Wow! What a tremendous first week of NFL football. I have a few random thoughts about what we saw, and then I will give my take on what teams are leading the way for being the absolute crappiest team in the league.
How many times did we hear that kickoffs would be boring this season? NOT! Randall Cobb (GB), Percy Harvin (MIN) and our own Ted Ginn each ran back kickoffs for a touchdown. There were a total of eight players, including the three with touchdowns, who ran it back for more than 40 yards and six of those went for over 50!
As the analysts and former players harped on the new kickoff rule, one of the things that I heard over and over again was how the new rule would make guys like Josh Cribbs less valuable to their team. They argued that the guys that were specialists in this area would have to learn how to contribute in other ways because they would be less effective than in years past. I know that hindsight is always 20/20, but after seeing the action in week 1, I would argue that the specialists will actually become more valuable and that kickoffs will actually be more exciting than ever before. I love how much of a gamble it is now for the returner to take it out of the endzone from 5+ yards deep. You don't know if they will make it past the 15, but when they do it is really fun to watch.
Cam Newton displayed every bit of athletic talent that he is capable of this week against the Cardinals. Too bad his record-setting performance didn't translate to a win, but he blew the doors off the hinges in his debut. I expect to see him have some extreme ups and downs this year. Carolina fans should be very optimistic.
St. Louis Rams fans must be holding their collective breath right now as they await more information on Sam Bradford's injury to his hand/finger. The Rams might be going from favorites to win the West to struggling to avoid becoming one of the teams on the bottom of the heap if this injury is anything long term.
Ryan Fitzpatrick...4 TD's...I guess that the front office wasn't lying when they said that they liked him...
Ironically, one of the worst teams yesterday is a team with one of the all-time great qb's in league history in Payton Manning. When the lockout lifted and the year officially began, nobody thought that the Colts would be in the running to draft next year's stud quarterback, Andrew Luck. But we all know now that Manning is probably out for the year. A lot has also been said even before yesterday about the fact that Kerry Collins is a slow starter, but...seriously? He's 39 years old, and he barely completed 50% of his passes yesterday and looked completely inept at times. Teams aren't going to be shy in the future about sending the house against this porous offensive line, and it won't be long until the Colts are forced to hand over the duties to Curtis Painter after they peel Collins off the turf for the umpteenth time. In my opinion, the Colts are leading the Luck Sweepstakes.
Not to far behind them, if yesterday was any indication, would be the Seattle Seahawks. I didn't think that they would look as bad as they did, but their offensive line is simply atrocious. Tavaris Jackson may not be a very good quarterback, but if the line protects he can do some things very well. Even with Gallery coming back in I can't see them doing very well. The only fullback on their roster was injured, as well. The only way that teams with sub-par qb's win games is on the back of a solid running game, and they were completely stymied against the 49ers. Their defense might win them a few games this season, though, with an impressive group manning the trenches and Earl Thomas looking beastly both in the run game and in the air.
Even though they won yesterday, I would still have to place the Cincinnati Bengals next in line to be the worst at the end of the year. They have a favorable schedule this year, being that they play against the NFC West and the AFC South, but I don't think that they have the talent this season to win many games. Maybe Taylor Mays will go Highlander on Ed Reed and consume his powers, thus turning their defense into a turnover machine, but I just don't see that happening.
The Cleveland Browns and the Tennessee Titans are the last two teams on my list. Both of these teams have drafted young quarterbacks in Colt McCoy and Jake Locker in the last two drafts who they are high on, but if they tank it will be interesting to see if the teams roll the dice to try and land the next great franchise quarterback.
Of course, it is just week one and things can change so fast in the NFL. All I know is this: Thank God Football is Back!