Another night of preseason football is in the books. Of course, you may not have noticed there were actually six games being played last night, since one of those games featured Tim Tebow.
Besides Tebow looking very Tebow-esque, the night gave us plenty to talk about with the season getting closer. One quarterback controversy, in Arizona, was no closer to being resolved. In another quarterback battle, in Miami, rookie Ryan Tannehill forced the Dolphins to rethink an early notion to keep him buried on the depth chart.
Below are a few highlights, and lowlights, from the night's slate of games. Let us know what you think. What were your favorite plays? Favorite players?
Bad News Browns
Jimmy Haslam bought the Cleveland Browns for more than $1 billion recently. You might think that Ziggy from the comic strip bought the team given their sad sack run of luck lately. Days after learning that running back Trent Richardson would need a knee scope, the Browns were hit hard by injuries on Friday night against the Detroit Lions. Mohamed Massaquoi took the worst of it, suffering his third concussion on Cleveland's first play of the game.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled in his debut. He went 3-for-9 with 62 yards and an interception. He fumbled the ball on a third-and-15 play, the first of his two turnovers. Making matters worse for the Browns, Colt McCoy was effective if unspectacular. The former Texas standout likely gave the Browns a little boost if they decide to try and trade him as the season gets closer.
Weeden started off strong enough, completing a pair of big passes to open the Browns' first offensive drive. There is no reason to panic if you're a Browns fan or a new owner who just threw a billion dollars at the team.
Josh Gordon, a second-round pick in the summer's supplemental draft, came to the Browns with unreasonable expectations surrounding him. He did not play football at all in 2011 and it showed. The hype around Gordon was the perfect reminder that draft pundits sometimes make promises based on potential to fans hungry for instant results.
The Dolphins Have A Quarterback
Or at least they have a legitimate quarterback controversy. Ryan Tannehill outplayed Matt Moore in a 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The eighth pick in this year's draft completed 14-of-21 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown, the Dolphins' only score of the game. He hit Charles Clay with a rope over the middle that the fullback easily converted to a touchdown.
Tannehill was facing the Bucs' second-team defense, so you can put an asterisk next to his numbers. Incoming edge rushers did not phase him, a good sign regardless of the quality of the defenders. Just as impressive was his confidence pushing passes into the narrowest windows. That could cost him when the quality of opponents improves, but Miami has to feel good about his confidence overall.
I believe that I am legally required to mention the fact that Tim Tebow made his debut with the Jets on Friday. New York Tebow looked very much like Denver Tebow. He wobbled a pass to Stephen Hill for his first completion of the game. His throwing motion did look sharper, more to the point than when he was winging passes down the field last year.
His ability to turn broken plays into yardage was on full display as he scrambled out of a collapsing pocket three times for 34 yards on the ground, proving that running in the rain without your shirt must really translate to success on the gridiron.
Let's face it, the highlight of Tebow's night was being intercepted by Bengals undrafted linebacker Vontaze Burfict. You can really go all in on the antitheses thing with this one. The fallen from grace Sun Devil got a tipped ball to make his NFL debut a memorable one.
Lost in the Tebow mania was a great night from Jets rookie pass rusher Quintin Coples. He had two tackles for a loss, a pass defensed and a strip sack in the game. The UNC product was drafted to give Rex Ryan's defense some threat after it mustered only 35 sacks last season and it looks like he'll do just that.
If only Coples could play quarterback.
Watch Out For The Chiefs
Kansas City entered the season as a question mark. It struggled in 2011, but much of that had to do with a devastating rash of injuries to its top players. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's group scored twice on its first two possessions. More importantly Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel looked healthy, which will be the key for a Chiefs rebound this year.
I'm no doctor, but this looks like a pretty healthy Charles to me.
Peyton Hillis, a free agent addition this year, caught an 11-yard pass for the first score. He also ran for 41 yards on four carries. With Charles rounding into form, the Chiefs will have a deadly duo at running back that should give defenses matchup nightmares, a long way from the old Marty Ball days. Dexter McCluster caught three passes for 45 yards, reminding fans that he was in fact still a part of the Chiefs.
Now, about Dwayne Bowe ...
Cardinal Quarterback Problems
Kevin Kolb struggled again in Arizona's 27-17 loss to the Kansas City. He was 1-for-5 for 21 yards. For any other quarterback running the second team offense in the second preseason game, the numbers can be taken with some perspective. Unfortunately, the Cardinals traded a starting cornerback and a second-round pick for Kolb, and then handed him a six-year, $65 million contract.
John Skelton has the starting job under center, and he was no great shakes on Friday night either. He was 3-for-6 with 35 yards and an interception.
Arizona's pass protection did no favors for their quarterbacks:
San Francisco Speed
49ers fans can exhale after learning that Aldon Smith just suffered bruised hip, which should not threaten his regular season. That worry out of the way, they can appreciate the fact that this team has some real speed on offense. Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick faked a handoff to LaMichael James and then took the ball 78 yards down the field for a touchdown.
Given Kaepernick's speed, you wonder if Jim Harbaugh might consider some plays to take advantage of his second-year quarterback's wheels.
Being Blaine Gabbert
The narrative on Blaine Gabbert is established, and despite the questionable veracity of that story, about a quarterback who shrivels under pressure, it will be tough to convince soundbite-dishing pundits otherwise.
Gabbert led the Jaguars on a touchdown drive on the first series, without running back Maurice Jones-Drew or wide receiver Justin Blackmon in uniform. Leading the drive was a poised quarterback who completed 4-of-7 passes on a 13-play drive, capping it off with a three-yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts III.
That said, Gabbert was hardly perfect, reminding the world that he is very much a work in progress. A strip sack on his final snap of the game gave fans something to groan about and his critics more ammunition. Jacksonville's offensive line has crumbled in training camp, hit hard by injuries, and it showed on Friday night. The Jaguars quarterback will be under plenty of scrutiny as the preseason continues, justifiably so.