#TWFSafeties, Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, Arizona Cardinals, Ben Roethlisberger, Blake Bortles, Buffalo Bills, Cam Newton, Clay Matthews, Cleveland Browns, DeSean Jackson, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jameis Winston, Jordan Berry, Josh Gordon, Kansas City Chiefs, Kareem Hunt, Kirk Cousins, Le'Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, New England Patriots, New York Giants, NFL, Oakland Raiders, OJ Howard, Patrick Mahomes, Pittsburgh Steelers, Quarterbacks, Retirement, Rule Changes, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Vontae Davis
Obviously the most important thing in the NFL last week wasn’t my terrible week of picks, but I fell into a common enough trap for fans (and boy am I kicking myself as I even referred to it when making picks) so as the dust settles on the week let’s take a look at what we can tell.
The mistake I made was reading too much into the week one scores and I said it was more likely that a team be 1-1 than 2-0 or 0-2 but as I said last week, as far as I’m concerned fans of the Bills, Giants, Lions, Texans, Raiders, Cardinals and Seahawks may now officially panic.
The Seahawks have the excuse of being on the road for both games so far but their offence is really struggling, the defence is changing, and so far the bright spot may be the Australian punter who tried drop-kick kickoff (it was a bad week for kickers as Vikings and Browns fans will attest). Some team’s troubles you could see coming like the Bills and the Cardinals, and there was plenty of talk about the Texans offensive line before they underwhelmed against a Tennessee Titans team quarterbacked by Blaine Gabbert.
Another team who are in an unexpected position is the winless Pittsburgh Steelers who still have Le’Veon Bell holding out and had Antonio Brown tweet out trade me to find out regarding a post about how Ben Roethlisberger had made him and also wasn’t there on Monday. Teams can get off to a bad start but this is not the kind of things you usually see in Pittsburgh and it seems like cracks are beginning to show in that team.
The strains in New England offence are obviously being felt as the Patriots have traded for Josh Gordon after the Cleveland Browns finally lost patience with the troubled receiver, apparently after he hurt his hamstring in a photoshoot. I have no idea if the change of scene and the famously strict Patriot approach will help the player but addiction issues are not simple and on a human level I just hope he finds a way to make use of his talents and be in a good place.
Meanwhile the strain was too much for Vontae Davis who retired at half of the Bills heavy loss to the LA Chargers. It’s not something I’ve seen before and there has been those supporting his decision and very vocal players upset by an action they take as quitting. I actually have sympathy with both points of view as in a sport as dangerous as the NFL that requires a physical commitment if you don’t have it, you don’t belong out there but if you’ve dressed for the game don’t you owe it to your team to get to the end as there are only so many corners.
Looking for more positive stories, the Kansas City Chiefs continue to have the most dynamic offence in the league, unsurprisingly toping the offensive DVOA stat thanks to the explosive skills players they have assembled and Patrick Mahomes’s stellar talent, which has allowed Andy Reid to pretty much do what he wants with the office. Even less expected is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offence is ranked second by DVOA as Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to do his best to keep the quarterback job whilst Jameis Winston is suspended. In Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson the Buccaneers have one of the league’s better receiving duos if their quarterback can get them the ball and if you haven’t seen it, watch the clip of tight end OJ Howard running in a seventy-five yard touchdown. Tight end is one of those positions that due to the complexity it often takes time for young players to adjust, but he has amazing speed for the position and could be the next tight end threat to terrify defences.
The Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Patriots without their Pro Bowl running back Leonard Fournette but it was the much maligned Blake Bortles who took advantage of an aggressive game plan to throw for over three hundred and fifty yards with four touchdowns to one interception. If they can maintain a balance of improved offence to go alongside their frightening defence then they could very well go one better than last season and make it to the Super Bowl.
In my drive to document all safeties we had our first of the season when the Kansas City Chiefs visited the Pittsburgh Steelers and it demonstrates why special teams and the phases working together wins football games. The Steelers Jordan Berry sent a fifty-nine yard punt to the Chiefs’ one yard line, pinning them by the goal line that after an aggressive pass play on first down, led to Kareem Hunt being tackled in the end zone. Maybe a small part of me would have liked to see a quarterback get sacked but this is the essence of football, a game of territory where even if you don’t directly score, you created an opportunity that results in two points and you getting the ball back in good field position.
Speaking of sack, and the final thing I will round up this week. I think there’s been a lot of entertaining football so far this season, even if not all of the prime time games have been the ones to demonstrate this, but whilst we have fun offences and potentially good young quarterbacks to enthuse about, there’s also the familiar issues surrounding the rule tweaks. Despite the worry ahead of the season being around the lowering the head hitting rules, these haven’t been called that much or caused that many issues and the two bad quarterback hits I have seen have been in open play when the quarterback slides and the hit to Cam Newton just looks bad. The actual problem call has been the new landing on the quarterback rules. This essentially cost the Packers a game when Clay Matthews was called for roughing the passer despite making a pretty much textbook form tackle of Kirk Cousins. Now I get why after Aaron Rodgers’ injury last season, and given how much the league is hurt whenever one of their marquee quarterbacks get injured, that the league doesn’t want their quarterbacks being driven into the ground by three hundred pound defensive linemen but there’s only so much a defender can do and if we’re going to start penalising tackling as opposed to dangerous play then we are going to see ridiculous scorelines. They won’t change the rule now and I wonder if even the instructions to the refs will change given that I suspect what the league is worried about is keeping the quarterbacks on the field. I hope I’m wrong.
So on to the next week where we’ll get to see if the Browns can finally get that win having been competitive twice, if the remaining undefeated teams can remain so, and I can keep testing my search of pro-football-reference.com that should make sure I don’t miss any safeties this season.