Who's Hot, Who's Not After NFL Week 1?
Week 1 of NFL action has been everything we could have hoped for so far, and we've got two games to go on Monday night.
As always, you don't want to overreact based on one week of action. The New York Jets didn't win a Super Bowl, the Tennessee Titans didn't secure a playoff berth and neither Carson Palmer nor Sam Bradford won the MVP.
We still saw some great—and awful—things in the games thus far.
Let's take a look at the good, the bad and in some cases the very, very ugly from the first week of NFL football.
HOT: Reggie Bush, Running Back, Detroit Lions
It's hard not to wonder if the Miami Dolphins regret letting Reggie Bush go given their putrid run game against the Cleveland Browns and Bush's ridiculous output for the Detroit Lions.
That's two years in a row they released someone who looks like he would have really helped the club.
Bush looked exceptional against the Minnesota Vikings. He ran the ball well, showing good vision and speed. He hit his holes hard and totaled 90 yards on 21 carries—a 4.3 yards-per-carry average.
It was the receiving that really killed the Vikings, though, as Bush smoked the defense on a 77-yard screen catch and run for a touchdown.
Bush looks like a fantastic and much-needed addition to the Lions offense. You can expect another good day against the Arizona Cardinals next week.
NOT: C.J. Spiller, Running Back, Buffalo Bills
While the Buffalo Bills pushed the New England Patriots to the brink, it wasn't a positive day for running back C.J. Spiller.
He was hit at or behind the line plenty of times and accrued just 41 yards on 17 carries—a paltry 2.4 yards-per-carry average. His five catches for 14 yards were also disappointing—especially as he was out-produced by Fred Jackson, who caught the ball one less time for 27 more yards.
He also coughed the ball up in the Bills' own end, which resulted in a New England touchdown.
This game actually saw a ton of fumbles, but at least Tom Brady and Stevan Ridley managed some better performances overall.
Next week, Spiller sees a Carolina Panthers team which stymied Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks ground game, so it won't get any easier.
HOT: Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
Honestly, this probably should have been the lead slide, but that'd be predictable, right?
You can't forget Peyton Manning on a list like this, though, not when he throws a 472-yard, seven-touchdown game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Sure, Manning looked a bit off early, but a Chris Harris interception and one nice pass go route by tight end Julius Thomas for a touchdown later and he was off and running.
Next week, Manning will look to hammer a banged-up New York Giants defense.
NOT: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Cleveland Browns
It's hard to get too down on Trent Richardson when he only gets 13 carries, but the Cleveland Browns needed more than 47 yards and a 3.6 yards-per-carry average.
Part of this was an unusually bad day by the offensive line, but Richardson just couldn't get out of the trash at the line and had issues breaking tackles. It probably also didn't help that the passing game scares absolutely nobody.
It won't get easier with the angry Baltimore Ravens next week.
HOT: Shane Vereen, Running Back, New England Patriots
While Stevan Ridley was getting a bad case of fumblitis, backfield partner Shane Vereen was breaking off 7.2 yards per carry.
Vereen was effective both on the ground—where he ran 14 times for 101 yards—and receiving (seven catches for 58 yards).
While the team will probably give Ridley a chance to redeem himself, Vereen certainly endeared himself to head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Unfortunately for New England, reports indicate Vereen broke a bone in his wrist during the game. He played the whole game despite that and will now require surgery. According to Fox Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer, Vereen will be out a "few weeks."
NOT: Mark Ingram, Running Back, New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas both had nine carries. Ingram totaled 11 yards, while Thomas got 43 yards.
At this point, you have to wonder how much work Ingram will get. He's not getting the yards the Saints hoped he would when they took him No. 28 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.
You can bet they'll continue to split carries significantly and rely more on Thomas if Ingram can't get it going.
Of course, Thomas doesn't have a history of big games at this point—he has just four 100-yard games (link via Footballguys.com; subscription required) in his six-year career.
Still, Ingram won't get more catches with Darren Sproles there, nor more carries if he can't be more effective.
He'll have his chance in a tough divisional matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
HOT: Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers
Remember on the first slide when we wondered if letting Reggie Bush go was a huge mistake?
Trading Anquan Boldin may have been worse.
The Baltimore Ravens are in desperate need of a playmaker—and all Boldin did Sunday afternoon was make plays for the San Francisco 49ers. He caught 13 balls for 208 yards and a touchdown, but believe it or not, that's not the takeaway.
No, Boldin—for all the talk about his age and lack of speed—physically overwhelmed the Green Bay Packers defenders.
Some people, notably Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome—forgot about that. Boldin reminded them Sunday.
He'll need to bring that physicality to Seattle next week against the Seahawks.
NOT: Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
Which is more frustrating for the Miami Dolphins?
Mike Wallace catching one ball for 15 yards off five targets, or his apparent negative demeanor and attitude after the game—one which many news outlets, including ESPN, seem to feel reflected concern over how he was used?
As ESPN points out, the Browns did a good job of doubling up on Wallace, though the payment for that was a monumental day by Brian Hartline (more on that in a moment).
One hopes that any frustration Wallace has is more aimed at being unable to get free of the coverage and not about not getting more targets or Hartline's big day.
Wallace has a good chance to bounce back next weekend, as the Indianapolis Colts don't have a great secondary.
HOT: Brian Hartline, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
As disappointing as Mike Wallace's performance was, Brian Hartline's was great.
This is where Wallace's day was successful, really. The Cleveland Browns chose to double up on Wallace, and so quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Hartline made them pay repeatedly.
Hartline's 114 yards and touchdown were back-breakers for the Cleveland defense, including on the drive which put the game away on a Daniel Thomas touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Two of the three catches Hartline had went for first downs. All three did a great job of moving the chains and keeping the drive (and momentum) going.
Hartline won't do this every week, but he will continue to be a very effective and productive player across from Mike Wallace.
NOT: Pittsburgh Steelers Offense
You can't lose Maurkice Pouncey because your own player rammed into his leg (via NFL.SI.com), tearing both his ACL and MCL, and not have a bad game.
It gets worse when your most effective running back also tears a ligament in his knee, as LaRod Stephens-Howling did.
However, even beyond the injuries—which are not insignificant—the Pittsburgh offense didn't look great even against the Tennessee Titans, a defense ranked No. 29 coming out of preseason via NFL.com.
It's not looking good for the Steelers right now. Can they rebound? It's hard to tell, but there's always a chance.
Right now, though, it's looking grim.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.
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