NFL Insiders: What to Make of Football's Most Overrated Players and Teams?
Week 1 of the NFL season is when the rubber meets the road. After an offseason of hype videos and puff pieces, perception fades away and reality quickly sets in.
Who had the worst letdowns in Week 1? Bleacher Report went around the league to ask scouts, coaches and players the following question: "Who was the most overrated player, coach or team you saw this week?"
The answers are as unfiltered as can be printed here. They might also contradict one another at times. A few respondents went hard on the same team, which they felt received too much media love over the summer.
One executive did text a word of caution: "It's Week 1, Matt. You know better than to make judgments based off the season opener."
That didn't stop his peers from unleashing on the NFL's most overrated.
Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders
NFC assistant coach: "If you listened to the broadcast and didn't watch the game, you'd think [Jon] Gruden had the Raiders up by 20. His offense and all his old-ass players fell apart in the second half."
The Raiders impressed in the first half by keeping the Los Angeles Rams off-balance with an uptempo offense and repeated shots from Derek Carr to tight end Jared Cook. But the Rams adjusted defensively and were able to control the game in the second half.
Gruden is an interesting case study as he returns to the sidelines this season. Will his friends in the media take it easy on him? Will opponents in the NFL judge him unfairly due to his massive $100 million contract?
After one game, those looking to laugh at Gruden won't need to make up reasons to do so.
Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos
AFC pro scout: "Imagine paying Case Keenum $18 million to throw three interceptions against the Seahawks...but you get a pass for it because you're John Elway."
Keenum and the Broncos got a win in Week 1, but the quarterback Elway signed in free agency struggled with three interceptions against a Seattle defense that's a long way from the Legion of Boom days.
Then again, Keenum threw three touchdowns in a game the Broncos never would have won last season with Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler or Trevor Siemian at quarterback.
Keenum struggled at times, but calling his signing a mistake after one game is premature.
NFC pro scout: "I watched the Seahawks tape and was blown away that this is the same team. I think Russ might be the most overrated QB in the whole league."
The last pro scout said Case Keenum was overrated; this one says the Seattle Seahawks are. Welcome to the world of talking to scouts and coaches, where it's rare to get a consensus.
Russell Wilson did struggle against the Broncos, as he tossed two picks and got sacked six times. To be fair, he's also playing with the least talent he's ever had in his supporting cast, and No. 1 wideout Doug Baldwin left the game with a sprained MCL.
The Seahawks intercepted Keenum three times, which gave Wilson more opportunities to make plays. He answered with three touchdowns, but Seattle's formerly explosive offense looked pedestrian against Denver.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
NFC assistant coach: "Maybe it's time we accept that Dak is just a guy and Zeke is overrated?"
Those are strong words from an opposing coach, especially after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday that Prescott was a cross between Jared Goff and Cam Newton. But Prescott is struggling to be more than a game manager, which is affecting Elliott's playmaking opportunities.
Against a Carolina defense sans Thomas Davis, Prescott threw for only 170 yards. Though he didn't turn the ball over, he's fallen into the trap of being a checkdown quarterback. Some of that may be by design—the Cowboys' receiving corps is as weak as it's ever been during his time in Dallas—and the knock on him coming out of Mississippi State was a lack of arm strength. That's showing up on tape now too.
As for Elliott, give him a healthy offensive line and a quarterback that can move safeties out of the box and we'll see him dominate again.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
AFC secondary coach: "Matt Ryan misses Kyle Shanahan like I miss Obama."
That quote was too good to not use. It's also true—Matt Ryan badly misses Kyle Shanahan.
Since the Atlanta Falcons' epic collapse against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, Ryan hasn't been bad, but he hasn't been the same. He was a top-10 quarterback from 2012 through 2016, but he's become timid ever since Shanahan left to join the San Francisco 49ers.
That shows up the most in the red zone, where offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian's play-calling is stale and Ryan can't connect with star receiver Julio Jones.
Ryan was good even before Shanahan joined him in Atlanta, but it's safe to say Sarkisian isn't getting the most out of his franchise quarterback.
New Orleans Saints Defense
NFL pro scout: "What happened to these guys? They trade a fortune for a pass-rusher [Marcus Davenport] and forget how to cover in one offseason? Ryan f--king Fitzpatrick put almost 50 on them."
It's amazing that Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hung 48 points on the New Orleans Saints. If that wasn't a Week 1 fluke, heads will roll in New Orleans.
Offensively, the Saints looked great. Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees put up a fight in an unexpected shootout. The defense, though, had no answer for Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin, as Fitzpatrick went 21-of-28 for 417 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
The Saints couldn't cover, and their pass rush was non-existent. That will be a recipe for disaster all season long if they can't address those issues.
Buffalo Bills Defense
AFC player personnel executive: "They let Joe Flacco and a bunch of washed-up receivers put 47 points on them. And they have the worst quarterback in the league. Go ahead and put them drafting first in your mocks."
No one saw this one coming, even if you expected the Buffalo Bills to struggle in a rebuilding year.
Allowing the Ravens—a team with a collection of cast-offs at receiver and an embattled quarterback—to post 47 points would have been the surprise of the week if not for Fitzpatrick's performance against New Orleans and what the New York Jets did Monday night.
The decision to go with veteran receivers and young tight ends may pay off for Baltimore if they can remain healthy. What showed Sunday was a heady, tough, fast group that had the chemistry with Flacco that has been missing since Steve Smith Sr. retired.
Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line
NFC scout: "Someone needs to do a deep dive on what the hell happened here. This was the best offensive line in football not that long ago. [Travis] Frederick being out hurts, but Tyron [Smith] isn't the same dude, either."
The drop-off for the entire Dallas offense has been shocking. While some are blaming that on Prescott and Elliott, others see the offensive line as the issue.
Whomever is to blame—it also might be head coach Jason Garrett—something has to snap into place for the Cowboys offense soon.
Looking at the offensive line as a starting point makes sense, as that unit was the foundation for the team's success in recent years. But with Frederick out and rookie Connor Williams acclimating to playing guard for the first time, this group needs to jell quickly.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
NFC general manager: "All the hype this summer...and there was SO MUCH of it...it's like everyone forgot this guy threw five interceptions in his limited time last year. And the skill players out there aren't that good. Pump the breaks on him."
The San Francisco 49ers were swimming in unrealistic expectations all summer long, but in Week 1, they ran head-first into perhaps the best team in the NFC. With injuries along the offensive line and at wide receiver—and the recent loss of running back Jerick McKinnon—Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense looked out of sync from the jump.
Garoppolo's 45.1 quarterback rating and three interceptions highlight what was a rough day against a fast, physical Minnesota defense.
If the 49ers offense can't bounce back against a Detroit team that gave up 48 points to the New York Jets on Monday, there will be a lot of unhappy fans in San Francisco.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL scout: "That was one of the worst games I've ever seen from Big Ben. Not only the interceptions, he just wasn't accurate at all. You have to wonder if the end is closer for him than they thought."
Roethlisberger threw three interceptions against the Cleveland Browns in the opener and posted a quarterback rating of only 60.5. But what if the Browns defense is better than expected?
James Conner racking up nearly 200 yards from scrimmage and big plays early from JuJu Smith-Schuster would seem to suggest the Browns aren't a defensive juggernaut yet. However, there's plenty of talent along Cleveland's defense.
The absence of running back Le'Veon Bell and the steady rain that fell in Cleveland throughout the game likely didn't help, but it's fair to wonder whether the 36-year-old Roethlisberger is starting to decline for good.