Caulton Tudor

Hot preseason performances by former ACC QBs may be much ado about nothing

Posted August 11

Four of the hottest passers in the 2016 NFL preseason games were Stephen Morris of Indianapolis, Sean Mannion (Los Angeles Rams), Matt Barkley (Arizona) and Josh Johnson (Baltimore).

Those guys are worth remembering as the first few games of the 2017 preseason are producing hot starts for several former ACC quarterbacks.

The trend started with Houston rookie DeShaun Watson (Clemson) and Texan veteran Tom Savage (Pitt) in a loss to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday and continued unabated with Chicago rookie Mitch Trubisky (UNC), Buffalo’s Nate Peterman (Pitt), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) and T.J. Yates (UNC), New England’s Jacoby Brissett (NC State) and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (Boston College) and Matt Schaub (Virginia) on Thursday.

Toss in Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame, if you looking for ACC fringe material.

The only rusty liftoff so far has been Chicago’s Mike Glennon (NC State), who did a lot of watching and play-charting while Trubisky loaded up on playing time in the Bears’ 24-17 loss to Denver in Chicago.

Trubisky, the second overall pick in the April draft, was nearly flawless with 18 completions on 25 throws for 166 yards, a touchdown toss to Victor Cruz, no interceptions and 38 yards rushing on three attempts.

In a limited role, Glennon, who signed as a free agent after three seasons with Tampa Bay, threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Denver’s Chris Harris, completed only two of eight passes for 20 yards and was quick to acknowledge the disappointment of his debut in what can be a tough sports town.

“I’m definitely eager to get to Arizona (where the Bears play next) and see how I do there,” Glennon told reporters. “Obviously this is not the start we wanted. I didn’t play well, but it’s one quarter of the first preseason game. It’s flexible.

“Mitch played really well, there’s no doubt,” Glennon said. “I was impressed.”

Glennon is still the presumed started for the Bears’ first regular season game against Atlanta on Sept. 10, but Trubisky clearly had a statement game in his professional debut.

But Trubisky had some college conference company:

  • In Buffalo’s 17-10 Thursday loss to Minnesota, the Bills’ Peterman debuted with 13 completions on 25 attempts for 112 yards and a touchdown pass. Teammates Yates was 6 for 11 and 48 yards and Taylor 5 for 8 for 46 yards in more limited roles.
  • Ryan played very little in Atlanta’s 23-20 loss to Miami, but completed all three of his passes for 32 yards and a TD pass to Devonta Freeman (Florida State). Schaub was 2 for 2 for 20 yards as the Falcons used four quarterbacks.
  • Brissett, in relief of Jim Garoppolo for the Super Bowl champion Patriots, completed eight of 13 for 88 yards in a 31-24 loss to Jacksonville. Tom Brady didn’t play.
  • Watson, the 12th overall draft pick in April, tagged the Panthers for 179 yards by completing 15 of 29 in a 27-17 loss on Wednesday in Charlotte. Savage started and was near perfect – 9 for 11 for 69 yards.

It’s all very encouraging for the ACC alumni players, and several more have not yet played a 2017 preseason game, but preseason performances usually don’t count for much when the regular season begins.

Several established starters – Brady, the Panthers’ Cam Newton and New Orleans’ Drew Brees – haven’t played yet and may not until the final preseason game. Others – Ryan, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers (State) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (State) – won’t face much exposure before regular season.

Former Cowboys coach Barry Switzer was fond of referring to the NFL preseason as the land of “make believe,” and many other experts over the years have agreed. A lot of roster spots get determined in preseason camps, but the games largely amount to bonus attendance and advertising revenues for the team owners.

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