What We Learned: NFL Week 2
By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
Week two of the NFL season saw some early surprises, as teams race out to early division leads. Let’s go back and look at some of the big stories.
Brady’s Not Back
With the exception of his masterful two touchdown comeback in the fourth quarter against Buffalo last week, New England QB Tom Brady looks like a shell of his 2007 record-setting self, and it showed against the New York Jets in week two.
Playing a team that has not beaten Brady’s Patriots in The Meadowlands in nearly a decade, the Jets held Brady in check as he went 23 of 47 for 216 yards and an interception. Even with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, when New England shines, Brady stumbled, getting his pass knocked down on fourth down. While it is still early in the season, and Brady was without favorite target WR Wes Welker, the Patriots are now a game behind the Jets in the AFC East. They need to find some answers, quick.
What Sophomore Slump?
Last week, we talked about rookies shining in the NFL, bucking the waiting trend. Well, the twin brother of a rookie sensation is the sophomore slump.
However, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and Baltimore QB Joe Flacco didn’t get the memo, as both have led their teams to 2-0 records thus far.
Ryan has come out throwing in 2009, thanks to newly acquired TE Tony Gonzalez, giving him a solid crutch to lean on. So far, he has thrown for 449 yards with five touchdowns, second most in the NFL. After playing the role last season of game manager, deferring to the run, Ryan is giving defenses another concern to worry about, as he is clearly showing he can beat teams through the air.
Flacco came into a Baltimore team looking for offensive identity, and they still were searching until the latter part of the 2008 season. Well, so far, in 2009, a Baltimore team well-known for their defense, has the offense earning most of the praise. Much of that credit can go to Flacco, who has thrown for 497 yards and five touchdowns, also second most in the NFL. If these two can continue their success, we could be talking about the QB class of 2008 the same way we talk about 1983 and 2004 real soon.
The Saint Of Air
In 1999, the St. Louis Rams had an offensive game dubbed “The Greatest Show On Turf”. Ten years later, the New Orleans Saints high-scoring affair might take that title. A week after putting 45 points on Detroit, QB Drew Brees and company decided, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, and put 48 on the Philadelphia Eagles.
For the season, Brees has nine touchdowns, almost double the next closest competitor. At this rate, Brees will finish with 72 touchdowns, obliterating the previous mark. While it may not be likely he’ll finish with that grandeur figure, Brees did come within a few yards of shattering the single season passing yard record last year, and if he keeps up this pace, that record will definitely fall in 2009.
With fanfare usually reserved for bigger events, Jerry Jones put on quite a show in revealing his $1 billion plus new Texas Stadium. Over 105,000 joined him in his latest crowning achievement.
However, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the stadium, if the product inside doesn’t win.
The Cowboys had the victory with a few minutes left in the game, but the New York Giants marched down the field behind Eli Manning’s 330 yards passing, and a game-winning field goal spoiled the Cowboys' first home game in their new digs, 33-31.
For the record, no punts hit the enormous jumbotron hanging 90 feet above the field. Tony Romo threw three interceptions to offset solid rushing performances by Marion Barber and Felix Jones. The Cowboys still have seven more home games this season, and should win most of them, provided they cut down the mistakes. Then again, if I saw myself 90 feet above the air, I’d drop the ball, too.
Contenders and Pretenders
Some teams are undefeated, others still winless. Who continued to separate themselves from the competition after week two?
The Jets have gone two straight games without giving up an offensive touchdown. That shows the mark coach Rex Ryan has on this squad, as they jump out to a 2-0 start.
As always, there are teams struggling to live up to the hype early on this season as well.
Detroit is getting dangerously close to the 0-26 mark set by Tampa Bay in 1976. They are making progress, even leading Minnesota at one point, but they need to do a better job minimizing the mistakes if a win is to come soon.
Despite the win, the Washington Redskins played like a team deserving to be 0-2, barely sneaking by the rebuilding St. Louis Rams, 9-7. The NFC East is a tough division, and Washington will have to step it up in order to be competitive.
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