Much of the focus in the third week of the preseason around these parts revolves around the annual Giants-Jets game. But of course there’s plenty of other games that go on league-wide, so here are a few takeaways from this weekend’s action:
Injuries suck, but they’re not always avoidable
There were a few notable injuries that happened during the third week of the preseason. And whenever something like this happens during games that mean so little, there’s a call for fewer preseason games. The notion that there should be fewer preseason games is fine in a vacuum. Most teams and players could probably get away with two. But don’t let injuries be the reason why you think that way.
Injuries, unfortunately, are a part of the game. As unfortunate as it is, non-contact injuries like the one to Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots can happen at any time. Last season Teddy Bridgewater went down in practice with a non-contact knee injury and he still hasn’t recovered. Two seasons ago Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL and lost his 2015 season during a practice.
Injures with hard contact, like Spencer Ware’s and Cameron Meredith’s, need games to happen, but they’d be just as likely to happen in Week 1 like Keenan Allen’s torn ACL did last season. Say the preseason was only two games, then this past weekend could have been Week 1. If both Ware and Meredith still go down in the first half of their games, does that make it better for anyone involved? Injuries are never great, but once players are on the field there’s no way to avoid them.
The Lions defense could be pretty bad
Last season the Detroit Lions had one of the worst defenses in the league, the absolute worst if you go by Football Outsiders’ DVOA. When most of their starters got time to go in the third preseason game, the New England Patriots offense tore them to shreds. Detroit is already without last year’s breakout player, defensive end Kerry Hyder for the season. Their top defensive end, Ziggy Ansah, hasn’t practiced yet this offseason.
Detroit, a team that overachieved a bit last season, could be a contender for a Wild Card spot, but they might not be able to overcome deficiencies on what was already a lackluster defensive unit.
Russell Wilson could be back
In a scenario Giants fans know too well, the offense of the Seattle Seahawks was derailed by a porous offensive line last year. Compounded with a knee injury, that led to a lackluster season for quarterback Russell Wilson, especially compared to what he had done early in his career.
But with the line starting to get worked out during the preseason, Wilson was on point against the Kansas City Chiefs. Even is the offensive line isn’t settled, a healthy Wilson could have enough mobility to make the best of it and still make throws like this:
Wilson went 13-of-19 for 200 yards (10.5 yards per attempt) and a touchdown Friday night. Seattle should again be one of the top teams in the NFC and could be the favorite to be the top team in the conference this season.
DeShone Kizer is the best option in Cleveland
Despite not showing all that much against the Giants in the second preseason game, DeShone Kizer was named the official starting quarterback in Cleveland after the third. Overall, Kizer has been the best quarterback on the field over the course of the preseason. He’s also exactly what the Browns should be looking for as a rebuilding team that still has tons of draft capital over the next few seasons.
At worst, Cleveland gets a full year look at a rookie quarterback before entering the 2018 draft with two first-round picks and a quarterback class many appear to be high on. At best, Kizer could develop into the caliber of top prospect he was believed to be before last year’s terrible Notre Dame season. He clearly has the most upside of the three players in the competition and it’s worth it for the Browns to see how close to that ceiling they can get this year.
Washington’s offense is in transition
Last season Washington had one of the best offenses in the league, fifth by DVOA. But much of that offense has turned over. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both gone. Their replacements, Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson, have had little impact in the preseason.
Pryor has just two catches for 28 yards on seven targets through the first three preseason games. Doctson, meanwhile, continues to battle injuries. He missed his rookie season with an Achilles injury and was held out of Washington’s third preseason game as a precaution with a stiff leg.
Many believe the NFC East could be a tight race between all four teams, but if Washington is an extended work in progress on offense, there could be one less team seriously involved in that battle.