The first week of the 2019 NFL season is in the books, and boy did we learn a lot. Baker and the new-look Browns disappointed an amped-up home crowd, while the Patriots picked up right where they left off. And hey, how ‘bout them Cowboys? The DC sports staff spent the weekend watching all the games so we can tell you what the biggest takeaways from week one are.
How ‘bout them rookies? If the performances put on by the offensive rookies in week one are any indication of the quality of this class, we are looking at one of the most exciting skill player draft classes in a long time. First overall pick Kyler Murray struggled in the first half of his Cardinals debut, but really turned it on late to lead Arizona to an 18-point comeback in the fourth quarter to earn a tie against the Lions. Murray went 29-54 passing with 308 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. While receiver D.K. Metcalf’s action-figure physique was a sure bet, the nature of his role with the Seahawks coming into week one was anybody’s guess. However, on Sunday Mefcalf proved to be Russell Wilson’s favorite target against the Bengals and hauled in four catches for 89 yards. Ravens rookie Marquise Brown may have had the most efficient day a receiver can have, running just 10 routes but making four grabs for 147 yards and two scores. The most impressive rookie performance of the weekend? The eight overall pick and Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson looked like Matthew Stafford’s go-to target and absolutely balled out for six catches, 131 yards, and a touchdown. Go rooks.
The Browns are who I (and Delanie Walker) thought they were! Odell couldn’t dig a dumpster fire of a franchise out of the ashes? Who would’ve thought? All jokes aside, I have nothing against the Cleveland Browns franchise. Conversely, I like rooting for the Browns. Joe Thomas is a legend and Draft Day is a great movie (shoutout Kevin Costner). The bandwagon that formed over the summer just really got on my nerves. The massive leap people expected Baker Mayfield to make with no basis for it made no sense to me. He had solid rookie numbers (6-7 record, 266 yards per game, 27 TDs and 14 INTs), but it really wasn’t anything special. Nick Mullens’ 2018 QBR of 56.2 was 0.5 higher than Mayfield’s. Before this season started, Mayfield had the same NFL MVP odds as Aaron freakin’ Rodgers. The only players he trailed were Patrick Mahomes and Carson Wentz, slotting the overhyped “Chad” ahead of Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Yes, THE Tom Brady! I’m going to use this roundtable to get my “told ya so” in before the Browns inevitably crush the poor, poor Jets and Mayfield starts a “I’m proving the haters wrong!” media campaign.
The biggest takeaway for me was how the Rams decided to use Todd Gurley in their opening week victory over the Panthers. A major storyline in the postseason was how banged up, and ultimately how tired, Gurley was. This became a real issue following the Super Bowl and needed to be addressed to keep their sensational talent health for years to come. The only real way to work around this was to not give Gurley as many reps in the regular season so he could be fresh for playoffs. Nobody really knew what this meant, if anything. Although Gurley still led the team in carries, teammate Malcolm Brown only trailed by three and scored two touchdowns, as opposed to Gurley, who didn’t score at all. It will be interesting to see how the Rams decide to handle this situation over the course of the season and if they choose to stick to what they showed in Week 1. If Gurley can stay healthy, the Rams might just have a chance to make more noise in the postseason this year.
My biggest takeaway from Week 1 is that both the best and worst teams in the NFL this year are in the AFC East. I think everyone always expects the Patriots to be good, but I’m not sure anyone expected the 33-3 massacre we saw Sunday night against the Steelers. The defense shut down a very good Steelers offense even without one of their key players, Kyle Van Noy, and Tom Brady continues to age like a fine wine. However, the Dolphins looked like they belong in the CFL in their first game. They made Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense look like “The Greatest Show on Turf” in the 59-10 demolition. Then rumors came out that several players requested trades after the game. This team is going to be a dumpster fire all year. Sixteen-0 and 0-16, respectively, are definitely not off the table for these AFC East teams.
Monday morning, I had no intention of staying up to watch the second game of the night. Then, out of nowhere, the Raiders actually made the game compelling to watch. I had already thought they were going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, but after he-who-shall-not-be-named whined his way out, I had pretty much already penciled them into a top-five draft pick. However, the Raiders looked good, like surprisingly good. Derek Carr rarely missed a throw, rookie Josh Jacobs had a stellar debut, and the defense was just short of lockdown. Yes, they were playing Joe Flacco (though he is elite), but it’s still impressive when you hold a team to 16 points no matter which one it is. They don’t even have to win Week 2, but if they can manage to play the Chiefs close for the whole game, it would establish them as a candidate to be one of the “worst to first” teams in 2019.
The New England Patriots have become so predictably dominant over the years, to the point where some have called them boring. However, every year, especially recently, they start the season seemingly intentionally slow, providing pundits everywhere with the chance to make the same “Tom Brady is washed,” “The Dynasty is over!” claims that Patriot fans have learned to laugh at. The 33-3 drubbing of the washed (fact) Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on the opening weekend is a performance Patriots fans are used to, but in September? Never. Belichick saves his best plays on both sides of the ball for must-win regular season games and the playoffs, which leads to disappointing results in the first couple weeks of the season. That was no different Sunday but with different results, as among the plays that beat the Steelers were “Phillip Dorsett runs in a straight line very fast” and vanilla slants to Edelman and Jakobi Meyers. This goes without mentioning how embarrassingly dominant the defense was without perhaps their best linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Adding Van Noy and some guy named Antonio Brown to a Patriots team that has never looked this scary this early, has me starting to whisper 19-0?
By The Daily Campus Sports Department