What We Saw: Preseason Week 1

The WWS Team recaps the first week of the NFL Preseason

Falcons @ Lions

Final Score: Falcons 27, Lions 23

Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)

 

On paper, the Lions have arguably one of the most talented offenses in the league. We got to see most of them suit up and take the field this week as Jared GoffD’Andre SwiftAmon-Ra St. Brown, and their entire starting O-Line took the field on the first drive of the game and they looked good. The offensive line played phenomenally on the drive, opening up big holes and giving Goff plenty of time to sling it downfield. This was honestly the biggest development for me – if the O-Line plays this well, this offense has the chance to be special.

On the other side, it looks like the Falcons will be relying on Marcus Mariota to be the playmaker in this offense. The playcalling was basic and uninspiring, but Mariota made the most of the opportunity as he led the team down the field for a score. The running game was fine, which isn’t saying much against the lowly Lions defense. We also got to see the debut of rookie signal caller Desmond Ridder, who I wasn’t overly impressed with but he did make a few nice plays that make me think he could be a solid QB at some point in his career.

 

Atlanta Falcons

 

Quarterback

 

Marcus Mariota: 2/2, 36 yards | 3 carries, 23 yards, TD

Desmond Riddler: 10/22, 103 yards, 2 TD, Fumble | 6 carries, 59 yards

 

As I mentioned in the opening blurb, Marcus Mariota made plays using his feet on the one drive he played. Otherwise, it was simple runs and not much else. Whether the offense was just trying not to put anything on tape or if this is simply going to be their plan going into the season, the play calling was uninspiring to say the least. Mariota did flash the talent that made him a first round pick, however, so all hope is not lost for this offense.

Desmond Ridder relieved Mariota and he was fine. He showed good arm strength and athleticism, but nothing wow’ed me. At one point he had an interception called back by a roughing the passer penalty, and he was totally bailed out because it was a weak call. It was a bad, bad pass.

 

 

He has some elusiveness and can run, but he doesn’t have blinding speed.

Feleipe Franks is still the third string QB but he has converted to TE and was targeted once but couldn’t come up with the catch on a deep ball. Franks is super athletic and has always been known for his rushing ability, so keep an eye on this. He might develop into a Taysom Hill type of situation.

 

Running Back

 

Qadree Ollison: 5 carries, 33 yards

Tyler Allgeier: 3 carries, 25 yards

Caleb Huntley: 8 carries, 18 yards

Damien Williams: 3 carries, 10 yards

 

Qadree Ollison had a couple of chunk gains on the opening drive, but that felt more a result of the Lions trying to get upfield to Mariota than trying to defend the run. We saw a little bit of Tyler Allegier in this game, and he had a good chunk run of his own. Nothing screamed “future superstar” at me, but it was only three carries so we’ll see what he looks like next week. I found it interesting that the Falcons didn’t target a RB in the passing game all night. A lack of passing down opportunities would seriously hurt the fantasy stock of Ollison and Allgeier.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Drake London: 1 target, 1 reception, 24 yards

Geronimo Allison: 2 targets, 1 reception, 20 yards

Jared Bernhardt: 1 target, 1 reception, 21 yards, TD

Damiere Byrd: 1 target, 1 reception, 20 yards

Frank Darby: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards

Auden Tate: 2 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards

Parker Heese: 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard, TD

 

Frank Darby was the only WR with more than one reception in this game, as the QBs spread it out and Riddler was mostly inaccurate which hurt the output of many of these guys. Drake London caught one pass across the middle of the field and then went over to the bench with a knee injury. Nothing looked out of sorts after the play, so it was a pretty confusing moment that we still haven’t really gotten any clarity on.

 

 

Geronimo Allison, the former Packer and Lion, dropped a good throw by Ridder on a crucial 3rd down. He was also tackled just short of a touchdown after being unable to evade a defender.

 

Detroit Lions

 

Quarterback

 

Jared Goff: 3/4, 47 yards

Tim Boyle: 9/16, 111 yards, TD, INT

David Blough: 18/28, 141 yards, Sack, Fumble (Lost) | 4 carries, 22 yards

 

Jared Goff led the team down the field on the Lions first drive of the game. It was a well executed drive, and he made a couple of good throws under pressure that turned into chunk gains. He’s been in a Super Bowl before, and has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Not to mention he should stay upright for the majority of the time if the offensive line can stay healthy. They were phenomenal.

There’s an open battle going on between Tim Boyle and David Blough for the backup QB job, and it’s not really a battle I want to spend any more time watching. They both had their share of overthrows, underthrows, and dumb mistakes. They’re not bad quarterbacks, they’re just not good. Both could step in and either win a game or lose a game and I wouldn’t be shocked for either. I mostly just feel bad for players such as Kalif Raymond and Trinity Benson, who are fighting for a roster spot themselves and were both hurt by bad QB play.

 

Running Back

 

D’Andre Swift: 4 carries, 20 yards, TD

Jamaal Williams: 2 carries, 12 yards | 1 target

Craig Reynolds: 3 carries, 13 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards

Jermar Jefferson: 9 carries, 19 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 3 yards

Justin Jackson3 carries, 11 yards

Godwin Igwebuike3 carries, 4 yards

 

D’Andre Swift started this game and he scored a touchdown on his only drive. He and Jamaal Williams took turns taking handoffs on the drive, which might be a situation to monitor for those of us who believe in a breakout season from Swift. Williams is a leader on this team and I have a feeling he will be getting plenty of opportunities as long as he’s healthy.

 

 

Once again, the starting offensive line was fantastic. That’s huge news for these RBs. I liked what I saw from Craig Reynolds – he just tries to run people over. Tough, smashmouth football. I can’t say the same for Jermar Jefferson – he kept trying to make extra cuts and got swallowed up by defenders each time. He was trying to get too cute, and in Dan Campbell’s knee-biting locker room I’m not sure that will fly.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards

Tom Kennedy: 12 targets, 8 receptions, 104 yards

Kalif Raymond: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 52 yards

Trinity Benson: 3 targets, 1 reception, 24 yards

Devin Funchess: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 19 yards, TD

Kalil Pimpleton: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 15 yards

 

T.J. Hockenson didn’t play in this game because he tweaked his ankle in practice last Wednesday. The coaching staff has said that he’s fine, but this is worth monitoring.

Last year’s breakout star, Amon-Ra St. Brown, had two catches on the day. One of them helped bail out Jared Goff while he was under pressure, and it turned into a long gain. St. Brown was described as Goff’s “safety valve” during the broadcast and I believe it. That duo should put up big numbers together this year.

 

 

Devin Funchess is now in Detroit as a tight end and he made a couple of nice plays. First was a touchdown, a nice grab in the back corner of the end zone, and the second was a play where he hurdled over a defender. I wouldn’t expect much from this journeyman, but he at least flashed the talent that made him Cam Newton‘s #1 target back in the day.

 

 

 

The broadcast kept pointing out that the Lions QBs love Tom Kennedy, who had a huge day and made multiple long third down conversions. He’s a former lacrosse player who is friends with (and has worked out with) Chris Hogan, and he certainly is the definition of grit. I’m sure he’ll be featured on this week’s episode of Hard Knocks because he was all over the place.

Tim Boyle‘s interception was targeted at Kalil Pimpleton, who ran down the defender and made the tackle from behind. Effort and hard work are Pimpleton’s M-O. He’s quick, speedy, and elusive, and he’s trying to make the team as a return specialist. He was a really good punt returner in college at Central Michigan and the local kid is working hard to make the team. He had the second most targets of any player in this game and he’s a name to keep an eye on.

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