NFL Preseason is here. Each Week, I’ll be giving out a few awards to the stars of exhibition football.
Offensive MVP: Taysom Hill (11/15, 136 passing yards, 2 passing TD, 53 rushing yards)
Not to offend Paxton Lynch, but Taysom Hill is the most exciting third-string quarterback in the NFL. The swiss army knife out of BYU showcased the versatility Saints fans have grown accustomed to over the last several years. Known for starring on almost every special teams unit, Hill is more popular because of his do-it-all ability than success at quarterback.
But this weekend, Hill’s standalone performance at quarterback outshined his versatility. Primarily a runner in wildcat and other gadget formations like it, Hill showcased top of the line speed, rushing for 53 yards against a Chargers defense that shut down Lamar Jackson last year.
Seven career pass attempts and a career QBR of 43.5 may have caused fans to doubt Hill’s arm, but a 73.3 completion percentage along with two passing touchdowns showed why Hill can be more than just a change of pace, situational player.
Never Played College Football Award: Jordan Mailata
It’s safe to say that Orlando Pace is among the greatest tackles to ever grace the football field. The Heisman finalist was also one of the largest tackles to ever play the game. His trademark 6’7, 326-pound frame made him immovable. Now imagine a seventh-round pick one inch taller and 20 pounds heavier than pace. Now add 35 ½ inch arms and just 17% body fat on top of that. Then you would have Jordan Mailata.
Jordan Mailata was a project pick by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. The rugby league star ventured over from Australia a little over a year ago to try his hand at football. He hasn’t looked back since. Mailata had a shutdown game against the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday. Stonewalling pass rushers, the second-year right tackle washed down defenders making inside moves while also showing the agility to kick out wide to reach outside speed rushes.
As is with most linemen, watching Mailata in the run game is the most fun. He’s a bull in a china shop. With such little experience, it’s impressive that he understands and more importantly, executes combination blocks and releasing to a linebacker at the exact right time. Mailata is well on his way to becoming an NFL tackle.
The “He’s Still In the League Award”: Josh McCown
This week’s winner didn’t play a down in week one or week two. In fact, he wasn’t on a team until a few days ago. Josh McCown is back. Having been employed by 25% of the NFL, Josh McCown is back for one last ride. Very few journeyman get the tidal wave of support and love from fans and players that he did upon his retirement earlier this year.
McCown has always managed to leave his mark on each franchise he’s played for. Whether it’s playing receiver for the lions or almost taking the bears to the Super Bowl, McCown has always new and creative ways to show everyone that he’s “still in the league.”
With no Nick Foles and a battered Nate Sudfeld, the Eagles backup quarterback spot is up for grabs. Will McCown be able to seize it at the right time. Will we get to see him helicopter through the air on a Sunday afternoon again? Just maybe.
Josh McCown, who announced his retirement this summer to spend more time with family, is returning to play his 17th NFL season with the Eagles, per sources.
McCown is signing a 1-year deal with the but plans to resume his broadcasting career with ESPN after season, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 17, 2019
Defensive MVP: Daeshon Hall (2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 forced fumble, 3 QB Hits)
.@eagles @DaeshonHall @AggieFootball #flyeaglesfly is a great story and a guy to focus on tonight. He is on the verge of earning valuable reps beginning Sept 8 v @Redskins. 2 forced fumbles in 2 games. Can he make it 3? #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/iYpUvm9lXZ
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 22, 2019
Daeshon hall was a force this week and has been all preseason. The former third-rounded is in the midst of his fight for a home in Philadelphia after being cut by the Panthers just one and a half years into his career. As he’s looking to secure a defensive end spot on a talented Eagles defensive line, his performance against the Jaguars will go a long way.
Hall was in the quarterback’s lap all night, consistently beating the man across from him. Hall recorded two sacks, one tackle for loss, three quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. Jim Schwartz’s defense has certainly found some depth with Hall.
If you’re trying to make a team, being a gamewrecker is certainly the way to do it.
Undrafted Of The Week: Tanner Hudson (6 receptions, 93 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown)
The second player to win Undrafted of The Week is also the second small school, Tampa Bay Buccaneer to win the award. Tanner Hudson, tight end out of Southern Arkansas, is doing his best to help OJ Howard buck the trend of tight ends in Bruce Arians’ offense not getting touches. He hauled six of his seven targets for 93 yards, averaging a whopping 15.5 yards per catch.
Hudson managed to find the endzone for the second straight week. The former college quarterback and punter is hard to ignore. He’s made big play after big play. His score came with 3:38 left in the contest. He wasn’t done yet, making two catches for 45 yards in the final minute, setting up a game-winning field goal.
Moment: Lamarcus Joyner Sacks Kyler Murray
The number one pick had a night to forget. A revamped Raiders defense came to play and dismantled a Cardinals offensive line that’s had its doubters. With the combined hype of Kyler Murray and the ever-present film crews of Hard Knocks, there were a lot of eyes on this matchup.
The Raiders defense was unphased by the Heisman winner. With a beating already laid down, Kyler Murray was trotted out for another series in hopes that he would salvage a difficult outing. Instead, in the shadow of his own goalpost, he was swarmed. The silver and black sent the house. Veteran Lamarcus Joyner had a free shot at Murray, backed up on the goalline. Instead, Murray accepted his fate, and took his dive for a safety, while Joyner sailed overhead.
Will Kyler Murray bounce back? Will the media make too much out of this? Maybe and yes.
Hard Knocks Ep 3 SPOILER:
LAMARCUS JOYNER WITH THE SAFETY ON KYLER MURRAY ?
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) August 16, 2019
1st Rounder Of The Week: Christian Wilkins (2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits)
Two-time national champion and Clemson legend Christian Wilkins showed versatility in his 28 snaps against Tampa Bay, playing all across the defensive line in a variety of fronts. Wilkins was disengaging blockers all night, rushing off the edge and up the middle. He recorded his first sack on Blaine Gabbert, swallowing the quarterback as he tried to break contain.
Wilkins did an excellent job executing a variety of stunts and slants, showing the high football IQ he was known for in college. He had no problem taking on blockers and making plays when they came to him. The first-rounder could make an immediate impact for a Dolphins team that doesn’t have much to be excited for outside of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
.@MiamiDolphins @cwilkins42 played 28 snaps v @Buccaneers and he played a variety of positions in multiple fronts. BUT he showed up and played big while gaining his first @NFL sack. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/1exkjXkz1K
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 17, 2019