NFL Week 2: 15 Important Lessons Learned

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIISeptember 19, 2011

NFL Week 2: 15 Important Lessons Learned

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    Another thrilling week in the NFL is almost over.

    Even before the Monday night showdown between the St. Louis Rams and the New York Giants—which has yet to be played—we have learned plenty of lessons from many of the teams in the NFL. 

    We saw a highly-touted quarterback play wide receiver and another quarterback come through in a clutch. Some of the league's best continue to dominate. 

    Here are a few of the biggest lessons we learned from this week's action. 

Tony Romo Is Tougher Than You Think

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    Once again, the Dallas quarterback is hammered by the media for a few mistakes he made in a big game. And once again, he shows his resiliency after a tough loss. 

    With a fractured rib, Tony Romo spearheaded a 10-point comeback for the Cowboys.

    He threaded the needle for a clutch touchdown to Miles Austin, who had three scores in the game.

    Then he had a huge 3rd-and-6 completion to Austin, which eventually was followed up by Dan Bailey's 48-yard field goal.

    In overtime, on his first throw, Romo threw a 77-yard bomb to journeyman Jesse Holley, helping Dallas to a 27-24 victory in overtime. 

    Romo demonstrated a toughness that none of us have really examined carefully.

    He's always bashed by the media after tough losses, yet he seems to always bounce back tremendously. He's the quarterback of America's Team, and there is a certain standard that he has to meet because of the position he plays.

    There is no doubt that if Romo was the quarterback for a team like the Browns or the Bills, he would get less criticism.

    But for Romo, it seems like the criticism doesn't matter. He puts it behind him and plays hard.

    After the botched-snap game in Seattle, Romo responded with a 13-3 regular season. Then, after a tough Week 17 loss to Philadelphia that eliminated Dallas from playoff contention, Romo responded by winning the NFC East the following year.

    This game was a microcosm of Romo's resiliency, both physically and mentally.

    The blue-collar Burlington, Wisconsin native showed America how tough he is, leading the Cowboys to their first win despite a fractured rib. 

Referees Don't Have a Solid Grasp of the Calvin Johnson Rule

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    In the game between the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, Jermichael Finley made what seemed to be a touchdown catch in the end zone.

    He caught the ball but didn't have complete possession as he was going down.

    It looked awfully similar to the controversial Calvin Johnson non-touchdown from last season. 

    Finley caught the ball, had both feet in bounds and maintained full control and hit the ground. After he hit the ground, the ball came out.

    If you're playing pickup football, it's a touchdown. But it's the NFL—it's an incompletion.

    Although it's a crazy rule, at least the referees were consistent.

    However, the same play happened in the New England Patriots game.

    Tom Brady threw a pass to Rob Gronkowski, and it seemed identical to the Finley and Johnson plays. But it was ruled a touchdown.

    The NFL needs to be more consistent on these plays. Either get rid of the nonsensical rule or be more consistent on the calls. 

Kerry Collins Has Problems in the Opposing Zone

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    If Peyton Manning was starting today, the Indianapolis Colts would've destroyed the Cleveland Browns.

    It's ridiculous how ineffective Kerry Collins was in Browns territory.

    After a solid drive from the Colts' 12, Collins helped take the Colts to the Browns' 21. After that, they couldn't do anything, so they kicked a field goal. 

    In another instance, Collins helped the Colts get to the Browns' 9. Once there, they couldn't convert on 3rd-and-1 and had to go for three again.

    The Colts settled for two more Vinatieri field goals before scoring a touchdown in garbage time.

    The Colts were 4-of-14 on third downs. Collins was also sacked and fumbled the ball on a third down. 

    Peyton Manning would've easily controlled this game. Those field goals would've been touchdowns, and offense would've been more efficient.

    We may have already known this, but one lesson is clear—Collins is definitely not the answer as the current Colts quarterback.

Is Cam Newton That Good or Has the Packers Defense Declined?

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    The answer to this is simple. 

    Cam Newton may be a great rookie, but there is no way he would've thrown for 432 yards against the Packers defense from last January.

    In fact, the Packers have been torched two straight weeks now.

    Last week was a mulligan since it was against Drew Brees and it was the first game of the regular season after a long lockout with a rushed offseason.

    But this week should've been the Packers defense's chance to shut down a rookie quarterback. 

    Let's give Newton the credit he deserves for playing well, but allowing over 400 yards to a rookie quarterback as a Super Bowl defense is a cause for concern. 

    Being the Packers, they'll probably iron out the edges as the season progresses, but if there's one weakness the Packers have right now, it's their secondary, and other teams are watching that now.

It's OK to Grieve

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    Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears played with a heavy heart this Sunday amid his mother's unexpected death.

    Some thought that he might take the week off to grieve, but instead, Urlacher made a valiant effort and played Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints.

    Despite his efforts, Urlacher didn't have his best game, recording just two tackles.

    He's also the leader of the Bears defense, and the defense as a whole seemed like it faltered. The Bears allowed 30 points to a hungry Saints team that needed a victory.

    That being said, there was no need for Urlacher to rush himself back to the game. He's earned it as a player to take a game off during these kinds of circumstances. 

The Difference Between Two Great Teams Is the Head Coach and Quarterback

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    There's a reason why the San Diego Chargers were seven-point underdogs to the New England Patriots. 

    Actually, two reasons—Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

    Phillip Rivers played a great game for the Chargers. He threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns, and he had a completion percentage of 72.5 percent.

    That great performance, however, was not even close to Brady's remarkable afternoon.

    Brady was close to perfect. His completion percentage was 77.5 percent. He threw for 423 yards and had three touchdowns along with a 135.7 passer rating. 

    Yup. He's the best in the league. 

    The Patriots also heavily out-coached the Chargers.

    It's not so crazy think that the Chargers are a great, talented team with a poor coach. They had the best defense and offense last year but still didn't make the playoffs. That's on the head coach.

    Miraculously, Norv Turner still has a job with the Chargers, and his offense was stuffed on a key 4th-and-goal situation that changed the complexion of the game.

    On the other sideline, Bill Belichick's play-calling and Tom Brady's excellent quarterbacking led the Pats to their second victory. 

The Chiefs Are the Worst Team in the NFL

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    The Kansas City Chiefs have scored a grand total of 10 points this season. They've allowed 89.

    It seems like last season's playoff run was a fluke in a weak division.

    Every team in their division is stronger, and the Chiefs have taken a huge step backwards.

    It's not all their fault. They have had injuries—but one injury this week pretty much ended their season.

    Jamaal Charles slipped on the sideline and left the game. The injury seems serious, and it could be very costly for the Chiefs.

    In short, the Chiefs have had trouble stopping offenses, and they have had even more trouble moving the ball. That is definitely not a way to build on a successful season. 

Bills vs. Raiders Needed Gus Johnson

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    The only thing missing from this game was Gus. 

    This was easily the most exciting game of the season thus far.

    The Bills came back from a 21-3 deficit with the help of former Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a 43-yard touchdown from Fred Jackson. 

    After the Bills took a 24-21 lead, Raiders QB Jason Campbell and Ryan Fitzpatrick exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

    Then, Campbell threw a long touchdown pass to Denarius Moore to seemingly put the game away.

    But with 17 ticks left on the clock, Fitzpatrick threw the game-winning touchdown to David Nelson to give the Bills a 2-0 start.

    The game's back-and-forth action had many fans wishing Gus Johnson still worked for CBS, because this just seemed like a game he definitely would have called.

    All that was missing was a Johnsonian "Ohhhhh!!!!" to go along with the five touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

    As for the combatants on the field, both should be proud.

    Although Oakland lost, it was their second straight solid performance. It's also important to note that Oakland was playing on short rest after playing on Monday night. This was also their second consecutive road game.

    So, even though they lost, they have plenty to be happy about.

    And obviously for the Bills, they are undefeated and keeping pace with the Patriots and Jets in the tough AFC East. 

Comeback Kids Show They're Ready for the Big Stage

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    Both Josh Freeman and Matt Ryan mounted comebacks for their respective teams to show how resilient they are under pressure.

    Josh Freeman has flown under the radar in Tampa Bay for the last year and two games, but he keeps showing NFL fans why he is the man for the Bucs' future. 

    Freeman threw for 243 yards and a huge touchdown, and LeGarrette Blount rushed for two touchdowns—including the game winner—to help the Bucs come from 17 points down and beat the Vikings. 

    In Atlanta, Matty Ice stole all the attention from Mike Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Ryan and the Falcons were down by 11 points in the fourth quarter, and he had been hit a lot throughout the game. But he kept his composure and did what he does best—win at home.

    Matt Ryan is now 21-2 in his career at the comforts of the Georgia Dome, and this win could very well have been the biggest win of his career under the Sunday night lights in an overly-hyped game. 

    These two quarterbacks will actually battle against each other next week in Tampa. It will be great to see these two young guns duke it out for the NFC South title. 

Running Quarterbacks WILL Get Hurt

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    Forget talent, skill, agility and IQ. 

    Based on the fact that Michael Vick constantly gets hurt, he is not worth his new $100-million contract.

    He showed it today after he was injured in the second half. He left the game, and the Falcons came back and won. 

    The Eagles offense wasn't the same without him. As talented as he is, his playing style is very injury-prone, and it's very difficult to see him play a full season without getting banged up.

    It's clear that Vick was hurt throwing in the pocket in a freak accident with his offensive lineman, but that's the whole premise of what we learned. 

    He's run a lot throughout his career, and he's taken a lot of hits. Those hits have made him more brittle, thus making it more likely for him to get injured. 

    There will be many more to come if he continues his playing style. 

    Let's not forget to mention that his playing style is very detrimental to his team, too.

    He fumbled the ball twice during the game—once on a hand-off and the other on a rushing play. 

    A guy that is so injury- and turnover-prone is not worth $100 million, and the Eagles will need a lot of help from their defense—which they didn't get this week—if they want to be Super Bowl contenders. 

The Ravens Paradox

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    It's very clear that the Ravens weren't as good as they were last week, and they definitely aren't as bad as they were this week against the Titans.

    After an awe-inspiring performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens fell flat against the lowly Titans.

    They just didn't show up. Their defense wasn't doing anything impressive.

    What we learned, though, is that fans tend to overreact after one game. The win over the Steelers and the loss against the Titans are not true indicators of the real Ravens.

    That's why they play a 16-game schedule. 

The Texans Defense Has Improved

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    It's not all about Matt Schaub anymore. 

    After beating down on the Colts last season, the upstart Texans jumped all over the Dolphins in Miami.

    Schaub did his part, but the oft-criticized Texan defense stepped up huge.

    They limited Chad Henne to 12 completions out of 30 attempts. He had a quarterback rating of only 56.3.

    They also intercepted him deep in his own zone. This eventually turned into a Texan touchdown as they steamrolled over the Fish, 20-13.

Let the Blaine Gabbert Era Begin

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    They drafted him 10th overall, and they cut their former starting quarterback David Garrard to send a message that he's their future.

    So why hasn't Blaine Gabbert started yet?

    It looks like he will, after the atrocious performance put on by Luke McCown Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands.

    McCown had a quarterback rating of 1.8. He completed 31.6 percent of his throws and was picked off four times. He was also sacked in the end zone for a safety early in the game.

    Gabbert came in for mop-up duties later on, and although it was garbage time, he did a great job.

    He was 5-of-6 for 52 yards and a 102.8 quarterback rating. 

    The Jags don't have much to lose, and after this week, it was clear that Gabbert is a better option than McCown. 

Jahvid Best Can Really Leap

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    The Lions destroyed the lowly Chiefs 48-3 on Sunday to improve to 2-0.

    They now have a six-game winning streak dating back to last season and are ready to do some damage in the NFC North.

    They have given Lions fans in Detroit hope that they can actually make the playoffs this year.

    The Lions went on the road and defeated a pretty solid Tampa Bay team, and then they did what they had to do at home against a terrible team. They look like a threat.

    Calvin Johnson added two more touchdown receptions to his stats, and Matt Stafford threw four touchdowns.

    But what was most impressive was the way Jahvid Best was leaping over the trenches at the goal line for a touchdown. It totally exemplified the direction the Lions are going in, and it certainly feels great in the Motor City. 

Kenny Britt Emerging as a Star Wide Receiver

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    In a huge win against the powerful Baltimore Ravens, Kenny Britt continued to dominate.

    He caught a touchdown for his third TD reception of the season.

    He's now on pace to shatter his personal career marks. 

    He now has 271 receiving yards on the season in just two games. 

    It's pretty clear that Britt has put his tumultuous offseason behind him, and he's focused on making the Titans competitive.

    Their win today was truly impressive, and it gives Titan fans hope that with a veteran quarterback (Matt Hasselbeck) and an injured Peyton Manning, maybe they can pull off something special.