The Morning Huddle: Time to Worry?
There’s only one question worth asking after the first NFL weekend: Is my team going to be OK? We can't start predicting who is going to be competitive into January, and stratifying the league’s middle-class will remain a fool’s errand well into autumn. But the opening slate of games is good for identifying the fatal flaws that could sink seasons. Seven teams lost by more than 10 points yesterday. If you’re a fan of one of them, should you be panicking?
Bengals (lost to the Ravens, 20-0, at home): Yes. Andy Dalton is now going to face scrutiny for the rest of the year—and reasonably so—after a five-turnover gaffe-fest.
Texans (lost to the Jaguars, 29-7, at home): Yes. No one expected quarterback Tom Savage lasting just a half before getting yanked and the offensive line surrendering 10 (10!) sacks while Houston’s supposedly terrifying defensive line had zero (zero!). If those trends continue, it won’t matter how precocious Deshaun Watson looks (and he was, at best, uneven on Sunday).
Washington (lost to the Eagles, 30-17, at home): No. Panic would be too strong, but after another sloppy red zone interception from Kirk Cousins and 356 more yards surrendered by the defense, you should accept that the franchise has gone from a wild mess to reliably mediocre. Is that much better?
Cardinals (lost to the Lions, 35-23, on the road): Yes. See Dalton above. There was hope that Carson Palmer would return to form this season. Instead: 27 for 48, three interceptions, 53.2 rating and David Johnson is likely out for multiple weeks.
Giants (lost to the Cowboys, 19-3, on the road): Not yet. Odell Beckham Jr. didn't suit up, so I’ll give New York another chance to get its offense together, but considering its upcoming schedule (Lions, Eagles, Buccaneers, Chargers, Broncos, Seahawks), a 2-5 start seems likely if it can’t. This could get ugly.
Colts (lost to the Rams, 46-9, on the road): Yes. Sure, the Colts will be better when Andrew Luck returns. But if the rest of the team continues playing like that, it won’t matter.
49ers (lost to the Panthers, 23-3, at home): Panic? No. You should’ve seen this coming.
If your team is not on that list, it very well might be doomed, we just don’t know it yet. So congrats.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Gary Gramling gathers his Week 1 takeaways … Andy Benoit shows how the Bears kept things close with the Falcons … Jenny Vrentas looks at the Bears sans Kevin White … Michael Beller tells you whom to claim in your fantasy league ... and more in our archive.
LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: It’s Monday, so that means Peter King’s MMQB ... Chris Burke previews Monday Night Football … Stay tuned for that and more.
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All 12 results from Sunday, in order of significance…
1. Packers 17, Seahawks 9. For what seems like the first time in years, Green Bay’s defense (especially Mike Daniels) did its job while Aaron Rodgers found enough of a rhythm against the Seattle defense (28 for 42, 311 yards), whereas Russell Wilson never got that chance behind his line.
2. Raiders 26, Titans 16. Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, promoted from the practice squad to replace the injured Sebastian Janikowski, became the first kicker in NFL history to have two 50-plus yard field goals in a debut. He left Nissan Stadium with four made field goals and the game ball. Marshawn Lynch also looked good.
3. Eagles 30, Redskins 17. Philly’s defense—much ballyhooed in Year 2 under coordinator Jim Schwartz—lived up to the hype, holding up twice in the red zone and forcing four turnovers. Carson Wentz had another up-and-down performance to kick off his sophomore season.
4. Ravens 20, Bengals 0. Speaking of defenses, Baltimore put on a vintage performance, completing its first shutout since 2009.
5. Cowboys 19, Giants 3. Without injured Odell Beckham Jr., New York gained only 234 yards. Dallas didn’t light it up, but Ezekiel Elliott gained 104 yards and Jason Witten set the team’s all-time receiving yards record.
6. Falcons 23, Bears 17. Running back Jordan Howard dropped a potential game-winning touchdown and Mike Glennon took a final-play snap as Chicago came up just short of what would’ve been the week’s biggest upset, souring what had been a solid showing. In the loss, rookie running back Tarik Cohen emerged as an explosive weapon. Optimistic Atlanta fans will say that the team’s ability to win with defense portends success.
7. Panthers 23, 49ers 3. All of the talk about a whole new San Francisco team with Kyle Shanahan in charge? That’s gone. Drops, sacks, turnovers, short-yardage failure—let’s just say there’s room for improvement. On the other side, Ron Rivera seemed insistent on using new toy Christian McCaffrey, to decent results, but ultimately this win was earned by the defense.
8. Lions 35, Cardinals 23. Matthew Stafford still has his fourth-quarter magic, completing seven straight passes—six for 10+ yards—to put the game out of reach. He also found a new favorite in rookie Kenny Golladay. This team will be in the Monday Night spotlight in Week 2.
9. Jaguars 29, Texans 7. Blake Bortles was asked to throw only 21 times as rookie Leonard Fournette earned 100 yards on 26 carries. Houston desperately missed left tackle Duane Brown, who continues to hold out.
10. Steelers 21, Browns 18. Le’Veon Bell had only 10 carries for 32 yards, but Antonio Brown made up for that with 182 yards on 11 receptions, while rookie linebacker T.J. Watt (Yes, J.J.’s brother) had a historic debut. Rookie QB Deshone Kizer got better as the game went on, culminating in a 73-yard touchdown drive. Former Brown Joe Haden got the game ball.
11. Rams 46, Colts 9. Indy backup Scott Tolzein was benched for newcomer Jacoby Brissett after two pick-sixes. Chuck Pagano’s seat got hotter with a press conference flub.
12. Bills 21, Jets 12. Sean McDermott relied on his run game and defense in a game that played out pretty much as expected.
Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.
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