Musings about the NFL
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
As of this article’s writing, week one of the NFL is in the books, and week two is getting under way. Despite the year having barely begun, there are already a few storylines developing.
Let’s start with the Big Apple, shall we? The Giants were upset by the Cowboys in their season opener. Wow. That result really surprised me. The Giants blew everyone out of the water last year on their way to yet another Super Bowl. Wait, what’s that you say? They didn’t? Oh, right. Eli Manning and his band of blue-clad misfits were an exceedingly average 9–7; 9–7 is the same record as the powerhouse Tennessee Titans finished. On top of that, the Giants actually allowed more points than they scored (394 for, 400 against). Yes, they still won the Super Bowl, but I just don’t understand all the hype about the team. If the Giants hadn’t won the Super Bowl last year, would you consider the Cowboys’ win an upset? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t even be surprised. But if the Cowboys took out New Orleans, Green Bay, or New England, I would definitely consider that an upset. Why? Because those teams are proven winners. They dominate the regular season. They’re always favourites to finish as champions. Simply winning the Super Bowl (not to say that it’s easy) shouldn’t be enough to vault a team into a top ranking. The Giants are a mediocre team that peaked at the right time, and nothing more. If they miss the playoffs this season, no one should be shocked.
Shifting the focus to the Jets, Mark Sanchez is doing his very best to keep the attention on himself and away from the Tebow show. The USC grad put up 266 yards through the air with three touchdowns and only one pick against the Bills, and looked good doing it. Really good. Meanwhile, Tebow was limited to rushing the ball five times for 11 yards out of the Wildcat. And as if Sanchez couldn’t get the spotlight any more securely on himself, it was discovered this week that he’s dating Eva Longoria. Tim who?
Heading to New Orleans, two things were revealed in the opener against the Redskins: the Saints still have no defense, and Robert Griffin III is for real. Drew Brees is the reason the saying “the best defense is a good offense” exists. If it weren’t for him, the ‘Skins would have run roughshod (well, even more so than they did) over the Saints. The loss of Robert Meachem has proven so far to be no problem, and Jimmy Graham continues to show that he’s probably a really advanced human cyborg. The offense will be dynamite again, but the defense may have to start searching for some new bounty hunters players soon if they want to stay in contention. As for RGIII, I think the whole continent heard the girlish squeal of delight from the Redskins’ nation. This guy can really play: 320 yards and two touchdowns with no picks, while adding 42 yards on the ground? If you thought Cam Newton looked good last year, then you’re going to enjoy watching RGIII’s star rise this time around.
While on the subject of rookie first round QB’s, I’d like to take a moment to mention one of the other guys. No, not Luck. Not Tannehill either. I’m talking about the saviour of Cleveland, Brandon Weeden, the 28-year-old rookie. Back in April at the Draft, the Browns seemed to be turning a corner. They got the best back in the draft, Trent Richardson, then took their man behind centre, Weeden, and then proceeded to fill out the rest of the team with some promising prospects. Add in WR Josh Gordon from the Supplemental Draft, and you almost had the makings of a breakout squad. And then you watched week one—possibly the ugliest game I’ve ever seen. The final score was 17–16 for the Eagles, but the stat lines are enough to make you want to puke. Weeden managed 118 yards passing with zero touchdowns and four interceptions while completing just over a third of his passes. For those fantasy football guys out there, yes, those stats actually mean he put up negative points. And while I’m having a go at the guy, his QB rating, which I’ve never really bothered to figure out completely, was 5.1. Despite not knowing much, I do know that it’s exceptionally difficult to get a single digit number. Weeden will get better, but it’s going to be a hard go of it for the Browns. Again.
And just so I’m on record of having said this, I’ve got the Falcons taking the big prize at the end of the playoffs this year.