How Jordan Love, Kenny Pickett, and Russell Wilson Stole the Show in Preseason 2023 NFL Week 1

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The first week of the 2023 NFL preseason kicked off with some exciting matchups and impressive performances from young quarterbacks, veteran stars, and newcomers. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Friday’s games:

Jordan Love shines in Packers debut

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The Green Bay Packers finally got to see their first-round pick from 2022, Jordan Love, in action against the Cincinnati Bengals. Love did not disappoint, completing 15 of 21 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He showed poise, accuracy, and mobility in the pocket, leading the Packers to a 17-10 lead at halftime. Love’s touchdown pass was a beautiful 22-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger in the second quarter. Love did not play in the second half due to a shoulder injury, but he said it was nothing serious and he expects to be ready for the next game. The Packers won 24-17.

Kenny Pickett and Sam Howell duel in Steelers-Buccaneers game

by the sporting news

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers featured two of the most hyped quarterbacks from the 2023 draft class: Kenny Pickett and Sam Howell. Pickett, who was selected by the Steelers with the third overall pick, started the game and completed 16 of 24 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 28 yards and a score. Pickett displayed his arm strength, touch, and leadership skills, connecting with receivers Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and JuJu Smith-Schuster for big plays. Howell, who was drafted by the Buccaneers with the sixth overall pick, entered the game in the second quarter and completed 18 of 26 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Steelers linebacker Devin Bush. Howell showed his accuracy, anticipation, and toughness, finding receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski for key completions. The Steelers won 31-28.

Russell Wilson dazzles in Cardinals debut

by www.azcardinals.com

The biggest blockbuster trade of the offseason was the one that sent Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for Kyler Murray and multiple draft picks. Wilson made his Cardinals debut against his former team and put on a show. Wilson completed 12 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns in one half of play. He also ran for 36 yards on four carries. Wilson looked comfortable and confident in Sean Payton’s offense, hitting receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green for scores. Wilson received a mixed reaction from the Seahawks fans at Lumen Field, who saw their new quarterback Kyler Murray struggle against the Cardinals defense. Murray completed 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards and an interception. He also ran for 27 yards on five carries. The Cardinals won 34-13.

Uninspired Start to Sean Payton’s Tenure as Denver Broncos Head Coach

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The Denver Broncos offense ended on a good note Friday night with a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. The play was desperately needed for Sean Payton’s debut as the franchise’s head coach not to be completely ruined.

How the starting units perform is what matters most during preseason contests. The Broncos looked lethargic, mistake-prone and not much of an upgrade over last year’s group through the initial 19 offensive snaps.

Up until that point, head coach Sean Payton had to be significantly disappointed. Tipped passes, consistent pressure applied by the Arizona Cardinals, a massive drop by Jeudy on the preceding third-down play and a couple missed field goals made the Broncos’ performance feel like more of the same.

Clearly, Payton wanted to send a message by having his starters play well into the second quarter, with four drives under their collective belt.

“Everything I heard about last season, we’re doing the opposite,” Payton told USA Today’s Jarrett Bell.

The coach implied and outright stated in certain instances that the Broncos organization and previous staff were incompetent. Things would be different under his watch. So, Payton and Co. will be under a microscope all year since the coach himself stated he expects his Broncos to be a playoff team.

Instead, issues presented themselves again. Maybe a smooth transition shouldn’t have been expected. At the same time, Payton’s previous comments and attitude bring extra scrutiny regarding his team, how it’s run and the overall performance, even in the preseason.

The bright spot of the night was Wilson, who was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in a blockbuster trade that sent Kyler Murray and multiple draft picks to the Emerald City. Wilson completed 12 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns in one half of play. He also ran for 36 yards on four carries. Wilson looked comfortable and confident in Payton’s offense, hitting receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green for scores.

Wilson received a mixed reaction from the Seahawks fans at Lumen Field, who saw their new quarterback Kyler Murray struggle against the Cardinals defense. Murray completed 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards and an interception. He also ran for 27 yards on five carries.

The Broncos won 34-13, but the score was not indicative of how they played for most of the game. Payton will have to work on fixing the mistakes and improving the consistency of his offense before the regular season begins. He will also have to deal with the high expectations and pressure that come with his bold statements and moves.

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