The NFL preseason isn’t about wins and losses. Participation trophies are handed out like youth sports at the end of the three-game run, four games for the two teams that play in the Hall of Fame Game. However, those “trophies” come in the form of 53-man roster spots as well as practice squad slots.
It’s hard to overreact after your team played just one game. With that in mind, here’s a look at how each NFL team’s first evaluation exhibition went as well as the notable moments as we highlight the good, bad and ugly for all 32 clubs in Week 1 of the 2023 preseason.
Arizona Cardinals (defeated Denver Broncos 18-17)
The good: Fifth-round rookie quarterback Clayton Tune settling down after a shaky start to finish with 135 yards and a touchdown after a few bad misses and an interception on 13-of-23 passing. The more Tune plays, the better he will likely look, and seeing him finish strong has to be encouraging for first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon and his staff. The Cardinals defense also consistently harassed Broncos quarterbacks, recording the highest pressure rate (50%) in the entire NFL in Week 1 of the preseason.
The bad: Allowing Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson to beat them for a 21-yard touchdown on fourth-and-4. Wilson, who had by far the worst year of his career in 2022, had struggled mightily up to that point in the exhibition game as the Cardinals had deflected two passes at the line of scrimmage and sacked him twice. Arizona, who generated pressure on 50% of the Broncos’ dropbacks — the highest rate in the league in Week of the preseason — felt they needed to all-out blitz Wilson on the play, allowing Jerry Jeudy to cook the safety in the slot. If they run a more conservative coverage, the Cardinals probably get home anyways, forcing a turnover on downs.
The ugly: Tune’s interception was ugly all the way around. His intended target, Rondale Moore, fell…