By Tim Monk, Shaun Blundell and Lawrence Vos
Week 1 is in the books and there are a good % of you lovely people out there that had a nice takeaway whilst watching the game or Redzone.
Talking of takeaways, this 2nd new weekly edition NFL article features our takeaways from the week’s games. So look out for more puns, play on words but more importantly some insight in to the real storylines from the NFL action.
Kellen Moore, Kellen Moore-did he get very far?
The Kellen Moore era is here and boy, the sky is the limit.
Multiple pre snap motions, guys wide open, PASSING ON 1ST DOWN! Things not synonymous with the Cowboys certainly since I have been a fan looked liked pure poetry in motion on Sunday.
In fact, I am so excited that I created a song to the tune of “Tell Me More” in Grease (have I gone viral yet?).
Dak Prescott threw lasers all afternoon, culminating in Dak becoming the first Dallas QB to have a perfect QB Rating. He also become the 3rd Dallas QB alongside Meredith and Romo to have multiple 400yd passing games.
Multiple players getting open helped Dak and the Cowboys score touchdowns on 5 straight drives, something not seen in these parts for years if not decades if not ever. 7 different players caught passes from #4 and that included 4 passing Touchdowns to 4 different players including Witten, who loves the endzone vs Big Blue.
Yes, it was the Giants but the way they were dispatched of that was the impressive part. Elliott dipped his toes in before being rested late on and even when plays didn’t go as planned, there was an air of expectancy on the following play that they drive would just continue on and that the Giants could do nothing about it.
Cowboys next travel to the nation’s capital to face a feisty Redskins. Confidence is high and Kellen Moore seems to be unlocking new rooms in the Cowboy’s playbook mansion.
Is it the first time as a Cowboys fan that I don’t need to worry about a sucker punch of a performance?
Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson could be off of Melvin Gordon’s Christmas card list this year.
Gordon, 26, is currently away from the team due to contract demands and is probably writing his list to Santa as we speak. Especially when he would have been sitting at home watching the game vs Colts where his backfield teammates WENT. OFF.
Austin Ekeler – 18 touches, 3 Total TDs, 16yards per reception, 4.8yards per carry including the game sealing TD in OT.
Justin Jackson – Averaged 9.5 (!) yards per carry.
That’s a set of numbers for Ekeler that will win you fantasy games. For Jackson, he is proving that he belongs on the big stage and is ready to go as a quality handcuff. The Chargers are hanging about in this win-now window and 2019 may be the last time the playoff portal remains open. Melvin might end up getting traded at this rate.
This was the nightmare scenario that played out for Gordon if he had any slither of a chance of getting any more moolah not just in LA but anywhere. Yes, the Chargers were taken to overtime by the Colts, but the fact is even with Melvin Gordon being in the lineup, not a lot would have played out different.
Gordon is slated to return in “6-8 weeks” according to Mike Garafalo/Ian Rapoport when he needs to report in order to accrue a season. Judging by this, he won’t be more than someone in the rotation in this backfield if things keep playing out how they did in week 1.
To use a phrase from Jerry Jones: “Melvin Who?”
Vikings mean business
The only thing that could stop the Vikings making a deep run this season is health.
Dalvin was cooking, the defence was mean. The Vikings pretty much snuffed out anything the Falcons had to offer. Falcons did not score until their final 2 drives and had everything from blocked punts to interceptions.
The Vikings will be very tough to beat, especially at home this season and a special mention to Kirk Cousins and his play vs the Falcons; Despite only attempting 10 passes (yes 10, do not refresh your box scores), he still had to stand tall in the pocket and make plays whilst his opposite signal caller couldn’t replicate and looked jitterey behind his new revamped offensive line that abandoned the run very early on.
Mike Zimmer wants to run the ball, they did. The Falcons knew they wanted to run the ball, they still couldn’t stop it. Cook had 2 TDs and averaged 5.3yards per carry on 21 touches (Alexander Mattison also showed well) and the result was never in doubt from when the first points were on the board. Matt Ryan is now 0-4 vs Minnesota in the Mike Zimmer era, Devonta Freeman was stifled and frustrated in his return, this was all one way traffic. There is a slight chance that Atlanta are not as good as they look on paper but all the same, this could eventually turn out to be a tiebreaker come week 17 and the way the Vikings handled business says to me they are ready for a deep playoff run.
On a side note, Garrett Bradberry had a baptism of fire in this game, not grading well according to PFF for both pass block and run blocking standpoint.
Steeling a living
Despite being handed one of the toughest draws on opening night, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked awful. The Patriots dominated in all facets of the game and Big Ben and co just weren’t given an inch. Aside from the fact that the false start penalty on the Steelers where everyone moved apart from the centre, there was nothing to make you smile as a terrible towel waver.
Josh Gordon made big plays, Julian Edelman was once again uncoverable and sexy Rex had a cut as beautiful as my latest trip to the barbers. Imagine if Antonio Brown was on the field…
It was a performance which epitomises the Patriots; Prepared, confident and executed to perfection. Everything the Steelers didn’t look capable of being.
On the Steelers’ side, yikes. This is only the 2nd time the Steelers have lost by 30+ since Big Ben was drafted and the lowest score posted by the Steelers since week 3 2016. Donte Moncrief had more drops than the Fantasy Footballers podcast mustering 3 receptions for 7 yards on 10 TARGETS!
On a recent podcast topic about head coaches on the hot seat, Mike Tomlin was earmarked as someone that could be under a lot of pressure with poor performances this season as there is no longer a hiding place with the divas out the door. I think his seat is just getting that little bit warmer…
BAKE AND WAKE
It was everything it was meant to be…until it wasn’t. Baker came out firing as the Browns marched there opening possession down the field for the touchdown, the first season opening drive touchdown since 1995. Unfortunately for the hyped up team of the off season, the Titans had not read the script.
Aided in no small part by 18 Browns penalties for 182 yards the Tennessee defence swarmed the Browns much maligned O-line with Cameron Wake looking like a younger version of himself and the ball hawking secondary picking off Mayfield on 3 separate occasions.
The game was close at one point 15-13 with momentum feeling as though it was shifting towards Cleveland but a 75 yard screen pass to Derrick Henry stretched the Titans back out to a 2 score lead and they never looked back, racking up 21 points in the 4th quarter.
For the Titans its business as usual. Under the radar, limited expectations but a sneakily good team. The defence looks better than last year with an improved pass rush and IF Mariota can play this way week to week they have a nicely balanced team. As for the Browns? Someone pass me that drawing board!
With The 1st Pick Of The XFL Draft……
Even the supposed quarterback whisperer cannot save Jameis Winston. The former number one pick has flashed potential for 4 years but has ultimately provided frustration behind center. Much hope was pinned on the out of retirement Bruce Arians to be the man with the magic answer, so far, not so good.
The interception shy 49ers fresh of just 2 picks during the entire previous campaign surely provided a nice opportunity for Winston and the Bucs offense to get a nice confidence booster under their belts. Well an opening day stat line of 20/36 with 3 INT feels very much like the same old Jameis.
With a pair of picks being returned to the end zone for pick 6’s the Bucs offense wasted auch improved effort from the defensive side of the ball. Vernon Hargreaves returned a pick six of his own for the Todd Bowles led unit that appeared more aggressive despite being dealt a poor hand from the offense.
Jimmy G was efficient (outside of the pick 6) if not spectacular but importantly, he didn’t lose the game for his team. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay fans however, this is an accusation that we can once again aim at your quarterback. Maybe the only way he can be saved is getting his name called by the Tampa Bay Vipers.
No Winners In Overtime
Let it be known, I hate the NFL overtime rules! 2 games on opening Sunday went to the extra period with Colts/Chargers and Lions/Cardinals both level at the end of regulation. The extra periods gave us 1 winner and 1 tie but the whole set up of it drives me nuts.
Firstly make no mistake about it, things have improved. Once upon a short time ago we would have crowned 2 winners on Sunday evening. The Cardinals kicked a field goal to take the overtime lead which back in 2009 would have clinched the ball game. At least 10 years on the Lions had a chance to respond and they did just that this weekend with a Matt Prater field goal.
The Colts however were not so fortunate. A brilliant Jacoby Brissett game tying drive in the 4th quarter had the Colts with all of the momentum. That momentum was wiped away by the flip of a coin, had the coin landed the other way I’m convinced the Colts would be sitting at 1-0. It went the way of the Chargers who marched the field and scored the game winner on Austin Ekelers 3rd score of the game.
I get the argument that the defence has to step up and keep the opposition out of the end zone but surely it’s time that both teams get the opportunity to possess the ball in overtime, even if a touchdown is scored. My opinion would have been the same had the Colts won the coin flip, as Philip Rivers would have seen his team up by 8 following his last possession, to losing the game without seeing the field again. Surely it can’t be right? Maybe in another 10 years we might get there!
Number 1 pick number 1 shirt
The biggest curiosity in the entire NFL this season, Kyler Murray the overall number one pick by the Arizona Cardinals made his long-awaited debut against the Lions. Murray looked out of place, frustrated and out of rhythm for three quarters. What made Murray the top pick was his fourth quarter heroics, going 15 of 19 for 154 yards and two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Unfortunately, the comeback was not enough as the rare result was a tie. Murray has proved he can succeed in the NFL with 300 yards passing on his debut. You can be safe to start him in fantasy now, as Murray will be having to perform fourth quarter and overtime heroics for the next 15 weeks.
Da Pack D gelling early
With a big reliance on a series of fresh faces on the Green Bay Packers defense, this was a situation that was unpredictable, but with Week 1 in the books it was the most impressive defensive unit performance of the week. We know Mitch Trubisky is a rollercoaster of a QB, but on the Thursday opener he looked like a lost rookie, and not a third-year pro. The Packers defense was spectacular, forcing 21 incompletions, with corner Jaire Alexander looking great and Adrian Amos the free-agent safety sharking around the field. Aaron Rodgers managed just enough output to defeat an aggressive Bears defense, but without the touchdown the Packers would have walked away with the W with just two field-goals. You have been warned Mike Pettine’s Packers defense is going to surprise people.
One for the road….
New year, same tackling standards.
Austin Ekeler, Vernon Davis (hurdle alert!) amongst others including their fantasy owners benefitted from poor tackling which helped contribute to their touchdown plays this weekend.
It wasn’t the first time and definitely won’t be the last, but this modern day NFL defensive players place far too much emphasis on punching the ball loose instead of try to bring their offensive player down that it costs the defence more yards and conceding more points. Yes, rules are far more favouring to the offence in terms of how you neutralise a player (sounds sadistic, doesn’t it?) in the open field but the fundamentals of tackling are being a lost art of the game. I can appreciate that creating plays and causing turnovers give you more chance to win the game, but you could also argue it may help you lose it.
Part of it maybe that offensive players are harder to tackle (guys are getting bigger, faster, stronger. Evolution and all that) but the amount of broken tackles seen in week 1 isn’t a good thing for defences, even if it is good for highlight reels and Fantasy Football.