The first Sunday of NFL football is finally over, and fans can finally say “Football is BACK.” Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the first 14 games (written before Monday Night Football).
Matt Ryan is Overrated
I went over this last week, but I feel as though I need to bring it up again. Ryan is the second-highest paid player in the game, but he has not played as though he is deserving of his salary throughout his ten career seasons. He started off the 2018 season on the wrong foot, completing just 21 of his 43 passes for 251 yards and an interception. He also went 1-9 with one pick in the red zone.
He has overthrown many passes and he has not given his receivers a chance at the ball. Due to his status and salary, he needs to take the brunt of the responsibility for his actions instead of simply blaming the playcalling.
The Buffalo Bills are in for a Long Season
Last season, the Bills made the playoffs for the first time this century. However, the team’s front office decided to take a step back to apparently better prepare the Bills for the future. The Bills may be taking a few steps back, however, because their offense often looks like a high school team.
They rushed for just 83 yards and passed for only 98 yards between two quarterbacks. Yes, you read that correctly. The Bills’ starter, Nathan Peterman, went 5/18 for 24 yards and two interceptions before being subbed out for rookie first-rounder Josh Allen. The Ravens’ starter, Joe Flacco, had more completions (25) than the Bills’ starter had yards.
The Bills might as well bet on Allen. However, Allen was not able to beat out Peterman for the starting job. The Bills have chosen not to address their 31st-ranked passing offense. The team’s quarterback position has weakened considerably, and they have no receiving weapons. The Bills’ offensive line also underwent a complete overhaul. Because the team has an offense with neither bite nor bark, this upcoming season is going to feel more like ten for Bills fans.
The Chicago Bears’ Future Looks Bright
Before Aaron Rodgers worked his magic, the Chicago Bears stifled both Rodgers and the rest of the Packers’ offense in the first half. The Bears shut the Packers out through 9:12 left in the 2nd quarter (when Rodgers left), and the backup DeShone Kizer couldn’t do anything to close out the half. The Bears were a top-10 defense last season and added in two significant pieces in Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith.
Khalil Mack’s effect was felt from the start on Sunday night. He collected a sack, fumble, fumble recovery, interception, and a defensive touchdown all in the first half. Mack also placed pressure on Rodgers to allow his teammate to sack him.
Roquan Smith also had a sack on his first ever NFL snap. This team’s defense is no joke, it should be top-five in 2018.
Mitch Trubisky’s final line was not pretty, but he demonstrated the promise which prompted the franchise to take him second overall in 2017. At the same time, however, he must still do a great deal of work. There’s no doubt that Trubisky looked more comfortable in the first half than he did throughout the entirety of the last season.
The team’s running game has the potential to be special, as well. Jordan Howard has been the most underrated running back for the last two years. He has had two superb seasons, but no one seemed to notice. Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 107 yards on 20 attempts, and 31 yards via air against the Packers. The Bears need to use these players much more in order to make the game easier for Trubisky. The playcalling was lacking in the second half, and rookie head coach Matt Nagy will need to learn from his mistakes.
Patrick Mahomes Might Just be the New ‘Commander-in-Chief” for Kansas City
It’s only been one game, but it’s easy to see why the Chiefs were willing to trade up in the draft in order to acquire Patrick Mahomes. The second-year signal-caller threw for 256 yards and four scores while showing off his mobility and athleticism. The offense looked more open and exciting than it did with Alex Smith. The team’s offense has the potential to become the best in the game.
Mahomes looked comfortable, and he showed off the zip he puts on his passes, even on the intermediate plays. Mahomes also dropped 38 points on last season’s third-best passing defense.
Le’Veon Bell’s Stance Was Not Helped
The Pittsburg Steelers were sloppy on Sunday afternoon during their attempt to end the Cleveland Browns’ losing streak with a tie. However, this was not due to the fact that Le’Veon Bell was out. Bell’s replacement, James Connor, rushed for 135 yards on 4.4 yards-per-carry along with 57 receiving yards. He took away a little bit of shine from the 26-year-old. In turn, this play hurt Bell’s leverage in negotiations, as many are now wondering if anyone will be able to succeed behind that offensive line.
However, the numbers showed a different story. Even with a terrific running game, the Steelers lacked any bite or explosiveness. Connor attained his success due to the fact that this was his first time being number one on the depth chart, after seeing just 32 carries last year. As such, many teams didn’t know what to expect from Connor because of a lack of tape. The Browns are the last team to have a chance of attaining at success with that formula.
The offense did not look as dangerous as it did with Bell. He adds a dimension to the team’s offense, which they lacked on Sunday afternoon. No one was able to create separation, and Bell’s absence took the fear factor away from the unit. He could create something out of nothing, both on the ground and the air, and makes the game easier for Antonio Brown. Again, however, fans shouldn’t be surprised if Le’Veon Bell is moved in favor of Connor.
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