This week several teams came back to earth, some proved last week was no fluke, and still others did a complete 180. Week 1 lends itself to overreaction, yet week 2 can leave even more mystery. After two games, it’s hard to know which week is more indicative of a team’s identity. Playoff stalwarts like Green Bay and Seattle struggled offensively, while typically weak defensive teams, the Saints and Giants, stood tall on Sunday. There are more questions than answers again this week. Such is life in the NFL.
Jimmy G is the next Tom Brady: This may be a slight rush to judgement, but there’s no arguing that Garappolo’s first two starts have gone as well as any Patriots fan could’ve hoped. The main reason for optimism is that he’s on the Patriots. The best coached team in the NFL for going on two decades. New England always has a strong defense and Bill gameplans better than anyone. Without the Andrew Luck-esque pressure to be some savior, Jimmy can simply step into a well-oiled machine. He left the game with an apparent shoulder injury, but New England wwill be fine without him this year after starting 2-0. The original Tom Brady will be back soon.
The Bills fired Greg Roman: Firing a coordinator is not a shocking move when the head coach is on the hot seat like Rex Ryan. Still, this came as a surprise, simply because Greg Roman went above and beyond what most thought possible with the Bills offense. Sure Buffalo didn’t look like the 2007 Patriots last year, but Roman coached the previously unproven Tyrod Taylor to a Pro Bowl in his first season as a starter. The unit laid an egg in Baltimore week 1, but bounced back against a stout Jets defense. Ryan’s defense has been the problem since he arrived and if they don’t turn things around soon, he’ll be going down with the ship.
The Seahawks offense is rancid: Seattle has scored one touchdown in the first two weeks. Granted that’s one more than the Rams, but the Rams just beat them! Given that the 49ers dropped 28 on the Rams, there’s no excuse for this team to put up 3 points, ever. Seattle has serious issues, likely stemming from a weak offensive line. The fact that the Patriots abused Miami’s defense only adds to Seattle’s suspect offense. If they don’t get things turned around soon, it could get ugly. As in, Darrell Bevell getting fired, ugly.
Dak Prescott continues to shine: It didn’t come against elite defenses, but the preseason MVP has looked like the real deal so far. Nobody, including the Cowboys, expected the 4th round pick to have success this early. Viewed as a developmental “project,” Prescott has looked poised and confident. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has kept things simple, but expect the playbook to open up as Prescott improves. Until Romo returns, it’ll be heavy doses of Zeke Elliot. Still, the rookie from Mississippi is staking his claim as the quarterback of the future for America’s team.
Jameis Winston looked awful: After filling up the stat sheet last week in Atlanta, to the tune of 4 touchdown passes (only 1 interception), the Bucs sophomore quarterback flipped his TD-INT ratio against the Cardinals. There were Jay Cutler comparisons made during Winston’s pre-draft evaluations, and games like these help validate that logic. Winston has a much higher ceiling than Cutler, but throwing four interceptions can’t happen often. One game isn’t enough to damper the excitement around last year’s top pick. Buccaneer fans hope this is more of an aberration than a habit.
The Giants and Saints combined for 1 offensive touchdown: Two of the highest powered offenses in the league, led by two first ballot hall of fame quarterbacks, went up against two of the worst defenses in the league. Nobody anticipated a low scoring slugfest. But that’s exactly what happened. Both Manning and Brees were able to move the ball through the air, but only Brees got his team in the end zone. The Saints’ production almost always dips when they play outdoors, but the Giants have no excuse for failing to score a touchdown against a weak New Orleans defense. They have to feel very fortunate to walk away with a victory.
Things that shouldn’t have surprised anyone
The Browns lost again: after scoring 20 in the first half, they returned to form and put up 3 in the second half. Josh McCown was impressive in moments, much like his entire career, but ultimately not good enough to win. It looks like another long season in Cleveland. Hue Jackson is a promising leader to right the ship and he’s got his work cut out for him. It’s going to take time, something Browns fans never seem to run out of.
Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler: It’s the same story every year for Cutler. If you only watched the guy’s highlight reel, you’d think he’s a future hall of famer. His arm is second to none and his accuracy can be pinpoint on any given throw. The problem is that it isn’t accurate on every throw and his decision-making has always gotten him in trouble. Another ugly interception did the Bears in. The story of his career may already be written. The bad teammate narrative is exaggerated, but the inconsistency has been apparent since Cutler entered the league in 2006.
The Jaguars are too young: It was fair to get excited about the Jaguars offseason, with an influx of young talent, but they’re not ready to compete just yet. After hanging tough against Green Bay in the season opener, Jacksonville’s defense got shredded by Phillip Rivers and the Chargers in San Diego this week. This roster is talented, but still far from taking the next step.
Mike Zimmer’s defense is still really good: The storylines following Monday’s inaugural victory in U.S. Bank Stadium were all focused on Adrian Peterson’s injury and Sam Bradford’s performance, rightfully so. Still, the fact that any team is able to make Aaron Rodgers look pedestrian is a rare occurrence, one deserving of praise. Mike Zimmer is a no-excuse, lunch-pale kind of coach and his defense reflects that personality. They show up each week and buoy an underwhelming offense, rarely getting the accolades they deserve.