By: Shawn Davis
It’s just the first week of the season so please try not to overreact to anything you saw this weekend.
The way the opening game of the season played out REALLY made me want to skip posting this entry. It’s not because I picked Green Bay to win the Super Bowl or anything like that – I have New Orleans beating New England, by the way – but their offensive philosophy smelled rancid through my television.
Listen I get the idea of a shutdown corner, one that can limit an offense by taking away the primary receiving threat and/or rendering a third of the field a “no occupancy” zone. I get that. Also, I understand the Packers shifting their best two receiving weapons: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb opposite the Seattle Seahawks second corner, Byron Maxwell. It makes sense to exploit him, right?
The fact that Aaron Rodgers did not throw a single pass on the right side, outside the numbers, to any receiver – ALL EVENING – was shocking. So the gameplan was to stay away from Richard Sherman’s side of the field the entire contest and limit the amount of space you can attack? Oh wait, I’m sorry, Rodgers did complete 5-of-7 passes for six yards, to the right side, on short gains so there’s that.
I don’t care if Deion Sanders, in his prime, is out there…you have to be able to test the defense everywhere. They couldn’t have Nelson, who has speed and size, challenge Sherman? Or line Cobb out wide since he is probably top-5 in terms of speed in the entire league? There is a reason T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts torched the Seahawks for 140 yards last season in a Colts, 34-28, win last season: Andrew Luck knew he had to connect with one of his top targets, no matter the defender.
Having a corner sit there and relax is a good time to have one of their receivers hit him with a double-move, a sluggo route or an out-and-up fly pattern just to test his focus and reaction time. I mean he is just out there watching the game, like us all, but with the best view in the house. Challenge him with Jarrett Boykin, I mean he is capable of doing more than decoy work. It was a 36-16 beating that should have been worse. Mike McCarthy is a better coach than that – and so is Rodgers as a top quarterback, some say the best, so to put that performance on tape was disconcerting.
IND 24 @ DEN 31: I watched this while stuffing my face with sushi and it was similar to the Saints-Falcons contest from earlier in the day. Poor Broncos fans, their team spends a boatload of cash only to wither in the second half…while the offense sputtered. It’s only one week – I have the Broncos in the AFC Championship game – but it all cannot fall to Peyton Manning. I could be wrong though…
NO 34 @ ATL 37 (OT): This was a simple game of two halves and I think the Saints thought the first half would automatically carry over. In a division matchup that’s usually decided by the team holding the ball on a final drive, this did not disappoint.
After looking up at the Saints early, the Falcons managed to stay in the game on the LEGS of Matt Ryan. You absolutely read that correctly, Ryan made two key runs for first downs that kept two drives alive early. He was quick on his feet while also surveying downfield to strike when he could. In the four full games I watched this weekend, this was the most enjoyable.
Even though I have the Saints winning the Super Bowl, I am not worried after one week. More importantly though, their defense needs to clean up their tackling because they whiffed on tackles…that turned into touchdowns.
MIN 34 @ STL 6: The Rams are already down to their third quarterback on the depth chart. This season could be a long one.
CLE 27 @ PIT 30: Down 27-3 at halftime you could almost hear sportswriters across the world typing the headline for Johnny Manziel’s debut; hold on for another week guys. Brian Hoyer went 19/31 for 230 yards and a touchdown, showing a high level of resiliency when the front office was probably ready to make the change to the most famous second-stringer in the league.
Hoyer’s lone mistake after tying the game at 27, which is not really his fault, was that Ben Roethlisberger received the ball with enough time to win the game; look at the final score. The fact that he still gets overlooked as one of the best quarterbacks in the league – when you factor in his body of work – confuses me.
JAX 17 @ PHI 34: The Eagles spotted the Jaguars a 17 point lead on purpose. You didn’t know that? Chip Kelly was going for an impressive win to better his team’s chances of getting into the new College Football Playoff.
OAK 14 @ NYJ 19: This game could have gone either way because even though the Jets had the edge in total yardage (402 to 158), rushing yardage (212 to 25) and time of possession (34:50 to 25:10)…they also led the game in penalty yardage (11-105 compared to 4-20). Do that enough and games will be close, no matter the opponent.
CIN 23 @ BAL 16: I like A.J. Green and the Bengals defense a great deal. Andy Dalton is making it difficult for all the people who support him…to continue doing so.
BUF 23 @ CHI 20 (OT): This is the Jay Cutler that gives all the people in Las Vegas the night-sweats if they put down money on the Bears’ chances of making real noise this season, as in Super Bowl noise because there’s a lot of action on Chicago this year. Well, Cutler threw a few gifts (two) to the Bills just to make things interesting in a way that only he can.
WSH 6 @ HOU 17: Whatever success the Texans will have this season will depend entirely on J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson; especially when the inevitable Ryan Fitzpatrick collapse happens.
TEN 26 @ KC 10: I didn’t see enough of this game but Alex Smith’s three interceptions were awful. Besides that, the Chiefs offensive line needs work.
NE 20 @ MIA 33: Offensive line troubles, Patriots? Bill Belicheck will kick himself when he finally retires as he ponders how inept he was in getting Tom Brady a marquee receiver.
CAR 20 @ TB 14: Derek Anderson played like the pro-bowler he was in 2007 and let Cam Newton rest those injured ribs.
SF 28 @ DAL 17: I had no idea that football fans in California travel to Arlington, Texas. There was a sea of red in the stands and it felt, from my chair, that the game was played at a neutral site. Tony Romo isn’t as bad as he looked on the field. I think he’s still recovering from his back surgery because he wasn’t as fluid in his movement and he looked stiff.
NYG 14 @ DET 35: Are the Giants going to miss the postseason tournament for a third straight season? It’s too early to tell but where are the weapons for Manning? Calvin Johnson is devastating and I like how creative the play calling is in that he breaks the huddle to work from the slot and from out wide.
SD 17 @ ARI 18: These birds are going to beat a lot of the teams that are darlings this year, like the Chargers.