Impressions from Week One of the 2015 NFL Season

It was good to be an NFL tight end in Week One. Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Travis Kelce, Ladarius Green, Darren Fells, Tyler Eifert, Eric Ebron, Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Graham, and Jordan Reed all had at least fifty receiving yards and one touchdown reception in the first week of games. Some of the names I listed even had two touchdown receptions. Gronkowski had three.

It wasn’t good to be a Vikings, Browns, or Buccaneers fan in Week One. These three teams got blown out by teams many don’t predict having winning seasons. The 49ers, who admittedly looked good on Monday, lost basically half their roster during the offseason. The Jets are starting a seasoned veteran that doesn’t have much on his resume and a talented, but inconsistent receiving corp. Finally, the Titans went 2-14 last season. They revamped the team with a few key additions, including first round pick Marcus Mariota, but I doubt they’ll make any drastic improvements with their team. Nevertheless, the Buccaneers were simply outplayed in every way.

(Note: My impressions for a majority of these games are based on stats and a few highlights. While I love stats and numbers when it comes to football, I know they don’t necessarily paint the whole picture, so take with that what you will. I will note the games I did watch below the game headers. I will also note whether or not my Pick ‘Em guess was accurate from my previous entry.)

[Pittsburgh @ New England]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Deflategate sure made Tom Brady fall flat, huh?! That was such a genius interpretation on my part. Never doubt Tom Brady, especially at home.

As for the rest of the game, it’s impressive to see how few weapons Tom Brady needs to succeed in games. Those weapons are Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and [Insert starting running back name here]. The gameplan boiled down to the Edelman-Lewis show outside the red zone, then the Gronkowski super deluxe finale within the red zone. It’s really embarrassing for Pittsburgh to fall victim to this scheme over and over and over again. That defensive secondary was problematic the entire game, while New Englands’ defensive secondary looked great despite losing debatably the best cornerback in the NFL in Darelle Revis.

Antonio Brown was amazing, as he always is, but hardly proved a threat in the long run. Speaking of long runs, DeAngelo Williams looked really good, too, thanks in part to a solid showing by the Pittsburgh offensive line. However, once they got into the red zone, the offense fell flat. The play-calling was subject and New Englands’ defense held up really well. Pittsburgh’s offense all-around was decent, up until the part where they actually needed to score points. And they didn’t. So they lost. It’s their defense that worries me. Very little pressure on Tom Brady throughout, and receivers were getting open like nobody’s business. There were, say, three, four blown coverages that game? Pittsburgh need to clean up their mess of a defense if they want any chance of making the playoffs.

[Indianapolis @ Buffalo]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

Man. That Buffalo defense sure is something. Andrew Luck and their so-called elite offense didn’t even reach the endzone until the third quarter. That’s pretty pathetic, especially for Indianapolis, who are among the discussion for Super Bowl contenders. I’m pretty sure I recall Luck throwing two interceptions before the half, too. Frank Gore only ran the ball eight times. T.Y. Hilton was the only consistent receiving threat, but left in the third quarter due to injury. Luck was sacked only twice in the game, but I heard he was pressured all day. So, instead of using a first round draft pick on an offensive lineman, Indianapolis decided to use it on a wide receiver. Starting to look a little naive with that choice.

Tyrod Taylor, on the other hand, looked fantastic with what he was asked to do. He only passed the ball 19 times, but completed 14 of them. No interceptions. He even rushed for quite a few yards, too. Buffalo doesn’t have a lot of offensive weapons, but Taylor made the most of what he had. Oh, and LeSean McCoy had 17 rushes for 41 yards. Against Indianapolis’s sluggish defense? Real elite running back there. This has little to do with the game. I just don’t like McCoy. My personal disdain for Shady aside, the Buffalo defense was everything people expected it to be and more. It’s looking to be up within the top 5 defenses this year, assuming nothing goes haywire.

[Cleveland @ New York (Jets)]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Cleveland are a sad, sad mess.

New York is also a mess, but less sad than Cleveland. I was genuinely surprised at how one-sided this game was. Guess you can never count out FitzMagic. Their defense looked up to standards as well. Then again, who are they defending against? Brian Hartline? Travis Benjamin? Johnny Manziel? Cleveland was up against a mountain. They didn’t bring the necessary equipment.

I was also fairly surprised at how not good Cleveland’s defense was. They held up pretty well until halftime, but after that, it was touchdown city for New York. I guess the team imploded after realizing they could actually win the game. For those not aware, Cleveland has a tendency to do that. No one really knows why or how.

[Carolina @ Jacksonville]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Remember what I said about Cleveland self-imploding after realizing they could win a game? The same could be said about Jacksonville.

Jacksonville was down a single point at halftime, showing rare resilience against a playoff team (to be fair, Carolina got into the playoffs last year because their division is awful). After halftime? Zero points scored. Ten points given up. Such has been the case for Jacksonville since, well, a while. The last five years, at least. Gus Bradley is on the hot seat. And if he isn’t, he should be.

I think I remember at one point seeing that Cam Newton was, like, 6 of 13 passing in the game. That was mindblowing to me. Sure, I don’t think Cam Newton is as good as everyone claims he is, but I didn’t think he’d cower under the might of Jacksonville’s lower twenties ranked defense. Then again, who was he throwing to? Jerricho Cotchery. Philly Brown. Tedd Ginn. Ick. At least he has Greg Olsen! Who… had one catch by the end of the game. Wow. I can see why Newton struggled early on. Jon Stewart (not that one) had a good day rushing, though, so at least they have that going for them. Carolina’s defense also provided five sacks and two interceptions. Step up the pass protection, Jacksonville.

[Green Bay @ Chicago]

  • (Watched three quarters, correct)

Oh, my God, guys! Jay Cutler is so bad! Look at his stats! They are so gross! Ugh! I thought Jay Cutler looked pretty good, actually. He managed the game well and completed the ball when he had to. Not the mention, his receivers dropped a couple passes, too. Though, this could also be deemed true by a terrific performance by Matt Forte, who gained, like, 180 overall yards rushing and receiving. Green Bay’s run defense was looking eerily similar to how it was last year before they put Clay Matthews inside. Speaking of Clay Matthews, he played amazing. Julius Peppers had 1.5 sacks, but was pretty silent aside from a few tackles for a majority of the game.

I would think Chicago would have had a better chance if they had any receiving threats. Or if they weren’t facing Green Bay. Jokes aside, the offense looked okay for the most part. Chicago didn’t get completely blown out like I expected them to, so that’s definitely a plus. Chicago may finish the season with an okay record. Their defense, while still bad, didn’t look bottom of the barrel. Then again, most defenses look bad against Aaron Rodgers, even without Jordy Nelson. Rodgers didn’t even have that stellar of a game. Didn’t pass for two hundred yards, but got three touchdowns in, along with some gaudy rushing numbers. Green Bay’s offense is definitely worse without Jordy, but it’s still good enough to put 31 points on the board.

[Kansas City @ Houston]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

J.J. Watt is still amazing. Travis Kelce is coming into his own.

Houston’s offense is starting to crumble. Brian Hoyer was pulled in the fourth quarter for back-up Ryan Mallett after a poor showing. Their run game was dismal, but a few receivers had good games (DeAndre Hopkins, Nate Washington). Their offensive line looks pretty bad, too. They gave up five sacks. Some of the highlight reels show a lot of way too wide open receivers, which makes me question the state of Houston’s defensive secondary as well. I actually thought this team looked good going into the 2015 season. Now that it’s here, there are definitely some issues facing this team.

Kansas City is a different story. Still no touchdown to a wide receiver, but Travis Kelce is starting to become the AFC West’s Rob Gronkowski. Alex Smith had a great game and Jamaal Charles had an okay game rushing and receiving. Aside from J.J. Watt, because he’s a god, no sacks from Houston’s defense. Kansas City is looking like an improved team. Their defense held Houston to 13 points until the fourth quarter. It’ll be interesting to see how the season plays out for them.

[Miami @ Washington]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

I really need to stop putting off-the-field adversities as a sign of weakness from a team. Washington’s defense actually held Miami to 17 points! Miami! With Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron and Greg Jennings! What’s going on with the NFL world?

Washington’s offense, on the other hand, looked (expectantly) like a mess. DeSean Jackson got injured early on, and after that, little offense to speak of. A few of Washington’s offensive players had decent games, too. Like Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris. It’s unusual they didn’t get more points on the board. Then again, recently-cut kicker Kai Forbath missed a field goal. I guess that’s enough to get you cut from Washington?

Miami’s defense was stellar, as many predicted it would be. Surprisingly few sacks, considering Washington’s offensive line, but only held them to 10 points. Included with this was two interceptions. A lot closer of a game than I would have expected, but Miami pulled it out regardless. Would I be worried? Maybe.

[Seattle @ St. Louis]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

They ran the ball on 4th and 1. They didn’t get it. An eerie reminder of what could have been last February.

St. Louis actually won. It was in overtime and it was close almost all the way through, too. This would’ve been a game I’d like to have watched, because there were touchdowns all around in many different ways. A punt return touchdown from both teams. Tavon Austin had a rushing touchdown. It was insanity.

Russell Wilson was good completion-wise, but threw an interception early on. I was also pretty surprised by how high-scoring this game was. 31-34? Are the Cowboys playing the Saints? Where’s the defense we know from these two teams? Lots’a sacks from both teams, though. Nick Foles played well in his debut in St. Louis, which surprised me some. Against Seattle’s defense, I would’ve thought he’d throw a pick or four. There’s not much else to say other than it was a very odd game.

[Detroit @ San Diego]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

C’mon, Detroit. Where’s that #2 defense you had last year? 33 points? And a comeback, nonetheless? You aren’t doing much to make me think you’re the real deal. Maybe you should’ve kept Suh, hmm? Regardless, Matt Stafford threw two picks and Calvin Johnson had two catches. Golden Tate had two, too. So many twos. You probably won’t win many games when your best offensive weapons aren’t getting the ball. Ameer Abdullah looked pretty good, though. Joique Bell? Not so much.

San Diego was a bit of the same, except Keenan Allen decided he wanted to have a reception buffet and hauled in 15 fucking passes! Philip Rivers showed he was feeling better from last year, aside from his own two picks. Danny Woodhead’s two touchdown runs were also fairly impressive, as he’s more of a pass catcher than a full-on running bruiser. Detroit’s defense had two sacks. San Diego’s had one. Both had two interceptions. Both gave up more than 27 points. I think both of these defenses have some practicing to do.

[New Orleans @ Arizona]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Drew Brees, my sweet, sweet knight. How long do you have before your arm loses its might? His numbers this game were very un-Brees-like, aside from the pass attempts and yards. The running game was pathetic and no receiver had any distinguishable good games (based on stats). The defense, as I predicted (and everyone else, too) was awful. Rob Ryan has shown to be a one-year wonder and needs to go. Either that or their defense need to be revamped with some fresh players. New Orleans didn’t look good. They probably won’t look good the rest of the year, either. I wonder how, or if, they recover?

Arizona is still a good team. How good? We may never know. There have been so many “buts” with this team it’s hard to tell anymore. They don’t have a playoff win under Bruce Arians, but they had to start a third-string quarterback against Carolina. Their defense is really good against the run, but questionable against the pass. They have a lot of talented running backs, but none of them seem to have much of an impact. Arizona is hard to pinpoint, and winning against a poor road team like New Orleans isn’t helping any. At least Larry Fitzgerald still seems productive. Carson Palmer looks good, too, coming off an ACL tear. Let’s hope he doesn’t get injured… again.

[Baltimore @ Denver]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Yeesh. Neither quarterback in this game looked good at all.

Peyton Manning, with all his numbers and honors and penchant for perfection, looked like a beaten old man. He had one interception, no touchdown passes, and didn’t throw for 200 yards, despite passing the ball 40 times. Those are numbers for a typical back-up quarterback, not Peyton Manning. Joe Flacco, on the other hand, fared far worse. Barely had over 100 yards passing and threw two interceptions, with no touchdown passes. Neither team had more than 75 yards rushing. Baltimore didn’t even have one player exceed 25 receiving yards. No touchdown passes. An ugly, ugly offensive game.

Defense, however, proved to be the deciding factor for both teams. Sacks aplenty for both teams, along with a 13-19 finish. Despite the ugly offensive showing, both teams had a chance to win all throughout. It just happened to be the team with more field goals made. Offensive line has become a question mark for both of these teams. And further down the road, Peyton Manning’s ability will be called into question, too. You can’t win the Super Bowl with an offensive performance like this. Your defense has to be very good in order to even make the Super Bowl. Right, 2006 Chicago Bears?

[Cincinnati @ Oakland]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Andy Dalton had a good game. Not that I expected him to have a bad game, but he needs to show this sort of resiliency in games that not just I, but everyone can see. The surprise of the Cincinnati offense here was Tyler Eifert. With the numbers he put up, you’d think he was A.J. Green out there. Getting rid of Jermaine Gresham, for the moment, looks to have been a good move.

Oakland’s offense was a little less stellar. They didn’t start actively scoring until late in the game, at the point where they were down 30-0. Cincinnati’s defense looked pretty meh all season last season. Is this just a good showing? Or is Oakland’s offense just that mediocre? I’m going with the latter. Then again, Derek Carr got injured a little ways into the game, so they had a back-up quarterback for a majority of the game. Who knows? Probably just Oakland being Oakland, much like Cleveland being Cleveland or Jacksonville being Jacksonville.

[Tennessee @ Tampa Bay]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

Do not let Marcus Mariota’s numbers fool you. He let his receivers do most of the work. Nevertheless; four touchdowns, no interceptions, and over ten yards per attempt? That’s a good start for the #2 overall pick. The rest of Tennessee’s offense fared pretty well, too. Delanie Walker, Kendall Wright, and Bishop Sankey all had pretty good games. Is Tampa Bay’s defense so bad that even Tennessee’s offense looks good against them? That’s kinda sad. Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David can’t do all the work. Pick up the pace, guys.

Jameis Winston’s first NFL pass was a pick-six. A sign of doom and gloom or something altogether (Brett Favre’s first NFL pass was a pick-six)? Nevertheless, after that, the offense didn’t get much going. Again, against Tennessee’s defense. Did I mention that Tennessee went 2-14 last season? My guy Derrick Morgan had two sacks in the game. But it’s Tampa Bay’s offensive line, so that’s not all too surprising. Tampa Bay’s just kind of a mess. Much like it was last year. I wonder who they’ll win against this year?

[New York (Giants) @ Dallas]

  • (Watched the final quarter, correct)

I don’t know what the hell Dallas was doing up until the very end of the game, but it wasn’t very Dallas-like. Turnovers and fumbles and dropped passes, oh my! And worst of all, the fair prince Dez Bryant suffered a serious injury. Dallas’s offense probably won’t be as prolific without him, but nevertheless, I think they’ll be okay. Their defense looked pretty good, for the most part, too. Sure, they gave up 26 points, but 17 of those were off turnovers, aka shortened field length to the endzone. Outside of turnovers, only 9 points. Dallas, despite its losses, are still a fairly complete team. And whether people agree with me or not, Tony Romo is among the top 10 quarterbacks in the league.

The saddest part about this game is that New York could’ve won. They had a minute and a half to go, and Eli decides to stop the clock by throwing the ball out of bounds on third down. Take the sack and, hell, run around like an idiot and waste some clock time, and maybe Dallas wouldn’t have had time to score that last second touchdown. Then again, with how bad New York’s middle-of-the-field coverage looked in that last drive, Tony Romo could’ve just thrown a Hail Mary down the middle to Lance Dunbar and won the game.

One other thing that stuck out was offensive line, for both teams. Only one sack between both teams, and each starting back had a decent yards per carry average. New York might be a mediocre team, but they can at least keep Eli Manning upright. Dallas’s offensive line is already greatly established from last season as one of the best.

[Philadelphia @ Atlanta]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

This one had all the makings of a Philadelphia comeback win. Down 20-3 at the half, they suddenly come roaring back after Atlanta’s offense starts stalling. If Cody Parkey didn’t miss that field goal in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia may be 1-0 right now.

One thing any NFL fan would notice about Atlanta is their defense. It looked astronomically better than it did last year, holding off Philadelphia’s notably fast-paced offense (until the second half). Despite the almost comeback, Atlanta held firm when it needed to, coming up with an interception in the final minute of the game. In regards to Philadelphia’s defense, it looked to me like it has the talent to be a good defense, but I don’t think the chemistry is there yet. Byron Maxwell got beat multiple times by both Roddy White and Julio Jones, making his offseason signing look a little fishy. They made some plays and provided quarterback pressure, especially in the second half, so I wouldn’t be too worried in the long run.

The pairing of Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray didn’t look up to par that night, though. It took a while for Bradford to get his game going. When he did, most of his completions were hitch routes or screens or crossing routes. Aka: easy throws. However, he still ended the night with two interceptions. DeMarco Murray looked completely unlike his former Dallas self, running for nine yards on eight carries. That’s more than pathetic; that’s humiliating. Darren Sproles ran for more vigor and spirit than he did, and he’s 32 years old. Murray was little more than a non-factor the entire game, until they basically took him out completely by the fourth quarter. Philadelphia’s defense I’m not worried about. Its offense, however? A few more questions surface after that loss.

Atlanta’s offense was surprisingly balanced. Tevin Coleman looks like a future star and Matt Ryan is already a star. It helps when you throw to other stars in Julio Jones and Roddy White. Atlanta’s offense is just full of shooting stars. If only some of those stars were on the offensive line. Or at tight end. Seriously, Atlanta. Would it kill you to draft or sign a decent pass-catching tight end? It might help in the long-run.

[Minnesota @ San Francisco]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Of all the games in my pick ’em list, this game made me look the worst.

San Francisco lost so many players! They aren’t half the team they were last year! The sky is falling and Hell is rising upon the state of California! On the opposing side, Minnesota has Adrian Peterson back! Teddy Bridgewater is sure to improve upon his rookie season! Their defense is stout!

I fell for it. I fell for it all. The offseason hype, the offseason drama. The preseason performances and Teddy’s stupid “110 QB rating” nonsense in that span. When it came down to it, Minnesota turned into Cincinnati in primetime.

San Francisco, outside of the first quarter, looked spectacular. A well run machine. And by well run, I mean Carlos Hyde is filling the hole Frank Gore left tremendously. San Francisco’s offensive line was like a horde of giants, trampling Minnesota’s puny defensive line like they were tree branches. This, I believe above all else, was the deciding factor of this game. Kaepernick had all day to throw and Hyde had holes bigger than a whale’s gaping asshole to run through. It was over by halftime. Minnesota couldn’t get anything going, neither on offense of defense, despite early chances by poor San Francisco special teams play.

I wonder what happened to Vernon Davis? Just a couple years ago, he was among the top tight ends in the game. Now, he’s catching two or three passes a game. Is he declining? Or is he just being ignored for other options? Whatever it is, he isn’t contributing much to the offense. Instead they have Garrett Celek.

I wonder what happened to Mike Wallace? Just a couple years ago, he was among the top wide receivers in the game. Now, he’s catching two or three passes a game. Is he declining? Or is he just being ignored for other options? Whatever it is, he isn’t contributing much to the offense. Instead they have… who do they have? Charles Johnson? Good luck, Minnesota.

Questions aside, San Francisco looked really good against a team with a lot more talent than their execution showed. Their defense, without all of those lost in the offseason, still looked like the San Francisco defense of the past couple of years. If their offensive line keeps of their reign of terrors, they could go places. But only if.

Minnesota? Yeah. They have a lot of uncertainty heading towards the rest of the season.

It was an interesting week of upsets and typical bad teams looking really, really good. Elite quarterbacks looked like rookies and new starters looked like elite passers. The one thing I could take away from this week of NFL football is that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. That being said, I’ll probably still pick against Jacksonville.

  • Week One Pick ‘Em record: 9-7.
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 9-7.

One thought on “Impressions from Week One of the 2015 NFL Season

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