There will be over reactions and under reactions, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Here's a good stat to describe the weekend:
Only 5 of the 14 teams in last year's playoffs won their opening game of 2022.
And those teams don't even include the greatest upset, which I believe to be the Seahawks knocking down Russell Wilson in his first game as a Bronco. This game saw Russell Wilson complete 27/42 passes (69%) and throw 0 interceptions while piling up 330 yards. By no means is that a losing performance. However, Wilson's former backup outshined him in a big way, completing 82% of his passes with 2 TD passes and 0 INTS. Looking at these remarkable QB stats, it must have been a high scoring game, right? No. It was a gross game. Between the two teams, there were 6 Red Zone trips - none of which resulting in any points whatsoever.
You read that correctly: 6 Red Zone trips, 0 points. Gross. New Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett looked lost out there - as if he wasn't used to having a Pro Bowl QB run his offense. Would he have handed the ball off on 4th & 1 out of shotgun with Aaron Rodgers? Would he have elected to run down the clock and attempt a record breaking field goal on 4th & 5 with Aaron Rodgers? Russell Wilson was not at his prime level last night, but he was good enough to win - just like he has always been. I cannot believe Hackett took the ball out of his hands TWICE. I can't believe the Denver RBs let the ball fall out of their hands TWICE at the goal line.
I was wrong more this weekend than I have ever been
I thought Russ was going to cook his old squad
I thought the Matt Ryan was going to put on a flawless display
I thought the Patriots would expose Tua and get a division win
I thought the Bengals would look like they were a play away from a ring
I thought the Rams would be able to win at home
I thought the Cowboys would be able to score a touchdown
I thought Baker would show the Browns what they were missing
I thought the Jaguars would look like a team on the rise
I thought the 49ers were going to mop the field with the Fields
If you are still reading, thank you for not giving up on me yet. I imagine a lot of us were wrong about those games. But hey, after all, that is why they play the game!
I was right about a few things!
My guy Kirk Cousins looked like I expected him to in O'Connell's offense
Daniel Jones has weapons to use and he is good at it
The Eagles rushing attack is special
Patrick Mahomes is just fine without Tyreek Hill
Aaron Rodgers is not fine without Davante Adams
Football is beautiful
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From my QB brain, I saw these teams/players get EXPOSED the most:
Rams Defense - they put a ton of faith in Aaron Donald and Bobby Wagner to rush the passer and stop the run. Yet Josh Allen was only sacked twice and the Bills ran for 121 yards. I do believe those two guys will get it right, but they have proven they aren't as dominant as everyone feared. My greatest concern with the Rams is the secondary. Jalen Ramsey isn't what he was - at least he wasn't against Stefon Diggs, who 8 passes for 122 yards and a TD (dropped another TD in the end zone where he had beaten Ramsey). We saw Ramsey get toasted by J'Marr Chase on the final play of the Super Bowl, where Aaron Donald secured the sack before Burrow could hit him. Ramsey is great against average receivers, but he is a liability against supreme route runners and deep threats. To make matters worse, their other corner is no match for a quality receiver like Gabriel Davis, yet the Rams schemed him on an island multiple times. I called out the deep TD Josh Allen threw Davis from my couch. A lot of the pre-snap chess game between a QB and the defense is manipulating safeties to one side of the field. With the type of arm that Josh Allen has, any type of one-on-one situation is extremely dangerous, yet the Rams did nothing to counter. If Aaron Donald doesn't disrupt the pass, it has a great chance of getting completed.
Patriots Offense - the appeal of Mac Jones is his IQ and steadiness. You can count on him to make good decisions and accurate passes. He's the kind of guy that gets the ball to his playmakers - much like he did in Alabama. We were all waiting to see which playmakers the Patriots added this offseason. They chose Nelson Agholor and Davante Parker, who combined to catch 4 passes on 7 targets for 37 yards. In my opinion, those two are not the playmakers that will benefit most from a Mac Jones type player, and Mac Jones isn't going to benefit from average route running or average hands. All that being said, there simply was no bright spot on the offense Sunday, as they scored 7 points (2nd lowest in the league). Mac Jones wasn't great. 21/30 with 1 TD and 2 turnovers. He had several missed throws and seemed rushed more than he has in the past. I can write him off citing Week 1 jitters, but as far as the whole offense goes, I was far from impressed.
Cowboys Offense - there has never been a more accurate representation of the meme that says their logo is a rating. I don't care how good the defense is - it is never okay to complete less than 50% of your passes. Dak Prescott went 14/29 with an INT. He threw into triple coverage more times than he threw to open receivers. I know Michael Gallup is a huge asset that they were missing, but I consider CeeDee Lamb to be one of the best route runners in the league, yet they only got him the ball TWICE on ELEVEN targets. That's on the play caller and the QB. Tony Pollard, who the fanbase (and myself as a fantasy owner) wanted to see more of, only managed 8 yards on 6 carries. With Dak out 6-8 weeks, they need to get someone in there who can hit the zones and direct the offense into optimal situations. The fact that we haven't heard of a deal with Jimmy Garoppolo yet is silly. He is more than capable and may even be an upgrade. I believe in Dak, but he needs more help than the Cowboys offered him on Sunday night. Jimmy G can do more with less than Dak can, in my opinion.
We don't need to worry too much about the following:
Matt Ryan - we heard all year long that Matt Ryan demanded perfection and had no time for mistakes in practice. Well, he came out in Week 1 and fumbled multiple snaps and lost one while also throwing an INT. As a Colts fan, I was extremely disappointed. However, I believe the reports of Matt Ryan's attention to detail are true. I would imagine we don't see a single issue with the snap again for the rest of the year (he had hardly had any time with new center who was recovering from injury). He managed the game fairly well and threw some great balls to put the Colts in solid situations. He completed 32 of 50 passes while hitting 8 different receivers. He will always have Jonathan Taylor grabbing the bulk of the opposition's attention and Pittman to require safety help. I believe what he can do with the rest of the defense spread thin will be significant.
Joe Burrow - every true gunslinger in NFL history has had games like Joe Burrow just had. It was a game to forget. But what I loved about his performance was that he never second guessed himself. He kept throwing darts. He remained confident. He led a game winning drive twice, but the kicking team botched both of them. He is a true star and so is Jamarr Chase. Pairing an elite QB with an elite WR will be special to watch - dare I compare the duo to Rodgers and Adams (I do dare - they are that special).
Raiders Offense - losing to a great team by one score is nothing to be ashamed of. The Chargers, although missing a few pieces, have the best defense in the league on paper. Derek Carr had a rough game with the 3 picks and 5 sacks, but I imagine that game will be an outlier by the end of the year. Davante Adams looked great as ever and Josh Jacobs looks primed to have another legitimate campaign. Carr has plenty of weapons to be successful and he is a attentive student of the game. I am already looking forward to the divisional rematch between the Raiders and the Chargers. We saw much worse Week 1 offensive performances across the league and I don't think anyone faced a juggernaut like the Charger defense. I'm not worried about Derek Carr or his weapons.
Week 2 Predictions:
Chiefs > Chargers in Arrowhead (although I am torn here)
Browns > Jets
Lions > Commanders
Bucs > Saints
Giants > Panthers
Steelers > Patriots
Colts > Jaguars
Ravens > Dolphins
Rams > Falcons
49ers > Seahawks
Bengals > Cowboys
Broncos > Texans
Raiders > Cardinals
Packers > Bears
Bills > Titans
Vikings > Eagles
Devin Duvernay WR, BAL
Sterling Shephard WR, NYG
Brandon Bolden RB, LV
OJ Howard TE, HOU