The second night of preseason action didn't provide us with many competitive games, but it did offer up a few answers to some of the looming offseason questions.
Some players who were expected to deliver big results showed they were capable of handling the pressure. Others took a step back. Although one game does not a trend make, here is what I learned from watching Friday's five preseason games:
Josh Freeman will be the league's next great quarterback.
That statement is based on his progression over the course of his career, but the third-year pro validated it with his performance against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was sensational working from the pocket, and his ability to dissect coverage with pinpoint throws is remarkable. Freeman distributed the ball to six different receivers on a variety of throws that kept the Chiefs defense off balance. His utilization of a simple, but effective, connect-the-dots approach resulted in the Bucs scoring on three of their four possessions under his direction. The best quarterbacks in the league -- Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers -- are masterful at stringing together completions, and Freeman's ability to efficiently pick apart defenses will make him tough to defend in 2011.
If Matthew Stafford stays healthy, the Detroit Lions' offense will blow up scoreboards.
General manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz have assembled an explosive offense that rivals any in the league when Stafford is under center. The third-year pro can make every throw, and his efficient utilization of his weapons -- receivers Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson and running back Jahvid Best -- makes the offense hard to defend. Stafford's chemistry with Johnson, in particular, sets the table for the rest of the unit due to the amount of attention the 2010 Pro Bowler attracts from the defense. With Best and Burleson capable of winning isolated matchups, the Lions have viable alternatives when opponents opt to take away Johnson with double coverage. Although the brief preseason showing of the Lions' first-teamers against the Bengals should be viewed in proper context, the potential for fireworks is apparent when watching the unit work with a healthy Stafford.
Mike Shanahan has Rex Grossman ballin'.
Say what you want about the ninth-year pro, but there is no denying Grossman's production since stepping into the starting lineup for the Redskins. He posted 300-plus yard games in two of his three starts a season ago and appears ready to build upon that momentum based on his performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Grossman was extremely efficient -- completing 19 of 26 pass attempts for 207 yards and one touchdown -- while guiding the offense with a diverse approach. He patiently worked the underneath areas of the field and avoided forcing the ball into coverage. His sharp execution and methodical approach are drastic improvements from his days with the Chicago Bears, and opening the preseason with such a strong performance suggests he has embraced his coach's offensive philosophy. There is an underlying concern that Grossman could revert to his old ways, but his recent strong play could be the result of an ideal marriage between system and passer.
Julio Jones is the real deal.
The rookie receiver came at a hefty price of draft picks, but he is a difference-maker capable of lifting the Falcons' offense to another level. Jones possesses a combination of size, strength and speed that overwhelms defenders, and Atlanta showed a willingness to take advantage by getting him the ball quickly in the open field. He tallied three touches for 55 yards (two receptions for 43 yards and a rush for 12 yards) and showed explosive running skills with the ball in his hands. Although he didn't get a lot of opportunities to showcase his full repertoire of skills, Jones flashed enough big-play potential to make defensive coordinators nervous about the possibility of facing a more explosive Falcons offense.
It won't take long for Matt Moore to supplant Chad Henne as the Dolphins' starting quarterback.
It's tough to justify a personnel switch on a single performance, especially one in the preseason, but Henne's disappointing play against the Falcons is worthy of concern. The fourth-year pro looked indecisive and uncomfortable in the pocket and his failure to find his passing rhythm kept the offense stuck in neutral. Henne also had two turnovers, including a head-scratching interception to Brent Grimes that prompts questions about his judgment in the pocket. Moore, on the other hand, displayed better poise and presence in the pocket. Granted, he worked against Falcons backups, but his confidence and decisiveness led to better play from the unit. The Dolphins appear to have a roster capable of making a push at the postseason, but the quarterback play threatens to hold them back. If Henne continues to deliver dismal results, it might be time for Tony Sparano to hand the keys to the offense to Moore.