Some thoughts on this weekend's games
There are two rookie quarterbacks beginning the season as starters. E.J. Manuel in Buffalo and Geno Smith with the Jets. The players went 1-1 in their debuts with Smith winning and Manuel losing. Manuel played well enough to win and did nothing to lose the game. If new Head Coach Doug Marrone wants to beat a division power like New England he has to play to win. The play calling by Buffalo in the last third of the game was atrocious. Buffalo played conservatively, tried to run the clock, and couldn’t do it. That strategy won’t work against New England. You have to "knock out" the defending champs not hope you can win by a decision. Buffalo let this one get away and it’s not on Manuel.
In Tampa Bay, Jets quarterback Geno Smith got the Jets in field goal range in the final minute. He was helped by a stupid personal foul penalty on the Bucs. Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David hit Smith when he already had taken two steps out of bounds on a scramble. The 15 yard penalty set up the winning field goal by the Jets. Smith struggled in the first half but came on and played well in the second half. He finished the game completing 24 of 38 passes for 256 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. This gives Smith something to build on.
Marc Trestman won his first game as an NFL Head Coach beating a strong Cincinnati team with a thrilling 24 -21 come from behind win. Jay Cutler played one of his better games as a Bear completing 21 of 33 passes for 242 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 interception. On the interception, Cutler’s arm was hit just as he released the ball, making for a bad throw that got picked. Other than that throw, Cutler played a strong game.
One of the most impressive things about that game was the play of the Bears offensive line. The Bears started 2 rookies at right guard and right tackle (Kyle Long and Jordan Mills), and while they didn’t play perfect games they played well. Kudos have to go out to Offensive Coordinator/Line Coach Aaron Kromer. He did a great job preparing these two. Cincinnati has one of the best front four in the NFL yet Cutler was not sacked.
The Chiefs lost confidence in themselves last year and ended up with the worst record in the NFL. Andy Reid was brought in to restore that confidence and he did. The Chiefs defeated Jacksonville 28-2 in a game that wasn’t that close. The Chiefs offense was efficient and their defense created 2 turnovers and sacked Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert 6 times.
Speaking of Gabbert, it’s time to move on. Granted he played injured Sunday but the fact remains he can’t get it done. The Jags have a much better chance of winning with Chad Henne at quarterback
New York Giants vs Dallas. I don’t ever remember a Giants team under Tom Coughlin turning the ball over 6 times. The remarkable thing is even with all those turnovers they still had a chance to win the game. If the Giants are going to do anything this year, they have to get better play from their running backs. That group accounted for 3 of the turnovers
Bringing in Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli changed the tone of the Dallas defense. Both coaches preach hustle and turnovers. Having been around Marinelli I know how much he makes his players practice creating turnovers. In Sunday night’s game the Cowboys played how they practice. Creating turnovers doesn’t just happen, it happens because a team works at it day in and day out. When Marinelli was in Chicago under Lovie Smith, the defense tried to create a turnover on every play of team, 9 on 7 and 7 on 7 periods. When you spend that much time practicing the art, it happens in games! It’s too bad other clubs don’t practice the same way.
The University of Southern California used to be one of the dominate teams in college football. That is no longer the case. They looked very ordinary in their opening win at Hawaii. On Saturday night they lost their home opener to Washington State no less! When is the last time that happened? The USC offense had less than 200 yards total offense Saturday. I thought that Lane Kiffin was going to be fired after last year’s disastrous season but he was able to hang on. If things keep going the way they are, Kiffen won’t make it through the season. I can only imagine what the large money donors are saying to AD Pat Hayden in private.
Going into the season Jadveon Clowney was the favorite to win the Heisman and be the first player selected in next spring’s NFL Draft. After two games both may be out of reach. Clowney has shown flashes of top play but overall he has been nothing better than a good college football player. He hasn’t played anywhere close to the dominate player we saw in 2012.
Often, when a top college player starts playing his final season and knows what his draft value is, he can play to not get hurt instead of being the relentless player we have seen in the past. That may be what is happening to Clowney. He knows he can be Number 1 and wants to protect that slot. The problem is, with the way he is playing now he isn’t even a top 5 pick let alone the top pick. His play has to be one of the most disappointing stories of the early season.