Welcome back to the preseason football, where third string rookie QBs have near perfect passer ratings. It’s where there are games that make some teams look healthy and non-abysmal. Someone asked me this week why I watched the preseason games with such intensity whenever the games do not matter. The simple answer: every preseason we see a shred of hope from fans that their team is playoff bound and unbeatable, and then we watch that hope die when they realize their team is not that great.
Some players are worth putting under the microscope to analyze what their place is in their team’s upcoming success. Here’s who to look at after week 2 comes to a close.
QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
I truly believe that Jackson has improved his game in multiple ways. He’s patient, calm, and has more intelligence on where he scrambles out of the pocket. Will that be enough to help the Ravens defend their AFC North title? This team revolves around him more than it did when they played the Chargers in January. Jackson has been playing a drive per game, and don’t expect that to change, as John Harbaugh is slowly testing out his new offense. Watch these next two games; specifically Jackson’s drives.
RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
“Zeke who?”. As the Cowboys’ star running back hold out, the team must analyze their core. A total of five listed running backs ran the ball at least three different times while playing against the Rams this past weekend, and leading the pack was the rookie from Memphis University. Pollard is an interesting case, as he split his time between running back and wide receiver. He is a dual threat that, and if developed, can really help out Dak Prescott, regardless if Elliott returns or not. He is something to watch out for and is a sleeper for the next season.
QB Ryan Finley, Cincinnati Bengals
First they got rid of Marvin Lewis, now will Andy Dalton be next? He broke 4,000 yards in two seasons, averages 23.5 touchdowns a season, and has a not-so-sexy completion percentage of 62.3% in his career. Dalton hasn’t won a playoff game, let alone have more than one touchdown over four postseason games (while also posting 6 INT in those same four games). If the Bengals decide he isn’t their answer anymore during the season, they will see a rookie who had a great preseason outing against the Redskins in Ryan Finley. He totaled 150 yards and 2 TD, but really commanded the offense like a veteran.