Week 1 Part 2
8 games down, 8 to go. What to expect? Clay Matthews open hand slapping, Eli not playing like his brother and cardboard pictures of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 New York Jets 18
Another game that was decided on a silly penalty, something that happened across the league. Lets start at the end on this one. Geno Smith ran out-of-bounds and Lavonte David gives him a gentle push in the back. It gets called for a late hit and puts the Jets well within Field Goal range with 2 seconds left to go. What is a bitter pill to swallow, is that there was a huge hit by Goldson, that to me just looked like momentum. This however is a risk for the Bucs Defence, if they’re going to play as hard as we’ve been told, they will eventually run the risk of having some penalties called against them. Anyway lets look at the Bucs team. I can’t make up my mind about Josh Freeman. He had some serious completion issues, but some of his completed passes were epic with pin point accuracy. One thing I will say, is that Williams and Jackson improve his stats and look like a great set of receivers. Martin seemed to be stifled by an improved Jets D, but you can feel that it just seems like a matter of time before he blows up and will likely end the season as one of the top Running Backs. The Defence played hard, especially they’re secondary, who put some huge hits on the Receivers. I actually think this team is better than I thought. I think it might make some time but it wouldn’t surprise me if they put some wins together. I do worry that Schiano and Freeman are holding them back.
Oh the Jets. They’re the Jets. I should know by now that they always manage to surprise me. Lets start with Geno, who I thought played pretty well. He is surrounded by some average Receivers and he made them look pretty good. Don’t get me wrong, his performance was nowhere near that of Wilson, Luck or RGIII last year, but he is clearly their best option. Predictably, the Running Backs didn’t perform against one of the best run Defences in the league, with Geno Smith being no. 1 for rushing. On Defence they really surprised. This is a good Defence. Maybe a really good Defence. They stopped an above average Receiver corp and an elite Running Back. When it comes down to it however this team got lucky. But a win is a win and they can put it behind them and go into the next game knowing they’re at least better than most people thought.
Atlanta Falcons 17 New Orlean Saints 23
It feels like I might have over-estimated one team and under-estimated the other. Despite me maybe over-rating them, the Falcons did still look pretty good, but there is some obvious holes. It apparently came out that White was injured and was being used purely as a decoy. That to me seems like a really silly risk for one of their best players. Douglas stepped up masterfully however and had a decent game. Where I think I might have over-estimated them is on Defence. Ok they were up against Drew Brees, but I really thought they might put a little pressure on the Saints QB and that didn’t really happen. When we look back at this game at the end of the season however I don’t think we’ll be talking about a Falcons drop off, but more a Saints improvement.
NEVER under-estimate how important being without a decent head coach is for a long period of time. Now Sean Payton has returned they look a much better team. Brees looks relaxed and happy to spread the ball about to a variety of Receivers. Sproles looks like a top target for Brees and looks like he can be that guy that’s always open for him. Towards the end of this game, the Offence was under pressure to score and did masterfully. My only squabble with the Saints Offence is a lack of Rushing play. No matter what they try, they just can’t get this going. But when Brees is your QB, I suppose it doesn’t matter too much. I was worried about this Defence too under Rob Ryan, who I’ve never been a huge fan of. But truth of the matter is, they look pretty serviceable. They’ll never be the top Defence in the league, but they will keep the game manageable for Drew Brees to go ahead and win it. Expect big things from this team.
Tennessee Titans 16 Pittsburgh Steelers 9
This is the result we all expected right? The game started with yet another safety (3 this weekend in total). Lets be honest, the Titans didn’t play great, but they played good enough to win this game. Locker still looks bad, Johnson looked like he did at the start of the last season. Battle came in for Shonn Greene who went out injured. This was a game of field position and the Titans controlled it. The Defence looked good however and reaffirmed my love of their secondary. I don’t think its every week that the Titans win a game in this manner and I think they’ll struggle to put up points on teams. But right now they have a 100% record.
Pittsburgh fans, it might be time to start panicking. Not only did you lose this game but you lost two important pieces of this Offence for the rest of the season. Stephens-Howling went down and then Markice Pouncey. The Pouncey loss is huge, he is the best lineman by a long way on a line that desperately needs help, lined up in front of a QB that tends to hold on to the ball too long. Couple this with a below par running game and alarm bells should be ringing. The Receiving Corps still look strong which is handy considering how often they will be throwing. The Defence looks great too. It looks like they might have to rely on keeping games to low points. There is a chance that they could be the worst AFC North team.
Arizona Cardinals 24 St Louis Rams 27
A battle here between the two forgotten about teams of the NFC West. Before I get into this its worth pointing out that both teams look much improved and should be excited about the future. Anyway the Cards. It seems like the Cards have found their QB in Carson Palmer, who in turn has found somewhere he can fit in, in the Cards. Palmer has brought a passing game to the Cards, that they haven’t seen since Kurt Warner. Fitzgerald is looking like the Receiver that we know and love. Floyd and Roberts have become relevant and as a result the Rushing game looks decent again. On Defence they’ve taken some encouraging steps too. Yes the Rams put 27 points on them but the secondary really looks like it’s coming together, in particular Mathieu (check out his forced fumble) and Peterson. My only concern is, in a league where it feels like hard tackles have been toned down. This front seven some how look weak compared to that, could be a concern when going up against the likes of Seattle and San Fran. This team is doomed to mediocrity, but would probably make the playoffs if they were in the AFC North.
Rams fans have to be happy. Bradford picked up his game and looked like the QB the Rams had been promised. Jared Cook was obviously the stand out player in this game and he really did stand out. Whether he can keep this up remains to be seen. Richardson looked strong as he stepped up to attempt to fill Stephen Jacksons shoes and looked good to improve in the future. My only concern about this Offence is, we keep hearing about how great Austin is, but we are still not seeing this dynamic play we’ve been promised. For what the gave up, this is definitely a concern. The Defence looked strong and gained a decent amount of penetration. I would however be slightly concerned that the Cardinals put 24 points on them. Once again, this team is doomed to not make the playoffs thanks to the strengths of the Niners and the Seahawks, but it is nice to see them start the season at the top!
Green Bay Packers 28 San Francisco 49ers 34
Here we have a rivalry in the making. Well for Clay Matthews and Kaepernick at least anyway. Lets get the Clay Matthews stuff out-of-the-way first. I don’t ever recall a situation similar to this where a Defence has talked so much smack but been so ineffective at stopping the Offence. The Packers Defence a total of about 500 yards and 4 touchdowns with zero interceptions. If you are going to shoot your mouth off, at least back it up. Then there was the idiotic late hit. Keep your emotions in check, the game rolls on and they don’t score on you. On Offence the Packers looked as sublime as ever. Maybe a little hiccup for Eddie Lacy, but Rodgers looked poised, calm and was able to connect to a variety of Receivers, even though he was coming from behind for pretty much the whole game. In most games this Offence is good enough to make up for the inefficiencies on Defence, just not against this Niners team. There is a very good chance these two meet again in the playoffs.
I have been saying for months, that the Read option will be toned down and all these mobile QB’s will have to prove themselves as pocket passers, if they are ever to make a difference this year. I’ve also said that Kaepernick has the ability to do just that. On a day where most of my predictions went horribly wrong, it was nice to be right about something. Yup Kap is legit. So a team could line up to stop him running, he then throws for 400 yards. Or they could stop him throwing and he then runs for 200 yards. He in my opinion is a top 5 QB, with a great mentor in Jim Harbaugh.Ravens fans must be feeling a little sick after they’ve seen Boldin Receive for 200 yards and know a) they hardly have any healthy Receivers and b) they only got a 6th round pick for him. The Defence might have been a slight concern, a few missed tackles and the secondary made more than a couple of mistakes, but all in all this team is incredible. They could very well be lifting the Lombardi this year.
New York Giants 31 Dallas Cowboys 36
Another mess of a game. Word of the game. Turnovers. Lets start with the Giants. This team looks a mess. They are weak at Running Back with Wilson getting benched for coughing the ball up twice. Add into this Eli throwing 3 interceptions and it starts to look miraculous that this team even kept it close. In fairness to Eli, he looked like a deer in the headlights, he is really surrounded by a lack of talent and still somehow managed to get 450 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Receivers all looked good with Cruz being the standout player but still some messy play. I can’t put my finger on it but there is something untidy about this Giants Defence and I don’t think this is the last time they get torched. I think Giants fans should expect a long season with a possibility of being the worst team in the NFC East. There is no denying, the Giants did not play well, but in truth, the Cowboys were not exactly dominant. The Receivers didn’t make the kind of dynamic plays we were expecting.
The elite Tony Romo we had been promised and Dallas had paid for didn’t really show and they missed out on converting some decent opportunity. Where this team looked better was on Defence. They looked exactly what we were expecting, and took their opportunity to create turnovers. But at the same time they did allow a ridiculous amount of points to be scored on them. This was a worrying game for the Cowboys, but look at them to improve in their next game.
Philadelphia Eagles 33 Washington Redskins 27
You will here so many times about how fast the Eagles Offence is and there is no doubt it is very very fast and so exciting to watch. The game kicked off with a huge drive downfield which ended with a crazy backward pass being batted down and taken into their own endzone. From then on however this Eagles team took control. It looked perfectly under control and Vick was masterful as the QB running this system. One aspect of this system I really liked was the use of pictures instead of calling in plays to counteract the noise of an away game, I thought it worked really well. In general the Chip Kelly run Offence looked incredible and was amazing to watch, but I have some concerns. I get the feeling that when things go wrong, they will go very wrong. The team not lining up, Vick not going through his progressions, Receivers running wrong Routes Etc. Also this pace has to take it out on this team and it’s not like you can rotate the whole team in the same way you can in college. One final worry is, with the short gains it gets and the idea of lots of first downs but very few big plays. What happens when they don’t get the first down? What happens when they go 3 and out? It just looks like when its working, it will really work, but when it doesn’t, it could be a disaster. But in the mean time it is great to watch and worked well against the Redskins. I think it helped that the Defence made some great plays to keep an exhausted Redskins D on the field. Will this happen every game? Probably not, giving the oppositions Defence a chance to rest. In a week where every other team in the NFC East looks pedestrian. The Eagles look like sprinters.
For the Redskins, it was the return of RGIII, who spent the whole game warming up. Now if only there was a set of games they could use before the season started to warm him up… Anyway he looked far better in the 2nd half and managed to zip the ball to a set of average Receivers. Morris made some mistakes and didn’t look like the incredible Running Back he did last year, which has to be a worry for Shanahan. On Defence, in the first half it felt like they never left the field. They looked exhausted trying to keep up with this fast paced Offence. They looked constantly to be a mismatch for the Offence as the Eagles pounded the ball at them. I think this team comes good, but it might take some time to get warmed up. Especially for RGIII.
Houston Texans 31 San Diego Chargers 28
For the first half of this game, the Chargers looked like the team they did in 2008. But after the half they looked like the same Chargers we’ve seen for the last two seasons. Lets start with the QB. Rivers made some great plays, but I am still not convinced he will still be the QB next year. He just looks dodgy, he doesn’t look like a game winner. Matthews looked healthy but not that effective and the Wide Receiver looked decidedly average. The Defence looked great in the first half. Keeping the Chargers at 21 to 7. In the second half they allowed 24 pts as the whole team collapsed. I think this team has some serious problems and are still very much a bottom 5 team, despite the opening to this game.
Houston obviously looked very beatable in the first half, but managed to pull back a hug deficit in the second half. What I like about this is they didn’t give up. They stuck to the game plan and started putting some points up on a Defence that just collapsed. Foster looked effective but out of practice, with Ben Tate looking more dynamic. Make no mistake however this comeback was led by Schaub throwing to Johnson, Daniels and Hopkins. There are some obvious worries on Defence, that I think get vastly improved upon before next week. They need some help in the secondary that they have to be hoping Ed Reed will provide. A win is a win and this team can now move on and concentrate on the next game.
So that’s week 1 in the bag…bring on week 2
Main Image:Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Featured Image:Rob Carr/Getty Images