NFL Week 2 Review.
I’m still yet to stumble on the perfect way to do this. So let’s try a few points for each team from each game and where they are after a 2nd watch of all the week 2 games.
Denver Broncos 31 – Kansas City Chiefs 24
- Peyton Manning: There is no denying that the bad throws outweighed the good, but it feels that what we learnt from this game is that he should be calling the shots. Manning simply didn’t look comfortable throwing under center and was far more effective lining up in pistol or shotgun. The moral of this win is that in my opinion, Kubiak needs to give Manning the keys or see what Brock’s got. But you’d better be sure it’s the right move if you bench Peyton.
- Jamaal Charles: Charles had a classic performance marred by brace of fumbles, which did eventually result in the loss of the game. Charles reminds me of Adrian Peterson in the 2009 season, where he simply couldn’t hold onto the ball. We’ll have to wait and see if Charles can master this in the same way Peterson did.
- Denver Broncos Defence: There is a lot of talk about this unit and really I’m just reiterating what has already been said, but this unit is exceptional. They seem to have talent in every area, but I want to focus on the one player, Von Miller. Miller has taken to a slightly different role like a duck to water. There is a very good chance we see him break the sack record. In fact he could smash it.
Houston Texans 17 – Carolina Panthers 24
- Cam Newton: It appears if there were reports about Cam Newton not putting himself in harm’s way this year, they didn’t tell Cam. Cam scored an insane rushing touchdown that involved him flipping into the end zone. Despite Cam’s herculean efforts, his role as a passer wasn’t great. Yes he did score 2 touchdowns, but only completing 50% of his passes for 5.3 yards per attempt, would have seen them lose a game against a better opponent. Newton will be praised for this, but the holes in his fundamentals should be a concern for this season.
- Texans Offence: It’s become obvious just h0w important Arian Foster is for this team. The backup running backs had a combined 21 attempts and made it 51 yards, which is just shy of 2.5 yards per attempt. As a result they were relying on Mallett to move the offence which didn’t happen. Mallett threw the ball 58 times and only completed 27 passes. The Texans desperately need Foster back to provide a far more balanced offence.
- Schedule: A win is a win, but the Panthers could potentially go 4-0 in a division that is very much up for grabs thanks to an easy start. In week 3 they play the Saints, then in 4 the Bucs. 2 winnable games, that could see this team become favourites for the NFC South.
New England Patriots 40 – Buffalo Bills 32
- Dion Lewis, who’s that? Rex Ryan, you’d done so well. Ryan had spent the week saying the right things, being respectful of both Belichick and Brady, then he got asked about Dion Lewis, which he claimed he didn’t know who he was. Lewis, who’s rather successfully taken over from Shane Vereen caught just under 100 yards on 6 passes. Lewis has become a go to guy for Brady on a unit that has more than exceeded expectations. So what did Ryan say in response? Well that maybe they should try running the ball… Whilst Lewis only ran for 40 yards, he did manage to score a touchdown, sorry Rex…
- Tom Brady: Brady’s current form is unreal. Most teams struggle when they end up having to throw the ball 59 times. For Brady it seemed like part of the game-plan. Brady got the ball out quickly and managed to spend most of the day on his feet, getting the ball to Gronk, Edelman, Lewis and Dobson. The Patriots passing game came under a lot of criticism during preseason, which proves that we will never learn. We cannot count this team out.
- Tyrod Taylor: Taylor was up against it in this one. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the Patriots defence getting more pressure than the Bills, but that’s what happened. Taylor got sacked 8 times and at times looked lost. Despite 3 touchdowns, the 3 interceptions against a supposed weak secondary show that he still has a lot to learn as a starter. I still think he has a place as a starter however.
San Diego Chargers 19 – Cincinnati Bengals 24
- Andy Dalton: I feel like it’s the same thing every year. We write him off. He has a couple of amazing games. It gets to the playoffs. Disappointment. This year though there is definitely a different feeling. The team is set up to succeed. There is no one in the league surrounded by the same level of talent at every position as Dalton. It really is now or never and if he can keep up the exceptional level of production that we’re currently seeing, then they are in a good position to turn a few heads.
- Melvin Gordon: Gordon would have been a hot topic of conversation last week if not for a great run being called back. This week, despite the poor result, he looked solid. Gordon ran for 88 yards against a solid Bengals defence that had maintained constant pressure on the Chargers offensive line all day. Gordon seems to be gaining speed and could be heading for a break out game in the next couple of weeks.
- The Bengals: Right now you have to take history out of the equation and look at this team as at least the 2nd best team in the AFC and the best in a tough AFC North. They are simply the most complete team in the league and as such will be very high on my power rankings this week.
Tennessee Titans 14 – Cleveland Browns 28
- Johnny Manziel: The Browns this week were able to execute their game plan, with Isaiah Crowell running for 72 yards behind a solid offensive line, whilst the defence put an immense amount of pressure on the Titans. As a result Manziel was asked to do relatively little, only throwing 15 times. However on those passes he gained 172 yards and 2 TDs. What was most telling to me was that Manziel tucked and ran only 3 times for 1 yard. If they can execute this plan, they’ll win games. It’s when they can’t that they’ll be in trouble. He does however need to hold onto the ball when he gets hit. fumbles won’t always go his way.
- Browns defence: I mention them above but the Browns were able to do something that the Bucs struggled with last week. Get to the quarterback. The front 7 looked fantastic in this one, with Danny Shelton looking like he’d been playing in the NFL for years. I say front 7, but the truth is they rotated an awful lot of players in that front 7. A particular shout out to Armonty Bryant who outplayed Barkevious Mingo and picked up 3 sacks.
- Marcus Mariota: Okay so it seems we’re either anointing him as a future hall of famer or calling him a bust, the truth is, he’s somewhere in-between. Mariota is a solid player, who was made very aware this week that his surrounding talent is the Tennessee Titans. Mariota I still believe will come good, but let’s leave it a few games before we decide he’s either Joe Montana or Blaine Gabbert.
Atlanta Falcons 24 – New York Giants 20
- Odell Beckham Jr: This week we saw potentially the 4 best receivers in the league step up for their teams. 2 of them were in this game. Odell Beckham wasn’t consistent. He missed on 4 passes including a drop, but he did look outstanding when he had the ball and did end up with 146 yards and a touchdown. For me he flashed the brilliance we saw last year. I don’t think there is any doubt that we’ll see him top the list of the receivers in the near future. However…
- Julio Jones: Looks set for a career year. Julio only missed on one pass against a great set of cornerbacks. It’s also not often we see Odell Beckham “out-acrobated” (real word, honest). Julio has lined up everywhere. Julio was covered by 9 different players and as I said previously, only missed on one pass. right now I have to think Julio might very well be the best receiver in the league.
- Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory: This has happened twice now. The Giants have lost 2 games that they simply couldn’t close out. This is a serious problem for a team in a division that they could be top of, with some sensible play calling. The Eagles are floundering, the Cowboys have injury issues and Washington…well they’re Washington. This could have been the Giants division for the taking.
St Louis Rams 10 – Washington 24
- Washington’s Defence: I personally wrote this team off pre-season thanks to the unrest surrounding the RG3 benching. I don’t mind telling you that I slept on the talent on the Washington defence. What makes this such a good performance is the rotation on the defensive line, coupled with ability to line up in a couple of different ways. If I was pushed for stand out players, I would look in the direction of Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Hatcher. Washington did a great job of limiting the Rams offence…
- Rams Offence: It goes hand in hand with the above, but this is a unit that put up 34 points on the Seahawks. What we saw is that this team will struggle if they start to lose. You can’t put the ball in the hands of Nick Foles and expect him to win them the game. This performance simultaneously points out the Rams offensive weaknesses, whilst showing how well they game planned the Seahawks game. I guess it evens out to being a 7-9 team… again.
- Matt Jones: What Washington are doing is, running the ball and keeping the score low with excellent defensive play. Something that teams like the Rams and the Texans would love to do. Matt Jones is the key here, well a combination of Matt Jones and Alfred Morris. Last week the team went up against the Dolphins and it was very difficult for Miami to come from behind, to the extent that the Dolphins only win that game with a punt return. If this team gets ahead they’re a very difficult team to beat. However at some point they’ll have to come from behind and have to rely on Cousins to keep them in it. That’s when we could see a very different Washington.
Arizona Cardinals 48 – Chicago Bears 23
- David Johnson: I think we can all agree he’s explosive. Kicking the game off at Soldier field, with an opening kick return has to be a kick in the teeth to the Hester loving Bears fans (me included). But there’s more to him than special team’s ability. In the backfield he picked up a touchdown and rushed for just under 8 yards per carry (admittedly on 5 carries). Johnson could be the answer to the Cards consistent backfield problems.
- Jimmy Clausen: The Cutler hate needs to slow down, because now we’ve seen the alternative. Yes Cutler threw a pick 6 but on just 9 attempts Cutler moved the ball 120 yards, which is just 1 less than Clausen did on 23 attempts. Clausen next week goes into Century Link against angry Seahawks team looking to beat up on a poor team. Brace for impact Bears fans.
- Larry Fitzgerald: Larry made us realise that if he’d had consistent decent QB’s his numbers would be hugely elevated. Fitz lined up all over the field and picked up 8 catches for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns. He just hasn’t lost a step. Should be included in the league’s top wide receivers still.
Detroit Lions 16 – Minnesota Vikings 26
- Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson: I think unless you’re a Lions fan it’s impossible not to love Bridgewater. After last week’s dismal performance from the Vikings offence it’s clear to see that they went home and did an awful lot to adjust to both Bridgewater and Peterson. Peterson still struggles with runs from Shotgun/ Pistol, but they adjusted and relied on the fact that despite telegraphing the play when Bridgewater lined up under center, Peterson was good enough to get yards. When in pistol, Peterson became a monster in quick passes/ screens, albeit from just 2 receptions he moved the ball 58 yards. Also when in shotgun/pistol, Bridgewater became the lead back and gained 21 yards. We said that the Vikings would need to find a way to make these 2 coexist and in truth I think they managed it. The Vikings are on the up.
- Matt Stafford: You can throw this in my face if he improves but I am a Matt Stafford hater. Now to be fair to him, he was asked to do a lot and had to throw the ball 53 times, which is by no means ideal and he is clearly suffering from a woeful offensive line, with injuries all over his body, but this isn’t the guy who’s going to get it done for this team. Like the Bears it might be time to start looking in a different direction and certainly, if he’s slightly hurt, they’ve got to keep him out of the Broncos game, because with Von Miller and Demarcus Ware bearing down on him. He will not get healthy.
- Vikings Defence: This unit is very much legit. It was a fairly poor showing last week, but this week it looks like they’ve shaken off the rust. Xavier Rhodes deserves some credit for limiting the play of Calvin Johnson, allowing just 7 catches from 13. They knew he would be targeted and Rhodes had his number. Rhodes was greatly helped by his defensive front who despite only recording 1 sack, put Stafford under a huge amount of pressure. This is a great unit and I would be very surprised if they’re not considered a top 5 unit at the end of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 – New Orleans Saints 16
- Bucs Defence: This in my opinion was the best this unit has played in at least 2 years. The talk will be about Winston, because he’s the big 1st round pick, but every facet of this defence did their job to a high level. The Saints treated Jonathan Banks like Richard Sherman. He was targeted once. The line backers drew most of the targets with short passes to running backs and Brandin Cooks, who managed to pick up a few yards after catch. All in all though the likes of Lavonte Davids and Kwon Alexander did a great job limiting the Saints to relatively short yardage. Up front they got decent pressure, with a focus on McCoy meaning Jacquies Smith could get through and cause havoc, racking up 3 sacks. If this unit can keep it up at this level they will make Jameis Winston’s transition much easier.
- Saints Run Game: This is what they wanted to hang their hat on and for 2 weeks in a row the defence has let them down and they’ve been forced to throw, which they are in no way set up to do. The Saints has a good scheme in theory but in actuality it won’t work. So again they ask Drew Brees to throw the ball, but to who? There’s no Kenny Stills, no Jimmy Graham, leaving them with just Colston as deep threat, who is nowhere near the player he used to be. The Saints need to trust in this unit if they’re to win games, but they can’t do that if the defence can’t make the stops.
- General Saints Woes: It’s finally got to a point where they can’t rely on Brees to paper over the cracks of a declining franchise. They have huge cap issues, they got rid of Junior Gallette and Jimmy Graham, with a plan to change things. But they need to make changes higher up for this to work. I thought they might weather the storm with a decent draft, but they haven’t. This team needs to change in some way. Personally I think you start with the defence.
San Francisco 49ers 18 – Pittsburgh Steelers 43
- The Steelers Utterly Ridiculous Offence: I will happily tell you I was wrong about Roethlisberger. Big Ben is a top 3 QB above Andrew Luck. There I said it. Ben has made Heyward-Bey look like a solid receiving option. Which no one has managed till now. The Jewel in the crown has been Antonio Brown, who just never disappoints. Brown is easily one of the top 4 receivers in the league and might still be number 1 (check the Gents receiver listings). Here’s the crazy thing though. They’ve still got LeVeon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey and Martavis Bryant to come back to form a complete offence. I hate it that sometimes I overreact to single results, but if they can consistently keep up this pace, there is no reason we couldn’t at least make the AFC championship game.
- Colin Kaepernick: Kaepernick overcame poor offensive line play and an injury to his top running back to be one of very few effective pieces on the Niners offence. We’ve talked about QBs that have struggled when they’ve been forced to throw the ball a lot. Kaepernick stepped up. It is worth noting that the team were already behind, but the fact that we didn’t see a total Kaep- collapse (trademark), is at least slightly encouraging.
- Steelers Line Backers: They may never play this well again, but they were so good here. Shazier had an amazing game against the run, making 11 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 7 tackles for loss. There are still some issues in coverage for the line backers, but in general they looked great.
Baltimore Ravens 33 – Oakland Raiders 37
- Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper: The biggest issue this team had last year (on offence), was a lack of weapons. This year they picked up a brace that complement each other perfectly, ensuring single coverage more often than not. Crabtree became a downfield threat for Derek Carr, whereas Cooper demanded some decent yards after catch. These 2 could have a great season if they can keep up this current level.
- Ravens Defence: The flip side of that is the Ravens defence massively underperformed. The Ravens defence was the reason I had them high up on my power rankings. Now however I have my concerns. The secondary was meant to have improved, but they showed zero signs of doing it. The biggest concern however is how much the line backers fell apart without Suggs, with an inability to create pressure against a supposed weak offensive line. This was meant to be the game where the Ravens got over last week’s shenanigans. That didn’t happen.
- The Ravens: They have a lot to work out to do to turn this season round. The Ravens are now ranked dead last in the AFC North with everyone else having won at least one game. But on the field they have a lot of work to do. This is not the team we were promised and are facing a tough set of games ahead. This could be a disappointing season for a team I highly rated.
Miami Dolphins 20 – Jacksonville Jaguars 23
- That Dolphins Defensive Line: They have problems in Miami. For starters Wake being injured shows up how little depth they have. The Jags offensive line was ranked dead last in terms of sacks that are quicker than 2.5 seconds. Even without Wake, you would expect a line with this much talent could get some pressure. So in 2 games they’ve picked up 1 Sack and that came from rookie Jordan Phillips. This unit needs to improve considering how much money they’ve invested in it.
- The Jaguars Defence: Looked like the Dolphins should have and took full advantage of a hobbled Brandon Albert. Jared Odrick was a casualty of the cap in an attempt to make space for Suh. In this one he proved his worth, racking up a sack and 3 hurries. Friend of the Gents, Sergio Brown had a great game too, getting to the QB and generally being a nuisance for the Dolphins. The Jags defence looked great this week and will be hoping for more of the same in the coming weeks.
- Allen Robinson: Welcome to the league Allen Robinson! Robinson had his coming out party in this game. Robinson had a great game against the highly rated Brent Grimes and Brice McCain and finished the game with 155 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Dallas Cowboys 20 – Philadelphia Eagles 10
- Tony Romo: There were few performances in this game that stood out, so let’s talk about a future issue that the Cowboys have, with Romo being out. It’s difficult to imagine this team having any success without Romo or Bryant and they’ll be relying on Brandon Weeden with limited weapons to move the ball. Not a good situation despite currently being top of the NFC East.
- Eagles Defence: I have huge problems with the Eagles offensive scheme and what it does to the defence. Last year the Eagles ranked dead last in time of possession thanks to the speed of the offence, with 25 minutes. in this game the defence was on the field for 40 minutes. It’s pretty understandable that they struggled. The defence actually did a decent job, but there were issues. Byron Maxwell looks like a fish out of water, struggling to cover Terrence Williams, who burnt him for 76 yards. The front 7 though were solid. The Eagles just need to find a way to keep them off the field.
- Eagles Offence: It would be the biggest possible understatement if I was to say “they have a few problems”. DeMarco Murray is being thrown into a no win situation as, like every other new offensive wrinkle, defensive coordinators eventually find a way to beat a system and it seems pretty evident that teams have finally got Chip’s number. The problem seems to be that at the pace the offence runs, there really is only so much time to think. So if a team can get pressure with 4, they can line up with 5/6 defensive backs and force the offense to make mistakes or funnel them down to a limited number of avenues. The Eagles could be in serious trouble and as a result, so could Chip Kelly.
Seattle Seahawks 17 – Green Bay Packers 27
- Aaron Rodgers: I think there I have a touch of ‘Aaron Rodgers is awesome’ fatigue, as it seems to go unnoticed when he has incredible games, for which this was yet another. Rodgers came into this game without Brian Bulaga and Jordy Nelson and then lost Eddie Lacy early on. No problem for Rodgers, who successfully spread the ball between 6 targets, pulling apart an underpowered secondary and managing to score 2 touchdowns under intense pressure. But you know… he’s Aaron Rodgers.
- Marshawn Lynch: Marshawn Lynch’s inability to move the ball should be a huge…HUGE concern. If Lynch gets stuffed at the line, then they lose their biggest weapon and become pretty vanilla, with an average receiver corps looking… well, average. Lynch should get good against the Bears and regardless they’re a shoe in to win that game, but this is still a concern. That being said, I was one of those idiots that wrote Brady off last year…
- Corey Linsley: The center was under intense pressure all game from Brandon Mebane, yet he performed exceptionally, man-handling the experienced tackle. Linsley in my opinion might be currently the best center in the league and a key component to that offence.
New York Jets – Indianapolis Colts
- The Colts: I feel like a broken record… but here goes. As bad as Andrew Luck was last night (and I am aware he deserves some blame), you can’t put a player into a situation with no help and expect them to win. I don’t just mean on the field, but off it as well. Ryan Grigson has made one good decision since taking over from Bill Polian as Colts GM and that is picking up Andrew Luck (okay there’s the pickup of Vontae Davis which is pretty good). A move that anyone with the most basic knowledge of the NFL could do. Since then he has made mistake after mistake. I like the Colts receivers and I like Frank Gore. But that’s about it. The Colts have not helped Luck stay on his feet in any way, shape or form. Now last year, they schemed around it, lining up with multiple tight ends or extra linemen, limiting the amount of weapons they can line up with. So why do they add weapons when the biggest issue is the players standing directly in front of him. If you add a few pieces and pick up a Doug Marrone or Mike Munchak and you have a potential number 1 offence. You add some pieces, Luck fumbles less. I guarantee it. If Luck is surrounded by a decent group of coaches he loses some bad habits and we’re talking about Luck as the 3rd best QB in the league. The Colts won’t make the playoffs this year and at that point both Grigson and Pagano probably need to move on. Which should clear the way for a certain ex- Stanford coach…
- Todd Bowles: If you want to see what difference a head coach can make, look at what Todd Bowles has done to this Jets team. Okay it’s not all him, but Bowles has been put in a position to win. Bowles was given the defensive backs he needed and as a result the Jets look very similar to last season’s Cardinals. This combined with Ryan Fitzpatrick running the Chan Gailey system is working. The Colts and Jets are polar opposites in terms of being set up to win, with the Colts losing games before they even take the field.
That’s it. I’ll probably change the format next week (this was a bit much). Let me know what you think and hit me up on twitter.