It is beautiful, isn't it?
Hours and hours of NFL football. Some of the best football -- and the best versions of bad football -- were sent directly into our brainwaves.
Well, Week 1 is over. The tape has been grinded, the takes have been locked and loaded. As such, we are introducing our first-ever national column. What we saw from the Jaguars, but also from the rest of the NFL.
Without further ado, here is Shipley's Dozen: My 12 takes on Week 1.
Kyler Murray started off 2021 in an MVP-caliber way
Kyler Murray didn't put up the gaudy volume numbers some other quarterbacks had in Week 1, but it is hard to find many performances that were more impressive. Perhaps part of that had to do with the Titans looking like they were stuck in mud defensively (specifically Bud Dupree), but Murray did whatever he wanted against a team that is supposed to have an identity as a physical defense.
He won from the pocket, beat the Titans on extended plays out of structure, made defenders look silly as he bounced from spot to spot like a ping pong ball in cleats while looking for open receivers, and much more. There were few throws Murray didn't make against the Titans, with the former No. 1 overall pick tossing four touchdowns and rushing for another. Murray could do no wrong against the Titans, and if this continues over the course of 2021, he deserves all of the MVP talk that will head his way.
The Colts, shockingly (???), have a LT problem
Listen. Chris Ballard is a good general manager. Frank Reich is, for my money, one of the best coaches in the entire NFL. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what their plan was at left tackle this offseason. Yes, their plan 1A, Sam Tevi, suffered a season-ending knee injury in August, but anyone who has watched Tevi start games at tackle before knows that was a ... curious plan to begin with. Then in his place, the Colts started Julie'n Davenport vs. the Seahawks, with the veteran tackle looking completely overmatched.
According to Pro Football Focus, Davenport allowed two sacks (tied for the most in Week 1) and a staggering six pressures. This came against a Seahawks defense that has struggled to get after the passer in recent years, too. That didn't matter on Sunday though, with Davenport offering as much resistance as marathon tape. The Colts have a talented roster, but not doing more at left tackle could haunt them.
Daniel Jones still has a lot to prove. Is he more than Blake Bortles with a Duke education?
Daniel Jones does a lot of things well for certain stretches of games. He can make tight-window throws, hit nine routes down the sideline for massive gains, and use his legs to pick up first downs and create an extra element the defenses have to account for. The issue with Jones, of course, is the fact that he rarely does these things consistently, which is an issue that is now going into its third year in New York. And while the Giants lost to the Broncos for a number of reasons, most of the blame falls onto Jones and the Giants' offense.
Jones made a number of impressive throws, but he still ranked among the NFL leaders in bad throw % according to Pro Football Reference, missing several "gimmie" throws throughout the course of the game. Add in his ill-timed fumble on a hero ball play and there is plenty of reason to question if Jones will turn the corner this year, or if he is instead just Blake Bortles with a Duke education and a stronger arm. He has the same turnover, inconsistency, and inaccuracy issues. Can he overcome them before it is too late for the Giants? Week 1 wasn't a great indicator that he can.
Trevor Lawrence had the most rookie mistakes out of the rookie quarterbacks, but he also had by far the most impressive flashes.
You won't find many advanced statistics that don't have Trevor Lawrence near the bottom of the NFL's starting quarterbacks through one week. That is the result of a three-interception performance (the first of Lawrence's playing career) where Lawrence's completion percentage was below 55%. And Lawrence did have some rough moments, making more rookie mistakes than the NFL's other two rookie starters and missing some throws from clean pockets. Chances are, that is going to be one of the worst games Lawrence plays as a rookie.
And that is also what makes things so encouraging for Lawrence moving forward. Even with his mistakes, Lawrence still made high-level throw after high-level throw, showing off his anticipation, special arm talent, and willingness to hit a big play. He has areas to improve, but he also showed exactly why he has been the consensus No. 1 pick for years. There will be rookie moments, but none of the other rookie quarterbacks made as many jaw-dropping throws, even in a blowout loss.
The Bears' rationale behind sitting Justin Fields makes even less sense than before
The Bears continue to say -- whether through their actions or through external mouthpieces -- that the reason they aren't starting Justin Fields yet is they want to do right by him and be patient. That is all well and good, and makes sense in a lot of cases, but not this one. Especially not after the Bears were outclassed and outmatched in every aspect against the Los Angeles Rams, a game in which Andy Dalton looked out of place as a starting quarterback.
If the Bears don't trust themselves to not ruin Justin Fields, especially after the offense looked miserable without him on Sunday, then why should Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace be given the benefit of the doubt that they are the right people to build around him? This isn't a scenario where a raw rookie is sitting behind an established starter. This is a talented prospect with multiple years of starting experience who is sitting behind a quarterback whose peak was several years ago. This isn't Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes or Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers, so why are the Bears acting like it is?
Where is the hope for Atlanta moving forward?
What exactly is Atlanta's goal this season? And what is the hope for them moving forward? The Falcons looked like the worst team in the NFL against the Eagles on Sunday, struggling even more so than the Jaguars, Titans and other teams on the wrong end of blowouts. The offensive line allowed the Eagles to hit Matt Ryan over and over and over again, while Ryan himself looked like a quarterback on the downslide. Defensively, the Falcons were slow and got bullied up front, with Dante Fowler Jr. once again failing to make an impact without Aaron Donald on the field. You can look for positives from the Falcons' performance, but good look finding them.
Arthur Smith didn't look like a coach with answers on Sunday, and even worse, the Falcons looked like a team that has already made massive mistakes in terms of team-building. I love Kyle Pitts and think he will be an elite tight end, but he isn't helping that team considering how overmatched they are along both lines. Without a young quarterback to build hope around, it is hard to find positives about the Falcons right now.
Penei Sewell deserves his flowers -- and to stay at left tackle
Moving Penei Sewell to right tackle was a move that was highly criticized all summer and throughout the preseason, and it was hard to argue otherwise. Sewell was an elite offensive tackle prospect, but moving someone whose entire college career was played at left tackle all the way to right tackle is a massive adjustment. Luckily for Sewell, he didn't have to make that adjustment when the Lions kicked off in Week 1, with the No. 7 overall pick making his NFL debut at left tackle for an injured Taylor Decker.
Sewell responded by having a terrific outing against Nick Bosa and a good San Francisco defense, looking like a natural at left tackle. His blend of size, strength and explosiveness is rare for any human being, let alone any NFL tackle. He deserves all the praise in the world for performing when called upon, even after rarely playing left tackle in Detroit during the lead up to Week 1. Decker is the veteran, but Sewell is the future. He should stay at left tackle and continue to develop, because he just may be one of the NFL's brightest young stars.
Justin Herbert is going to get the best out of the Chargers' offense, even on his off days
The Los Angeles Chargers' fan base is so accustomed to losing close games that I am sure they were collectively holding their breaths during the 20-16 win over Washington on Sunday. But things just felt ... different with Justin Herbert? Even in a game in which he made a few mistakes, Herbert was still the best player on the field -- a field with a lot of great players, by the way. He made several incredible tight-window throws to give the Chargers a chance on each and every drive. Not all were completions, but Herbert rallied the Chargers and made big plays when asked.
Considering Chargers' fans rightfully have PTSD from years of nail-biting losses under Philip Rivers, it isn't hard to blame any of them for thinking the sky was falling when they held a four-point lead late in the game, even against a backup quarterback. But things with Herbert feel different, even on his off days. The Chargers, for the first time in a long time, feel different.
Zach Wilson is in for a long year behind the Jets' offensive line, while Mac Jones looks the part in New England
Someone please get Zach Wilson some help. The No. 2 overall pick showed off some serious arm talent and toughness against a ferocious Panthers' defense but he was completely pummeled. The pressure came from every direction, with first-round offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker having a particularly rough go at it. With Mekhi Becton now out for a few weeks, Wilson could be trying to make chicken salad out of ... well, you know.
As for Mac Jones, he looked just like he did at Alabama last season. He played like a season pro, taking what the defense gave him and making several accurate throws against pressure. Jones was genuinely solid during his NFL debut and should have New England fans excited that they got this one right, even if the lead up to the move wasn't as smooth as they would have originally hoped.
Sean Payton is the ultimate quarterback guru
If you are a free agent quarterback with a contract offer from the New Orleans Saints, take it. Teddy Bridgewater parlayed his starting quarterback tenure in New Orleans into a big deal with the Carolina Panthers, and now Jameis Winston is following in his path. Winston threw five touchdowns in his debut as Drew Brees' replacement, proving that Payton's decision to start him over Tayson Hill was a smart move, even if it was the obvious one. Winston looked as good as five touchdowns would indicate, too, showing complete command of the offense and frequently hitting the big-play shots Payton called for.
There isn't any world where Winston would have been expected to finish a game with nearly as many touchdowns (five) as incompletions (six). He only threw the ball 20 times. It wasn't the Tampa Bay-era Winston where he was asked to throw it until his arm was hanging out of its socket. Payton picked and choose where Winston would win, and Winston obliged. Take a bow, Sean Payton.
Welcome back, Joe Burrow
I was low on the Bengals entering the season -- and I still am hesitant to say they are much better than my expectations -- but it was a welcome sight to see Joe Burrow back on the football field. Burrow made life hell for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings, completing nearly 75% of his passes for 11.1 adjusted yards per attempt -- the fifth-best among all quarterbacks in Week 1. Burrow played mistake-free football after his brutal knee injury last season and he did it against a defense that many projected to be among the best in the league.
Maybe the Bengals won't turn it around with Zac Taylor, but Burrow at least gives them a chance. It remains to be seen if he can climb into one of the league's top tiers, but it is clear the Bengals have a talented starting quarterback they can win close games with, even with a flawed roster.
Monday Night Football was an absolute masterpiece for all the right reasons
Monday Night Football's wild ending between the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens was incredible for all of the right reasons. It was a football masterpiece. It was like watching Leonardo da Vinci paint the 'Mona Lisa' with Peyton Manning squealing in delight and anguish in the background. I mean, just look at everything that took place.
Las Vegas fought back from an early deficit by force-feeding the ball to one player (Darren Waller). Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue terrorized Lamar Jackson like two schoolyard bullies. Sammy Watkins made big plays reminiscent of his Clemson days. And that is before everything got crazy, like when the Ravens allowed the Raiders to march down the field with seconds left in regulation to tie the game with a 55-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson.
Then Bryan Edwards caught a game-winning touchdown... before it wasn't one. The band hit the field. Hugs were hugged. The field cleared before a failed quarterback sneak, a false start, and an overthrow gave the Raiders a chance to throw the game away on an interception. Then a fumble by Lamar... then Jon Gruden tried to kick a field goal on second-down to end the game before someone died from laughter. The kicker didn't get the memo, though, as he would have made it to the field quicker if he was coming over from Caesar's Palace. Even with that delay of game, the Raiders won in a beautiful game of chaos and lunacy. Sports are amazing because of how often they can leave your jaw hitting the floor, not able to process what you just saw. That is the game we saw on Monday night, and that is game we have missed ever since the season ended.
Jon Gruden is all of us.