Photo credit: Keith Allison
Author: Jon Kuzma
Now that week 1 action is complete we are now able to look back and reflect on all of the outcomes. While in the off-season you speculate who is going to have success and who won’t. Now we have tangible evidence of what some teams are going to do this upcoming year. Coach Mike Krzyzewski Duke’s basketball coach had a great quote that stuck with me one time “If a team can’t perform on a moments notice they probably won’t be worth much in the end.” If you take that quote and put it in context for the Patriots you would see the phrase matches up perfectly. The Patriots came into the opener and rolled the Steelers 28-21. While the score showed a closer game than there actually was. It was clear that New England has a better offensive system than the Steelers. Bill Belichick out coached Mike Tomlin for all four quarters of the game. Also collectively New England as a team is still the team to beat in the entire league. Brady with all of the off-season heat that he has been facing was magnificent for the Patriots offense throwing for 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. One thing opposing defenses must truly respect is the Patriots passing system. Josh McDaniels has done a terrific job of pushing the offensive play calling envelope with a much more conservative Belichick at the helm. Together McDaniels’ aggressiveness as play caller, and Belichick’s conservative and calming demeanor they create a great balance for the Patriots offensively. When you have a talented cast like the Patriots do coaching wise, Tom Brady gets to focus more on the field playing wise rather than what play call should be made next. The formula was a Super Bowl winning one last year, and it looks like the Patriots will repeat again. “Remember if a team can’t perform on a moments notice it won’t be worth much in the end”. Well the Patriots just handled business in their opener with the black cloud of spygate hanging over their organization. A sign for good things in the Patriots future.
Charity of the day: United Way
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Photo credit: Keith Allison
Author: Joey Carr
The first week of the NFL Regular Season was everything we hoped it would be. There were blowouts, nailbiters, and upsets, all the aspects that make for a great week of football. However, the injury bug was in full effect, as multiple top players on both sides of the ball left their games earlier than they planned. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable moments from Week 1.
The game that probably has everyone abuzz would be the Seahawks and Rams overtime thriller. In a game where the Seahawks were favored to win by 5 points, the Rams showed the world they need to be taken seriously in that crowded NFC West. Seattle didn’t look like themselves from the opening kickoff, allowing a subpar Rams offense to take advantage of the Kam Chancellor-less Seahawk defense. Russell Wilson and company couldn’t find a rhythm for most of the game but that was mostly due to the human run stopper that is Aaron Donald. Donald and the Rams defense really held their ground for the majority of the game, but did show some holes in the secondary that needs to be patched if they want to be a serious contender this year. The game came down to a 4th and 1 in overtime for the Seahawks, who ironically gave the ball to Marshawn Lynch instead of passing it. For all the criticism he took after Super Bowl 49, it seemed like Pete Carroll had no choice but to run the ball with a yard to go. Unfortunately for Seattle, Lynch wasn’t able to get the first down, proving everyone wrong who said: “running the ball with a yard to go works every time!”. So now every team in the NFC West is 1-0 except for the defending NFC champs, and without Kam Chancellor, Seattle could be in danger of being dethroned.
Another game that’s got the league humming is the matchup that took place up in Buffalo. The Colts were favored by a field goal, but got way more than they bargained for when they took the field against Tyrod Taylor and the ferocious Bills defense. In Rex Ryan’s first game as head coach, he really proved the Bills are for real this year, manhandling the Colts 27-14. Andrew Luck looked like anything but an MVP, throwing 2 picks but had a few more passes that could’ve easily been intercepted. The Colts as a team were in the same boat with Luck, looking like anything but a Super Bowl contender. The defense couldn’t keep up with Tyrod Taylor and his legs and the D-line couldn’t handle Shady McCoy. The offense looked stagnant for the most part and the offseason additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson seemed to drag the team down rather than propel them to new heights. The Bills on the other hand looked great, making the Colts run game almost nonexistent and causing Andrew Luck to make some uncharacteristically bad passes. The offense looked explosive with Taylor at quarterback, something that the rest of the league might have to look out for in the coming weeks.
In regards to injuries, there were quite a few in the first week of action. Most notably, Dez Bryant of the Cowboys is out 4-6 weeks after having surgery to mend a broken bone in his foot. This is a huge blow to the Cowboys offense, as he is the focal point along with Tony Romo, causing Romo to lean on Jason Witten a little more
than he planned to. At wide receiver, Dallas will now have to rely on Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams for the next 4-6 weeks, which could be an issue going forward. However, the most serious injury of Week 1 happened to Terrell Suggs, who is out for the season with an Achilles tear. The heart and soul of the Ravens defense, Suggs has led Baltimore’s D ever since Ray Lewis left, and without number 55, they could be in some trouble. Baltimore’s defense looked good against the Broncos, but that was against an aging Peyton Manning who can’t seem to throw the ball downfield with any accuracy anymore. Less serious injuries included the ones to: Luke Kuechly, T.Y. Hilton, Derek Carr, and Andre Ellington. Kuechly’s injury isn’t serious at all, as it was just a mild concussion and he should be available next week for Carolina. T.Y. Hilton could miss 1-2 games however, which could spell problems for Andrew Luck and the Colts. Derek Carr injured his right hand, but the x-rays came back negative. Andre Ellington’s injury looked more serious than the others, as he had to be carted off the field with a leg problem. He probably won’t be returning to the Cardinals for a few weeks, but with Carson Palmer playing so well, his presence won’t be as badly missed.
Charity of the day: United Way
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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck
The Detroit Lions had an outstanding start against the San Diego Chargers in their regular season opener before facing a catastrophic meltdown. The Lions would start the game 21-3 before facing 30 unanswered points and losing the game 33-28. The let down was clearly an example of the team’s lack of mental toughness. While some losses can signify that a team is doomed from the start, this was not the case with the Lions. The Detroit Lions are a talented team that have plenty of weapons to succeed. This was clear in the regular season opener because when they were playing at an optimal level they were handling the Chargers. They just have to mature and learn how to win or in other words learn how to close games out. Closing games out or finishing the game is what separates the good teams from the bad teams in the National Football League. Each week there are several games that come down to the very last possession. The teams that can learn how to execute in the clutch when the pressure is on are the teams that eventually become successful in pro football. The Lions have talent, Ameer Abdullah was playing phenomenally for the Lions before they decided to go away from him in the second half. Another problem you have to have with the Lions meltdown is the fact that they were winning the football game significantly at one point, so why not rely on your run game to shorten the game a little bit when you’re ahead? Bell has been banged up recently but 13 carries between both Bell and Abdullah is ridiculously low. Good backs in the league can handle 20 carries to themselves. Why not feed one of those guys and wear down the defensive a little bit? Even if Theo Reddick had to take some carriers, that’s fine but to instead “air it out” when you’re ahead is just bad football I.Q by the Lions coaching staff. Whether it’s playing the game or coaching the game if you use bad fundamentals you are going to lose the game and that was the case for the Lion in their meltdown in San Diego. Bad fundamentals.
Charity of the day: Helping Hands
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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall
Author: Jon Kuzma
The Denver Broncos defense has looked ferocious all throughout the preseason in limited action. Yesterday in the regular season opener against the Ravens they continued to show why they can suffocate opposing offenses. The Broncos were able to limit the Ravens to just 13 points in that game. Causing Joe Flacco to look flustered and panicked during his drop backs. In fact Flacco would go on to finish the game with no touchdowns and two interceptions. One of those interceptions being made by Aqib Talib and taken to the house for a Broncos touchdown. Talib was sensational in coverage all day, and proved yet again why he has always been respected as a big time player. While the secondary did a good job of locking down the Ravens wide receivers, it was the front seven of the Broncos who caused the initial disruption to the offense. Demarcus Ware and Brandon Marshall were a terror in the Broncos pass rushing efforts registering a sack each. The players helped cause Flacco to make ill-advised decisions, which consequently resulted in Broncos momentum time and time again. The game overall for both teams was somewhat of a defensive match up as neither offense could truly get off the ground. At the end of things however it was the Broncos defense that out played the Ravens. The old adage is “defense wins championships” and the Broncos defense has looked the best its looked since John Elway started calling the shots in Denver. Ware and Talib were veteran acquisitions in past years, and those investments in those players are starting to really reward the Broncos. In pro football today so much success in dictated by the pass rush upfront. That is why we always see pass rushers selected so high in the draft and sought after in free agency. It’s clear the Broncos have one of the better pass rushes in the league. That could yield huge results for this team down the stretch.
Photo credit: Scott Enyeart
Author: Jon Kuzma
When Jameis Winston was taken number one in the 2015 draft, there wasn’t much disputing the Buccaneers choice. Winston was the most high profile player and he backed up that prominent respect by bringing a national championship back to Tallahassee. While Marcus Mariota was an outstanding player and a former heisman winner. There was no way you could argue he was better than Winston. Well that all changed week 1 of NFL regular season action. Marcus Mariota made a clear case for the claim of who was the better player between Winston and himself. Throwing for four touchdowns and completing 13 passes out of 16 passing attempts for 209 yards. Mariota looked nearly flawless at times against the Buc’s defense. On his first passing touchdown he sold a playaction run fake and then connected with Kendell Wright on a post route for a 52 yard touchdown. The play showcased Mariota’s recognition of the defense’s linebackers and how they were going to react to the playaction fake. Mariota’s next touchdown pass would come on a roll out play to the right. On that play the rookie quarterback was able to find his running back Bishop Sankey in the right flats, who would finish the play in the end zone for six. You could clearly see the young quarterbacks confidence growing within the Titan’s offensive system on every plan. While Winston on the other hand continued to look uncomfortable in the pocket, and played without poise. The game was really the tale of two completely opposite stories. Mariota would continue to roll completing another touchdown pass to Delanie Walker on a curl route. He also would complete a touchdown pass to Harry Douglass who seems to be having a nice role within the offense after previously playing with the Falcons. The offense collectively for the Titans looked much better and you can tell that is due to the combination of Ken Whisenhunt’s approach and Marcus Mariota’s leadership. The Buc’s on the other hand look like a team depleted of life. They clearly lack morale and that off-season hype of Jameis Winston being the savior hasn’t translated to on the field success thus far. It will be interesting to see who finishes the season better stats wise out of these two young gunslingers. Right now it looks like it will be Mariota.
Charity of the day: Breast Cancer Research Foundation
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