The NFL's preseason schedule got off to a delayed start thanks to the Hall of Fame Game getting canceled Sunday, so the first night of football in nearly seven months was a little more action-packed than we're used to. Preseason pigskin isn't always of the highest quality, but one thing you're always guaranteed to see in the early weeks is a good, old-fashioned quarterback battle.
1. 'We Want Wentz!'
Unsurprisingly, Eagles fans got super into their quarterback battle super early in the game. Philly jumped out to an early lead thanks to a series of hilarious miscues from the Buccaneers (they fumbled the opening kickoff, interfered with a punt returner, got strip-sacked and missed an extra point ... all in the first quarter), and Sam Bradford threw all of one pass before yielding the snaps to Chase Daniel.
Daniel was ... not great. He finished his stint 4 for 10 for 15 yards and left Eagles fans chanting for No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz:
The Eagles fans wanted Wentz, and they got themselves some Wentz. Things went ... not all that much better. The former North Dakota State passer went 12 for 24 for 89 yards and this pick:
Wentz was hit as he released the ball, but he showed some jumpiness in the pocket. You would like to see him stand in there, deliver the ball on schedule and take the hit. He's a rookie, so hopefully he'll pick that up.
Later, Wentz scrambled out of the pocket when he could have checked down to his running back for what looked like a sizable gain:
"Everybody is covered"— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) August 12, 2016
Wentz runs out of clean pocket as RB is wide open in flat with space. pic.twitter.com/bxvqLrrxTr
This was Wentz's first NFL action, so growing pains were expected. It wasn't the best debut (again, 3.7 yards per attempt and a turnover), but it wasn't the worst, either. There will likely be better days ahead.
2. Broncos still looking for a QB
Meanwhile, the defending champion Denver Broncos started Mark Sanchez under center for their preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, letting him play the first quarter before giving way to Trevor Siemian. Siemian then ceded the field to rookie Paxton Lynch in the second half.
Broncos players seem to think Sanchez has the lead in the battle for the starting spot, but the Broncos went as far as announcing a "quarterback plan" ahead of this game, so things might be more up in the air than they think.
In any event, Sanchez led a crisp, efficient first drive for that ended in a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, but he was picked off later in the half. He ended the evening 10 for 13 for 99 yards, with the touchdown and interception.
Siemian had a relatively uneventful debut, completing seven of his 12 passes for 88 yards. He got the Broncos a couple of field goals, but both drives started on short fields. He didn't exactly show anything that would lean one to believe he had grabbed the job away from Sanchez just yet.
Lynch, meanwhile, was holding a 20-0 lead when he took the field for the second half, and his team added a safety on Chicago's second drive after halftime. He didn't really have to do anything at all, but he did well with the few opportunities he was given to pass. He wound up 6 for 7 for 73 yards and threw a couple nice balls to Cody Latimer.
It was tough for any of the three to stand out, mostly because the Denver defense was downright dominant, again. Playing without Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, the Broncos held the Bears to 130 total yards on 50 plays, a disgusting average of 2.6 per play. They racked up seven sacks, picked off a pass, blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown and picked up a safety. It really might not matter who Denver's quarterback is.
3. The premiere of The Jimmy Garoppolo Show
On what was described as an unseasonably warm night in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Jimmy Garoppolo had an up-and-down evening against one of the NFL's worst defenses. His final line looks pretty good: 11 for 18, 168 yards. But 56 of those yards came on a dump-off to James White, he missed on a couple throws he probably should have been able to complete and he took two sacks.
The Pats were 2 for 7 on third down with Jimmy in the game, and one of the conversions came on a LeGarrette Blount run. Garoppolo did convert on a fourth down, though, which was nice to see.
Here are a few other things that happened around the league ...
4. Bucs looking for answers on special teams
Their kicker, Roberto Aguayo, was 198 of 198 on extra points at Florida State. He promptly missed the first extra point attempt of his NFL career. The Bucs also played what head coach Dirk Koetter referred to as the worst special teams he has ever seen:
They have to get some things cleaned up.
5. Good-looking Jaguars and typical Jets fans
Over in the Jaguars-Jets game, the young Jags showed some impressive skills. T.J. Yeldon flashed some nice wiggle, Myles Jack lit someone up and Allen Robinson picked up right where he left off last season.
And of course, Jets fans stayed Jets fans.
Geno Smith -- 1-for-4, 8 yards. And he's getting booed probably from the same ppl who wanted to make him the starter during Fitz's absence.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 12, 2016
They're booing Geno. Welcome back, Jets!— Judy Battista (@judybattista) August 12, 2016
A great woman once said, "You did and said exactly what I thought you'd do and say, and that's oddly comforting." I think she was talking about Jets fans when she said it.
6. Receivers make waves in New England
Oh, and let's not forget that Jamie Collins was awesome, and is going to get oh so paid. He had three tackles, one for loss, a pass defenses and a touchdown during his short time on the field. He is really, really good, folks.
7. Weird stuff in Baltimore
I wish I was able to find video of Cam Newton somehow getting a pick-six called back by coming onto the field to celebrate. The Panthers starters did not play very much, and Carolina was ultimately led in carries by someone named Brandon Wegher, who ran 10 times for 13 yards. Third QB Joe Webb also ran the ball six times, and he led the team in rushing yards. Brenton Bersin was the only receiver to catch more than two passes for the Panthers ... but he got injured. (I believe he came back into the game.)
People on Twitter were raving about Terrance West, and he had a run that looked really nice, but then I looked at his box score and saw that his nine carries went for 25 yards. Two were touchdowns, but, well, who knows?
Later, they stopped the game to watch American hero (and Maryland native) Michael Phelps win another gold medal.
Yes, that did really happen.
8. Atlanta features surprise big-play duo
You can't stop the Matt Schaub-Aldrick Robinson combo, you can only hope to contain it. They hooked up three times for 118 yards. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan was 0 for 4 and Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 18 rushing yards on seven carries. Whatever.
Washington's quarterbacks (Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Zach Sudfeld) were 22 for 31, but for only 155 yards. Sudfeld got the touchdown, a 6-yarder to Marcel Jensen, who apparently caught an 8-yard pass against the Colts last season.
9. Last but not least ...
Some dogs were having fun at Soldier Field.
Soldier Field halftime show was a handful of dogs chasing frisbees with one dog relieving itself at the 50-yard line.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) August 12, 2016
Nothing like a good Chicago dog pic.twitter.com/4F5EQWcIdq— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) August 12, 2016
Maybe not having as much fun: Jay Cutler.
I love the preseason.