The NFL season is here.
With the backdrop of a global pandemic and one of the most historic movements for racial equality in this country still looming, Week 1 is nearly complete.
For everyone except the Jaguars and Chiefs, opening day was without fans in the stands, but the excitement and anticipation were still present on social media.
Even with all the circumstances surrounding this season, once the ball kicked off, football was football — and it left me with a lot of thoughts on the NFL’s opening weekend.
Let’s start with the most anticipated game coming into the season. Tampa Bay went into an empty Superdome and got handled by Drew Brees and the Saints. Tom Brady didn’t look good, he threw two picks in the game, one was returned for a touchdown, and the 43-year-old couldn’t seem to find a good rhythm the whole afternoon.
The truth is, he’s old, and he never amazed anyone with his raw arm talent before, so to say he’s lost a step isn’t hyperbole. But that doesn’t mean he won’t win. This is a typical start for a team that has had vital new pieces join the roster in key positions. They also didn’t have a typical offseason or any preseason games because of COVID-19. It’s going to take some time for Brady and the Buccaneers to get some continuity.
It was obvious that Brees and the Saints, with years of familiarity, were the better and more cohesive team yesterday. When these two squads meet up again in November, following months of trial and error in Tampa, expect the next matchup between these two NFC South rivals to be much closer.
The Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins connection seemed to work faster than 5G on Sunday. In their first game together, the tandem hooked up 14 times for 151 yards to defeat the reigning NFC champions in a crucial divisional game. Murray was out there looking like he was in a video game as he threw for 230 yards and led the team in rushing with 91 yards. Murray accounted for two of Arizona’s three touchdowns on the day, with running back Kenyan Drake tallying the other. Jimmy Garoppolo had another solid day behind the center for the 49ers. He threw two touchdowns and accounted for 268 total yards but still found a way to lose against a second-year quarterback.
Watching Garoppolo on the field is almost like seeing your homeboy with the significant other that you know he can’t break up with because she is a really solid person and there are no major issues, but you also aren’t sure if he’ll ever take her to the altar.
San Fran’s defense also needed to be better at containing Murray, but hey, they only gave up 24 points to a top-five wide receiver and an emerging superstar quarterback. Can’t ask them for much more than that.
It was nice to see the Rams show glimpses of offensive prowess on Sunday Night Football, especially in the running game. After a tumultuous 2019 season that saw their offensive line struggle mainly due to injury, it was a positive sign for head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff that they could pound people a little bit.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, well, they were the Cowboys. Even under new head coach Mike McCarthy, there was nothing new under the sun in Big D. Ezekiel Elliot was solid as he rushed for nearly 100 yards. Dak Prescott was ehhhhh, as he threw for 266 yards and a TD. Amari Cooper and rookie CeeDee Lamb had pretty good outings.
If it weren’t for a bad OPI call late in the game on Michael Gallup, the Cowboys most likely would have won this game. Of course, they didn’t, because they are cursed by the involvement of their owner, Mr. Jerry Jones. Despite what the referees call, there is still no excuse for a team this talented to only put up 17 points in any game.
Yet, I have to remember we are talking about the Dallas Cowboys, from whom everyone born after the 1995 season has seen nothing but mediocrity.
How the Eagles lost to a team that doesn’t even have a real name is beyond baffling to me. As you likely know by now, Philadelphia surrendered a 17-point lead in the game and allowed Dwayne Haskins and Washington to score 27 unanswered points, stealing away a pivotal division game. The Eagles had the audacity to give up eight sacks, as if Carson Wentz weren’t already built like a gingerbread house. Wentz also had two egregious picks that helped Washington complete the comeback. It was an absolutely deplorable second-half performance from a team that should be battling for a playoff spot this season. Props to Haskins and Washington head coach Ron Rivera for making a dysfunctional organization look good in Week 1 but the Eagles have no excuse for folding like a lawn chair at a family reunion.
Aaron Rodgers was a man amongst boys yesterday as he threw for four touchdowns and 364 yards. Davante Adams displayed why he is one of the most underrated receivers in the league, pulling down 14 catches for 156 yards and two TDs. Adams, along with Julio Jones, almost beat my fantasy team by themselves yesterday. Granted, the Green Bay quarterback faced an inexperienced Minnesota secondary, but it was still impressive to see Rodgers come out with this level of fire after the organization drafted his heir apparent, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.