NASHVILLE – To say the least, things did not go as well for Julio Jones on Sunday as anyone expected.
In fact, his three receptions and 29 receiving yards each rank as the fewest he’s ever had in Week 1 of the NFL season. This was his 11th such contest but his first as a member of the Tennessee Titans. It was also the second time he averaged fewer than 10 yards per reception right out of the gate.
Jones did not notch his first reception until fewer than two minutes remained in the first half, after five other Titans already had caught passes. Ultimately, he was targeted six times, tied for second most for Tennessee player on the day, but came up with half of those balls.
By any standard – but particularly that of a seven-time Pro Bowler – it was not a great start.
So, how did it compare to what other notable players who changed teams during the offseason did in their debuts? Here is a look:
• Matthew Stafford, QB, L.A. Rams (Detroit): He became the first player to have at least 300 yards passing and three touchdowns with no interceptions in a win in his first game for a new team. He finished 20-26 for 321 yards with three touchdowns, a 156.1 passer rating that was his career-high and a league best for Week 1.
• Corey Davis, WR, N.Y. Jets (Tennessee): In 56 games for the Titans, he never had more than one touchdown reception. In his first game for the Jets, he caught two touchdown passes (the only touchdowns his team scored) and caught five passes for a team-high 97 yards. He was one of just 10 players with multiple touchdown catches.
• Rodney Hudson, C, Arizona (Las Vegas): He played every snap on offense in the victory over the Titans and helped quarterback Kyler Murray stay upright enough to throw four touchdown passes and run for one score. Arizona ran three more plays but had 168 more yards than Tennessee, which got a decidedly sub-par performance from its offensive line.
• Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina (N.Y. Jets): He had a passer rating of better than 100 for the seventh time (102.0) in his career, and his 279 yards passing were the seventh highest total of his career. More important, he was part of a Week 1 victory for the first time since 2018.
• Gabe Jackson, G, Seattle (Las Vegas): He played every snap at right guard for the Seahawks, who averaged 5.2 yards per rush (tied for fifth) and whose quarterback, Russell Wilson, led all quarterbacks in Week 1 with an average distance of 10.4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on his passes, a clear indication that he had plenty of time to operate in the pocket.
• Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Denver (Carolina): Playing for his third team in as many years, he went 28-for-36 for 364 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over the New York Giants. He has only had five games with more completions and four starts with a better completion percentage.
• Jonnu Smith, TE, New England (Tennessee): His five receptions for 42 yards (on just five targets) are not eye-popping numbers, but they constitute the best Week 1 numbers of his career. His best start for the Titans was four catches for 36 yards (plus a touchdown) last year.
• Kenny Golladay, WR, N.Y. Giants (Detroit): He was the Giants’ second-leading receiver with four catches for 64 yards. His average of 16.0 yards per reception was right in line with what he did during his four years with the Lions (16.8).
• Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis (Philadelphia): The Colts were one of eight teams with at least 30 rushing attempts, and Wentz’s average of 6.6 yards per attempt ranked 24th among qualifying quarterbacks. Not exactly numbers that suggest the quarterback is center stage for his offense.
• Ronald Darby, CB, Denver (Washington): He inured a hamstring late in the game but still played every snap on defense and tied for the team lead with six tackles. He also broke up a pass. Monday, the Broncos put him on injured reserve.