By RYAN BRAUCH
The wait is finally over, football is back. With Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season in the books, we can take a step back and reflect on what all 32 teams gave us in their opening games.
Atlanta’s defense concerning:
In a game where both starting quarterbacks had embarrassingly terrible outings, Thursday Night Football turned into a snoozefest. It has become more and more evident that the Falcons’ offense is going through some growing pains, that started in the 2017 season, but the biggest concern on Thursday was the defense. The ninth-ranked defense a year ago was repeatedly taken advantage of by an offense without starting quarterback and MVP candidate Carson Wentz and their best wideout Alshon Jeffery. In the second half, Atlanta’s defense was burned on several occasions by back up quarterback Nick Foles and 35-year-old Darren Sproles, who is the second oldest running back in the game behind Frank Gore. If that was not enough, they also lost star young safety, Keanu Neal. Ideally, we would like to see improvement on both the offensive and defensive end, because they left much to be desired on Thursday.
The Bills’ offensive line struggles are real:
After losing long-time center Eric Wood and pro-bowler guard Richie Incognito to retirement and trading away starting tackle Cordy Glenn, there have been a lot more questions than answers surrounding this Buffalo Bills line. Analysts have been pointing out the deficiencies in this unit since training camp, but on Sunday, those struggles became reality. Allowing six sacks and negating a handful of plays with penalties, the Bills’ offensive line made it impossible to move the ball down the field against the Ravens, resulting in a 44 point blowout with a final score of 47-3. Nate Peterman and Josh Allen are already having nightmares of getting sacked against the Chargers next week.
Brady’s still got it:
If anyone was wondering, Tom Brady is still tearing opposing defenses apart at age 41. On Sunday, he picked apart a tough Texans defense without his best receiver Julian Edelman, who is currently serving a four-game suspension. To the rest of the NFL’s dismay, Brady may be able to follow through with his plans to play late into his forties.
Fitzpatrick steals the show:
With starting quarterback Jameis Winston absent while serving a three-game suspension, journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped up big for the Buccaneers. The veteran back up started off his fourteenth year in the league with a bang, throwing for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Bucs shocked the Saints 48-40 in a game that many thought to be an easy divisional win for the Saints. With two games left on his suspension, Winston may not have a starting job when he is eligible to return.
Jimmy G is not invincible:
After being traded to the San Francisco 49er’s mid-season in 2017, Jimmy Garoppolo led the struggling Niners to an impressive 5-0 finish. Starting his first season opener as “the franchise guy”, Jimmy G had his work cut out for him, going up against arguably the best defense in football in the Minnesota Vikings. As many predicted, the Vikings were able to disrupt Garoppolo enough to earn themselves a 24-16 win, thus ending the undefeated Jimmy G era. Although they failed to come up with the win, there are plenty of positives San Francisco can hang on to moving forward.
Luck is back in town:
2016. That is the last time that we saw Andrew Luck throw a football. The Colts quarterback has been nursing a lingering shoulder injury that put his career in danger. This weekend, we got to see Luck back in action and he did not disappoint. Although the Colts fell short, losing 34-23 to the Bengals, Colts fans can rest easy knowing that Luck is back to his usual form. Luck threw for 319 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception. Not bad for a guy still shaking off the rust.
Keeping it Ti(e)ght:
After going winless in 2017, the Browns brought the fire in Week 1 against a Le’veon Bell-less Steelers team. Second-year man James Connor filled in perfectly for Bell, but that did not seem to bother Tyrod Taylor and the Browns, as they executed a nearly perfect fourth-quarter comeback. Hopefully, Cleveland can use that fire to win themselves a few games this season, they have a lot to make up for after going 0-16 last year. For now, the Browns can celebrate their tie because technically they didn’t lose.
AP turning back the clock:
In the Washington Redskins’ 24-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals, we saw vintage Adrian Peterson, as the 33-year-old running back and future Hall of Famer, ran for 96 yards and a touchdown, as well as 70 receiving yards. After failed stints with the Saints and the Cardinals last year, many questioned if we have seen the last of the star running back as he nears retirement, but on Sunday he showed us that he still has gas in the tank.