Week 2 of Preseason Overreactions in the NFL: Is Tampa Bay in Regrets?
1. Patriots troubled with fresh injuries
With unconfirmed QB Jimmy Garoppolo standing in for the suspended Tom Brady in the first four games, the New England Patriots have been under scrutiny. They will be under more fire thanks to injuries in their starting offense including right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (hip injury) and resourceful tailback Dion Lewis (knee surgery). Furthermore, a broken hand rules out Guard Shaq Mason. Unfortunately, the injured players have brought another setback because the Patriots had the third worst offense last season due to numerous injuries.
Lewis is one of the most recent uninspired QBs who has been added to the roster and performed amiably well. Furthermore, tight ends Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski as well as slot receiver Julian Edelman can influence the game effectively with their short passes, which usually suit Garoppolo’s strong points.
The Patriots still have some work to do when it comes to the line. However, Bill Belichick has reunited with blocking wizard Dante Scarnecchia after a two-year retirement period and fans now anticipate a strong and synced front five in Week 1. Therefore, the subsequent three games should favor the Patriots, that is, after a seemingly tough opener against the Arizona Cardinals. As an advantage, Garoppolo and Co. will be at Gillette Stadium to play those three games.
2. Aguayo Struggling with the Bucs
Some intense monitoring has ensued for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after only picking Robert Aguayo, the Florida State kicker, in the second-round draft, even after trading up 15 spots. Aguayo has played miserably in preseason. On Saturday night, he missed 32-yard and 49-yard field goals in their exhibition opener at Jacksonville Jaguars. Coach Dirk Koetter expressed his disappointment that missing such kicks in the NFL is unacceptable because the players are paid for it.
However, it seems Aguayo is under pressure to deliver in the NFL. He is currently working with a new snapper and holder to adjust accordingly to the NFL, along with the shining spotlight. As a rookie, he should use this grace period to acclimatize. However, if he continues to make such mistakes in regular season, he will be under more scrutiny because Tampa heavily relied on Connor Barth, his predecessor, who in seven seasons made approximately 85% of his attempted career field goals.
3. The QB battles are just about decided
The official naming of starting QBs for Week 1 are yet to be finalized for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, and Denver Broncos. The Broncos have the cloudiest situation, and on Saturday night, coach Gary Kubiak implied that he could pick rookie Paxton Lynch at the expense of Trevor Siemian and Mark Sanchez. However, it seems Blaine Gabbert (Niners) and Case Keenum (the Rams) have solidified their positions.
The fact that all teams will name their “starters” does not mean that all the named players will start all games of regular season. Jared Goff, the Rams No. 1 draft pick, will be very important for the squad eventually.Chip Kelly could use Colin Kaepernick immediately he recovers his full health to topple Gabbert. With the Broncos dependent on their defense, they should not juggle the center as they did in 2015. Deciding on a starting QB for Week 1 onwards will solidify in August than in September.
4. The Giants are under pressure to deliver
Since they clinched Super Bowl XLVI in 2011, the New York Giants have never made it to the playoffs. They sacked Tom Coughlin, and then unexpectedly used the free agency to refurbish their defense for over $200 million. The pressure has increased after losing their two preseason games with a combined score line of 48-10. Notably, the Buffalo Bills outshined them 21-0 on Saturday to increase their overall tally against the Giants to 343-166.
QB Eli Manning never played against the Miami Dolphins, but he managed to play at least 25% of their game against Buffalo. Their new look defense played well in the first exhibition match to limit the starting offense of the Miami Dolphins to 8 yards in two drives. On Saturday, in the first three possessions, the Bills turned over the ball and later punted twice. On Sunday, coach Ben McAdoo defended his starters saying that he will not make ad hoc decisions and kneejerk reactions about their game plan.
5. The Titans’ offense has improved
The opening two games of the Tennessee Titans showed their prowess when it comes to their impressive running game, especially against the San Diego Chargers, in which they recorded 288 yards on 33 carries. Out of 10 passes made against the Carolina Panthers, QB Marcus Mariota completed nine for 104 yards.
Coach Mike Mularkey seems self-confident to capitalize on Derrick Henry, DeMarco Murray and Mariota. Even though Mariota looks very favorable, he might face challenges coordinating with uninspired rookie Tajae Sharpe and wide receiver Harry Douglas. Furthermore, Tennessee looks vulnerable when they fall behind early in games.