Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NFL Week 1 Reactions

Week 1 is in the books and, as usual, it lived up to the hype.  For die-hard football fans, the first Sunday of the NFL season is the only holiday that can give Christmas morning a run for its money.  Records were broken, rookies made an impact and the New England Patriots won their first game of the season for the 9th consecutive year.  Here are some initial reactions from the first Sunday of the 2012 season.

RG3 is not RG-Leaf

The Washington Redskins have to be pleased, as they were able to do something nobody else has done since 2010--beat the Saints in the Superdome.  It was a collective team effort, and Robert Griffin was the first to point that out, but the rookie quarterback was nothing short of sensational in his first NFL start.  He started out with short passes and screens, found his rhythm, and he was shredding the Saints secondary before they even knew what hit them.  While I have been one of the biggest RG3 supporters around, there has definitely been some skepticism about his abilities and projected success in the NFL.  The comparisons to Leaf, however, were unwarranted, as RG3 wasn't entering the NFL with the same character questions as Leaf.  Anyway, it was great to see RG3 silence what few critics he had, and he looks poised for a great career.

Andrew Luck will be great, but he won't be great this year

RG3 is undoubtedly in a much better situation than Andrew Luck.  While the Redskins have some franchise pieces in place, the Colts are the worst team in the league.  For them to win games, Luck will have to be perfect, and I just don't see that happening much while playing behind a poor offensive line. Indianapolis will have to get used to some growing pains for the next year or two, until they are able to put some pieces together around Andrew Luck.  Despite the four turnovers yesterday, I was impressed with the rookie quarterback's performance, and it's clear to me that he and RG3 are head-and-shoulders above the other quarterbacks from their draft class.

The Patriots and 49ers were the most impressive teams, by far

Let's start with the 49ers, who were able to go into Lambeau and come away with a dominating performance.  I was most impressed with the running game, and if this team continues to dominate up front, both offensively and defensively, they will cruise through the regular season.  They have everything that you could ask for except for a franchise quarterback, but Alex Smith is doing his very best impression of one.

While the 49ers were in Lambeau, seemingly continuing last year's identity, the Patriots decided to have a bit of an identity change on Sunday.  New England was able to rush the passer, stop the run, lockdown in the secondary and run the football.  The Patriots haven't looked this complete since 2004, when they were able to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl.  I still have my concerns about the offensive line from their preseason performances, but I expect the issues up front to be taken care of.

Not the same offense in Atlanta

The Falcons have finally stepped away from the ground and pound approach and given Matt Ryan the keys to the offense, and what a nice offense it is.  With Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to throw to, the Falcons will be tough to stop this year.  The reason they were left out of the "most impressive" discussion is that the offense was a bit one-dimensional and the defense was spotty at times.  But Falcons fans definitely have something to look forward to, and I can guarantee the Giants won't hold them to 2 points this year.

Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning

To all of us that doubted Manning's ability to come back this season, shame on us.  He still may not be 100%, but he is a top-5 QB in this league right now.  The Broncos are in a great position to win that division, and I'd actually be shocked if they didn't, unless we see a meteoric rise from San Diego or Kansas City this year.

The Eagles aren't nearly as good as they are on paper

Before the season started, I had the Eagles pegged as a 13-3 team, with the possibility to go 15-1.  I loved what they did during the offseason, both in the draft and in free agency.  After yesterday's performance, you can tell that they still are unable to put it all together, but it's hard to figure out why.  A lot of the blame can be placed on Michael Vick, but at the end of the day, a win is a win, and the Eagles are moving on to Week 2 with a perfect record intact.  It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation progresses if Vick throws a couple more games like this, as Nick Foles was very impressive in preseason action.

The Bears are good, but can they overtake the Packers?

Brandon Marshall looked every bit as advertised on Sunday against the Colts, but we shouldn't overreact to the licking that the Bears put on the worst team in the league.  Having said that, there's plenty here.  A strong offense, finally with a weapon at the receiver position, and a very talented defense make the Bears one of the most balanced teams in the league.  If guys stay healthy, the Bears could be the NFC North champs when it's all said and done.  We will find out a lot about both these teams tomorrow night, and we will see who has some mental toughness coming off of a short week.

Second year QBs looked OK in Week 1

Ponder and Gabbert went against each other on Sunday, and both looked like they could be solid NFL quarterbacks this year.  I like Ponder better than Gabbert, but Gabbert put together a decent game.  Look for Ponder to be one of the most improved players this season, and hopefully Blaine will follow suit.

The NFC East and NFC North are the class of the league

With the Redskins on the rise, the NFC East looks to be the toughest division this year.  At the beginning of the season, it was definitely considered a 3-horse race, but after RG3's performance, we can now consider it a 4-team battle.  The NFC North is also incredibly competitive, with 3 teams in the upper echelon in the NFC.  The Vikings may struggle this year, but if Christian Ponder can improve as I think he is capable of, they could be right there at 8-8 when it's all said and done.  I still don't like their secondary, but Harrison Smith looked like a good addition on Sunday.  We all know what the Giants, Eagles, Cowboys, Packers, Lions and Bears are capable of, so either way, both of these divisions are great.

Check back next Wednesday for Week 2 Reactions.

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