Justin’s Football Summary for Week 1: It’s very important to remember that week 1 in the NFL is nothing more than one game out of sixteen. Often the results of week 1 are no more important than any other week early on in the season, but we do begin to see trends and comments can be made on our first real action of the 2010 Season.
Vikings: On the surface, losing to the defending Super Bowl champs in Week 1 isn’t too troubling. But looking a little deeper reveals some real issues. First off, Brett Favre is back, and the ankle appears at least to be “serviceable”. Unfortunately, no quarterback can be great without some quality receiving weapons. This is where I worry. Sidney Rice is out at least 8 games, Percy Harvin has some issues off the field medical-wise affecting him, and Bernard Berrian is not a number one wide out. Shiancoe is good in the Red Zone, but I doubt him as a “go to guy” as well. That’s why it’s so imperative for the Vikings to have a great ground game, and not make Favre have to win every game on his own. Adrian Peterson didn’t fumble, which is nice, but 87 yards and no touchdowns isn’t going to win them many games until this passing attack finds some consistency.
Saints: Drew Brees looked like Drew Brees for most of them game, and the Saints offense did just enough against a determined Vikings defense. I like the balance between the pass and rush a lot, and I think the Saints have a nice power/speed running combo between Thomas and Bush. The defense turned in a great performance against Peterson and Favre. I absolutely love the energy in the Superdome and feel like the Saints have the best home-field advantage going into the season.
Bills: I know it was a home game but there’s something about the Bills’ defense that I actually like, I feel like they play with a sort of “bend-don’t-break” toughness that consistently bothered Chad Henne and never let him get into too much of a rhythm. They held the Dolphins potent running attack to a very average game and I think they will be good enough to keep the Bills in a lot of games this year. Of course this means nothing when you watch the Bills on the other side of the ball. It’s painfully clear that Trent Edwards isn’t a starting quarterback and it doesn’t help matters that he lacks the weapons to get the ball to through the air. Their only hope is sticking to the hurry up offense that got them their only touchdown in the game. But I’m more concerned about this running game. First off, whoever calls plays for the Bills should be fired. Buffalo was never down more than 10 points, yet Edwards threw the ball 34 times? Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch carried the ball a combined seven times. They ran well, but what does it matter if they see the ball that little? Watch the intentional safety at the end of the game if you want to summarize Buffalo’s offensive confidence. Oh yeah, and somebody please remind C.J. Spiller that there’s no week off between the preseason and regular one.
Dolphins: Nice win, you’ll hear some folks saying they should have blew out the Bills, but I don’t think you can over look Brandon Marshall and Chad Henne playing their first real game together. Henne played decent, and I think the Dolphins have their number two wide out in Davonne Bess. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, though by no means had a big game, did what they needed to do to get the win. Carlos Dansby looks to be well worth the money and should continue to be the glue that holds the defense together.
Lions- Robbed. And that’s all I’ll say about the last play. But let’s look at the rest of the game. Statistically, the Lions were lucky to be in it at the end. You can thank 4 Chicago turnovers for that. But the defense played just good enough to keep it close. Jahvid Best looks like a good red zone back, but I question where the bulk of the Lions rushing yards will come from. Calvin Johnson is turning into a star, but who’ll step up behind him. Matt Stafford looked good, which makes his injury all the more devastating, because the guy replacing him couldn’t beat Alex Smith for the 49ers’ QB job.
Bears- The Bears should have won this game by 20 points, but almost lost it. 100 yards worth of penalties and 4 turnovers will do that to you. Matt Forte easily gets the game ball, with over 200 yards of total offense and both of the Bears’ touchdowns. Jay Cutler put up big numbers and hit a lot of young wide receivers, but the jury is still out on him being a good quarterback for Chicago. The defense forced turnovers and knocked Matt Stafford out of the game, a surefire way to beat the Lions (Unless you are the 2009 Cleveland Browns)
Raiders- And my week 1 award for completely not showing up to week 1 goes to… actually not the Raiders. If you look at the stats and watched the game, you’ll know that Oakland played to win; they just didn’t come close to doing so. Between his passing and running, Jason Campbell already looks better than anyone the Raiders started last season it’s just a shame that he has no real threats at wide receiver, for now Zach Miller appears to be it. Darren McFadden, after a slow start to his career, showed in week 1 that he may be ready to be the featured back in Oakland. Defensively, I will give Oakland a “Week 1 Benefit of the Doubt Pass” in the sense that I think Vince Young and Chris Johnson will make many defenses look bad this year. But they need more than Nnamdi Asomugha to lead this squad.
Titans- Vince Young looked confident, Chris Johnson looked inhuman, and the defense stayed well-rested and made plays. Let’s just hope they don’t get Albert Haynesworth back. Look for Nate Washington and Kenny Britt to be sleeper success stories in fantasy football leagues across the nation. Chris Johnson might be a little valuable to have as well for you fantasy football owners.
Bengals- I watched this game with some friends of mine who normally don’t follow football too closely. So I spent the better part of an hour before the game explaining how the Bengals took the AFC North by storm last year and could be even better this season. Needless to say, my friends now think I’m an idiot. What happened? Well, first of all, we should ignore that stats in this game, the Bengals put up most of their numbers in garbage time. We can instead focus on how Cincinnati came out flat and never recovered. Offensively, the balance was never there as Benson and Scott both got hit behind the line often. Ochocinco, Owens, Shipley, and Gresham all looked good, but their performance didn’t translate as Palmer played a bad first half and didn’t help to end the debates about his inability to be an elite QB. On defense, Tom Brady carved up the secondary and the Bengals rush defense made Fred Taylor look like an energetic rookie. Uh-oh…
Patriots- Not a whole lot to say since their competition looked so sluggish, but I will say this: Brady deserves the money he makes. Wes Welker is going to be fine. The defense looks good enough, and it’s important to keep in mind all of the passing weapons they faced against Cincinnati. The Pats offense will get a tougher test next week in New York.
Panthers- I thought the Panthers let Jake Delhomme go, but it sure looked like him playing back there at QB Sunday. Matt Moore played poorly all game, and got hurt late after getting smacked by Osi Umenyiora. My best advice is to let Jimmy Clausen start next week and see if he can’t jump start your offense. The defense, inconsistent as it was, forced turnovers but didn’t get much help from an offense whose running game didn’t really show up. DeAngelo Williams played decently, but his sidekick, Jonathan never had an impact. Our hearts go out to Steve Smith, the only guy on offense who played to win.
Giants- Throwing three interceptions and still winning is rare in the NFL, but Eli Manning matched his three picks with three well-timed touchdowns and, coupled with a good running game, the Giants did plenty offensively to beat the Panthers. Any time your defense holds the Panthers under 100 yards in total rushing, you deserve a pat on the back.
Falcons- Atlanta did not take advantage of playing the Steelers without Big Ben. Matt Ryan put up the numbers, but failed to throw even one touchdown pass, and Michael Turner ran into a wall after almost every carry. Defensively, the Falcons played OK, but seemed to give up first downs on the ground at inopportune times and were gashed by Hines Ward through the air.
Steelers- I never thought I’d say this, but I actually think Ben Roethlisberger being out helped the Steelers. Ever since Big Ben really took over the team, and especially last season. I have felt like the Steelers were at an identity crisis. They wanted to pass more because of their quarterback, but were really built as a run first, defensively sound team. I think not having a strong presence at QB helped them get back to that in week 1. Hines Ward stepped up as the leader on offense, and helped Dixon to at least feel a little comfortable starting for Pittsburgh. Mendenhall ran with consistent success and broke off an explosive 50 yard touchdown run to win the slug fest in OT.
Browns- Winning against Tampa Bay would have been a nice, manageable goal for the Browns, but it didn’t quite work out that way. I think bringing in Jake Delhomme was one of the worst decisions of the young decade in all of sports. I mean look, it’s obvious that Cleveland is in rebuilding mode, so why not find a young gunslinger and let him get comfortable with the offense while you have no realistic shot anyways. It’s even more frustrating when you realize he may already be on the team (Colt McCoy).Harrison and Hillis look like a nice combo in the backfield, and I think Mohammed Massaquoi has the tools to be a future go to guy for the passing game. But how many more weeks till Delhomme is out of a job?
Bucs- The good news, you’re 1-0. The bad news, nobody saw it since the game was blacked out. More good news- Josh Freeman played well and led his team back from an 11-point deficit to win. Carnell Williams, one of my favorite people in the league, had a nice game and the defense enjoyed their game against the browns (aka “bye week”).
Broncos- I’m not buying into the Josh McDaniels plan. In today’s NFL you just can’t get away with letting elite talent (Marshall/ Cutler) go. Case-in-point, week 1. I think that, had Denver held on to the players they let go of, they would have had the talent offensively to beat Jacksonville, and it’s that simple. Orton would be OK if he had an elite wide out, the receivers would be OK if they had a better quarterback. I’d be happier if I had a house in Hawaii. None of these are realities, and the Denver Broncos are in for a disappointing season.
Jaguars- I’m happy to see David Garrard play well, because I’ve always been a fan of his. The defense is average at best, indicative by their performance against an offense that lacks a whole lot of weapons. Jones-Drew is a top 5 running back in the NFL, and if the receiving core can keep it up, Jacksonville can challenge for a wild card spot.
Texans- I’m going to make a lot of Texans fans slightly upset, but I’m not buying into Houston just yet. Check that, I’m not buying into Houston winning the division just yet. I like Houston, I really do. I like Matt Schaub. I like Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to go to the Pro Bowl together. I really like stories about former practice squad players winning the game for their teams (Arian Foster). I like the front seven defenders, but I’m skeptical of the pass defense. I’m also well aware of the Texans’ division, which could be the best from top to bottom. Simply put, until they win the division or at least make the playoffs, I can’t give the Texans too much respect.
Colts- Some have said that this loss marks the beginning of the end for the Colts dynasty. I say it was a week 1 loss against a team better prepared than they were. The colts clearly have work to do. They couldn’t get a stop on defense, and Peyton Manning throwing the ball 57 times does not equal balance, something the Colts will need if they want to win the South again.
Cardinals- This game shouldn’t have been this close, but then again, we don’t really know the Cardinals too well any more. So many play makers are gone, but appropriately enough, it was the play makers who stayed that won this game. Adrian Wilson led the defense in an effort that resulted in three picks of rookie Sam Bradford, and Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald bailed out new QB Derek Anderson and a terrible running game (I say terrible because of the fumbles). Not the greatest win, and a much stronger foe awaits them in Atlanta, but I still feel like Arizona has the leadership to win the NFC West.
Rams- Sam Bradford is not a hero, just a really good rookie QB. He will not save this franchise alone, but he gives them a nice future. I just hope Steven Jackson still has something left in the tank when the Rams could actually do something with his performances.
Packers- The defense looks solid all around, and with Clay Mathews and Charles Woodson to make plays, they should be one of the best in the league. Aaron Rodgers has all the tools a QB needs, and has great targets in the passing game. The Offensive line looked better than last year. The one question mark was the running game, and with Ryan Grant gone for the year, that question mark just got a lot bigger.
Eagles- I would say it was a disgrace to Philadelphia fans to let Donavan McNabb go, but the way they treated him during his time with the Eagles makes me reconsider. In any sense, this team gambled big time with the youth movement recently, letting Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook, and McNabb all go in the last few years. They look to be in trouble now. With Kevin Kolb hurt, Mike Vick will have to start at QB. McCoy doesn’t appear ready to be the feature back, and the defense looks like they need a proven leader out there.
Seahawks- Really nice win. Pete Carroll’s defense looked great. Matt Hasselbeck looked the best he’s looked in years, and the play calling was phenomenal in the second best upset of week 1.
49ers- Every year, these so-called expert analysts jump on the bandwagon of a trendy pick to take the league by storm. And I get a kick out of it every year when said trendy pick falls flat on their face. No disrespect to the 49ers, but you can’t pick a team to win their division until they’ve proven themselves a little bit more. With all of that being said, I think Mike Singletary will sit down with his players and coaches and get things worked out. They have some good players, and can be a good team, but performances like their last game in Seattle are not what you see from playoff teams.
Cowboys-Turnovers kill momentum, they kill drives, and they kill your chances of winning. Luckily, this Cowboys team learned that in week1. The defense looked solid. They just need to find their running game’s explosiveness and they’ll be better.
Redskins- The McNabb era started off well with a win over the division favorite. The defense was good, and with all of the penalties Dallas committed they looked downright unstoppable. McNabb will make the receivers ha has work for him and his offense, but is Clinton Portis still a good number 1 back?
Ravens- Joe Flacco put up the yards, but he’s gotta find ways to help his team finish drives. Ray Rice faced a tough defense, but provided just enough balance to the offense for the win. Anquan Boldin looked spectacular, and looks like the Ravens “go-to-guy” already. The defense shut down the Jets, plain and simple. The story of this game will be time of possession, the Ravens held on to the ball, allowing their defense to rest and make plays.
Jets- If that was taking the training wheels off of Mark Sanchez, I think the Jets may need to find a new bike. But in reality, the Jets didn’t do enough on offense to help out their young QB. Braylon Edwards was M.I.A., and Shonne Greene didn’t look like a number 1 back. I think the Jets are going to miss Thomas Jones, although L.T. really wasn’t bad, he’s not the same as Jones. The defense looked great, other than the penalties constantly being called on the Jets’ cornerbacks not named Revis.
Chiefs- Upset of the week! No doubt about it. There is doubt about the Chiefs’ legitimacy though, I mean their win came in a huge rain storm with the Chargers missing two of their pro-bowl quality holdouts. I must say though, I love the young talent on offense. Dexter McCluster may leave his largest impact in the return game, but the Chiefs will take a spark wherever they can. Jamaal Charles had a long TD run, and looked good in combination with Thomas Jones. I think if they can stay healthy, the offense will be OK even with Matt Cassel, who I consider to be average at best. On defense, the Chiefs were flying around. Dorsey and Jackson looked the part for the first time on defense, causing havoc for the Chargers.
Chargers- Well, Ryan Mathews looked pretty good for his first game. Unfortunately, with Vincent Jackson holding out, the offense was without one of its’ biggest weapons. Antonio Gates played well, and Phil Rivers was solid, but Legedu Naanee led the team in receptions, and that’s not a great sign. While Naanee is a good player, he showed us in this game that he’s not ready to be the clutch, big-time receiver San Diego needs. The Chargers defense looked slow on the rain soaked field, which is OK, except for the fact that the Chiefs still looked lightening fast.