Week 2 shows folly in drawing early NFL conclusions
NEW YORK (AP) Whether you had already anointed or condemned, Week 2 of the NFL season should have put the brakes on such actions.
Exhibit No. 1: New England.
Exhibit No. 2: Dallas.
Exhibit No. 3: Jacksonville .
Exhibit No. 4: Tennessee.
And don’t forget the Redskins and Rams. Or the Bills and Vikings.
OK, we’ll give Minnesota a break because starting quarterback Sam Bradford’s knee was too sore for him to suit up at Pittsburgh. A better judgment of the Vikes can be made when Bradford is behind center rather than Case Keenum.
The NFL schedule might be short compared to other pro sports, placing an extra emphasis on each result. But to push the panic button or start planning playoff trips after opening week is foolhardy.
This weekend displayed that for many teams.
Let’s begin with the Patriots and Cowboys, who headed in opposite directions Sunday.
All that gloom and doom in New England now will fade before the leaves begin to do the same following a 36-20 romp at New Orleans that was over after one quarter. That’s how long it took Tom Brady to show that 40 ain’t old in pro football – at least not for him – with three TD passes, a first for him in an opening period. Kansas City’s defense troubled Brady in the opener, and the Patriots’ D was shoddy.
Then came Sunday’s immediate turnaround: a Big Easy in the Big Easy.
”Being 0-1 with a 10-day break felt like a year,” Brady said. ”All the veterans had a chance to say the things they wanted to say to their different (position) groups. … I’m glad we executed. There were a lot of tight plays and we made them.”
Dallas didn’t. Seven days after manhandling the Giants with a bullying defense and an imposing-its-will offense, the Cowboys pretty much were manhandled themselves in Denver. Granted, the Mile High city is a difficult place to play, but the dropoff in physicality for Dallas was stark.
”We started slow and they had the momentum at their home,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott explained. ”It’s a great environment and they thrived off of that. We never got ourselves going. We never gathered that momentum as much as we should.”
Nor did the Jaguars in a 37-16 loss to the Titans.
Now, nobody is comparing the Jags to the Cowboys. But in Week 1, they were as overpowering as America’s Team. This week, much like Dallas, they disappeared.
Jacksonville went from 10 sacks at Houston to one at home against Tennessee. The Jags went from rushing for 155 yards to gaining 99. And they went from a plus-4 in turnover margin to having three giveaways.
”We had a lot of mistakes,” wide receiver Marqise Lee said. ”Even when we found ways to move the ball forward, we still found ways to bring ourselves back. You can’t win the game doing things like that.”
You can win it when you are on the other end, which the Titans were in north Florida. A week after they were dominated at home by Oakland, a budding AFC power, Tennessee stuck with it after a slow start, then spurted away. They won’t be singing those sad country tunes on Broadway in Music City this week.
The blues being sung in Washington will be silenced for a while after the Redskins survived in Los Angeles. It never was pretty, and few Redskins games will be this season. It was, though, a shift in direction, something quite natural in the NFL in the opening weeks.
And just as the Rams were being celebrated for their annihilation of Indianapolis a week ago, there now will be plenty of ”when do the Dodgers play next” comments in Southern California.
Don’t laugh. The wild swings in support and derisiveness are common among NFL fans and observers. And it’s simply the nature of the sport that drawing conclusions after one win or loss is a wasteful exercise.
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- Dallas Cowboys
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Marqise Lee
- Minnesota Vikings
- NFC East
- Tennessee Titans
- Tom Brady