We won’t be seeing Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari or Jaire Alexander, getting meaningful play in preseason games – this year or in the future.
It’s never been a question of right or wrong, but rather one of risk vs. reward. Not only has head coach Matt LaFleur come down on the side of injury risk avoidance, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers might be the league’s most vocal opponent of putting key players on the field during preseason games. Aaron has argued for going on three years now that such games are “meaningless.”
I took a look around the league at the third three preseason games of this year. Here are the stats of the top 20 passing yardage QB’s (in order, but omitting the retired Andrew Luck) from 2018 for Game 3 of this year’s preseason schedules:
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – 8 of 13, 63 yards
Patrick Mahomes (KC) – 8 of 10, 126 yards
Matt Ryan (ATL) – 9 of 14, 74 yard
Jared Goff (LAR) – Zero
Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Zero
Tom Brady (NE) – 8 of 12, 75 yards
Philip Rivers (LAC) – Zero
Eli Manning (NYG) – 4 of 8, 41 yards
Kirk Cousins (MIN) -3 of 13, 35 yards
Deshaun Watson (HOU) – 0 of 0
Derek Carr (OAK) – Zero
Drew Brees (NO) – 4 of 6, 68 yards
Case Keenum (DEN/WSH) – 9 of 14, 101 yards
Dak Prescott (DAL) -2 of 5, 22 yards
Matthew Stanford (DET) – 12 of 19, 137 yards
Baker Mayfield (CLE) – 10 of 26, 72 yards
Russell Wilson (SEA) – 6 of 9, 117 yards
Cam Newton (CAR) – 4 of 6, 30 yards
Mitchell Trubinsky (CHI) – Zero
Carson Wentz (PHI) – Zero
Aaron Rodgers was one of six of the above star quarterbacks who had no preseason games stats last week. Fortunately, the Pack’s first opponent, the Bears, also chose to keep Mitchell Trubisky on the sidelines this preseason. Coaches and quarterbacks who defied the trend included: Detroit’s Matt Patricia and Matt Stafford, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, and Kansas City’s Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Of these 20 quarterbacks, only six were sacked: Newton and Cousins (twice), and Keenum, Mayfield, Watson, and Wilson (once).
Though not in last season’s top-20 list, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan had QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s coming off an injury from last season, play most of his Game 3; he finished with 14 of 20 passing for 188 yards and suffered one sack. Given that the Packers have their first new head coach in 14 years, and will unveil a new offensive look – which they’ve yet to reveal during the preseason – Packers fans will be tuning in on September 5 with an enormous amount of trepidation.
Though the offense is beset with uncertainties and unknowns, the defense has benefitted from a bounty of new veteran acquisitions, and second-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s defensive tactics should now be ingrained in his returning players. For a change, the defense might be the strength of the 2019 Packers.
The retirement of Andrew Luck has brought shock to Indianapolis. Jacoby Brissett is ready to move up to being the starter, though the Colts will undoubtedly be looking for a new backup QB. Running back Lamar Miller had been indestructible in his first three years with the Texans, averaging close to 1,000 rushing yards per season. That ended on Saturday, when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL. Carolina QB Cam Newton, has been getting around in a walking cast until recently, but he’s a tough guy who could be ready for the season opener. QB Daniel Jones, the sixth overall pick out of Duke, has impressed the Giants, and might compete for playing time if aging Eli Manning slumps. Another rookie QB, Bengals’ fourth rounder Ryan Finley, has completed 73 percent of his throws this preseason.
As I write, safety Josh Jones, who asked for his release from the Packers, has not been picked up on waivers. It’s not surprising, as teams are understandably reluctant to take on a player who stabbed his former team in the back when he feared he would not be named a starter in 2019.