Mixed results from rookie QBs
Trey Lance didn’t play a single snap after throwing a TD and carrying the ball a few times in very limited action Week 1.
Justin Fields came in due to injury to starter Andy Dalton. He managed 91 total yards with no scores and an interception. It wasn’t the best of showings, but being his first extended action, it was far from the worst that could’ve happened. It still remains to be seen who will be the starter when Dalton is healthy again.
Trevor Lawrence had a very up and down performance Week 1 and followed it up with a mostly down performance. Inefficient and with more turnovers against a very good defense, Lawrence has struggled to open up the year. The Jags have another tough matchup against Arizona next week, but Kirk Cousins showed that their defense is still vulnerable, so Lawrence could take advantage.
Zach Wilson was another guy who had an up and down Week 1, and unfortunately also had a very down performance Week 2. The Patriots defense is definitely good, but the 4 interception performance Wilson had was hard to watch at some points. Wilson is often caught trying to do too much. He can be over aggressive for the home run play, when there is a smarter, easier play that should be made. He will likely learn this adjustment, but he’s finding out he can’t play exactly like he did in college anymore.
Mac Jones has been the best of the rookies so far, which isn’t super surprising. With Mac going to New England, he has a good mix of being pro ready, having good coaching, and having a good team around him. He had a very solid Week 1, and followed it up with a decent Week 2 where he wasn’t required to do much in an easy win. Jones has been efficient and accurate so far, and will look to continue those trends into a tough 2 game home stand against the Saints and Bucs.
The Saints and Ravens are confusing
I was going to make this just about the Saints, but then Sunday Night Football happened.
In Week 1, the Saints absolutely dominated reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. It was an absolute blowout with little resistance on either side of the ball. They followed that up by getting smacked around by the division rival Panthers in Week 2. It was a sharp turnaround in the wrong direction for a group that will need to find stability to put together a good season.
The Ravens, limited by many injuries, came out and lost a very, very winnable game in Las Vegas. With the health issues and poor performance, many people were already prepared to write this season off for them. Then on Sunday Night Football, Baltimore manages a comeback win against the Chiefs of all teams. They now sit at 1-1, having done the opposite of what most people expected them to do the first 2 weeks.
Buccaneers looked primed to repeat
After a thrilling Week 1 win that required a classic Tom Brady game-winning drive, Tampa Bay blew out the Falcons on Sunday, 48-25. The offense looks incredible.
44-year-old Brady has thrown for 655 yards (5th) and 9 TD (1st) in just the first 2 games. With an unbelievable trio of Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin, the defense can’t focus on just one elite weapon, and Brady makes them pay.
If those weapons weren’t enough, Rob Gronkowski is having a revival of a year so far with a league-leading 4 TD receptions. They also boast a great offensive line and a solid 1-2 punch in Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette.
On the defensive side of the ball, they’ve had 2 games where they gave up more than they probably should have, but they are an excellent defense led by Todd Bowles, an excellent defensive coordinator. They look more than capable of going back to back and should be the favorites to do so.
NFC East looks much improved
Last year the NFC East was laughably weak from top to bottom. There is a laundry list of excuses for each team, but the bottom line is all 4 teams were bad. The teams finished a combined 23-40-1, with Washington winning the division at 7-9.
This year, the division as a whole seems much improved through 2 weeks. The Giants are the weak link so far. They lost convincingly to the Broncos before losing to the division rival Football Team on Thursday night.
The Eagles started with a blowout win over the Falcons in which they were dominant on both sides of the ball. They then hung with the 49ers for most of the game in Week 2 and turned in a solid performance even in a loss.
Washington stuck with the Chargers in a decent showing in a close loss, before winning a tight divisional game as mentioned before.
Dallas may be the most impressive so far as they took the defending champion Buccaneers down to the wire in a loss that required a game-winning drive. They then put out a solid performance and beat an explosive Chargers team on the road.
The division looks much stronger than last year and does not look on the path to be the league laughingstock like last year.
Breakout candidates emerging
Many players enter each year dubbed as breakout candidates. We are already seeing several of them look the part through the first 2 weeks. A few of them stood out to me this week.
Deebo Samuel is someone who we’ve seen perform well in games over his first 2 years, but due to health and/or a low volume passing game, he hasn’t really broken out yet. Through 2 games this year he has already amassed 15 catches (T-4th), 282 yards (1st), and 1 TD. He has, as usual, been a YAC monster and is an absolutely violent runner, running through people on countless occasions.
This is year 6 for Sterling Shepard, and he looks like a different player. The Giants signed Kenny Golladay, drafted Kadarius Toney in the 1st round, stuck with Daniel Jones at QB, and somehow Shepard took over and started to break out. He currently has 16 catches (T-1st), 207 yards (7th), and 1 TD. Shepard looks primed to smash his previous career highs this year, especially with the added boost of a 17th game.
Tony Pollard has been a backup to the well-paid Ezekiel Elliott for the duration of his short career so far. Usually just a good insurance policy and someone who doesn’t get many touches when Zeke is healthy. However, this year is looking like it may be different. Through the first 2 games, he’s racked up 23 touches for 183 total yards and 1 TD, while averaging 7.7 yards per carry. His recent performance has caused many on social media to wonder if he may even be the best back in Dallas right now. While that is likely an overreaction, Pollard looks like he’ll be much more involved in the offense this year, and he’s taking advantage so far.