We're doing a season-long NFL roundtable with our friends at Slate. Check back here each week as a rotating cast of football watchers discusses the weekend's key plays, coaching decisions, and traumatic brain injuries.
From: Drew Magary
To: Nate Jackson, Tom Scocca
I actually didn't mind the 9/11 tributes too much. I thought they'd be horrible and tasteless, but then I saw the Chargers' Mike Tolbert had shaved stars into his hair (with complementary Mohawk), and I saw Purple Jesus holding the giant flag tarp over the field, and then saw Rex Ryan doing the same thing later, and it was all fine by me. As someone who lived in Manhattan the day of 9/11 and watched people covered in debris and who-the-fuck-knows-what-else staggering up First Avenue, I've avoided all coverage of the attacks since. I turned on the memorial dedication in the morning, heard some names being listed, then flipped the channel because I couldn't take it anymore. So maybe it needs to be put in front of my face against my will occasionally, because I appear to be too much of a coward to confront it myself.
Although fuck Budweiser for being too cheap to spring for a new Clydesdales ad.
Anyway, here's what I learned about Week 1: FUCK YOUR CONTINUITY. Because the Steelers looked awful yesterday. They looked slow, old, and weak. They looked like they aged 50 years in a day. I'm sure they'll look different as the season goes on, but it reminds you that, continuity or not, when a team like the Steelers decides to play shitty football, they'll play really shitty football. And it doesn't matter how many years they've played together. You can start off the new season with the exact same roster you had a year before and the team can still be completely different. Players age. They change. They assault people in the offseason. The NFL isn't static, lockout or not.
And I didn't see the revamped offensive lines for Philly or Dallas struggle that badly, as everyone expected them to. And I saw Bryant McKinnie, who showed up at Vikings camp weighing 7,000 pounds, play competently against Pittsburgh. And I saw Cam Newton look exactly the same as he did in college (regardless of whether or not the Arizona secondary blows-and it does-it was still pretty impressive). And I saw Rex Grossman destroy the Giants. Maybe continuity was a DETRIMENT yesterday. Maybe teams were so afraid of their players being lost out there that they simplified things to the point where even rookies were able to adapt. Maybe I sound like Peter King right now. POSSIBLY. Nate can help me come correct on that.
The enjoyable thing about Week 1 of every NFL season is that it changes the landscape of the league instantly. All your preconceived notions get obliterated and replaced with new ideas that you should have seen coming but never do. Everything seems so clear now. The Texans are awesome (just like after Week 1 last year!). The Chiefs are dog shit again. The Falcons are mediocre and Matt Ryan may never be a top-tier QB. Those feel like solid concepts now, until next week when everything changes all over again. The NFL goes out of its way to make people, especially people who think they know things about football, look stupid. And I'll never get enough of that.