The Niners’ New Star, Eli Owns Up, and Don’t Give Up on Johnny Manziel
1. I think letting Frank Gore walk may have ruffled many San Francisco fans, but Monday shed light into the 49ers’ thought process: They knew they had an in-house star in the 23-year-old Carlos Hyde. Making his first career start, Hyde had 168 rushing yards, tops in the NFL in Week 1, in the Niners’ impressive Monday night win over Minnesota.
2. I think The Guardian’s live blog of Jarryd Hayne’s debut was a lot more entertaining than the first half of the Monday Night finale. A sample passage by Aussies on the Aussie rugby hero-turned-rookie running back: “Righto, Niners ball, they have a crack through Hayne Plane’s roomie, Carlos “Jekkly’n” Hyde. He bashes through a few blokes, notches four yards. There’s a flag for ... something. An illegal formation. And the Vikings are penalised some yards for it. Next play. More flags. What now man? False start. And ... what is doing? And the Niners are third and 14. It’s not sustainable. And... that’s the end of the quarter. No siren? Nothing? Just that’s it. Time up. Let’s go off and breathe some.”
3. I think Dan Quinn’s impact on Atlanta’s defense is apparent, but I was equally impressed by new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Especially in the second half, Shanahan countered the Eagles’ blitzes, designed plays for top target Julio Jones and appropriately slowed down the pace with clock-eating drives to secure a morale-setting Week 1 win.
5. I think you can think what you want about the Giants telling Rashad Jennings not to score if he got close to the goal line in the fourth quarter, but I give Eli Manning credit for owning up and admitting that he relayed the message in the huddle. By absorbing blame, Manning controls the narrative and gives his team its best opportunity to move past it.
6. I think Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will present a better coverage challenge for Julio Jones than Byron Maxwell did on Monday. But the Giants will need some safety help, something the Eagles desperately lacked.
7. I think, in a week of impressive rookie performances (Marcus Mariota, Ameer Abdullah, Karlos Williams, Marcus Peters, Tyler Lockett, Randy Gregory, and holy cow this is a long list…), three rookies should not go unnoticed: New England guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson and center David Andrews. Aside from Mariota and Jameis Winston, this trio arguably had the toughest opening-night assignment: protecting Tom Brady. Although they each stumbled at times, Brady’s production speaks volumes.
8. I think I laughed during a funny exchange with Mason in the locker room after the game. I asked him what he thought of his performance, and he responded, “I just wanted to go out there and do my job… oh wait,” he paused, realizing he had plagiarized his coach’s favorite saying, surveyed the situation, and realized that he was probably saying exactly what he was supposed to say. “OK well… yeah… do my job!” Nice job, rookie.
9. I think the loss of Randy Gregory, for what seems to be at least four weeks with a high ankle sprain, is a big one for the Cowboys. Many have hyped Dallas’ revamped pass-rush, led by Gregory and free agent Greg Hardy, and now the Cowboys will be without both players for at least the next three games.
10. I think I can’t wait to see what Rex Ryan and his defensive coordinator, Dennis Thurman, draw up this week to stop Rob Gronkowski. This I know: it will be a lot more dramatic, and likely a lot more effective, than the Steelers’ uninspired coverage.