Week 1 in the NFL is always marked by over-reaction. Teams that won their games are on the rise; Teams that lost their games are in trouble. Yet over the last three years, eventual playoff teams won about 64% of their games in week 1; They won 70% of their games the rest of the season. Playoff teams are actually worse in the first week than they are the rest of the way. It makes sense.
One Twitter follower even messaged me that Tom Brady won't be the best quarterback in the AFC East by December, because of the performances of rookie QBs EJ Manuel and Geno Smith. Ummmm...
Geno Smith still sucks
Eventually -- some time next year -- the Jets will look back at the drafting of Geno Smith as a continuation of the mess that has been their quarterback situation since shipping off Chad Pennington. Smith made a college career out of throwing shovel passes that went for 70-yard touchdowns.
In week 1, we saw a guy who didn't seem to be afraid, like he doesn't even realize he was playing in the spotlight of New York. That's great. But ultimately, he was labeled a hero for two reasons:
First, the offensive line. He often had a looooooong time to throw against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will he have that luxury every week? I doubt it. Second, he caught a lucky break with a last-second 15-yard penalty on the Bucs that put the Jets in field goal range. (Another lucky break came when the officials missed a false start by RT Austin Howard on Smith's long TD pass, though it was on first down.)
If either of those two things didn't happen, we'd be hearing a lot more about Brady Quinn. As it is, Smith averaged 5.5 yards per pass attempt; Nobody on the Jets is taking shovel passes to the house.
With all that said, can Smith beat the Patriots on Thursday? No. Can the Jets? Yes.
The Broncos will struggle with the Giants
I sure hope the Denver Broncos like salsa. 'Cause they're going to see plenty of it if week 1 was any indication -- and I think it was.
Lost in the adoration of Peyton Manning was a Broncos pass defense that was sorely missing its best cover guy in Champ Bailey and its best pass rusher in Von Miller (not to mention the King of Rock 'n Roll). Until Michael Oher went down, the Broncos couldn't get a sniff of Joe Flacco's jersey. The only saving grace for the Broncos was that injury and a slew of dropped passes by Baltimore. If the Ravens simply held on to each pass that cleanly hit two hands of their receivers, they would have beaten the Broncos.
Now Denver faces a Giants passing offense that gained 428 yards and four touchdown passes. Their No. 2 guy is now covering Victor Cruz; Their No. 3 has Hakeem Nicks.
One other note of interest. Each of the last two years, the Giants have lost their first game...and won their second.
Chip Kelly's offense isn't all it's quacked up to be
Come on, I couldn't resist.
While there's been plenty of hoopla about the Eagles first-half offense against the Redskins -- and rightfully so -- said offense crashed in the second half. The players were gassed -- at one point late in the second quarter, LeSean McCoy was seen on one knee clearly spent. Gruden and Tirico were foaming at the mouth in anticipation of a record-setting number of plays. In the end, the Eagles ran 77 offensive plays in week 1; The Patriots ran 89.
Twice this weekend we saw a team ride a wave of energy to a big lead (not counting the Chargers, who just outplayed the Texans for three quarters). The Cowboys were up 27-10 before the Giants roared back in their game. The Eagles were up, 33-6, before they came back to earth and the Redskins put on a fierce comeback that came within a nearly converted onside kick of winning the game.
Big first-half leads, big offensive explosions, aren't enough to win in the NFL. You may be able to demoralize a second-rate opponent in the NCAA with two-point conversions and a few quick touchdowns; But not in the NFL. Kelly will have to find a way to sustain his offense throughout the game, or they will be the victim of some big comebacks this season.
What I did like seeing from the Eagles was their focus and intensity. This is now a team with an identity. They are Eagles: They're going to fly around the ball, swoop in and snatch it away. They own that ball, even if somebody else temporarily has it in their possession. A change in mindset and a gameplan to match could take this team to the playoffs.
The Titans got a win I wasn't expecting
But here's the thing: I didn't have them winning that game at Pittsburgh. That was a gift. I watched most of that game and saw a few things that make me even more confident about their spot in the playoffs:
1) The offensive line wasn't nearly as productive as I had hoped it would be in the run. Chris Johnson had a poor yards-per-carry of 2.8 in large part because there just weren't holes to run through.
2) Bad news for Chris Johnson fantasy owners. The Titans removed Johnson from the lineup in goal-line plays and replaced him with 6-foot-2, 240-pound back Jackie Battle (who was productive in short yardage, scoring a touchdown). For the Titans, he's a great change of pace.
3) Jake Locker again wasn't super accurate, completing 55% of his passes. One reason was his penchant for taking big chunks at a time.
4) The defense is much better. Last season, their passing D was Swiss cheese. While the Steelers were a bit out of sync, that was in part due to the Titans defense playing pretty well.
All in all, I'm sticking with my pick. The Titans look like the Chiefs of a couple years ago: Don't be surprised if they contend for the division title.
By getting it wrong in San Francisco, the refs got it right
Packers fans are still tearing at their keyboards over being "screwed" yet again by the referees in a road game out west. When officials mistakenly had the 49ers replay the down after offsetting unsportsmanlike conducts after a late hit on Colin Kaepernick, the Niners got a lucky break and a lucky touchdown
Justice served. The entire incident stemmed from Clay Matthews' admittedly stupid and fruitless hit out of bounds. When Joe Staley got in Matthews' face about it, he drew an offsetting penalty that likely shouldn't have been called in the first place.