5 biggest winners from Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason

NFL Analysis Network

We were able to watch football again this past week, even it was in the form of preseason games. The first week of the 2021 NFL preseason was littered with impressive performances, mainly from young quarterbacks. On the other hand, guys like Rhamondre Stevenson and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah also deserve some props for how they performed in their NFL debuts.

But in the preseason, while it’s a time for a ton of players to earn roster spots, it’s also a time for quarterbacks to separate themselves in competitions. There are a handful of quarterback competitions in the league that may have a little more clarity, even after the first week of the preseason. Following an exciting first week of the 2021 NFL preseason, here are five of the biggest winners we saw in action.

Justin Fields

It goes without saying that most people were eager to see the rookie quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones for the first time. Of all of the rookie quarterbacks, none of them performed better than Fields. In his preseason opener with the Chicago Bears, Fields proceeded to complete 14 of his 20 throws for 142 yards and a touchdown. He also tacked on 33 rushing yards and another touchdown just to show off his mobility.

Ever since the Bears took Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft, they’ve made it clear that he won’t be handed the starting job. Chicago signed veteran Andy Dalton in the offseason and Matt Nagy continues to call Dalton the starter. However, if Fields continues to play like he did in Week 1 of the preseason, then Nagy may have no choice but to insert Fields into the starting lineup. At the very least, Fields showed that it won’t be long before he’s starting in the NFL.

Trey Lance

What a start it was for Lance in his NFL debut for the San Francisco 49ers. On his first possession of the game, San Francisco was forced to punt, similar to how Jimmy Garoppolo’s only series of the game went. But on Lance’s second possession, on the very first play, he completed an 80-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield, showing off his rocket arm. Lance would conclude the game with 128 passing yards and a touchdown.

Even though Lance was sacked four times and he wasn’t able to contribute any production on the ground, he showed why he could bring more to San Francisco’s offense than Garoppolo. The ability to push the ball down the field and his mobility are what makes him a better fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Even though Shanahan seems adamant about starting Garoppolo to begin the regular season, Lance is making his decision difficult already with a strong outing in Week 1 of the NFL preseason.

Jacob Eason

It remains to be seen if Carson Wentz misses any time in the NFL regular season due to a foot ailment he underwent surgery on in July. If Wentz is sidelined for any period of time, then Jacob Eason would likely get the nod to replace him. Entering the first week of the preseason, Eason started for the Indianapolis Colts, and he didn’t disappoint. Besides taking a couple of sacks early in the game, he settled in tremendously.

Eason would connect on 15 of his 21 attempts for 183 yards, showing the efficiency that Frank Reich loves to see in his offense. The second-year quarterback out of Washington is attempting to fend off Sam Ehlinger for the backup job and he’s definitely off to a good start. Another showing like he had in Week 1 of the preseason would all but confirm Eason’s role as the No. 2 quarterback behind Wentz in 2021.

Drew Lock

For the Denver Broncos, they are hoping that they can get some sort of consistent production from their starting quarterback this season. Throughout the offseason, the Broncos have had Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater splitting reps with the first-team. To kick off the preseason, Denver elected to give Lock the first chance to take the field, and it’s safe to say that he didn’t waste his chance to take the lead in the ongoing competition.

On his first drive of the game, Lock connected with KJ Hamler for a 25-yard gain. Lock would go right back to Hamler on his second drive, delivering an 80-yard bomb on a Minnesota Vikings defense that looked out of sorts. When it was all said and done, Lock completed five of his seven attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns. While it’s just the preseason — and even though Bridgewater had a solid outing as well — Lock may have taken the slight lead in the race for the starting job.

Dwayne Haskins

The Pittsburgh Steelers are holding a competition behind Ben Roethlisberger for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Mason Rudolph has served as the backup in recent years, but he now has another player competing against him in Dwayne Haskins. Besides discovering who their backup will be, with Roethlisberger possibly playing in his final year, the Steelers realize that their future starter could be on the roster.

While we know that Rudolph isn’t anywhere close to being an NFL franchise quarterback, Haskins does have the tools to evolve into a solid quarterback. Haskins impressed in his second preseason game with the Steelers as he threw for 161 yards and a touchdown on 16-22 passing. Aside from not turning the ball over for the second straight game, Haskins led Pittsburgh’s offense to three scoring drives to comeback to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the NFL preseason. Despite the Steelers signing Rudolph to an extension, Haskins seems poised to steal the backup job.