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5 Things We Learned from Week 1 of the 2020 NFL Season

By Gary Garry in NFL
| September 17, 2020 5:51 am PDT
5 Things We Learned from 2020 NFL Week 1

The first week of any NFL season is always welcome, but this year is in another category. Sports fans have gone through an extended withdrawal period, and we are now getting the football fix we need.

A number of things were learned during Week 1, and I’m going to highlight some of them here.

We Learned The NFL’s COVID-19 Protocol Can Work

I have educated myself about this virus every step of the way, and at first, I could not imagine a football season without a lot of infections. As time went on, we saw the Korean Baseball Organization implement a strategy that enabled them to play, and the NBA and Major League Baseball have had good success.

After Week 1, it looks like the NFL COVID protocol is going to be effective. Of course, everything is week to week, but there is reason for optimism.

We Learned About Hard Counts in Empty Stadiums

Quarterbacks have always used hard counts on third or fourth down situations in an effort to draw the defense offside when they need less than 5 yards for a first down. Hard counts work at times, they don’t sound very loud when there are 75,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs.

Like anyone that’s reading this, I watched a lot of football during Week 1, and it was clear that hard counts are more effective when the crowd input is absent. Yes, they piped in some recorded noise, but the volume level does not compare with the real thing.

Defenses will probably adjust over time, but if I was a coach, this is something that I would hammer home to my defensive players.

We Learned About Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Everyone knew that Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs would have an explosive passing game, but the running attack with somewhat of a question mark.

They signaled their intention to use rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire as their number one back, but he was the last pick in the first round. Could this rookie out of LSU carry the load?

He answered that question in a resounding fashion. The 5 foot seven, 207 pound Edwards-Helaire carried the ball 25 times for 138 yards and a TD in his debut, and he looked very good doing it.

The rich definitely got richer in Kansas City, and it will be fun to watch that offense continue to do its thing.

We Learned That Aging Veteran QBs Still Have It*

You never know when a veteran quarterback will enter a period of steady decline. Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan are all 35 years of age or older. Big Ben was coming off an injury, the Falcons could be looking to rebuild, and the Packers drafted a quarterback (Jordan Love out of Utah State) in the first round.

All three of the vets excelled during the first week, so we learned that there is plenty left in the tank.

The asterisk had to be included to account for Tom Brady. He’s got weapons around him in Tampa, but he got off to a shaky start in Week 1.

I’ll also mention Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has obviously never been in the same category as Brady, but the guy has been serviceable. He was anything but in the Dolphins loss to the Patriots.

We Learned That Aldon Smith Is Really Back

Aldon Smith came onto the scene with a bang as a rookie pass rusher for San Francisco back in 2011 with 14 sacks. He came back the next year and terrorized opposing quarterbacks to the tune of 19.5 sacks, which is one of the most prolific seasons for sacks in NFL history.

Personal problems plagued Smith after that, and prior to Sunday night, he was last seen on an NFL playing field in 2015.

Like the proverbial Phoenix, Aldon Smith rose from the ashes in a Cowboys uniform, and he looked like the Smith of old. He consistently terrorized Rams quarterback Jerrod Goff, and he recorded one sack, two QB hits, six solo tackles, and five assists.

The guy is a difference maker, and you have to feel good for Smith and his family.

Summary

These are some of the things that we learned from Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. Time will tell if these impressions hold up, and the unpredictable nature of the game is a large part of its appeal. That intrigue is the thing that lures us to the sportsbooks and sport betting sites week after week.

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