Pat Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick Doubled Down on Their Outstanding Week One Performances
The two heroes of week one of the NFL season were Chiefs QB Pat Mahomes and Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Both signal callers played out of their minds and I think it is safe to say some thought at least one, if not both, of these guys would come back down to Earth in week two. The opposite was true, though. Mahomes went into Pittsburgh and tossed SIX touchdown passes to beat the Steelers in a shootout, 42-37. Fitzmagic came back to life, throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns for the second consecutive week. Two of those touchdowns came from 75-yard bombs to Desean Jackson and OJ Howard. Both these quarterbacks are benefitting from an elite receiving cores, each with top three receiving units in the league, and a unique offensive game plan tailored to their strengths. Both guys are at very different stages of their career. Fitzpatrick is a 35-year-old veteran in this league that has played on seven different teams, and Mahomes turned 23 this week and has started only three NFL games. The statistical outputs are not sustainable, but each quarterback has given hope to two teams that had potential to regress in 2018.
The Shortened Overtime Rule is not the Problem, Shitty Kickers are
The internet did that thing where it pissed me off Sunday evening. There were many hot takes floating around saying that the NFL needs to change the overtime rules back to how they were previously or find a way to prevent ties from happening week after week. The Packers-Vikings game ended in a tie, which is the second one in two weeks. The problem is not the rules, the problem is that kickers are no longer dependable to make reasonable field goal attempts. The Browns-Steelers game in week one presented two missed field goals in overtime while this week’s Packers-Vikings game had four missed kicks. Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson lost his job to ex-Dallas kicker Dan Bailey because of his 0-3 field goal performance, including a gimme as time expired in overtime. Simple fix to ties—don’t suck at kicking. Problem solved. You are welcome, Roger.
The Jets are not Good at Football Just Yet
The week one slaughtering of the Detroit Lions generated a lot of “Jets playoff sleeper” buzz and like I pointed out last week, this team is not there yet. Sam Darnold had a few bad turnovers and put the team in an early 20-0 deficit that they could not overcome. Darnold is going to be a rollercoaster this season and average teams like the Dolphins will either embarrass him or make him look like the second coming of Joe Namath. So far, the Jets are 1-1 against those average teams. Look for more of the same to continue.
The Browns Look Like They are One Competent Quarterback Away from Being 2-0 in 2018
I know everyone is torching Zane Gonzalez for missing game-winning kicks in each of the last two Browns games that would have ended their losing streak of almost two years, and rightfully so, but the quarterback play of Tyrod Taylor has been subpar at best. Here are his statistics for each of the first two games:
Vs Steelers: 15/40, 197 yards, 1 TD 1 INT
At Saints 22/30, 246 yards 1 TD 1 INT
His Steelers performance was unacceptable. The Pittsburgh offense turned the ball over six separate occasions and the Browns were still unable to come away with a victory. He made the crucial late throw to Antonio Callaway to give the Browns the chance to take the lead against the Saints before Gonzalez pissed that away, but where the hell was Taylor the first 58 minutes of the game?
Although Taylor might not be the reason you lose a game, that by no means makes him the reason you win one. The Browns used the first overall pick in the 2018 draft on Baker Mayfield, and they need to give the rookie a shot. Mayfield may have some growing pains, but his ceiling will put the Browns in a situation where they do not have to rely on shoddy kicking to win football games. I cannot believe Hue Jackson has not announced Mayfield the starter for Thursday against a beatable Jets team with his job on the line. I guess that is why his job is on the line in the first place.
The Bills and Cardinals are the Leading Candidates for the Top Pick in the 2019 NFL Draft
The Bills are this year’s New York Giants. The Giants fooled everyone in 2016 by reaching the playoffs before falling to the Green Bay Packers in the wild card round. The Bills squeaked into the 2017 playoffs with a 9-7 record and may have fallen off a larger cliff than the 2017 Giants did. The Cardinals have been outscored 58-6 in their first two games and show no hope of turning this season around under a defensive-minded head coach in Steve Wilkes. I apologize to each of these fanbases, I know the feeling. Buy a case of beer for you and your buddies each Sunday and laugh at how bad your team is. That was the 2014 Bucs season for me.
Jon Gruden Needs to Adjust to Making Halftime Adjustments
The Raiders were one of the teams that I thought would struggle in 2018 and the first half of their week one matchup against the Rams almost made me immediately change my mind. Then the second half happened. The Raiders looked like they did not belong on a football field in the second half of their 33-13 loss to the Rams. The same story played out in week two against division rival Denver Broncos. The Raiders had a 12-0 led at halftime but surrendered the victory on a game winning drive by Case Keenum that led to a game-winning field goal by Brandon McManus. Gruden has shown the ability to have his team prepared with a successful game plan for the first couple series of the game, but after that script is over, the team loses its identity. This is not an unfixable issue for Gruden, but if he does not want his first season in Oakland to be a dumpster fire, he is going to need to figure out how to play at a high level for sixty minutes.
Side Note: Khalil Mack is still really good at football after two weeks…
People Finally Figured Out That an Early Patriots Loss is not a Big Deal
It seems like every season the Patriots play at least one bad game in September. It also seems like the Patriots win the AFC East every season. The Jaguars handled the Pats on Sunday, getting their revenge for the AFC Championship in January. This means nothing for the long-term success for the Patriots this season and the media has finally caught on to that after overreacting year after year to early New England struggles.
Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr are Worthless if Eli Manning and the Offensive Line Continue to Play this Poorly
Saquon Barkley only averaged 2.7 yards per carry against the Cowboys on Sunday night. The offensive line was unable to open any running lanes for the rookie running back which led to Pat Shurmur opting to dumping the ball off to Barkley in the flat and let him try and make defenders miss. Barkley made the first defender miss nearly every time he caught the football, but the Cowboys defense did a fantastic job swarming the ball once Eli Manning got rid of it. The offensive line was also terrible keeping Manning upright when dropping back to pass, allowing six sacks and many more hurries and knockdowns on top of that. Odell Beckham Jr, as a result, had no time to get open down the field, resulting in a disappointing performance of four catches for 61 yards. Manning himself played horribly and along with the even worse offensive line play, this could be a long season for the Giants. Barkley and OBJ combined are making over $25 million this season. Unfortunately for these two, the incompetence on the rest of the field is going to hold them back from dominating NFL defenses.