Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week One NFL notes

The first official Sunday of the NFL season was notable in one respect: That there wasn’t much in the way of passing efficiency. Oh sure, Aaron Rodgers had a 140.6 rating, but on only 23 passes thrown in a 31-23 win over Chicago, while Marcus Mariota seemingly became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a “perfect” 158.3 passer rating in his rookie debut, against his not-so-impressive counterpart, Jameis Winston in leading Tennessee to a 42-14 thrashing of Tampa Bay. Mariota threw but 16 passes, but he made them count—that is for 4 touchdown passes. Phillip Rivers did complete 35 of 42 passes for a Week One high of 404 yards, but they accounted for only two touchdowns and two interceptions as the Chargers managed to slip by Detroit, 33-28..

On the other hand, Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco were both awful in the Broncos 19-13 victory over Baltimore. Manning completed 24 of 40 passes, but for a mere 175 yards in gross yards, no touchdowns and an interception; this certainly counts as one of the most lackluster performances of his career. Fortunately, Flacco was even worse, throwing for just 117 yards on 18 of 32 passes, no touchdown and 2 interceptions. So much for his “elite” status. 

Elsewhere, the Raiders quarterback woes continued, as Matt McGloin threw for just 142 yards on 31 pass attempts as the Bengals routed Oakland 33-13. Meanwhile, the Geno-less Jets “shocked” fans but thrashing Cleveland 31-10. Ryan Fitzpatrick was his usual journeyman self, playing just efficiently enough to allow the running game to control the tempo. Johnny Manziel threw his first TD pass for Cleveland, but he looked like a second-year rookie otherwise. 

In the “Who is he?” department, the Bills threw in the towel and started Tyrod Tayler, a fifth year benchwarmer who had thrown but 35 career passes and had a 47 passer rating. On Sunday, Taylor—aided by a 51-yard play by Percy Harvin—kept things simple, making no mistakes as the Buffalo defense continuously frustrated Andrew Luck in a 27-14 victory over Indianapolis. 

Carson Palmer was effective in a 31-19 victory over New Orleans; the question, of course, is if he can stay healthy an entire season with a team that looks like it is poised to win the NFC West. We may say this because Seattle looked mortal after all despite scoring 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, forcing St. Louis to scramble back after first relinquishing an 11-point fourth quarter lead, then falling behind after fumbling the ball away. But with under a minute to play, Nick Foles led the Rams to the tying touchdown, and in overtime Seattle failed to convert on 2nd and 5 from the Rams 46-yard line, forgoing a long field goal attempt as Marshawn Lynch lost a yard on fourth-and-one, allowing St. Louis to claim a 34-31 victory.

For the most part, this was an awfully dull first week in the NFL, with questions abounding, particularly in regard to Peyton Manning’s health. Another question is whether there is a price to be paid for starters taking too much time off in preseason games.

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