Preseason 2023 NFL Week 2 Analysis: The Winners, Losers, and Surprises from Friday’s Contests

The NFL preseason continued Friday night with three games that featured some intriguing storylines and performances. Here are the biggest takeaways from each game, along with some highlights and analysis.

New York Giants 24, Carolina Panthers 10

Jalin HyattSarah Stier/Getty Images

The Giants’ offense looked impressive in their preseason debut, as Daniel Jones led a touchdown drive on his first and only series. Jones completed eight of nine passes for 69 yards and a score, connecting with tight end Darren Waller three times for 30 yards. Waller, who was acquired from the Raiders in March, showed why he’s one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league and Jones’ favorite target.

The Giants also got some production from their revamped wide receiver group, as Parris Campbell, Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder, and rookie Jalin Hyatt all caught passes from Jones. Campbell, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, scored on a 16-yard catch-and-run. Beasley, Crowder, and Hyatt added some speed and versatility to the Giants’ aerial attack.

The Giants’ defense also had a strong outing, holding the Panthers to 10 points and forcing two turnovers. Defensive coordinator Don Martindale dialed up some pressure on Bryce Young, who struggled in his second NFL start. Young completed 11 of 19 passes for 109 yards and an interception, while taking three sacks. The Giants’ secondary also made some plays, as Damar Hamlin picked off Young and James Bradberry broke up a pass intended for DJ Moore.

The Panthers’ offense looked out of sync and lacked explosiveness, as they failed to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Young had some flashes of brilliance, such as his 28-yard completion to Robby Anderson on the opening drive, but he also made some costly mistakes and missed some open receivers. The Panthers’ running game was also ineffective, as they averaged only 3.1 yards per carry.

The Panthers’ defense had some bright spots, such as rookie edge rusher Joseph Ossai, who recorded two sacks and a forced fumble. Ossai showed his speed and power off the edge, disrupting the Giants’ passing game. The Panthers’ secondary also held its own against the Giants’ receivers, limiting them to short gains and preventing big plays.

Atlanta Falcons 16, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Bijan RobinsonAP Photo/John Bazemore

The Falcons and Bengals played to a tie in a penalty-filled game that featured seven turnovers. Both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm, as they combined for 18 punts and 23 penalties for 215 yards.

The Falcons’ offense showed some promise on their first drive, as Desmond Ridder led them to the Bengals’ 9-yard line with some accurate passes and scrambles. However, the drive stalled after a false start penalty and a sack, forcing the Falcons to settle for a field goal. Ridder finished the game with 14 of 20 passes for 130 yards and an interception.

The Falcons’ offense also got a boost from rookie running back Bijan Robinson, who rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries. Robinson displayed his vision and burst, breaking off runs of 18 and 25 yards. He also caught two passes for nine yards. Robinson is competing for the backup role behind Mike Davis, who did not play in this game.

The Falcons’ defense had a solid performance, holding the Bengals to 16 points and forcing four turnovers. The Falcons’ pass rush generated four sacks and two forced fumbles, while the secondary intercepted two passes. Rookie safety Richie Grant had a standout game, recording six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a pass defensed.

The Bengals’ offense was hampered by injuries and turnovers, as they played without Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins

TE Darren Waller Is Clearly Daniel Jones’ Favorite Target

Darren WallerRich Schultz/Getty Images

Daniel Jones didn’t play in the Giants’ first preseason game, though he looked sharp on his first and only drive Friday, completing eight out nine passes for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Tight end Darren Waller hauled in the first two passes of the game and finished the day with three receptions for 30 yards.

Waller racked up 1,145-plus receiving yards in back-to-back campaigns between 2019 and 2020 and caught 12 touchdowns in that two-year span. If Waller avoids injuries, which cost him 14 games over the previous two years, he could post career highs in multiple receiving categories this year.

This offseason, the Giants re-signed wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard and added wideouts Parris Campbell, Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder and rookie third-rounder Jalin Hyatt, but Waller will likely see the most targets if he stays healthy.

QB Bryce Young Still Underwhelming in Panthers’ Stagnant Vanilla Offense

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Athletic’s  joesph  person has counted three three-and-out sequences in Carolina’s first four offensive series for the starting unit in the preseason.

Against the Giants, Panthers quarterback Bryce Young went 3-of-6 passing for 35 yards in two series.

On one hand, Young hasn’t made any glaring mistakes with head-scratching decisions from the pocket or turned the ball over, but the No. 1 overall pick from this year’s draft needs more time on the field to find his rhythm.

Panthers head coach Frank Reich and company should trot out the first-team offense for at least an entire half in the final preseason game to help Young gain some momentum ahead of the regular season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *