Sunday’s slate of preseason NFL action consisted of just two games. It started with the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers doing battle in Southern California.
Neither future Hall of Fame starting quarterback suited up in that game. Instead, backups Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor struggled big time.
The evening matchup pitted the Seattle Seahawks against the Minnesota Vikings in the Twin Cities. That game saw both Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins play well in limited action.
Though, lesser-known players also stood out Sunday. Chargers running back Justin Jackson performed well in holdout Melvin Gordon’s stead. Meanwhile, the young Saints secondary looks to be a juggernaut.
These are among the biggest takeaways from Sunday’s limited slate of NFL football.
Pumping the brakes on the Teddy Bridgewater hype
This former first-round pick got the start for Drew Brees in New Orleans’ second preseason game of the summer. To say that it did not go swimmingly would be an understatement. Bridgewater completed just 5-of-12 passes for 40 yards with an interception and lost fumble. The only three points the Saints put up in this one came on a three-yard drive following an interception. Bridgewater looked completely lost out there.
This wasn’t a horrible pass by any stretch of the imagination. But it did display the inaccuracy we saw from Bridgewater in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon. You can’t elevate a pass like that in the middle of the field. The larger-scale issue for Bridgewater personally is that this is one of the few opportunities he’ll have to prove himself as a starter-caliber quarterback heading into free agency next March. He didn’t do that Sunday afternoon.
Kirk Cousins continues to look good
After completing all four of his passes with a touchdown in his preseason debut last week, Cousins’ excellent summer continued Sunday evening against a good Seahawks defense. The veteran completed 6-of-8 passes for 68 yards, including a tremendous 34-yard strike to Adam Thielen.
This has to be music to the ears of Vikings fans the world over. Cousins enters this season under a whole lot of pressure. He needs to not only play well, but lead Minnesota to the playoffs in order to justify the deal this team handed him prior to the 2018 season. All things seem to be looking good on that front.
Justin Jackson puts Melvin Gordon on notice
One of the biggest backstories this summer surrounding the Chargers has been the extended holdout of two-time Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon. It does not look like said holdout is going to end any time soon. Publicly, the Chargers continue to gush about second-year back Justin Jackson as Gordon’s potential heir-apparent. While that could be a PR ploy, the former Northwestern standout continues to impress.
That was one heck of a 17-yard run from the youngster. All said, Jackson gained 33 yards on eight attempts without starting quarterback Philip Rivers on the field. His play seemingly puts Gordon on notice. And while the Chargers are unlikely to trade the impending free agent, Jackson’s performance has to make them feel good over the short term.
Alexander Mattison solidifies No. 2 spot for Vikings
Heading into Sunday’s game, there was a good chance that this rookie third-round pick would be Minnesota’s primary backup running back behind Dalvin Cook. Nothing we saw from the Boise State product Sunday night dispelled this notion. Mattison put up 41 yards on 10 attempts, including this brilliant 22-yard run.
Mattison is battling with Ameer Abdullah and Michael Boone for the top backup spot. After scoring a touchdown in the preseason opener, he was right back performing at a high level Sunday evening. We absolutely love what the youngster has done thus far this summer.
Saints secondary is going to be a force
We already know about cornerback Marshon Lattimore and fellow young defensive back Marcus Williams. They head one of the most talented young secondaries in the entire NFL. But what we saw from former third-round pick Vonn Bell Sunday lends credence to the idea that this could be one of the best secondaries in the NFL come Week 1.
It’s not too often that a defender can catch up to Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin. The exceptional range that this Ohio State product displayed was eye-opening. It’s something that has been a consistent theme for New Orleans this summer. Flush with the likes of Lattimore, Williams, Bell, Eli Apple and rookie Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, this Saints’ secondary is going to be a problem in 2019.
Andre Patton makes another case for 53-man roster
An undrafted rookie free agent out of Rutgers, Patton has been making noise thus far in Southern California this summer. There’s now a good chance that he might actually break camp with the team. Saturday’s performance against the Saints only added to this.
Patton caught four passes for 62 yards on five targets. That included a great 24-yard touchdown from pass from quarterback Cardale Jones. It’s this type of play-making ability that has to have the Chargers excited. At 6-foot-4, he has the size to dominate. Patton also showed some speed with that score. Great stuff from the youngster.
Russell Wilson shines in preseason debut
While he might have failed to lead Seattle to a touchdown in his two drives, Wilson looked as sharp as ever in his debut this summer. The former Super Bowl quarterback completed 6-of-9 passes for 82 yards in a rock-solid overall effort.
Wilson got the evening started strong with consecutive completions to Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown for a combined 35 yards. From there, he continued to show accuracy and pocket awareness. This quarterback having success on the football field is not new. Though, we might have expected some rust Sunday evening. That did not happen.