What a great first week of NFL action. Since I was able to talk my boss (wife) into switching over to DirectTV / Sunday NFL Ticket, my only sports dilemma now is trying to find enough tv’s and the time to watch all of the games. Anyway, here are five first impressions of NFL week 1.
The New England Patriots are the best team in the NFL
Love them or hate them, but no one can ignore the fact that the Patriots are a well oiled machine dedicated to winning football games. Name another NFL team without their All-Pro quarterback, most dominant pass catcher, and two offensive lineman that could go on the road to face a Super Bowl contending team, and win the game. This is exactly what happened, though, when the Patriots beat the Arizona Cardinals Sunday night. The Patriots coaching staff identified Arizona’s weakness on defense, a rookie corner, and attacked him relentlessly. On the opening drive, Jimmy Garappolo completed three consecutive passes to Julian Edelman, the de facto security blanket for Patriots quarterbacks when Rob Gronkowski is not on the field, before hooking up with Chris Hogan for a 37 yard touchdown pass. Business as usual for Bill Belichick and the Patriots — yet another win.
Same old Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos clearly decided to target quarterback Cam Newton’s head during their Thursday night game with the Carolina Panthers. The Carolina Panthers’ MVP quarterback took multiple head shots from the Broncos defense, drawing only one roughing the passer penalty which was nullified by a grounding penalty committed by Newton. The argument that the defenders move too fast to avoid the head-to-head collisions sometimes makes sense, but not in this case. Check out this video as the defender takes time to set his feet and launch into Newton’s head with his helmet. No penalty was thrown on this play. This is the same organization that took chop-blocking to new levels, forcing the league to change the rules to deal with the Broncos’ savagery, so no one should act surprised at this latest tactic. Despite the NFL’s insistence that player safety is of the utmost importance, little was done during the game to protect Cam Newton. Sure, suspensions may find their way to the offending players, but this does not change the fact that the Broncos were able to get away with blatant head-hunting on their way to a victory.
Ryan Tannehill is one tough human being
Say what you want about Ryan Tannehill’s contract — that it is too much money for the quarterbacking skills he has shown, but you should not question his toughness. After Ndamukong Suh unintentionally stepped on Russell Wilson’s ankle, Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner delivered a vicious hit to Tannehill. It was legal and the type of hit that makes a quarterback contemplate his chosen profession. Perhaps, the Seahawks thought Suh did step on Wilson intentionally. Anyway, Tannehill stayed in the game and provided the Dolphins with their only touchdown on a designed quarterback run up the middle. He paid a big price for that touchdown, by the way, courtesy of Earl Thomas, one of the few times Earl was on target. Hopefully, Miami receivers will stop dropping sure touchdowns, because Tannehill will stand and deliver the ball in the face of a pass rush.
Seattle’s offensive line is not good
Since Seattle’s offensive line woes have existed for a few years, no one expects them to suddenly transform into a finely tuned blocking unit, opening up gaping holes for running backs to run through, and when the situation calls for it, providing perfect pass protection for Russell Wilson to casually pick out the best receiving option. However, it would seem reasonable for professional football players and coaches to achieve a level of competency, where Wilson isn’t running for his life as soon as he receives the snap from center. Yes, occasionally, Wilson holds the ball too long and takes sacks he shouldn’t, but let’s not lose focus on the real problem: the offensive line seems overmatched for most of the game. It’s hard for a quarterback to build a pocket presence when there is no pocket, just big, defensive lineman ready to pounce… Letting go of former starters James Carpenter and Russell Okung was understandable as the team did not want to overpay for their services. Trading Max Unger was also defensible as that trade brought Jimmy Graham, who still has the potential to make a ton of plays for Seattle. However, maybe it is time to draft offensive line talent earlier in the draft, rather than picking up a few selections as afterthoughts, or drafting defensive lineman who may have the skills to convert to an offensive lineman.
NBA Basketball can’t get here fast enough for Cleveland Browns fans
The Cleveland Browns lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, but this does not tell the whole story. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz was drafted by the Eagles only because the Cleveland Browns passed on him, so naturally, Carson Wentz played pretty well and hand delivered the loss to the Browns. To make matters worse, Robert Griffin III, the quarterback Cleveland hoped would regain some of the play making ability he displayed during his rookie season, was injured while scrambling out-of-bounds late in the fourth quarter, forcing the Browns to place RGIII on the injured reserve list. Now, the quarterbacking duties fall to Josh McCown — good luck. Remember, Cleveland fans, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship this year.