Jaguars Don’t Let Up vs Patriots:
Last year in the AFC Championship, the Jaguars took the foot off the gas pedal on offense while protecting a 2-possession lead. They were clearly apprehensive about relying on Blake Bortles to seal the win. Yesterday in Jacksonville, they not only put the ball in Bortles’ hands to get the lead, but they kept the ball in his hands to protect it. Jacksonville continued to throw as they were trying to put the Patriots away – and Bortles actually delivered. Message to the rest of the league: You have to actually outplay the Patriots in order to beat them. Wins against a Bill Belichick/Tom Brady team don’t come by accident.
Chiefs and Steelers Headed in Different Directions?
Patrick Mahomes threw for 6 touchdowns against the Steelers and now has 10 TD passes with 0 interceptions through his first two games. Andy Reid has always been a great play designer with an innate ability to break down defenses. In Mahomes, he now also has a quarterback he can consistently attack downfield with for the first time since he took over in Kansas City. And attack Mahomes does. He is not afraid to pull the trigger, and his downfield accuracy has been very impressive thus far.
On the other side, the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to play sloppy, undisciplined football. Mike Tomlin has had a successful career as the Steelers’ head coach, but there is no denying that they should be doing more with the talent they’ve had there over the last several years. Good team or not, lack of discipline has been a consistent characteristic of these Steelers.
Same Old Giants Offense:
Eli Manning was sacked 6 times and was under duress for pretty much the entire game against the Cowboys on Sunday night. The offense, despite the offseason changes, looked awfully similar to the 2017 Ben McAdoo version. If Eli can’t get the time he needs to navigate the defense like he is capable, then it doesn’t matter what explosive players the Giants have. This offense hasn’t been explosive in 3 years despite the talent of their skill-position players, and it’s largely due to the ineptitude of the offensive line.
A Step Back for the Jets:
Week 1 seemed a little too good to be true for the Jets. They were brought back to earth yesterday against the now 2-0 Miami Dolphins. There was overreaction last week, there will be overreaction this week. The Jets are not the team that blew out the Lions 48-17 in Week 1. But you know what? They aren’t the team that lost 20-12 at home to the Dolphins either. The Jets have a lot of good pieces to work with, and as they play together more this season, they will improve. The Jets will absolutely go through some growing pains with rookie quarterback, Sam Darnold. That’s par for the course. This is the year to get those growing pains out of the way, though. With that being said, Darnold has shown a lot of promise through his first 2 games.
Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves a mention here. He has been amazing through his first 2 games as the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback, completing almost 80% (80%!) of his passes, for 819 yards, with 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception. His passer rating is a near perfect 151.5. We’ve seen short spurts of great play from Fitzpatrick throughout his career, only to be followed by the inevitable regression to backup-level performance. Who knows what will happen this time? Jameis Winston, might be in the Buccaneers’ future plans, but he hasn’t earned the right to take over when he returns regardless of how his replacement is playing. The Buccaneers should ride this out as long as Fitzpatrick performs.
Packers and Vikings Tie:
Unfortunately, a great game between two division rivals will be forgotten due to an awful roughing-the-passer call against Clay Matthews on what would have been a game-sealing interception for the Packers. We get the idea of protecting the quarterbacks. They are the stars of the game and the ratings drivers. But you now have a situation where defenders get called for a penalty for making contact with the quarterback’s head, going low on the quarterback, and putting too much pressure on the quarterback’s midsection when taking him to the ground. Where and under what circumstances is a quarterback now allowed to be touched? And how is a defender, going full speed, supposed to change the trajectory of his body midway through a tackle? New roughing-the-passer variations seem to get added each year, and sadly, it is impacting the product on the field.