Final NFL Week 1 Observations ... And Some That Relate to the Dolphins
Week 1 of the 2020 NFL regular season is in the books after the Tennessee Titans' 16-14 victory against the Denver Broncos, and that's where we'll begin our league-wide observations of the weekend.
And it starts with Ryan Tannehill, who got a big contract extension in the offseason and led the team to the comeback victory.
But what can't be lost about Tannehill is that Derrick Henry rushed for 116 yards, including 27 on the game-winning drive. The point? It's Derrick Henry who is the most important player on the Tennessee offense, not Ryan Tannehill.
As proof, the Titans are 14-0 when Henry rushes for more than 100 yards. Tennessee clearly understands this because they also gave Henry a hefty new contract in the offseason. Of course, one could question the wisdom of paying big money to both your quarterback and your running back, but that's a different story for another day.
-- The Dolphins ended up with the second-lowest point total in the NFL in Week 1, ahead only of the Cleveland Browns, who lost 38-6 against the Baltimore Ravens. Six points for an offense that includes Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The more things change in Cleveland, the more they stay the same.
-- Was anybody surprised to see the Jets badly overmatched against the Buffalo Bills, who come to Hard Rock Stadium to face the Dolphins this Sunday?
-- On the Bills, yes, Josh Allen is prone to making mistakes, whether it be fumbles or errant passes, but why he still gets beaten up by some media members remains baffling to me. And last I checked, he was 33-of-46 for 312 yards with two touchdowns and no picks against the Jets, and that sure looks pretty good to me.
-- We don't need to beat up Carolina coach Matt Ruhle for his play-call on the decisive fourth-and-1 play late in the Panthers' loss against the Raiders ... yes, we do. Fullback dive when you've got Christian McCaffrey in the backfield. Or, if you're going to use McCaffrey as a decoy, then a naked bootleg would have made more sense than the dreaded fullback dive.
-- It says here that first-round pick the Dolphins will be getting from the Houston Texans has a chance to be a pretty good one. There's just nothing special about that Houston team other than J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson, but Watson just doesn't have an impact wide receiver on the roster now that DeAndre Hopkins is in Arizona.
-- Speaking of Arizona, not taking victory laps just yet, but somebody did pick the Cardinals to win the NFC West in the SI team publishers' season predictions. Yes, that was me. The thing about the Cardinals is they have difference-makers at just about every position on the roster, and that certainly includes DeAndre Hopkins.
-- Lamar Jackson just picked up where he left off last regular season, didn't he? And I'd still like to know how the hell he lasted until the 32nd pick of the 2018 first round because it's not like he didn't dominate at Louisville. And not only has he been lights out for the Ravens, he's the most electrifying player in the league. It's easy to play the results, but it's clear the Dolphins dropped the ball by not taking him when they had the chance.
-- Of course, it was Minkah Fitzpatrick who the Dolphins selected with the 11th pick in 2018, and we all know how that turned out. Fitzpatrick, incidentally, was hardly visible in the Steelers' season opener Monday. He played every snap on defense, but his stat line showed only two tackles.
-- That Steelers defense, though, is loaded. The front seven is nothing short of dominant, which is why Pittsburgh is a legit Super Bowl contender — as long as Ben Roethlisberger stays healthy. And that's why it wasn't good to see, if you're a Steelers fan, two offensive linemen go down with injuries Monday night.
-- That Giants defense the Steelers faced Monday night is now being run by former Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, and we have to give kudos for a pretty good effort for most of the game. This is not, after all, a Giants defense with a lot of big-name players on it.
-- Since he'll be forever linked to Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa, we have to discuss Joe Burrow's NFL debut. It wasn't dazzling by any stretch, but encouraging nonetheless, particularly for the way he directed what should have been a game-winning drive. We say "should have been" because his apparent TD pass to A.J. Green was nullified by a questionable offensive pass interference call.
-- Keeping an eye on recently departed Dolphins players, linebacker Raekwon McMillan played six defensive snaps for the Las Vegas Raiders and was credited with one assisted tackle; defensive ends Taco Charlton and Charles Harris both were inactive (for Kansas City and Atlanta, respectively).
-- Biggest shocker of the weekend? That has to be Jacksonville defeating the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts figured to be contenders in the AFC South after the arrival of Philip Rivers and the Jaguars were expected to be like the 2019 Dolphins, but somebody forgot to tell that to Gardner Minshew. And Rivers continued his Chargers habit of key mistakes to undo a big statistical day.
-- Final thought: Aaron Rodgers, just wow! And please tell me again why the Packers drafted Jordan Love after moving up four spots in the first round with a trade with the Dolphins.