The first week of the NFL season is over, and what a week it was.
For me, the NFL’s return is just like being a kid again on Christmas morning. and it didn’t let me down at all.
Several games were very close. There were some things we didn’t expect and some things that went about the way we thought they would. We’re going to talk about some players and teams who need to step it up in today’s post. This doesn’t mean that if your favorite player or team is in the postseason, their season is over, but I do think that the seasons of a couple of teams are in serious doubt right now.
Here are a few players who let me down in NFL Week 1, either because of how they played or because of how their plays were called.
The New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are the first team we’ll talk about who I think was losers in NFL Week 1. This isn’t a segment about Mac Jones or a direct shot at him, because, to be honest, Mac was set up to fail in many ways in week one. Before this season started, my biggest worry about the Patriots wasn’t if Mac Jones could lead them to success or if he was the guy.
I think Mac is a good NFL quarterback because he shows both his good and bad skills every week. The thing that worried me the most was that they went into the season with Jacoby Myers, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Aguilar, and Devonte Parker as their top four receivers and told themselves, or in this case, tried to convince themselves, that they could win.
The Bills are at the top of the division, and that’s who we need to beat heading into the year. They are the gold standard right now in the AFC East and, honestly, maybe all of football.
We’ll go into the year with the play calling being up in the air, whether it’ll be a former defensive-minded coach in Matt Patricia calling offensive plays who, by the way, uses two formations all day or a coach who was just fired from the Giants, who perhaps was most known for calling a third and eight quarterback sneaks with the season effectively over last year.
Yes, this will help us compete and win games, and to me, Mac Jones’ offensive supporting cast isn’t anywhere near the top of the NFL, and it showed and had Miami put up more points, which spoiler when the Patriots play teams like the Ravens, Packers, Vikings, and Bills this year, all of these teams will more than likely put up more than 20 points. and I truly don’t think New England can keep up with any of these teams. I think this will be one of the longest seasons the Patriots have had in the past 25 years.
Next up is the Arizona Cardinals.
This is not solely because they lost to the Chiefs, because I honestly thought heading into the game the Chiefs would win, but the question was by how much. I thought this would be a big 12 style shootout and we would see a 900 plus total yard game and that the final score would be something along the lines of 45 to 41. The Arizona Cardinals are in today’s post for a few reasons, and the first is how they attacked Patrick Mahomes.
The game plan was bad in NFL Week 1, and I get that you don’t want to sit back and let him pick you apart defensively, so you do want to try and generate some pressure, but Patrick Mahomes is at his best when being blitzed. No stat shows this better than when he was blitzed on Sunday, as he was 16 for 23 with 143 yards and five touchdowns, and of course, zero interceptions when blitzed against the Cardinals. Mahomes will find the mismatched when he’s being blitzed and exploited nearly every time. Then there was one of the five touchdowns he threw to Travis Kelsey in which Cardinals third-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons was covering him.
Mahomes placed the ball exactly where Kelsey could get it. What’s even more frustrating for the Cardinals is that they drafted Simmons in the top 10 back in 2020 to be the ultimate chess piece of the defense and to essentially eliminate tight ends because the Cardinals are notorious for having trouble covering tight ends. I don’t think the Cardinals’ defense is going to be all that good in 2022 to begin with, but the blitzing of Mahomes at the rate they did surprised me, as he was blitzed on 58.5% of all drop backs on Sunday.
The Chiefs led 37-7 at the end of the fourth quarter, and the Cardinals having only seven points entering the fourth quarter after extending James Connor this offseason and trading a first-round pick for Marquis Brown is nothing short of a letdown. It does not get any easier for them as their next four games are at the Raiders’ home against the Rams, at the Panthers’ home against the Eagles.
Next up is the Tennessee Titans.
And this is like the Patriots when they go back to the offseason. There’s going to be games where you play teams and players like Saquon Barkley make play after play, as while we like our favourite NFL teams, the teams they are going against are also professionals and are going to make plays over the course of the game. But what concerns me about the Titans is that you put up 20 points in your home opener and lost to a team led by Daniel Jones.
I believe the game plan should have been to stop Saquon Barkley and force Daniel Jones to beat you. Saquon had nearly 200 yards of total offense, and while Daniel Jones was not an MVP level quarterback in this game, he did enough to get the win, which also included a 60-plus yard touchdown to Sterling. Sure, you can make the argument that’s a kick he needs to make, but I think you can very much make the argument that the defending number one seed in the AFC should not be in this game with the team that was just picked in the top five of the draught heading down to the wire with the game on the line.
Daniel Jones is also notorious for turning the football over, and not surprisingly, the Titans forced two turnovers from DJ, one being an interception and one due to Jeffrey Simmons forcing the football out. In back-to-back games now, the other being the divisional round of the playoff game against the Bengals, the Bengals have sacked an opposing team’s quarterback at least five times, and in both games they came away with a loss. To make matters worse, they go to Buffalo next Monday night, and we all saw how Buffalo looked in Week One. For that very reason, to me, this was a must-win game for Tennessee. For them to have deep postseason aspirations the way I’m sure they internally do, they cannot drop games like this to the New York Giants.
The Las Vegas Raiders are up next.
You could certainly make a case for the raiders. The Broncos, too, are in an extremely unfortunate situation in which they have good rosters but play in the NFL’s most stacked division. But there were some poor decisions made by Derek Carr in Week One, as well as balls that should never have been thrown or were simply thrown away. The first interception was intended for Darren Waller, and it was a severely underthrown ball in a game where the Raiders had a chance to step up and set the tone for the season.
The Chargers played on Thursday night against the Chiefs, and had Vegas gone into LA and beat them in week one, we could very easily be talking about the Chargers as a team that’s 0-2 if they lost against the Chiefs in a span of five days to start the season. In this scenario, they would have gone from Super Bowl hopefuls to wild card hopefuls that fast. But Derek Carr threw three interceptions and when you lose a game to a divisional opponent by five points, this is very very glaring and this isn’t on Derek Carr as much, but he was also sacked five times and cutting alex leatherwood.
A first-round pick from 2021 certainly doesn’t help the situation up front, but while the talk in the off-season was about how to cover Darren Waller, Devonte Adams, and Hunter Renfroe, the Raiders’ season is far from over. To me, the quarterback play was something to keep in mind because Carr is not Mahomes or Herbert, and it was especially evident in Week 1. Remember, Derrick finished sixth in the NFL in interceptions last year, trailing only Matt Stafford and Trevor Lawrence.
The main difference between Carr, Allen, and Stafford was that Carr only threw for 23 touchdowns to those guys’ 35 or more, and because the Raiders play in the AFC West’s juggernaut division, you can imagine their schedule doesn’t get any easier moving forward, and it doesn’t as their next four games before their week six bye are Arizona at Tennessee, at home against Denver, and at Kansas City on Monday night. The biggest thing to remember here is that the season isn’t over by any means for any of these teams, but for Las Vegas specifically, it’s hard not to look at this and think one got away, especially when you factor in who they played.