The NFL season is finally up and running and what a start it was to week one. Craig Farrell discusses ten things we learned from the maiden week’s action.
1. Desperate In Dallas
Coming into the season the talk in Dallas was focused around the awful defense they have, after week one the talk has changed to just how awful the team is in general. The defense was not bad in week one – granted they weren’t that good either. But the main culprits of disgusts were the offense.
Tony Romo had three interceptions, while DeMarco Murray coughed up the ball on the Cowboy’s first drive (albeit he did go over a 100 yards rushing and get a TD). Romo was under 300 yards passing and not a single receiver had over 60 yards passing, with Terrance Williams the only Cowboys to catch a TD pass in the game. Jason Witten had just two catches for a pitiful 14 yards.
Dallas need to sort things out before their season is lost before it begins. Jason Garrett’s seat is sizzling already and it’s only one game into the season.
2. It’s East vs West
After week one the AFC East and the NFC West have emerged as the league’s leading conferences with both of them picking up three opening game wins – and in fact the AFC East were at a disadvantage of having two teams facing each other.
Only the Rams lost in the NFC West, with Seattle and San Francisco making their opponents look like high school teams.
3. Rookie Arrivals
Teams generally hope that a rookie or two can be productive and offer them something over the course of a season. But then some rookies burst out of the gates in week one and make a name for themselves. Allen Hurns was one who definitely did that.
Hurns had four catches for 110 yards and two TDs for Jacksonville of all teams. Kelvin Benjamin and Brandin Cooks also got in on the rookie display act. Kelvin caught six passes for 92 yards and a TD, while Bradin had seven grabs for 77 yards and a TD. Carlos Hyde and Isaiah Crowell did their work on the ground having rushed for 50 yards and a TD and 32 yards and 2 TDs respectively.
4. Quarterback Questions
Quarterbacks are the players who get the credit when a team is on the up, and are first on the chopping board when they are plummeting down. QB controversies are always just a bad week around the corner. In Cleveland, Brian Hoyer played very well, well enough to keep Manziel-mania suppressed for another week. Chad Henne and Matt Cassel both put in very good performances, which, again, will keep the rookie QBs on the bench for the time being.
However it’s the veterans that are causing issues. Eli Manning was poor, Tony Romo was horrendous and RGIII was as useful as a glass hammer. But the biggest questions sit in Tampa Bay and New York. Michael Vick got onto the field for the Jets before the end of the first game of the season, while Luke McCown was atrocious, and Mike Glennon, who had led the league aptly last season, was sitting on the bench waiting. Week 2 needs vast improvements for the aforementioned QBs or some tough decisions may have to be made.
5. D is Key
When people talk NFL all the talk is related to the offensive side of the ball, to the touchdowns and more than ever the phrase, ‘it’s a passing league’ gets shopped around endlessly. The passing aspect of the game is the sexy, slick exterior or the car, but the defense is the engine that gets the car to where it wants to be.
This was showcased last season in the Super Bowl when the Seattle Seahawks thrashed the flashy passing Denver Broncos, and there have been glimpses of it already this season. The ‘Legion of Boom’ dismantled the Packers and made Aaron Rodgers look mediocre. The 49ers defense made Dallas’ offense disastrous. Miami’s D was monstrous against Tom Brady’s New England. Substance over style will always win out and a great defense will always conquer a great offense.
6. Champs Ain’t No Chumps
There is the theory of a the ‘Super Bowl Slump’ which is the idea that some teams drop their intensity and determination the year after winning it all. Also Super Bowl winning teams tend to have a lot of their players pinched from rivals which can also lead to a fall in production. The Seattle Seahawks have shown no signs of slumping.
The ‘Hawks defense was rampant, they gave up just a single TD and held Rodgers to just 189 yards – which is a miraculous feat. The offense was unstopped. Wilson threw for 19 completions – two of which were TD, while Harvin racked up 100 yards off 4 carries and 7 receptions. Marshawn Lynch went from beast mode to mastodon mode. Lynch had 20 carries for 110 yards with 2 scores.
7. Megatron Goes Megaton
In sports the question of who is the best is always one heavily discussed. Which team is the best? Which player is the best? Who is the best receiver? That is a question that was emphatically answered this week. Calvin Johnson is the single greatest receiver in the league at the moment.
Megatron is a difference maker outside for the Lions. Much like Barry Sanders did two decades prior, his loyalty to Detroit could cost him a Super Bowl ring in his career, but it will not hold back his personal career statiscally. After just three receptions against the New York Giants Megatron had already surpassed 100 yards and had a touchdown to his name. He finished the game with seven receptions, 164 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Johnson is undoubtedly the greatest receiver at present in the NFL.
8. Apparently Weed Equals Speed
Apparently weed is to NFL running backs as spinach is to Popeye. Le’Veon Bell smoked the Cleveland Browns in week 1. Bell took 21 handoffs for 109 and a touchdown, while also notching up 88 yards in receiving for the Steelers.
Bell was in trouble prior to the season after himself and his teammate Legarrette Blount – who also scored a TD – were caught in breach of the NFL marijuana policy. Former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder previously said that Ricky Williams had smoked pot on the eve of his 200 yard rushing game against Buffalo.
9. Ray Rice Takes Hit Hard
A video leaked in the last few days showing Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancee. The Baltimore Ravens took action and decided to cut all ties with the running back. The have also offered fans exchanges on all Rice jerseys. The Ravens are not new to controversy but the team must be applauded for finally taking a stand on this issue.
Many current and former NFL players and staff have taken to Twitter to voice their opinion on Rice’s deplorable actions. The NFL capped off a horrible situation for Rice by suspending the player indefinitely. His career is all but over, and his personal life will be strained to say the least.
Domestic abuse is something, that sadly, receives no attention until it is a sportsman or person in high stand who is throwing the punches.
10. Injuries Can Decide A Season
Many feel that injuries can not be used as an excuse in this sport, and I agree. Injuries can not be used as an excuse, but they can be used as a great explanation as to why a team’s season may come undone. Take last season for example.
An Aaron Rodger-less Green Bay Packers is a run-of-the-mill team to say the least. The Kansas City Chiefs were storming their way through their playoff game against the Colts until Jamaal Charles went down.
Injuries are already making a major impact this season. KC have been hit on the defense having lost Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito for the season. The Packers lineman Brian Bulaga also went down and is expected to miss time, while the Texan’s overall first round pick Jadeveon Clowney has had to undergo knee surgery.
Craig Farrell, Pundit Arena.