Why Did We Miss This? – NFL Week 1 RecapPosted: September 15, 2015
A wild and crazy Week 1 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the Rams’ upset of the Seahawks, the Browns’ new uniforms, Marcus Mariota’s debut, Pacman Jones getting away with assault, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.
Will: Let’s start with your team, and with the team that beat them. Are the Rams legit? Should Seahawks fans be bugging out over the loss?
Derek: Well, Seahawks fans may be incapable of bugging out at this point. I’m sure the feeling of getting angry over a winnable game will return, but the Super Bowl is still too fresh in my mind. It’s like being in a promising relationship that ends with your ex sleeping with your best friend before she throws all of your electronics out the window and kills your dog, and the next time you go on a date you get stood up. I just don’t have any heart left to break.
But despite my homer pick (expect that to continue) this was not a game that looked good for the Seahawks. The Seahawks often struggle in 10 a.m. PT games (check) against teams that have a good defensive line (check) and in St. Louis since 2010 (check). The schedule-makers were not kind to the Seahawks, making them start the season with that 10 a.m. PT game in St. Louis followed by a Sunday night game at Lambeau (their home opener). I think most Seahawk fans would be happy to win just one of those games, and I certainly realize 0-2 is a distinct possibility. So I won’t be in “sky is falling” mode unless the ‘Hawks start 0-3. Though, here’s a sneak peak for the pick on Friday: the Seahawks have only lost one primetime game since Pete Carroll took over, and that was a Thursday night game in San Francisco in Week 12. Well, unless you count the Super Bowl.
Now I’m sad.
As much I’d like to pin the loss on the Seahawks’ disorganization on defense (Kam Chancellor’s absence, perhaps?) or the continually baffling performance of Darrell “Bubble Screen” Bevell, the Rams do deserve some credit. They made Russell run for his life, and it’s a testament to his skill that the offense got anything going at all. Most quarterbacks would have had more visits to the trainer than points, but Russell made the best of a bad situation. A bad situation that will certainly be an aberration, according to Tom Cable.
And though the Rams’ defense was the story, the offense was perhaps more impressive. They continually got huge gains against the Seahawks, and that was without their top receiver (Brian Quick) or their top two running backs (Todd Gurley and Tre Mason). They’re a team to watch.
Will: God I hope that “Bubble Screen” Bevell catches on; imagine Marshawn Lynch referring to a grown man by nothing other than “Bubble Screen.” Anyway, most of the Browns pass catchers are under six feet tall. What’s it like having a tight end like Jimmy Graham in your life?
Derek: The jury is still out. He caught a touchdown pass, and that was nice. But the Darrell Bevell factor lives on. As I said in the “Was Trading for Jimmy Graham Stupid?” piece, “You wouldn’t give a classic Mustang to someone who can’t drive a stick shift. You wouldn’t give a Steinway grand piano to someone who can’t play. Perhaps giving Jimmy Graham to Darrell Bevell will be a similar waste.” I feel like they should take a shot at Graham at least once every time they’re in the red zone. Yet Graham was ignored during Seattle’s first trip to the red zone (ended with a field goal) and caught a short pass for one yard in the second (another field goal). I thought for sure I’d see a fade to him on one of those drives.
But again, the Rams’ d-line owned the Seahawks’ o-line. Perhaps Graham was in the game plan more, but Russell didn’t have time to get him the ball. He finished with six catches on eight targets with 51 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Not bad, but I had hoped to see more after giving up Max Unger and a first rounder. Hopefully he’ll do more against progressively softer matchups. If not, perhaps it’s time for Carroll to consider the possibility that the team’s penchant for settling for field goals in the red zone isn’t due to personnel.
Now that I’ve discussed my team’s failure, let’s discuss yours! The Browns didn’t fare too well on Sunday. What stood out as the biggest reason why? Also, were you happy or sad to see Josh McCown’s Elwayish helicopter dive into the end zone?
Will: A few things. McCown’s dive and subsequent concussion threw everything for a loop, but Johnny Manziel was decent in relief. He lost a couple fumbles, but he looked significantly more capable and less terrified than when last we saw him. Not unlike the Seahawks-Rams game, the line play determined this one. The Browns held up against the pass pretty well, but they just couldn’t run the ball, and the pass rush couldn’t bother Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was decent, and Joe Haden got beat all day long by Brandon Marshall.
The Browns just weren’t good.
As for McCown’s dive; I’m so conflicted. Josh is a little quicker than you might think, and he looked downright spry leading the Browns down the field. They got in close, and I love that he went for it. Who doesn’t want to see their quarterback dive across the goal line or lay a block on a linebacker? That play, however, illustrated why so few quarterbacks dive across the goal line or lay a block on a linebacker.
He was doing this in the preseason, too! He dove headfirst more than once against the Bucs, and that’s when Johnny was inactive. I don’t know if Josh had a near-death experience and has vowed to live life to the fullest or what, but he plays a brand of quarterback that could charitably be described as “untenable.”
And now Johnny may be starting Week 2. I love the Browns.
Derek: If the play wasn’t up to par, did they at least look good? What did you think of the new uniforms? Did they make you crave candy corn? Would you agree that they would have looked way better if they had gone all brown or all orange instead of mixing the two?
Will: I’m also conflicted about the uniforms. The brown-on-orange look they wore Sunday was meant to evoke the glory days of Brian Sipe’s Kardiac Kids. It’s a rarely seen look, and one that folks in Cleveland are fond of. I wasn’t in love with that ensemble — the orange socks were way too much — but it was kind of fun. There are three jerseys and three sets of pants, so I’m curious to see which ones they roll out. I have high hopes for the white-on-orange.
As for the uniforms overall: I was way in on them after the first preseason game, but I think I’ve gone the other way since. There are elements of them that I don’t like — most notably the lettering down the pant leg — but they’re okay on the whole. Not great by any means, but reasonable. They didn’t fuck with the helmet, which is the most important thing, and they didn’t change the basics too much. The colors are mostly the same (the orange is famously oranger) and they didn’t Nike-fy it too much. They’re fine. That said, the old ones were way cleaner and better.
Shifting gears: Could Marcus Mariota be this year’s RG3? (In the good way, not the “whole team throwing him under the bus” way.)
Certainly! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Much like Brady and Gronk on Thursday, a large part of Mariota’s success came from the Bucs’ apparent disinterest in playing any defense. I didn’t get a chance to watch the whole game, but what I saw was a competent QB taking advantage of some serious mistakes. Sure, it’s probably better than Charlie Whitehurst would have done, but that’s not saying much. Mariota looked great, but there’s no need to overreact to Week 1. I want to see what he can do against a better defense before we give him Rookie of the Year.
Buffalo’s defense made the Colts look awful on Sunday. Are the Bills for real, or a novelty we’ll look back on, like the Titans beating the Chiefs in Week 1 last year?
Will: I hope they’re for real. I’ve long had a soft spot for the Bills. My mom and her folks hail from Buffalo, so there’s that. More importantly, they’ve been a pretty sad sack bunch for the past 15 years, which hits awful close to home. Buffalo and Cleveland are kindred spirits, both Rust Belt towns hoping to reinvent. I like Buffalo.
But Tyrod Taylor: Starting Quarterback, eh? That takes the wind out of my sails quite a bit. That said, this team could be pretty damn good. The defensive line is stacked, the offense could be super fun with LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, and Sammy Watkins running around…it isn’t hard to imagine a world in which they win 9 or 10 games. Who knows, maybe Taylor is actually good and has just been in purgatory behind Joe Flacco. Either way, let’s go Buff-a-lo.
Any random players you’re looking forward to watching this year?
Derek: Watching Tyler Lockett has already been a blast. The Rams were already avoiding him in his first career game. I’m driving the Lockett bandwagon.
As for non-Seahawks, J.J. Watt is always a must-watch. God, I can’t imagine what he’d do to the Seahawks’ line.
I think the Colts are an interesting team overall. They have the potential to be a record-setting offense, there are already rumors that Chuck Pagano is coaching for his job, and they were upset in Week 1. There are further rumors that if Pagano is let go, one Nick Saban could make his return to the NFL. I can’t say I’m rooting for them, because I don’t like how their ineptitude was rewarded with both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. I’d be interested to see how folks would talk about Jim Irsay had the Colts not been the worst team in the NFL in the two best seasons in the last 20 years to be the worst team in the NFL.
One last guy I’m intrigued by is Dolphins wideout DeVante Parker. The Dolphins have been a popular sleeper, and some have suggested Parker could be this year’s version of Odell Beckham, Jr. They have a different skill set, but Parker could give the Dolphins a big spark when he gets healthy like Beckham did for the Giants last year.
Which team’s performance do you think was most indicative of how they’ll do this season?
Will: I hate to say it, but the Patriots. It’s totally cliché to say that they’re just going to run through the league because they’re pissed off, but I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I also think that Belichick will actually be emboldened by all of the cheating rumors and push the envelope further. Mike Tomlin’s headset is just the beginning.
Hey, how about Pacman Jones not being suspended for removing an opponent’s helmet and hitting his head against it?!
Derek: I know he prefers to be called Adam now, but that was such a Pacman move. It’s good to have him back. Cooper doesn’t seem to be bothered by a lack of suspension, so … I guess I’m not either? Never change, football.
It’s time for 2015’s first Gentlemen of the Week! I’m going with James Jones. The guy couldn’t stick with a team, then he comes back to Green Bay and plays like he never left. (Did you see that, Byron Maxwell?) Jones persevered from deepest pits of NFL hell (Oakland) and is back on top once again. He is a true gentleman.
What say you?
Will: Usually rookies have to earn their stripes, but I’m giving GOTW to the Browns’ Week 2 opponent, Marcus Mariota. Four touchdowns in his NFL debut! I don’t expect that to continue (the Bucs might be real bad), but that’s just gotta be cool for him. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be the high point of his career; I hope whatever that high point is comes after this Sunday.
Derek: Let’s end with our Most Hungover Fan Bases. I think the Vikings are the clear choice. All offseason they were talked up as a playoff contender chock full of fantasy sleepers. That came to an abrupt end as they were embarrassed by the zombies that used to be the 49ers. Losing in Week 1 isn’t the end of the world, but the combination of how they lost and the team they lost to makes Vikings fans the most likely to be late to work this week. Although, in fairness, anyone who listened to the brutal commentary from Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer in this game might have been irresponsible with their liquor.
Who you got?
Will: Minnesota is a strong choice. The Niners were supposed to be a trainwreck, but they turned out to be more like Trainwreck the movie: pretty good. Poor Teddy Bridgewater was sacked five times and hit eight more. Not good for the good people of Minnesota.
And yet: Cleveland has not been a happy football town this week. It feels cheap to pick my own people in Week 1, but I think it’s a valid choice. It’s tough to say that everyone was expecting the Browns to beat the Jets, but I think most people at least saw it as feasible. The schedule looked to be favorable early on — @NYJ, TEN, OAK — and the Browns stepped right into an 0-1 hole. The starting quarterback got hurt. They turned it over five times. They still can’t stop the run, and they can’t run it themselves despite an allegedly awesome offensive line. A 31-10 loss on opening day. Ugh.
Why did we miss this?