Aaron Rodgers, AJ McCarron, Ben Roethlisberger, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Head Coaches, Jameis Winston, Jerry Joes, Josh Allen, Kansas City Chiefs, Khalil Mack, LA Chargers, Matt Nagy, Myles Garrett, Nathan Peterman, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Robert Mays, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The week one games are in the book and so after this first flurry of games the natural next step is to react and thanks to a combination of modern media and the small number of games ever result is either a triumph or a disaster. So before we continue, remember to take a breath and not to read too much into the result for you team in their first game, unless you need to panic and given that all seven new head coaches lost this week perhaps you might.
Having seen both teams in the pre-season I wasn’t convinced by either the Bills or the Lions but both were on the wrong side of score lines over forty points. I can see how the Bills got themselves into the mess they are in, and they think they have their quarterback of the future so Josh Allen but given the moves they made to get him the young quarterback needs to work out. Poor Nathan Peterman didn’t stand much chance behind the Bills’ reworked offensive line . I’m not going to pretend that I’m a good enough judge of talent to say whether he does or doesn’t belong in the NFL, but he’s had two disastrous starts for the Bills now, and it throws the decision to trade away AJ McCarron into sharp relief as Allen is now starting next week despite not being ready four days ago. The Lions meanwhile managed to lose at home to a rookie quarterback in his first start on the road and this only furthers reinforces the poor impression I got from them in pre-season. It is going to take a number of wins to wipe the memory of that start from the fans who were in attendance.
The reason that they and the other teams who lost in week one might need to panic is that while roughly half of the teams that go 2-0 make the playoffs, only around ten percent of teams who start 0-2 make the playoffs. Now for some being competitive and winning some games (I’m looking at you Browns) would be an improvement in line with expectations as there are plenty of teams who see a return to competitiveness as a marked improvement. The Saints were not expected to lose to the Buccaneers, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps playing like he did in the first game perhaps Jameis Winston won’t walk straight back into the starting role. The defence for the Saints no showed in the home opener against a divisional opponent, which is a real worry for a team that plays decidedly better in their dome so they will be looking to bounce back against the Browns on Sunday.
Now the Cleveland Browns reached peak Browns by avoiding losing their opening game in a tie and failing to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers despite generating six turnovers – plus Myles Garrett looked like a monster. It feels like there’s a lot more talent on this year’s roster but I think everyone is doubting whether the coaching staff can pull it together in Cleveland and stuff like this really doesn’t help.
Another team that will be ruing a missed opportunity is the Chicago Bears who had the Packers on the ropes in the first in Green Bay before Aaron Rodgers pulled off another miracle, firstly by getting back on the field having been carted off and then by leading a comeback from 20-0 down in the third quarter. The Bears will draw a little comfort from the fact that we all know Rodgers is, to quote Robert May, ‘…a f#*@ing dragon!’ but they got conservative in the second half on offence whilst the defence failed to cope when the Packers adjusted and got the ball out of Rodgers’ hands quickly. This was not helped by the lack of pre-season showing up for Khalil Mack who looked unstoppable early in the game but was on a rep count and couldn’t help late. The question for fans of the Bears is does the promise displayed develop as new head coach Matt Nagy gets used to calling plays for the entire game and how to maximise the offence, but that is a question we will only find out the answer to in the coming weeks.
It’s too early to draw too much from the Kansas City Chiefs win over the LA Chargers but they looked very promising on offence. Patrick Mahomes has a ridiculous arm and didn’t throw an interception although the play calling and skills players had a lot to do with the points scored and the LA Chargers would have been a lot closer if players would stop dropping passes from Philip Rivers. The Chargers are still finding ways to lose games and the number of fans at their ‘home’ games is still a worry, the new stadium that the Rams are building and that the Chargers will be sharing once its open could be very empty and dominated by away fans if the situation remains the same.
The Oakland Raiders failed to win and I will be keeping an eye on them, but the signs are not good for this season and the questions about the Mack trade will only get louder if he builds on the promise he showed in the Bears’ opener. Meanwhile Jerry Jones avoided the media after the Dallas Cowboys opening loss to the Carolina Panthers and without a quick improvement on offence.
Now a lot of teams are in a position to turn around their single loss and I certainly wouldn’t panic if I was a fan of say the Steelers (although the display by Ben Roethlisberger was concerning), but there will be fans all over the league who will be that extra bit nervous during the upcoming games and to them I say this, there is a long season up ahead and 0-2 doesn’t necessarily mean your team won’t make the playoff but if your team loses a second game, well at that point you can definitely panic!