NFL

Studs and duds from NFL preseason Week 1

Browns QB DeShone Kizer looked the part in his NFL debut.
Rachel Wold
Written by Rachel Wold

Football is finally here. That is if you count the preseason, which we happily embrace after such a long drought. This is the stretch of weeks leading up to the regular season when all players stepping foot on the field are put under a microscope.

Some players, including this year’s class of promising rookie quarterbacks, shined in Week 1. The same cannot be said for many seasoned starters. In other situations, players really needing to make a name for themselves pumped out some horrible performances.

Summing up the good, the bad and in some cases the ugly, here are the biggest studs and duds from NFL preseason Week 1.

Stud: Jimmy Garoppolo should be starting somewhere

The New England Patriots were smart not to trade their fourth-year backup. Garoppolo shined brightly once again, just like he did when he covered for Tom Brady last season. The Patriots fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-24, but Garoppolo completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns with a pristine 125.4 passer rating. The 25-year-old quarterback really deserves to start somewhere, rather than shadow Brady.

Dud: Mike Glennon’s boo-worthy performance

The Chicago Bears are Glennon’s team. That’s at least what the front office in Chicago wants us to believe. Glennon was bad to the bone in his preseason debut. Those who could stand to watch the horror witnessed Glennon complete just 2-of-8 passes for 20 yards and a horrific pick six (watch here.) For all of Glennon’s efforts, he earned a 0.0 quarterback rating. He must shape up this week if he wants to keep his job as a starter.

Stud: Rico Gathers, future tight end fantasy stud

Gathers — the super-sized Dallas Cowboys rookie tight end — just keeps impressing. The Rico train is gaining full speed after the 6-foot-8 tight end hauled in four receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown. One of his catches was a 25-yarder. The Baylor product stands to continue the trend next Saturday against a suspect Indianapolis Colts defense.

Dud: Colt McCoy didn’t even look like backup material

Colt McCoy

Washington would like to hose its first preseason game (a 23-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens) down the drain. McCoy’s disastrous performance was one of the biggest stinkers of the evening. The 30-year-old backup was awful, averaging just 3.1 yards per attempt on 6-of-13 passing and threw one interception. If quarterback Kirk Cousins ships to the west coast next year, McCoy is not the answer.

Stud: Corey Grant makes a case to keep his roster spot

Jacksonville Jaguars second-year running back Corey Grant displayed electric speed and led all running backs in Week 1 with 120 rushing yards. That was accomplished at an impressive pace of 15 yards per carry, we might add. He also ripped off a 79-yard touchdown, making New England’s defense look ridiculous, though at that point it was just the reserves. We will see if Grant can keep up the pace at home next week against Tampa Bay.

Dud: Kellen Clemens eaten alive by the Legion of Boom (lite)

Clemens’ performance against the Seattle Seahawks was absolutely a disaster. The Los Angeles Chargers had better hope Philip Rivers remains healthy in 2017. Clemens completed a mere 4-of-10 passes for 100 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions including one pick-six. The 70.8 quarterback rating paled in comparison to Rivers’ 145.1 rating. Clemens will aim to correct his mistakes at home again next week against a porous New Orleans Saints defense.

Stud: Arthur Moats makes like miserable for NY Giants quarterbacks

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats

The 29-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker dished out three of the seven total sacks Giants quarterbacks endured during a 20-12 win for his team. It’s worth noting that he recorded only 3.5 total sacks on the season in 2016. Moats also nabbed an interception, returning it for 20 yards when he picked off backup Geno Smith. Up next for Moats will be the Cleveland Browns, who feature some young quarterbacks to terrorize.

Dud: Brock Osweiler trying his best to lose starting job

Prior to his preseason debut with the Cleveland Browns, head coach Hue Jackson said that the starting job was Osweiler’s to lose. Now, it looks like Cleveland is trying to justify that performance and cover up exactly how bad Osweiler was. Osweiler earned a 50.3 quarterback rating after completing just 6-of-14 passes for a mere 42 yards against the New Orleans Saints. He was missing receivers left and right while shooting high, as is his wont. The Browns certainly won’t be receiving any trade inquiries following this ugliness.

Stud: Tommylee Lewis makes most of his opportunities 

This New Orleans Saints wideout was the No. 1 ranked receiver after the end of preseason Week 1. He handily tallied 10 receptions for 124 receiving yards and one touchdown. This would have earned him WR1 fantasy numbers in fantasy leagues if it had happened during the regular season. Lewis stands to do further damage against a Chargers defense that just gave up 338 receiving yards to Seattle.

Dud: Joshua Dobbs shows rookie flaws

Dobbs, the Steelers’ fourth-round pick in April, was rough around the edges, to say the least. He completed just 8-of-15 pass attempts for 100 yards. Unfortunately, Dobbs’ two interceptions overshadowed the one touchdown he threw. He was also sacked three times for 22 yards. This potential diamond in the rough thankfully sits behind Landry Jones on the roster. Though Jones isn’t all that hot, either. Stay healthy, Big Ben!

Stud: Trevone Boykin looked more like Russell Wilson

While the Seahawks made mincemeat of the Chargers offense following Philip Rivers’ masterful first drive, Boykin was pure joy to watch. At times, he looked like Wilson. The second-year quarterback completed 12-of-15 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. Boykin did show he was human by also tossing a pick. But, a beautiful touchdown as he was rolling into the end zone made up for it. As the cherry on top, Boykin also added 31 rushing yards on just four attempts.

Dud: Ryan Fitzpatrick’s stench too hard to hide

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers utilized four quarterbacks in their 23-12 loss against Cincinnati. Fitzpatrick by far was the stinkiest of the bunch. The 34-year-old veteran struggled, completing just 6-of-13 passes for a scraggly 45 yards. Of course an interception came along with the spoiled dish. Saving a bit of face, Fitzpatrick at least scored on his feet. At this time, Fitzpatrick is a scary option as backup to Jameis Winston.

Stud: Benny Cunningham stands out in the crowd

Seven Chicago Bears made rushing attempts in their preseason Week 1 loss to Denver. But Cunningham stood out most after carrying the ball seven times for 41 yards and a touchdown. The 27-year-old running back has had a quiet career, playing in a total of 57 games and scoring only four career rushing touchdowns. Chicago mark Cunningham’s third team as he works to make a name for himself somewhere behind starter Jordan Howard.

Dud: Ryan Mallett is break-in-case-of-emergency option only

The Baltimore Ravens REALLY need quarterback Joe Flacco to be healthy by Week 1. After a terrible training camp, Mallett was just as atrocious in action in his preseason debut. Three-and-outs were the result of Mallett’s efforts, and he completed just 9-of-18 passing attempts. Worse still is the fact that Mallett averaged only 3.2 yards per pass. Next up for Mallett is a meeting with the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.

Stud: DeShone Kizer, the fans want him

The Cleveland Browns put a win on the books, which is a feat in itself. Kizer, the team’s second-round pick in April, played far better than Cody Kessler and the aforementioned Brock Osweiler. Kizer connected on 11-of-18 passing attempts for 184 yards and one touchdown. He also averaged 4.0 yards on the ground in three carries. The youngster will look to turn heads against the Giants next.

Dud: Todd Gurley stuck in reverse

The Los Angeles Rams limited their starters to the opening series of drives. So, Gurley received only four hand-offs. The third-year running back gained only two yards on those four carries. It was like watching Gurley in action last year when he finished the season averaging only 3.2 yards per attempt. It is too early to panic. But rookie Justin Davis and second-year back Malcolm Brown were far more exciting to watch.

Stud: T.J. Watt makes big brother proud

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt

Watt, in his Pittsburgh Steelers NFL debut, made sacking quarterbacks look easy when he took Giants quarterback Josh Johnson down twice within just a couple of moments. It is a proud milestone for any young linebacker to record a first sack. The first-round talent also tallied five combined tackles. Brother J.J., of course, gave his younger sibling a nice shout-out on Twitter. The younger Watt might find it more difficult this week against Atlanta, which features more offensive talent behind the starters than Pittsburgh.

Dud: Roberto Aguayo gets kicked to the curb

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did the booting this time around when they kicked kicker Roberto Aguayo to the curb after the team’s first exhibition game. Aguayo missed one field goal attempt and missed a PAT (watch here) — enough was enough. Of course we’e be remiss if we didn’t remind you the Bucs burned a second-round pick (trading up!!) to land Aguayo last year. Now, he is the problem of the Bears, who claimed him off the waiver wire.

Stud: Mitchell Trubisky shuts up naysayers

There is a lot of quarterback drama to be had in Chicago. While Glennon was earning his 0.0 quarterback rating and Mark Sanchez was being Sanchez, Trubisky rose to the top. The rookie finished his NFL debut with a 103.1 quarterback rating, completing 18-of-25 pass attempts for 166 yards and one touchdown. He also gained 38 yards on the ground. It was enough that former Bears head coach Mike Ditka said that Trubisky should be the “clear-cut” starter.

Dud: Eddie Lacy is still slow

Lacy didn’t get much opportunity to showcase his skills for the Seahawks. But on the four carries the fifth-year running back did get, he managed only 10 yards. That’s lowly 2.5 yards per carry. It is looking more like Thomas Rawls will be the starter once Week 1 in the regular season rolls around. Rawls started with Wilson and the first-team offense, while Lacy took hand-offs from Trevone Boykin. Lacy faces Minnesota’s defense next, which won’t give way easily to his efforts.

About the author

Rachel Wold

Rachel Wold

Rachel is a football lover of both the NFL and Fantasy and creator of Fantasyfootballchick.com. When she is not vacationing in Miami or Vegas, she is an NFL writer at Sportsnaut and a fantasy contributor at eDraft.com. Rachel's articles are also featured on Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports.

Follow Rachel on Twitter @liveocgirl and chat with her anytime!