After the Week 1 Sunday games in the NFL, here are ten topics you should be talking about this morning. Let’s take a look around the league…
1. Cam Newton’s opening act: Carolina’s top pick looks legit after throwing for 422-yards in a 28-21 loss at Arizona. What stood out from my perspective was his ability to get the ball down the field in the vertical game to WR Steve Smith. Let your No.1 go make some plays for you. We can talk about development all day long in this league, but when a rookie QB has a true playmaker that can get down the field, you are going to see some numbers. The next step? Consistent production every Sunday from Newton.
ICONRay Rice and the Ravens rolled over the Steelers.
2. Ravens beat up the Steelers: The seven turnovers from Pittsburgh? That will get you beat every Sunday in the NFL. But what I’m more concerned about is how they played defensively vs. the Ravens. Joe Flacco took advantage of that Steelers’ secondary, and up front Baltimore looked like the more physical team. Ray Rice runs for over 100-yards, and as a team the Ravens put up 170-yards on the ground. Bad defensive football from Pittsburgh.
3. Romo’s mistakes: Two turnovers are going to stand out for the Cowboys’ QB. The fumble inside of the 10-yard line going in for a score and the INT late in the game that led to the Dallas loss. Can’t take points off the board or throw a route up the sideline vs. a top-tier CB playing 2-Man. That’s too easy. Unfortunate, because I thought Romo challenged and showed production vs. this Jets’ secondary for most of the night—but the turnovers cost this game for Dallas.
4. The Colts: Forget about Kerry Collins (16-31-197-1TD) stepping in for Peyton Manning here. Instead, let’s talk about the defense and special teams in Indy—because that has nothing to do with the QB position. We saw a team that didn’t tackle on defense or cover in the kicking game. Can’t do that at any level of football and see results, especially vs. a divisional opponent. Understandable when you lose a leader like Manning to take a step back, but that doesn’t mean you can’t compete.
5. The Martz playbook: Talked about the Bears defense on Sunday at the NFP, but flip over to the offensive side of the football. QB Jay Cutler (22-32-312-2 TDs) was able to throw a variety of routes: the WR missile screen, hit the 7 route in the “OVS” combo (9-7-Flat) and complete the standard deep inside breaking dig route in Martz’s scheme. He was patient in the pocket, spread the football around and looked comfortable controlling this offense in the Bears win over the Falcons.
6. Rex’s numbers: Give Grossman the credit here, because as I wrote on Sunday, the ‘Skins QB outplayed the Giants’ Eli Manning. I was a big fan of the game plan in Washington and when Rex can throw the ball inside of the numbers and take some deep shots, he can produce for Shanahan’s offense. His final stat line: 21-34-305-2 TDs. The two TD passes? Came on the top red zone concepts inside of the 10-yard line: the slant and the fade.
ICONThe fade route to Calvin Johnson in the red zone is a weapon for the Lions.
6. Calvin Johnson: I’m still looking for a defense that is going to stop the Lions WR on a consistent basis. Johnson caught two TDs in Detroit’s 27-20 win over Tampa, but I want to focus on this offense when they are inside the 10-yard line—because you know the fade route is coming. You can coach perfect technique, footwork and hands at the CB position. But when Matthew Stafford throws the fade, this turns into a one-on-one matchup that Johnson should win almost every time. He’s a weapon.
8. Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense: Did anyone see this going down? Fitzpatrick goes into Arrowhead and throws 4 TDs in a 41-7 whipping of the Chiefs. That’s impressive football. I’m not going to crown the Bills after one week of the regular season, but this type of offensive production has to be talked about. And it brings us back to the discussion on Fitzpatrick—because he can play. Solid QB that will produce in Chan Gailey’s system.
9. Ted Ginn’s TD returns: We talk about big plays on special teams early in the season, and the Niners’ return man was a perfect example of that vs. Seattle. Two fourth quarter TDs in the return game. On the 102-yard kick return, Ginn made a cut that absolutely froze the Seahawks’ coverage team. And if you play special teams for Seattle, it is going to be a long afternoon watching that tape today at the facility.
10. McNabb’s lack of production: Look at these numbers from the Vikings’ QB: 7-15 for 39 yards. That’s it. McNabb gets the early TD pass inside of the 5-yard line, but where is the production from the veteran? The NFC North is no joke this season with the Packers, Bears and Lions. And if Minnesota can’t get solid play from McNabb, they are going to have a rough time winning divisional games.
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