Sunday, November 23, 2014
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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick tied a career high in pass attempts with 56 against the Cleveland Browns, but he also tied his career high in interceptions with four.  Lucky for the Eagles, the Browns are not any good, so they won 17-16.  Photo by Jeff Lewis

Nobody get over excited or panic, it was just Week 1

Finally we get some real NFL football, but there is no need to make too much of or over analyze Week 1 of the season.  No team has ever won the Super Bowl in the opening weekend, and no team has ever fallen out of playoff contention after the first game.

Well, if you’re a Miami Dolphins fan, go ahead and panic, because that team blows.  Everybody knew it from watching HBO’s Hard Knocks, so it was no surprise that the Houston Texans routed them.  The Dolphins only touchdown was off of a punt return, so maybe they should have kept troubled wide receiver Chad Johnson.

If you’re a San Francisco 49ers fan, go ahead and get a little excited.  A lot of people felt that they were one of the best teams in the league entering the season, and beating the Packers in Green Bay was further proof of that.  The score ended up being 30-22, but that game did not seem that close.  Early in the game it was pretty obvious which team was better, and who would end up winning that game. 

If you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, be happy for the victory over the New York Giants, but don’t get too ahead of yourself, because the Giants are a second half of the season team who wins when it counts, and the Cowboys are a team that loses when it matters the most.  It’s a long season, and the NFC East race looks like it will be a great one.

The New York Jets proved that preseason is not an indication for anything.  The media circus surrounded the quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow was comical, and they did not help themselves by not scoring a single touchdown in four preseason games.

But in the first quarter Sanchez shut all the critics up by leading the Jets on two touchdown drive.  He went on to throw three touchdowns in the game as the Jets routed the Buffalo Bills 48-28.  The Jets offense produced four touchdowns in the game, with the defense and special teams scoring one each.  So go ahead Jets fans, do a little dance, or do the Tebow. 

Robert Griffin III vs. Andrew Luck…vs. Cam Newton

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, 2nd pick in the NFL draft, and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, 1st pick in the NFL draft, will be forever linked…as long as they both live up to their potential.  Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were said to be forever linked as they were the first two picks in the 1998 draft, but Manning left Leaf in the dust years ago. 

Well if Week 1 is any indication, Griffin may be trying to separate himself from Luck already.  Griffin completed 19 of 26 passes (73.1 percent) for 320 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.  That was the first time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback in his debut threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions. 

Griffin’s great performance earned him the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award, which has never been given to a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game.  To top it all off, he lead the Redskins to a 40-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints on the road.  That is the first time in league history that a rookie quarterback in his debut has thrown for 300 yards and his team won the game.

It was a record setting day for Griffin.  Luck, on the other hand, was far from horrible when compared to other rookie quarterback debuts, but his first start was nowhere near as good as Griffin’s.  Luck completed 23 of 45 passes (51.1 percent) for 309 yards and a touchdown, but he threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball once.  The Colts lost to the Chicago Bears 41-21.

Working in Griffin’s favor was a great game plan, as he only attempted 26 passes while the Redskins ran the ball 44 times.  Griffin had 10 of those carries for 42 yards.  A rookie quarterback’s best friend is a good running game, and Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is known for keeping the ball on the ground.

Luck, on the other hand, passed the ball 45 times while the Colts called only 15 running plays.  Usually that is a bad ratio for a veteran quarterback, so Luck was pretty much set up to fail.  If the Colts cannot get a decent running game for him, they are going to struggle all season.

It is only one week, but right now Griffin should be compared to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who ripped up the league last year. 

Newton, who was the first pick in last year’s draft, passed for 422 yards in his rookie debut a year ago, which set an NFL record.  He came back the next week and threw for 432 yards.  He was the only rookie quarterback to start off his career with a 400-yard game, let alone do it twice. 

By the end of the season, Newton had become the only rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season, and he was named to the Pro Bowl.

Griffin is being compared to Luck, but Griffin vs. Newton’s rookie year may be a more compelling match up.

Michael Vick had one bad day

The Philadelphia Eagles should be happy that they were able to start the season against the Cleveland Browns, because if they had played against a really good team, there is no way they would have pulled out a 17-16 victory with the way quarterback Michael Vick played.  That was just bad.

Vick had a career high in passing attempts, and he also had a career high in interceptions.  He finished the game completing 29 of 56 passes for 317 yards and two passing touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions. 

One question is, why did head coach Andy Reid call 56 passing plays in one game?  That is pretty absurd right there, especially because the Eagles were never down by more than six points.  The game was within a touchdown throughout the day, so there was no need for the Eagles to be pass happy, especially when the rushed for 5.0 yards per attempt.  Eagles running back LeSean McCoy had 110 yards on 20 carries, so it would have made sense to feed him the ball. 

Even with the high volume of passes, Vick has to play better if the Eagles are going to have a legitimate chance at winning the NFC East or making the playoffs as a wildcard team.  After only one week, they might be the worst team in the division, with the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins all looking better. 

Vick may not be the biggest problem for their offense, because the offense line did not help him much at all.  Poor blocking combined with poor play calling did not help him one bit.  But he still needs to overcome those issues for the Eagles to get back to the playoffs.

Big Games this week

There are not any “must win” games in the second week of the season, but the Oakland Raiders might want to beat the Miami Dolphins, because if they don’t, they could be looking at 0-4 heading into the bye week.

They lost to the San Diego Chargers 22-14 this past Monday night, and after traveling to Miami, they will host the Pittsburgh Steelers and then travel to the Denver Broncos. 

The latter two games will be extremely tough, as the Broncos and Steelers will more than likely be battling for playoff spots at the end of the year.  But the Dolphins stink, so the Raiders better get a win where they can if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

One strength for the Raiders was supposed to be their running game with Darren McFadden leading the way, but in their loss to the Chargers, he only rushed for 32 yards on 15 carries, for an average of 2.1 yards per rush.  As a team the Raiders only rushed for 45 yards on 20 carries. 

The best games of the weekend are the Bears at the Packers, the Jets at the Steelers, the Lions at the 49ers, and the Broncos at the Falcons.

The Bears and Packers should be a great game because they are long time division rivals, and they will be battling for the NFL North title.  Both teams are considered top 10 in the league, so the Thursday night battle will be epic.  The Bears could put a little room between themselves and the Packers, because a win will put them at 2-0 and the Packers at 0-2.   The Packers do not want that to happen.  One other reason for the Packers to want to win this game, only two teams in the Super Bowl era have lost their first two games at home and made the playoffs.  But no pressure Green Bay. 

The Steelers need a win so that they will not fall too far behind the Baltimore Ravens, who will travel to the Eagles.  For the Jets, keeping pace with the Patriots will be important if they want a shot at the AFC East title. 

The 49ers play old school football, which a lot of fans like, and the Lions have a lot of firepower.  And it will be worth the watch to see if 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz have another near brawl over the post game handshake.  

The Broncos look sharp with Peyton Manning at quarterback, and so do the Falcons with all of their offensive weapons.  The game is not must win for either team, but it could turn into a shootout.

 

Category: Football


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