeks to teach everyone on their offensive line how to block.
The one person who looks like he's actually ready for the regular season to start is punter Brad Wing. Wing averaged 51 yards a punt on eight kicks against the Jets.
Oh, and don't let the 21-20 Giants win fool you, the score was 7-0 Jets when the starters left the game.
10. Matt Forte finally makes his Jets debut, but let's talk about Ryan Fitzpatrick
If the Jets offense is going to be any good in 2016, its going to need to have a solid running game, which is why the team brought in Matt Forte in March. Five months after signing with the Jets, Forte finally made his debut with the team during Saturday night's game with the Jets.
It wasn't a spectacular debut, or even average, but Forte still did enough to make you think he might be able to carry the team's offense this season. In less than two quarters of action, Forte touched the ball 12 times and totaled 37 yards (10 carries for 28 yards, two catches for 9 yards). Those aren't great numbers, but they do indicate that coach Todd Bowles is likely going to let Forte be a workhorse.
The Forte experiment better work out for the Jets offense because if it doesn't, they're going to be in trouble because Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't the type of quarterback who can carry a team. Against the Giants on Saturday, Fitzpatrick played exactly like you'd expect him to.
For one, he turned the ball over in Giants' territory.
Fitz gets sacked.— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
BIG MAN ROLLING WITH THE 🏈! #NYGvsNYJhttps://t.co/vQ4SfI9pcK
Two: He was overthrowing receivers by 10 feet.
Fitzpatrick in a nutshell: WR is wide open, Fitz overthrows him by so much that ball's not even in the screen #Jetspic.twitter.com/5DCX87C2id— John Breech (@johnbreech) August 28, 2016
Of course, the best part of Fitzpatrick is that even when he's bad, you still get one or two Fitzmagic plays per game and that happened against the Giants.
Three plays after Revis' second quarter interception, Fitzpatrick hit Eric Decker with a perfect 22-yard touchdown pass.
Perfect pass from Fitz.@EricDecker87 takes care of business.— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
TOUCHDOWN, @NYJets! #NYGvsNYJhttps://t.co/UwPPZZTrrw
The worst part for Fitzpatrick is that he might've been the worst quarterback in the game for the Jets. OK, he wasn't as bad as Bryce Petty, who threw a pick-six in the fourth quarter, but Fitzy was arguably worse than Geno Smith and Christian Hackenberg.
Yes. Christian Hackenberg.
The beleaguered rookie went 6 of 16 for 105 yards and a touchdown. The second-round pick also threw an interception.
11. The Titans' offense looks unstoppable
When Titans coach Mike Mularkey said this his team was going to run an "exotic smash mouth" offense this season, he wasn't kidding. I'm still not 100 percent sure what "exotic smash mouth" offense is, but I think I saw it on display against the Raiders on Saturday.
You want smash mouth? Try stopping Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
The two running backs combined for a total of 89 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries against the Raiders. Here's what happened when the Raiders try to arm-tackle Henry.
Note to NFL defenses.— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
Bring MORE defenders.
One man isn't enough to stop @kinghenry_2. 😳 https://t.co/j8ZftaCnXi
The exotic part of the Titans' "exotic smash mouth" also seems to be working fine.
First, we have an option play where Marcus Mariota pitched the ball 13 yards down field.
After catching the pitch, Harry Douglas tacked on 8 more yards to the run. In the box score, that goes down as a 13-yard gain for Mariota and an 8-yard gain for Douglas (instead of a 21-yard gain for one of them).
The other exotic part of the Titans' offense is that a washed up 35-year-old might end up doing big things for them this year. Andre Johnson racked up 65-yards on three catches against the Raiders, including the 38-yarder you see below.
.@Johnson80 beats the DB.— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
Mariota hits him in stride...
That's a 38-yard gain 👀 #TENvsOAKhttps://t.co/5JEDjmm3Yc
Besides Johnson, the Titans also have Tajae Sharpe, who's starting to look like the best rookie receiver in the NFL. Sharpe has been making big plays all preseason and that continued against the Raiders when he caught a 60-yard pass, which turned out to be his only catch of the game.
🚨ATTENTION FANTASY GMs🚨— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
You need to see this.@Show19ine is going to be a PROBLEM. https://t.co/iNO5O43M1u
The scary thing for the rest of the NFL is how comfortable Mariota looks when he's running this offense. Although the Raiders were playing a very vanilla defense, they still couldn't do anything to stop the Titans' offense, which was also pretty vanilla.
For the game, Mariota finished 9 of 16 for 170 yards.
12. Someone might've just won the Broncos' QB competition, but only by default
Technically, the Broncos' quarterback competition has to end at some point because someone has to start in Week 1, and it's looking more and more like that someone will be Trevor Siemian. During the most important preseason game of the year, Siemian took every snap in the first half, which almost certainly indicates that Gary Kubiak plans on moving forward with the 2015 seventh-round pick as his starting quarterback.
Mark Sanchez likely fumbled away any shot he had at starting when he turned the ball over twice in a 45-second span against the 49ers last week.
That left Siemian and Paxton Lynch to battle it out for the starting spot, and Siemian was definitely the better quarterback against the Rams, which isn't saying much because neither guy was that good. The Broncos' first four possessions all ended in an ugly fashion. With Siemian leading the way, the Broncos went punt, punt, turnover on downs, interception on their first four offensive possessions.
Kubiak didn't really seem to trust Siemian at first because the Broncos called six straight running plays to start the game. Siemian didn't get to throw his first pass until the Broncos' THIRD POSSESSION!
Although the second-year quarterback didn't do anything spectacular, he also didn't really do anything that would've cost him the job. Plus, he made one impressive throw in the game.
One hand. 👋— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
That is all.
This is ridiculous. 😱 #LAvsDENhttps://t.co/9WfYmUkszb
One impressive throw per game doesn't sound like a lot to most teams, but with the Broncos, you're lucky to even get that from your starting quarterback. Siemian finished 10 of 17 for 122 yards and a touchdown, along with one interception. Of this 122 yards, 43 of them came on that pass to Demaryius Thomas.
If Paxton Lynch had any shot of starting in Week 1, he blew it against the Rams. The Broncos went three-and-out on four of their first five possessions in the second half with Lynch running the show. That being said, Lynch did show some promise in the third quarter when he directed an 8-play, 41-yard touchdown drive. Sure, it wasn't a 91-yard scoring drive, but you have to start somewhere.
The guess here is that Siemian will be the Week 1 starter and Lynch will be the No. 2 quarterback when the Broncos open the season against the Panthers. Lynch might be starting by the end of September, but there's almost no way he'll be starting in the opener. It just wouldn't make any sense for Kubiak to feed him to the Lions/Panthers defense when he hasn't take any preseason game reps with the first team.
The good news for the Broncos is that, just like last year, they might not need much from their quarterback. The Broncos defense and running game both looked strong against the Rams.
C.J. Anderson led the way on the ground with 11 carries for 50 yards, but that came at a cost because Anderson took a hard hit and had to get stitches on his ear.
Don't worry though, Broncos fans, Anderson said he wouldn't be missing any time.
Anyway, Ronnie Hillman also added five carries for 45 yards and a touchdown in the 17-9 win. Hillman and Anderson better be ready to go in Week 1 because they might combine for 75 rushes against the Panthers.
13. Jared Goff is going to be holding a clipboard in Week 1
If anyone was hoping to see Jared Goff start the Rams' opener, you can tuck hose hopes in and put them to bed now because it's definitely not going to happen. For the third time in three weeks, Goff was the second best Rams quarterback in the game.
Against the Broncos, Goff was thoroughly outplayed by Case Keenum. Keenum wasn't perfect, but he was efficient going up against the best defense in the NFL. During his four possessions on the field, Keenum led the Rams on two scoring drives, which both ended in field goals. Producing six points against the stingy Broncos defense is almost like producing 40 against an average NFL defense.
Keenum finished the game 8 of 12 for 77 yards. He also got a rude introduction to the Broncos defense.
.@MillerLite40 is SO quick off the edge...— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2016
SACK! 💪 #LAvsDENhttps://t.co/Rlv07oJCMb
As for Goff, he also got to run the Rams offense for four possessions, but he wasn't quite as successful as Keenum. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft went 4 of 12 for 45 yards. Most of the damage Goff did came just before halftime when he threw for 33 yards on a Rams' drive that ended with a 48-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
If Goff learned one thing in this game, it's probably that he never wants to face the Broncos again. The rookie quarterback was sacked once and hit several times before being relieved by Sean Mannion in the third quarter.
Jared Goff made the "I don't really want to go back in, so put Mannion in" face. Mannion was in on the next drive. pic.twitter.com/1TfhuRh3Er— John Breech (@johnbreech) August 28, 2016
As long as Goff is healthy enough to carry a clipboard, he'll be just fine for Week 1 because there's no way the Rams aren't going to start Keenum in their Monday night opener against the 49ers.
If you're wondering if anything happened with the non-quarterbacks on the Rams' roster, let me tell you about Terrence Magee. The second-year running back made the most of Jeff Fisher's decision to sit Todd Gurley. Magee ran for 78 yards on just three carries. Most of that came on a 73-yard run that's definitely worth watching.
Relive RB Terrence Magee's late 73-yard run 💨 #LAvsDEN— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 28, 2016
Highlight 🎥 | https://t.co/Ia31iJhvSkpic.twitter.com/dJNXYG2dQx