Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Mike Bradley: The Week That Was - NFL Week 1
It's an event that needs no introduction. The first week of the NFL schedule came and passed, with the usual fanfare that comes with the beginning of the sacred season. With old faces in new places, injured superstars making triumphant returns, healthy superstars making early exits, and 30 teams (not counting the Rams or Lions, for obvious reasons) beginning their quest for the Lombardi Trophy, Standing Room Only reflects on all the action from Week One.
Of the quarterbacks making debuts with their new teams, the best performance belonged to rookie Mark Sanchez of the Jets. The confidence of the young man was evident as he threw for 272 yards and a touchdown, leading a balanced effort in an easy win
on the road in Houston. Fellow rookie Matthew Stafford wasn't as fortunate, having to endure a blowout loss at the hands of Drew Brees and the Saints. What's even more troubling might be the 3 INTs Stafford threw against what is widely considered an underwhelming secondary in New Orleans. There is clearly potential in his big arm. The Lions just might have to wait a little while for the potential to be realized. Stafford wasn't alone in the INT department however, as Jay Cutler did nothing to excite Bears fans eager to see their new "stud" lead their team to the promised land. After a 4 INT performance against the hated Packers, Cutler has a lot of work to do to win over the good graces of the rugged Bears faithful. Meanwhile, back in Denver, Josh McDaniels obviously has more work to do than he originally thought. If you erase the miracle 87-yard game-winning TD, Kyle Orton threw for an unimpressive 156 yards against a pitiful Bengals squad, reminding fans of a poor man's Brian Griese. Enough said. And finally, some Brett Favre guy made his debut for the Vikings. In a lame duck effort that was upstaged by an Adrian Peterson explosion, Favre threw for slightly over 100 yards and a dramatically over-celebrated TD pass to rookie Percy Harvin. But at this point, who cares about Favre outside of Minnesota?
Early Injury Bug
One of the dominant topics of week one was the plethora of injuries across the league. In the league's opening game, the Steelers lost s
tar ballhawk Troy Polamalu for a few weeks due to a knee injury (Watch out, Fitz. The Madden Curse is coming for you!). If the injury lasts longer than 3-4 weeks, the Steelers may be in some trouble. However, the Steelers aren't in as much trouble as the Bears, who lost beast MLB Brian Urlacher for the entire season. It's one thing to lose your star for a few weeks, but the Bears now have to move forward without the quarterback of their defense. The Patriots also lost the centerpiece of their defense when Jerod Mayo went down with a Grade 3 MCL sprain, which is of the severe variety. Standout linebacker Paul Posluszny was lost to a broken arm, leaving the Bills a man down as well. Injuries were almost too popular, so in a quick roundup, Donovan McNabb broke a rib, LaDainian Tomlinson rolled an ankle, Anthony Gonzalez suffered a knee injury, and Shawn Andrews reaffirmed himself as the softest lineman in the NFL by being placed on the IR yet again. I wonder who's next this week?
Defense was everywhere in Week One, from an 8-turnover effort from the Eagles to a dominant Giants defensively line reaffirming themselves as the class of the league at rushing the passer. Sheldon Brown, Asante Samuel, and company knocked Panthers QB Jake Delhomme out of the game with 5 INTs, the front 7 forced fumbles, they scored a touchdown, and the return game looked fabulous in executing an 85-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson. Osi Umenyiora was back and Justin Tuck looked ready to wreak havoc all year long in an impressive showing against the Redskins. Once again, the NFC East is shaping up to be another great battle.
Best of the Rest
The Raiders looked good in losing a heartbreaker to San Diego. Russell is on his way, Louis Murphy might outplay Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Michael Bush will overtake Darren McFadden as lead ballcarrier at some point in the season in Reggie Bush-Deuce McAllister type move....You can't write off LT until he plays healthy, although Darren Sproles looks to be the present, as well as the future, feature back of the Chargers....Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco both avoided the sophomore slump in Week One, looking incredibly comfortable in their respective offenses entering their second seasons....Drew Brees may finish the season as the best QB in the league....Kurt Warner looks OLD. Matt Leinart, anyone?....Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings are scary good....The Rams may not win a game this year.