Watching Patriots backup quarterbacks play in the preseason is an annual tradition like no other. This year it takes on an entirely different purpose with Jimmy Garoppolo set to potentially play as many as four regular-season games while Tom Brady serves a suspension for his role in Deflategate. 

So Patriots fans are probably hoping it's not four games for Brady, at least based on Garoppolo's performance against the Packers on Thursday.

Jimmy G managed to complete 66.6 percent of his passes (20 of 30) on Thursday, but he only averaged 5.3 yards per attempt and was sacked seven times. Can't pin all of those on him, of course, but he has to shoulder the blame for some of it. 

The offensive line was patchwork, at best, and Garoppolo at times did some things that made you believe he could fill in for Brady. Especially if Jonas Gray can do what he did more often.

Unfortunately that was about the only highlight for the Pats on offense.

Not good. New England finished with 211 total yards on 59 plays (3.6 yards per play).

"There were ups and downs. We've got a long way to go, obviously," Garoppolo said.

Eleven points isn't by any means good enough. There's clearly room for improvement.

And the Pats made it clear that they need to know if Garoppolo is going to be the guy. Or, more accurately, he IS the guy and if Brady can't play he's got to be able to manage the game and keep New England in against some tougher opponents.

Thursday provided a glimpse of hope but it was also a major reality check for what happens if/when Brady isn't available.

Jimmy Garoppolo didn't have a great night Thursday. (USATSI)
Jimmy Garoppolo didn't have a great night Thursday. (USATSI)

2. Optimistic Browns: Rejoice, Cleveland! The offseason is over, which means everyone has to stop making jokes at your expense. Instead it's time to do your best Nelson Muntz impression at the rest of the world and cackle about your impressive quarterback play.

Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel combined to go 12 of 15 in the first half, throwing for 68 yards, one touchdown and rushing for another. Manziel's 4.2 YPA is the definition of "meh," but he looked much more in control and aware of what was happening.

He also ran for a touchdown! And didn't gloat when he scored!

It's easy to make snarky jokes about Cleveland's Super Bowl hopes given the quarterback situation (and the Washington defense they faced), but, really, both guys looked pretty good. Cleveland isn't expecting a pair of Aaron Rodgers clones out there. McCown is supposed to be a game manager who mitigates turnovers, leans on a run game and can lead the team on long scoring drives. Manziel just needs to not look like a tire fire.

Mission accomplished on both fronts in Week 1. 

3. Don't sleep on Ameer: This is a really good rookie running back class. Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon can be superstars. T.J. Yeldon is underrated. Duke Johnson is a potential modern-day stud. But don't sleep on Ameer Abdullah.

Drafted as part of the Lions effort to revamp their offense and focus on the running game (Detroit also traded for Manny Ramirez, drafted Laken Tomlinson and snagged a fullback), Abdullah flashed some serious next-level explosion on a 46-yard run against the Jets.

Abdullah's got quick-twitch moves, breakaway speed and the capability of being an every-down back. Abdullah is the same size as Giovani Bernard and has the same explosiveness, but feels and looks a little bit stronger. 

The crowd reaction when he chops his feet and snaps everyone's ankles is fantastic. It's OK if you made the same noise.

In a crowded group that features Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, it's totally possible he steals the starting job and, pun intended, runs with it. 

4. Red flags in NOLA: If you weren't already worried about the Saints, what with their disastrous 2014 and departure of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, Thursday's action won't make you feel any better. The offense isn't a concern here, but it's the defense.

The Saints saw Brandon Browner and Delvin Breaux -- their second- and third-string cornerbacks -- go down to injury. The long-term effect of that? A potential "pit of despair."

Danelle Ellerbe suffered an injury too. But Garrett Grayson wasn't terrible!

5. Washington bounceback? The Redskins quarterbacks looked pretty good Thursday! Kirk Cousins scored on a read-option run (which is beyond hilarious) and only had two incompletions.

Robert Griffin III was only 4/8 for 36 yards but one of those incompletions wasn't really his fault. 

Oof, Pierre Garcon.

Unfortunately for Washington, they lost Niles Paul to a brutal lower-leg injury that looked like it could cost him some serious time. If Jordan Reed is the healthiest Redskins tight end that's probably not good. 

6. Breakout candidate in Miami: Ryan Tannehill's a popular sleeper for a big season in 2015, thanks to his performance last year and the weapons the Dolphins added for him. His first drive against the bears showed why.

He looks as comfortable in the pocket as he ever has and the Bill Lazor offensive scheme he's running is perfectly suited for him. Tannehill can run but doesn't need to and he looked a lot more accurate down the field than he usually does. He also appeared able to throw with anticipation and to throw balls into tighter windows.

Tannehill finished 6-7 for 56 yards and a touchdown, so it's a limited sample size here. But it was impressive the way he carved up the Bears defense and utilized multiple weapons (Greg Jennings was involved!), including a red-zone touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry.

7. Rich get richer: No idea if La'El Collins ultimately ends up playing guard for the Cowboys but in a few plays he looked like a potential steal for Dallas. We knew that with him going much later than his talent suggested but seeing him slot into an already dominant offensive line is a reminder of why the Cowboys were willing to let DeMarco Murray go.

They handed the rock to Gus Johnson (yes, "who" is the word you're looking for) 13 times in the first half, which included a dominant 8-play, 62-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.