With Week 1 of the preseason now a thing of the past, fans got their first taste of NFL action in 2021 since the Super Bowl.
Perhaps the biggest story was the debut of rookie quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones.
PFF passing grades among first round rookie QBs this preseason:
🇺🇸 Mac Jones – 82.0
✈️ Zach Wilson – 78.8
🐻 Justin Fields – 64.2
🐆 Trevor Lawrence – 58.5
⛏ Trey Lance – 49.0 pic.twitter.com/CEvlHxx1LI
— PFF (@PFF) August 15, 2021
But as always, the preseason is a way for NFL fans to get their first look at their favorite teams and for some unheralded stars to breakout into the main stream.
While it may have just been one game, and while the final score doesn’t necessarily matter, there were plenty of surprises coming out of Week 1 of the preseason.
3. Miami Starts Brown Over Gaskin
Heading into the season, many expected Myles Gaskin to serve as the Miami Dolphins starting running back.
After all, he appeared in 10 games for Miami in 2020, starting seven of them and rushing for 584 yards and three touchdowns on 142 carries.
He added 41 catches for 388 yards and two additional scores.
However, when the Dolphins took the field in their Week 1 matchup against Chicago, a 20-13 loss, it was Malcom Brown that got the start at running back for Miami.
Brown was signed to a one-year, $1 million contract this offseason after spending his entire six-year career thus far with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.
Against the Bears, Brown rushed for eight yards on nine carries.
While those stats aren’t pretty, Gaskin was even out-touched by Salvon Ahmed, who rushed six times for 40 yards.
Ahmed even caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.
1️⃣4️⃣ finds 2️⃣6️⃣ for the TD 😎
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 14, 2021
Gaskin on the other hand carried the ball four times for 19 yards, 14 of those yards coming on one carry.
Following the contest, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said he plans on using a committee approach at running back.
Perhaps this is Flores using the preseason to see what he has at the position.
However, after being out-snapped by both Brown and Ahmed, it’s fair to wonder what Gaskin’s role on the Dolphins is heading into the 2021 season.
2. The Jacksonville Jaguars
Even with new head coach Urban Meyer in place and All-World quarterback Lawrence under center, no one expected the Jacksonville Jaguars to be a winning team this year.
However, what was even more unexpected was their performance in Week 1.
The Jags fell to the Cleveland Browns, 23-13.
Don’t let the final score fool you, Jacksonville scored all 13 of their points in the fourth quarter.
They had 302 total yards, but at halftime, they had just 115.
In the first half, Gardner Minshew threw an interception while the Jags punted three times and turned the ball over on downs once.
Normally, this would be a non-story due to it being the preseason.
On the flip side, the Browns rested essentially their entire team.
However, despite having essentially their entire team out there and the Browns playing backups, Jacksonville struggled immensely.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and no one expected Lawrence and Meyer to complete revamp the Jags in one season.
However, after Week 1 of the preseason, it’s clear there is still more work to do in Jacksonville.
1. Rhamondre Stevenson
Rhamondre Stevenson was a fourth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 2021.
He spent two seasons at Oklahoma in college, rushing for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns.
In Week 1 of the preseason, New England defeated the Washington Football Team, 22-13.
Stevenson burst onto the scene, rushing 10 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
He had the biggest play of the game for either side, running almost the entire length of the field for a 91-yard touchdown.
RHAMONDRE STEVENSON COAST TO COST
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 13, 2021
That marked his second touchdown of the contest after he plunged into the end zone for a one-yard score earlier in the fourth quarter.
— Barstool Sooners (@OUBarstool) August 13, 2021
Stevenson dropped to the fourth round due to a suspension at Oklahoma.
However, now that he is in the NFL, Stevenson looks like he can add another strong element to the Patriots backfield.
It might have just been one game, but it didn’t take long for Stevenson to show that he could be a true play-maker in the NFL.