What we learned from Sunday’s preseason games – NFL.com
Four teams wrapped up their third games of the preseason Saturday. The Chicago Bears beat the Tennessee Titans, while the Cincinnati Bengals fell to the Washington Redskins, and the Vikings beat the 49ers. Here were the three big takeaways from the games:
1. Bears quarterback Mike Glennon had a bounceback performance and appears to have done enough to hold off rookie Mitchell Trubisky as Week 1 is now just days away.
2. Whoever the Bears end up rolling with at quarterback, it looks like they’ll be without their top receiver in Cameron Meredith. Initial tests revealed the wideout suffered a torn ACL.
3. The Bengals’ offense, with impressive rookies Joe Mixon and John Ross joining the fold, hummed with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green leading the way.
4. 49ers rookie linebacker Reuben Foster lived up to the hype.
5. Is the 49ers defense really good or did the Vikings offensive line make them look good?
Here’s what else we learned Sunday:
Bears 19, Titans 7
1. This was the Glennon comeback game John Fox was waiting for. The Bears’ presumptive starter rebounded from weeks of dodging the Trubisky hype train to go 11-of-18 for 134 yards and a touchdown. Glennon did the little things well, like a crisp out route to Kendall Wright for a first down early in the first quarter. But he also made the above-and-beyond throws, like a 28-yard completion to Meredith. Glennon was facing pressure in the pocket and Meredith was draped by Titans corner Adoree’ Jackson. This was the most realistic game-planned set of plays run by Glennon this year. His first series resulted in a 15-play, 96-yard touchdown drive that lasted nearly eight minutes. Tennessee did Chicago a favor by bringing the heat, and Glennon handled it well.
1a. Speaking of Meredith, one can only hope he makes a full recovery. After a pair of nice grabs, Meredith sustained a torn ACL on a brutal confluence of hits. Fox did not show the replay (which was gruesome) out of respect for Meredith, who was immediately placed in an air cast and wheeled off the field. The broadcast team reported the ACL injury before the end of the game, which signifies just how severe it might be. As NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport mentioned on Sunday, there could very well be additional damage. We’ll have more updates as information becomes available.
2. Speaking of Trubisky, he did not let up either. A beautiful, 45-yard touchdown pass to a motoring Tanner Gentry punctuated a strong, 10-of-15 outing for 128 yards and a touchdown. Colleague Marc Sessler said on Twitter that it would be impossible to keep Trubisky from starting by Week 2 — and while the Bears seem intent on allowing Glennon to keep this role, Trubisky is not making it easy. Glennon’s strong Sunday performance was the best possible scenario for the Bears, who want Trubisky to really earn the job and snatch it away from a professional-grade starter.
3. Mike Mularkey was disgusted by a first-half performance that yielded zero points, telling the broadcast team that he was unhappy with the offense, defense and special teams (the Titans had a blocked punt in the first half). The result? Titans’ starters in until the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until a 3-yard Derrick Henry touchdown catch that Mularkey pulled them out. After Henry’s touchdown, tackle Taylor Lewan took off his helmet and head-butted it — a gesture caught in slow motion and re-aired on television. It’s clear the score was a weight off their backs after a not-so-good afternoon.
4. Marcus Mariota struggled in particular. I noted after one of his earlier performances this preseason that Mariota seemed sturdier and perhaps more accurate. That was not the case Sunday. I counted at least a half dozen overthrows; moderate-to-high-risk attempts that were skied over the intended targets. Analyst Charles Davis said it was Mariota not “finishing the throw.” To me, that was almost visible in real time. Mariota was, at times, like a little league pitcher learning to follow through again. Of course, Mariota also dazzled on Sunday and made throws that only a small percentage of the NFL can make. Mularkey will take the good with the bad.
5. A rough but also encouraging day for Titans rookie corner Jackson. Jackson was picked on all afternoon, though mostly due to his inexperience. I thought Jackson was never really out of position, but the victim of a great catch by Meredith and maybe some youthful aggression.
Redskins 23, Bengals 17
1. I think if you’re the Bengals, you consider this a win despite a 23-17 final score in favor of the Redskins. Once viewed as an incomplete product, this offense is finally starting to make sense to me — and apparently the Redskins, who allowed a 15-play touchdown drive on Cincinnati’s first offensive possession of the day. Dalton could not miss A.J. Green early, which is a welcome sign for the Pro Bowl wideout who missed six games a year ago. In 2016, Green was being targeted 10 times per game by Dalton, and stunningly that number could actually rise if rookie wideout John Ross can extract some pressure. Dalton and Ross do not seem to have their timing down just yet on the deep route — one pass sailed about 10 yards past the speedy Ross — though Ross missed significant time early in camp. By the time Dalton and Ross have their mechanics down, this could be a scary starting 11.