Who's Hot, Who's Not After NFL Week 2?
We've got two weeks in the books for the 2013 NFL season, and we can definitely see some trends forming.
The New York Jets still don't know who their quarterback is, and neither they nor the New England Patriots seem to be able to catch the ball.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are not good, the Tennessee Titans are not as good as it seemed they might be, and J.J. Watt is still an absolute stud.
There are players and units who are red hot after two weeks. Some others are ice cold.
Which is which?
Well, let's take a look around the NFL. As always, add your thoughts on who we missed in the comments below.
HOT: Green Bay Packers Offense
Despite losing to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, the Green Bay Packers were still able to put up 385 total yards on offense as well as four touchdowns (three passing and one rushing).
This week, the offense decimated Washington's defense to the tune of 580 total yards along with five touchdowns (four passing, one on the ground).
That brings them to 965 yards total and nine touchdowns, which definitely makes them one of the top offenses in the league. The Packers have turned the ball over three times in two weeks, but overall they've played very well.
Others have contributed as well. Tight end Jermichael Finley has 11 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, while James Jones rebounded from a zero-sum game in Week 1 with an 11-reception, 178-yard game.
We're still not sure what to say about the defense. The San Francisco game wasn't good, but the Packers strangled Washington for most of the game.
However, we can say for sure that this offense is the very definition of hot.
NOT: Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line, Christian Ponder
Things were better for Christian Ponder this week—for example, he threw just one interception, not three—but he continues to struggle quite a bit, and way too often.
He's not getting any help from his offensive line, though. The first week for the O-line was brutal: Pro Football Focus said it was by far Matt Kalil's worst pass-blocking game of his career, and they couldn't open any running lanes for Adrian Peterson.
This week wasn't much better: Bleacher Report writer Arif Hasan graded the passing offense out at a C+ (the first half was a D) and the ground attack at a B- (after a first-half grade of C-).
The reason this slide isn't just labeled as "Offense" is that we've seen some good games from Adrian Peterson, Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings.
So while the offense is inconsistent, the issues with the offensive line and Ponder are worse.
HOT: Eddie Royal, Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers
When Malcom Floyd went down with a scary neck injury, the San Diego Chargers didn't miss a beat.
That was in large part because of the game Eddie Royal had.
With seven catches for 90 yards and three touchdowns, Royal was a huge factor. His five touchdowns in two games tie his career high and equal his total over the last three years.
With all the injuries to Floyd and Danario Alexander, other players have had to step up at times, and Royal is putting himself in a position to score touchdowns when quarterback Philip Rivers needs him to.
Royal was an afterthought the last few seasons. He's changed that in the first two games.
NOT: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins
This is not a slide telling you Washington should bench Robert Griffin III, because it's not something with which I agree.
That's not to say Griffin has looked sharp so far. He hasn't.
Put aside his stats, because in two weeks of garbage time he's compiled some decent numbers. If you're rating him for fantasy football purposes, he's been great.
That's not how we judge quarterbacks, though.
We can start with the three interceptions and one fumble, but the real story is in his footwork, which is not quite right. He has been throwing off his back foot and not driving the ball consistently.
Ron Jaworski of ESPN broke down some of Griffin's issues on NFL Matchup, and Sporting News wrote up his review, in which "Jaws" says:
He had a very serious injury. He is protecting that right leg. I get it, I understand it. But you’ve got to be able to make these throws. And I’m sure in three or four weeks, he will be making these throws. But right now, his mechanics, in throwing the football, those deep throws down the field where mechanics are critical, he is struggling.
Ultimately, unlike former coach Tony Dungy and others, I don't think you bench Griffin right now. It won't help him. He needs snaps, and I actually think skipping the preseason hurt Griffin more than it helped him.
He'll get on track in the next few weeks. Right now, he's a bit of a mess.
HOT: Jay Cutler, Quarterback, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler has directed his team to back-to-back fourth-quarter wins, and as a result, the Chicago Bears are 2-0 and on top of the NFC North.
Of course, Cutler has also turned the ball over three times in two games. However, he has looked better in new head coach Marc Trestman's offense than he ever did in Lovie Smith's.
Cutler has thrown for 532 yards and five touchdowns so far, but again, it's the clutch fourth quarters that are most notable. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cutler drove down the field for a touchdown to take the lead with just under eight minutes left.
He then got the ball back and drained every last second from the clock to keep the Bengals from making a potential game-winning drive of their own.
This Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, Cutler got the ball with just over three minutes remaining and drove down the field to score the winning touchdown on a toss to Martellus Bennett.
Cutler has been on fire in the fourth quarter in two games straight. We'll see if he can carry that over against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3.
NOT: David Wilson, Running Back, New York Giants
On the plus side, Wilson didn't fumble in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos. Of course, it's very hard to fumble when you get just seven carries.
The backfield for the Giants is a mess, so Wilson may get a shot at redemption.
Right now, though, he is ice cold, with 36 yards, two fumbles and no touchdowns on 14 carries.
HOT: Seattle Seahawks Secondary
You could just focus on Richard Sherman, the guy who absolutely locked down Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis Sunday night.
But if you did, you'd miss the outstanding play of the whole unit. Sherman joined safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in picking off 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Week 2.
Walter Thurmond also did a great job across from Sherman in place of the injured Brandon Browner, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury.
The secondary was also instrumental in keeping Kaepernick to just 127 yards by locking the receivers down all night.
This is a scary defensive unit as a whole, and the secondary is about as good a group of players as you will see.
NOT: Brandon Weeden, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns
Admittedly, Brandon Weeden isn't getting help from a makeshift offensive line which has allowed 11 sacks and 27 quarterback hits so far this year.
Weeden isn't doing himself any favors, though.
Coming out of the gate in Week 1, he threw three picks before halftime. While he didn't repeat that debacle against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2, he couldn't find the end zone with a GPS and a Sherpa guide.
The Browns have to be hoping that the return of Josh Gordon from suspension will fix what ails their quarterback, but this is a new regime with zero attachment to an already old signal-caller.
Weeden was on a short leash to start 2013—it must be about to strangle him at this point.
HOT: Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan is coming into his own.
It began in the 2012 NFL playoffs, but we're bearing witness to it fully right now.
So far this season, Ryan has thrown for 678 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception.
Ryan looked fantastic as he attacked and picked apart a very dangerous St. Louis Rams secondary. He was also mostly able to avoid getting sacked (save for twice), due largely to his ability to get the ball out quickly.
The Falcons couldn't get the run game going, struggled to protect Ryan and, as reported by the Associated Press, lost five starters by halftime.
Ryan led the offense anyway, and he was able to keep things going despite the chaos.
It's going to be a tough division to win since the New Orleans Saints (who beat the Falcons in Week 1) seem to be back and as tough as ever.
Ryan is ready for the challenge, though.
NOT: Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
In two games, the Miami Dolphins offensive line has allowed nine sacks and 12 hits on quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
While he's not on the "Hot" list, it's hard to not be a little impressed with Ryan Tannehill's work considering the poor play in front of him.
The offensive line is also struggling to help the ground game, though this week was a vast improvement over the game against the Cleveland Browns in which they totaled just 20 yards on the ground.
It won't get easier for the Dolphins, as they face a tough Atlanta Falcons front seven next week, followed by games at New Orleans and against Baltimore before their bye week.
The New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers are all on the other side of that break.
So far, the very impressive defense has kept games close, and Tannehill and his receivers have done an excellent job moving the chains.
If the Dolphins want to make the playoffs—or just succeed against tougher defenses—they need to figure out what to do about the offensive line.
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.