Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 1 NFL Roundup

I know there are two more games left to be played on Monday night, but enough happened on Sunday and Wednesday to warrant me writing this now.  Plus, it's not like the Monday night games are exactly toss-ups.  Some observations from week 1 of the NFL season:

I said before the game that I was very excited to see what Peyton Manning could do in his first game action in almost 20 months.  After a slow first half in which he only passed for 98 yards, Manning was his old, hurry-up, surgical self in the second half.  The $80 million man completed 19 of 26 for 253 yards and two scores, controlling the game when the Broncos got the football and making use of a lot of receivers.  With Manning at the helm, John Fox won't have to do much brain work on offense, allowing him to focus on improving Denver's already impressive defense.

I'm certainly not ready to validate any move at this point, but it certainly looked on Sunday like Robert Griffin III is for real.  The Heisman winner from Baylor showed poise, confidence, and incredible accuracy in a very hostile environment during his NFL debut, passing for 320 yards and two scores while running for 42 more and not turning the ball over once.  It's a long season and the Skins have done this before, but it was very impressive to watch and it could be a turnaround many have been waiting for.

I betcha the Cleveland Browns were expecting their two first round picks to play better on Sunday than they did.  Brandon Weeden, who is starting in Cleveland for God knows what reason, was absolutely terrible, completing a third of his passes for 118 yards and four picks (all after getting trapped in the American flag pregame).  Trent Richardson, the third overall pick, was also less than stellar, gaining less than 40 yards on 19 carries, but against a tough defense like the Eagles', it's less concerning.  For Cleveland's sake, they better turn it around.

The New England Patriots opened their season with another throttling of a hapless opponent, this time the Tennessee Titans.  The Pats struggled out of the gate a little but once they got moving, it was the same old freight train.  Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, and the offense moved the ball with little difficulty and the defense, bolstered by the healthy return of several key players and super rookies Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones, was in Jake Locker's grill all afternoon. Impressive.

Down in the Lone Star State, the Houston Texans steamrolled Joe Philbin's hapless Miami Dolphins.  Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions and put the ball on the ground once and the defense was beaten by Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, who had injury doubts but looked excellent.  Also impressive and a good sign for Houston was the play of their defense (albeit against Tannehill) without DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams, who left this offseason.  I still don't know why on earth the Dolphins thought Tannehill was the eighth best player in the draft (or even close to it), but I guess we'll see.

The Dallas Cowboys are good.  Call it a fluke, but beating the Super Bowl Champions in their house on opening night, especially after they took you to town twice last season, is impressive no matter how you slice it.  Tony Romo was Tony Romo, making plays in and out of the pocket and using his elite set of wideouts in Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Kevin Ogletree.  Running back DeMarco Murray looked great coming off his broken ankle late last season, and the balance of running and passing helped Dallas beat down the Giants' normally dominant defense.

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