Top takeaways from Friday’s NFL preseason action

By Jesse Reed
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There were only three games on the slate Friday night as the NFL preseason rumbled along, but they provided fans with plenty to chew on.

In particular, the play of the quarterbacks stood out, both for good and bad reasons.

Starting with a second-year quarterback who is starting to come on strong, these are the top takeaways from Friday night’s preseason NFL action.

The Josh Allen/Cole Beasley connection is coming on strong

Buffalo marched down the field on its opening drives Friday night. A big reason for this is the budding relationship between Allen and Beasley.

The two connected four times on four targets on the opening drive, with Beasley going 30 yards on those catches. All told, the two combined on five receptions for 44 yards on the first two drives of the game, which resulted in 10 points.

As this relationship develops throughout the season, it should open up opportunities for the rest of Buffalo’s playmakers — both in the run and passing games. Case in point, Allen was able to find tight end Tommy Sweeney wide open behind a linebacker on that opening drive, thanks in part to Beasley working the underneath routes.

The Jameis Winston experience is still wild

Winston didn’t play much Friday night against Miami, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gunslinger did enough to remind us what kind of a roller-coaster experience it can be to watch him play.

He started the game by overthrowing Mike Evans on an out route, but he also made a couple of nice passes to tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. He took an 11-yard sack when the line broke down. But on a positive note he pulled a Houdini act on linebacker Jerome Baker, who appeared to have Winston lined up for a huge sack.

The Bucs didn’t score or do much in the way of ball movement during the short time Winston was on the field. It’s going to be fascinating to see if the fifth-year former first-round pick can make meaningful progress this year, or if he ends up flaming out in Tampa Bay.

Eli Manning looking sharp

Unlike last week, Manning actually got a chance to make some throws downfield as he led the New York Giants to a touchdown on their opening drive. On the drive, the Giants mixed in a nice blend of runs (6 for 31 yards) and passes, with Manning going 4-of-4 for 42 yards and a touchdown.

In particular, Manning’s throw to Cody Latimer down the seam was impressive.

Rookie Daniel Jones also made plenty of impressive throws. Yet he also looked very much like a rookie at times and was responsible for two bad turnovers.

Reportedly, Manning had his best practice of training camp the first chance he got on the field following rookie Daniel Jones’ phenomenal debut. Safe to say, the 38-year-old is fired up, and eager to prove he isn’t washed up, heading into 2019.

Panthers going nowhere without Cam Newton

Cam Newton did not play for the second week in a row as the Carolina Panthers take a cautious approach to his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. His backup, Kyle Allen, and rookie Will Grier, showed us just how valuable Newton is to his offense.

The two backups completed just 13-of-27 for 98 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions — one being an atrocious pick-six by the rookie — in the first half. The Panthers were a mess on offense all around, but the play by both quarterbacks was particularly poor.

Needless to say, it’s imperative that Newton stay healthy in 2019. Because if the Panthers lose him, they will also lose any hope of contending for a playoff spot.

Dolphins’ offensive line is a huge problem

Like we saw in NFL preseason Week 1, the Miami Dolphins had some serious issues Friday night, not only protecting quarterbacks, but also in the run-blocking game, too.

Josh Rosen took some positive steps and started the game under center. He completed 10-of-18 passes for 102 yards, showing good mobility at times as he evaded pressure.

Yet at one point Miami’s offensive line gave up two straight sacks, and it allowed three total in that first half. Even worse, Dolphins running backs were able to generate just 22 yards on 10 carries in the first half.

No matter who is starting under center this year for Miami, it’s going to be impossible to find consistent success playing behind an offensive line that is this consistently bad.