Final NFL Week 1 Observations ... With Dolphins Angles

The first week of the 2021 regular season began and ended with fantastic finishes, the last coming courtesy of a player with Miami Dolphins ties
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Not every game in between was a gem, but Week 1 of the 2021 NFL regular season sure began and ended with some wild games.

It started with the defending champion Buccaneers' 31-29 victory against the Dallas Cowboys when Tom Brady drove Tampa Bay to a last-second field goal — because that's what Tom Brady does.

It ended with a wild Monday night game between the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders that featured a bizarro finish.

And that game ended on a touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Zay Jones, who has a connection to  the Dolphins since his father, Robert, was a linebacker who started 47 games for Miami from 1998-2000.

Robert Jones was a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 who was reunited with Jimmy Johnson in Miami, and in his first year with the Dolphins he had five sacks and two interceptions while helping the defense finished third in the NFL in fewest yards allowed.

It was the third consecutive fantastic finish at Allegiant Stadium, dating back to last year.

Of course, one of those was the Dolphins' 26-25 victory in Week 16 after the "Facemask pass" and before that was a 30-27 Chargers overtime after they missed two field goals late in regulation, the Raiders kicked a field goal on the opening drive of overtime and L.A. answered with a touchdown.

Oh, and by the way, Las Vegas' next home game is Sept. 26 against the Dolphins.

On  to other observations:

AROUND THE AFC EAST

-- The Dolphins' Week 2 opponents had a little reality check on their way to the Super Bowl. Or their supposed way, we should say. The Buffalo Bills did begin their highly anticipated season with a 75-yard kickoff return by Miami native Isaiah McKenzie, but maybe it should have served as an omen that they went three-and-out and had to settle for a field goal on their way to a sobering 23-16 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. After having an MVP-caliber season in 2020, Josh Allen simply wasn't very sharp against Pittsburgh, though a lot of credit has to go to that Steelers defense — which, not surprisingly, is going to be among the best in the NFL again in 2021. While their offensive line looked overmatched against the Steelers, Buffalo's defensive line did look a lot better than it did last season.

-- The Jets look like they might have something with quarterback Zach Wilson, but there are a lot of issues on that team that need fixing, and it's certainly not going to help that they're going to be without left tackle Mekhi Becton for at least a month after his knee injury sustained in the loss at Carolina.

ROOKIE REPORT

-- It's always interesting to keep tabs on the players who were connected at one point or another to the Dolphins before the NFL draft, and this year those were the wide receivers. And it was a good Week 1 not only for Jaylen Waddle, but also for DeVonta Smith and Ja'Marr Chase. All three scored touchdowns, with Smith getting the most catches (6) and Chase gained the most yards (101). It was a huge confidence booster for Chase given his issues with drops in the preseason and Burrow-Chase creating some of the magic from their LSU days together led to a brilliant video from their alma mater.

-- Another prospect connected to the Dolphins at one point during the pre-draft process was tight end Kyle Pitts, but he had an awfully quiet debut for the Atlanta Falcons with only four catches for 31 yards on eight targets in their 32-6 home against Philadelphia.

-- Then there was Chargers tackle Rashawn Slater, who did such a good job against Washington star defensive end Chase Young that his play was praised to an extent rarely seen for an offensive lineman. And if we're talking about Slater, we have to mention quarterback Justin Herbert because of the 2020 NFL draft. He passed for 337 yards in the Chargers' 20-16 victory at Washington, but most impressively had four third-down completions to help his team kill the final 6:43 off the clock — and one of those was a 17-yard hook-up with Keenan Allen on a third-and-16 early in that drive.

FINAL THOUGHTS

-- Those who observed Dan Campbell during his stint as Dolphins interim head coach in 2015 knew his Detroit Lions would play hard and never quit in his first year as their head coach, even if they're talent-deficient. And that was on display in Week 1 when the Lions made a valiant comeback effort after being down 38-10 and had the ball down eight points in 49ers territory in the final minutes.

-- While on the topic of the Lions, we should mention it's where Charles Harris is playing these days and he had a very uneventful season debut. He played 29 snaps for Detroit, including 15 on defense as a 3-4 outside linebacker but did not show up on the stat sheet. Harris' continued lack of production makes it more painful to watch T.J. Watt continue to produce big play after big play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, considering the Dolphins took Harris with the 21st pick in 2017 and Watt went 30th overall that same year.

-- We close by wishing a prompt recovery to one-time Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert, who continues to battle some bad luck with the San Francisco 49ers. A day after coach Kyle Shanahan said Mostert was expected to miss eight weeks after sustaining chipped knee cartilage in the victory at Detroit, Mosters announced Tuesday he was going to have season-ending surgery.