I’m not sure that I had many expectations for week one. The NFL suffered a strike with the subsequent lockout. Both sides looked like they had dug in for the long haul. Suddenly, somebody came to their senses and an agreement was made and there was a shortened training camp season. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting much. Pre-season looked like bad college football at times. I was pleasantly surprised that week one was much better than I thought it would be. So, here are my thoughts at the end of week one.
In my opinion, the NFL was the big winner. The quality of football was very good. There were too many kickoffs, run back and punts returned for touchdowns. Still, there was plenty of excitement.
New England Patriots – I thought there were as many questions surrounding this team as any other in the NFL. They made multiple adjustments. They brought in new talent, including Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, both of whom are excellent football players with checkered pasts. The Patriots came out and simply dominated a vastly inferior Miami Dolphins team. It is clear to me that Tom Brady and the Patriots sent a message to the NFL that they plan on winning the Super Bowl – this season.
Baltimore Ravens – To me, the Baltimore Ravens have seemed just a little too old the last couple seasons. They seem to start off the season very well and they seem to peter out toward the end. On Sunday they faced their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers like I haven’t seen in five to eight years. The feared rushing attack of the Steelers ran or tumbled for less than 70 yards. At the same time the Baltimore Ravens were able to run over the Pittsburgh Steelers for more than 170 yards on the ground. The Baltimore Ravens made a statement.
Chicago Bears – I wasn’t sure what to think of the Chicago Bears this year. I’m not sure that I have bought into Jay Cutler. It is clear that he has the tools to be a great NFL quarterback. It just appears that sometimes his mind is not in the game. On Sunday, Jay Cutler, the offense of the Chicago Bears and the rest of the team simply manhandled the Atlanta Falcons. The game wasn’t even as close as a 30-12 score would indicate. The defense of the Monsters of the Midway was the story. They crushed the offensive line of the Falcons. Matt Ryan was running and ducking and being tackled most of the day. Even the greatest quarterbacks need time to throw. He had none. I don’t think that the Bears could have drawn up the script any better.
What is with the new kickoff rule? If they don’t want high-intensity collisions then eliminate the kickoff altogether. Everybody gets the ball on the 20- or the 30-yard line. This exercise where the ball is routinely kicked out of the back of the end zone is a waste of time.
Dallas Cowboys – At the end of last season, the Dallas Cowboys had a laundry list of things that needed to be corrected. Their special teams were suspect. Their defense was porous, to say the least. Teams routinely decided that it was much easier to throw against Dallas then to run against them. Last year, Vince Young looked like a potential Hall of Famer riddling the Dallas Cowboys defense. So, one would figure that Jerry Jones and company would fix the problems in the defense. The secondary looked exactly the same as last year. Sure, Terence Newman was hurt. Michael Jenkins got hurt. Orlando Scandrick was also missing in action. Where is the new talent? Oh, yeah, Jerry Jones drafted Josh Thomas in the fifth round and he didn’t make the team? Did Jerry Jones believe that new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could make chicken soup out of (oh, I shouldn’t go there). Yet it wasn’t the ineptitude of the Dallas defense that killed the Cowboys on Sunday night. I don’t understand how you get a punt blocked at a critical time in the game. This is the NFL, where certain things that simply cannot happen if you want to be thought of as an elite, playoff team. Don’t get me started on the failures of Tony Romo. How do you spend a week preparing for a team and with a game on the line, roll out and throw into clear double coverage? If you’re a Dallas fan, it was infuriating.
Donovan McNabb – How do you end a game 7 for 15 for a total of 39 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the whole game?
Indianapolis Colts – How do you put all of your marbles in one basket? I know that Peyton Manning is going to go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He should go down as one of the most durable quarterbacks of all time, sure, but how do you not have a viable backup? This isn’t badminton. It is football. Players get hurt all of the time. How do you call somebody off of their Barcalounger to play quarterback for you? The problem in Indianapolis is they’ve developed an offensive system that is tailor-made for Peyton Manning. Nobody else can run that system. Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers or Drew Brees can’t run that system. It isn’t just the offense that is tailor-made for Peyton Manning. It is the whole team. Their defense is built to slow down opposing offenses (that’s all that they needed because Peyton would deliver 30 points), not crush them in their wake. So now that Peyton Manning has had his third neck operation in 19 months, what do the Indianapolis Colts do? If they are honest, they will refund the money of all their season-ticket holders.