5 Things We Learned from Week 1 of the 2018 NFL Season
Published on September 12, 2018
Week 1 is in the books!
After a couple wild Monday Night Football games, it’s time to take a breath and examine some of the key observations from the first week of the regular season.
I’m not talking about Tom Brady looking like his typical self at age 41 and leading the Patriots to a victory over the Texans. I’m not referring to the Cowboys’ offense looking inept against a stout Carolina Panthers D.
These are things most of us knew would happen and therefore aren’t really too big of surprises.
But how about the Tampa Bay Bucs going into the Big Easy and hanging 48 points on the Saints? What about the Jets also dropping a 48-spot on the new-look Matt Patricia-led defense in Detroit?
These are a couple of the things that stood out to me in Week 1, but there’s a whole lot more to get to.
Follow along and enjoy my 5 most noteworthy takeaways from the first week in the NFL.
I’ll start with the biggest shocker of them all.
If you are a loyal New Orleans Saints fan, you’d better hope this was simply a case of the defense just being unprepared. You’d better hope that this group was just lacking focus and had a bad afternoon.
Because if Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to come into your home stadium and light the house on fire for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, this is going to be a really long, long season in the Crescent City.
I was one of the many folks who thought the Saints were in a position to challenge for a Super Bowl bid in 2018. I’m not ready to jump ship and hit the panic button after just one game, but my goodness.
By the time New Orleans woke up and looked at the scoreboard with 12 minutes left, they had given up 48 points and were down by 24. A thunderous late rally by Drew Brees made the final score indicate a closer game than it actually was, but make no mistake about it.
Dirk Koetter outcoached Sean Payton and came in and got a big road win. Or the Saints defense just laid a huge egg.
Either way, they had better get it fixed now. Because if they drop another home game on Sunday to Cleveland, then I won’t be jumping ship. I’ll already be waist deep in the water swimming as far away as I can get!
Considering 31 of the last 32 games Hue Jackson had coached in Cleveland had resulted in a loss, I’ll say this was a massive moral victory for the franchise. The fact that Jimmy Haslam can at least not be dejected after seeing his team lose another game – that’s a plus.
I mean, entering the 4th quarter, the Browns were trailing by 14 points, and things weren’t looking good. The fact that this team was able to show some resiliency and battle it out against a divisional rival is definitely something that this young squad can build from.
So I like the prospects of the Browns moving forward, despite a few red flags. Tyrod Taylor will have to complete more than 37.5% of his passes like he did on Sunday, because they won’t be able to continue counting on the other team giving the game away.
I am talking about Mike Tomlin and his lack of leadership on the other side. The Steelers looked sloppy and out of sorts trying to close this game out, as they did everything they could to hand this game over to the Browns.
Ben Roethlisberger threw 3 picks in the first half, and the Steelers fumbled the ball twice in the second half. Add in Big Ben’s fumble with 48 seconds to go in overtime, and you are looking at a team that lost the turnover battle 6-1 and still escaped without a loss!
This is a team that was a 43-yard field goal away from winning their opening game, but they just couldn’t get over the hump.
Meanwhile, I think the glaring observation is that this Steelers team is in no way, shape, or form a Super Bowl contender in the AFC.
I thought this team was going to take a major step back in 2018 with all the distractions and lack of control up top, and this performance on Sunday just makes me feel better about my preseason inclination.
A 47-3 shellacking at home – there aren’t many better ways to start your season.
But before the fans in Baltimore get uber-excited and start proclaiming the Ravens as Super Bowl 53 favorites, I want to point a few things out. I don’t want to take anything away from John Harbaugh, as the way his team was able to completely dismantle Sean McDermott’s squad was eye-opening.
Take a look at Nathan Peterman’s numbers and tell me if they are even real.
5-18 for 24 yards and 2 interceptions, for a QB rating of 0.0.
And this is the man who the Bills front office felt gave this team the best chance to win a football game?
Unfortunately for Buffalo, Josh Allen came in and was only able to complete 6/15 passes for 74 yards. The team went 2-15 on 3rd down and netted just 153 total yards of offense. This o-line is amongst the very worst in the league, and they really don’t have a single WR who is accountable.
But enough talk about the paltry Bills. Let’s shift our attention to the team who looked fantastic – the Ravens.
The Buffalo defense was so juvenile that they made Joe Flacco actually look like a legitimate NFL quarterback! A total of 7 players caught at least 3 passes, and this team rushed for over 100 yards, scoring 3 TDs on the ground.
As dominating as this unit looked on their home field, I’m interested to see what happens this coming weekend when Baltimore travels to a hostile environment in Cincy to play a divisional foe. If the Ravens put on another show and embarrass the Bengals, then perhaps I’ll start believing.
But it’s going to take a lot more than beating up the decrepit Buffalo Bills in 2018 to get me excited.
An unforgivable and horrendous pick-6. Check it out below.
That’s how Sam Darnold began his career as the New York Jets starting quarterback. I’ll admit, after that play, I had a feeling this game could get out of hand. If you would have told me it would end in a 48-17 blowout, I wouldn’t have even batted an eye.
But if you had the nerve to tell me that after that play, it would be the Jets who would be doing the stomping, I would have called you crazy. If you predicted that Sam Darnold would go 16/20 for 198 yards and two touchdowns and barely get touched after that first throw, I would think you were living in some sort of fantasy land.
But contrary to my belief, Darnold was actually the man under center who looked calm and collected on Monday, poised to lead his team down the field.
Rather than get emotional and down on himself after the nightmare start, Sam quietly steadied his nerves and played terrifically, executing Jeremy Bates’ game plan to a tee.
On the flip side, Matt Stafford was the one who looked like a deer caught in the headlights. The Jets defense was so locked into Stafford that linebacker Darron Lee went as far as saying after the game that the Jets knew Stafford’s signals and were calling out his plays at the line of scrimmage.
In any case, this was more than just a bad dream for Matt Patricia. The Lions’ first-year head coach now has to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch.
The NFC North was already going to be a tough division to win, but a game like that tells me that this team is nowhere near ready to compete with the likes of Minnesota or Green Bay.
As far as the Jets go, the Lions’ entire team was so out of whack Monday night that it’s hard to really gauge how talented Todd Bowles’ squad is. They get the Dolphins at home before taking on the Browns in Week 3, so a 3-0 start isn’t out of the question.
However, something tells me that this team comes back down to Earth on Sunday and has a tough battle with the Fins. I’m not ready to start buying a bunch of postseason stock in New York, but what I saw on Monday is enough to tell me that Detroit will sadly just be a pretender in the NFC.
There is one last comment I want to make before I wrap Week 1 up with a bow and move on to Week 2. It has to do with the fact that of the 7 rookie head coaches in the National Football League, not a single one of them was able to walk away 1-0.
To put that into perspective, that’s never happened before. We saw new head coaches go 0-6 back in 2001, but this is a new low for first-year head honchos.
In case you are forgetting which new faces are in new places in 2018, I’ll quickly run through the 7 new HCs and allude to how their debut went.
The Giants saw some good things out of rookie running back Saquon Barkley, but it wasn’t enough to defeat Jacksonville.
The good news here is that Andrew Luck looked healthy and stayed upright all game long. The bad news is that despite a good performance from Luck at home, the Colts still lost by double-digits to a questionable Bengals squad.
It took 7 hours and 10 minutes, but the Dolphins finally defeated the Titans after a series of weather delays made this game the longest in NFL history.
Adding insult to injury, Vrabel lost his star tight end, Delanie Walker, to a season-ending ankle injury. Making matters worse, Marcus Mariota left the game after suffering an elbow injury that is still being evaluated. This was a nightmarish-start for the Titans campaign.
Sam Bradford looked atrocious, and David Johnson inexplicably only received 14 touches. This is going to be a long year for Steve Wilks and the Arizona Cardinals, and it likely won’t be long until Josh Rosen hears his name called.
A 17-0 lead at the half disappeared once Aaron Rodgers re-entered the game, spoiling an otherwise fantastic debut for Khalil Mack and the Bears.
Matt Nagy is going to have to open up his playbook and allow Mitchell Trubisky to look down the field a bit more if this team is going to make any noise in the NFC North.
Perhaps the best thing Matt Patricia and his football team can do after their putrid display on MNF is to just throw this game out the window and forget about it.
There were no positive takeaways from either side of the ball for Detroit, save for the idea that Kenny Golladay can be trusted on the outside as a receiver.
As electrifying and pumped up as Jon Gruden and the Raiders looked in the first half, they were completely deflated in the second half by an overwhelming onslaught of bigtime plays by the Rams.
Jon Gruden abandoned the run and put the game on Derek Carr’s shoulders, and Carr was unable to refrain from committing turnovers. A trio of interceptions capped off by a pick-six by Marcus Peters put the stamp on a disappointing night one under the Jon Gruden regime.
It was just the first game of the season, so nothing is set in stone yet.
But there were some things I saw on Sunday and Monday that have at least gotten me thinking about the future.
Week 2 is around the corner, and one of our top NFL experts already dished out his opinions for the Week 2 slate of games.
Once the action has subsided and Week 3 is on the horizon, I’ll be back to catch up on everything that went down!
Until then, good luck betting the games this weekend!