Teams are starting to reveal themselves through two weeks of the young NFL season
Due to incredible comebacks in Week 2, the NFL has evolved into the ultimate reality television show. Before the New York Jets’ incredible comeback against the Cleveland Browns, NFL teams had dropped 2,331 straight games while down by 13 or more points with two minutes remaining (including playoff games).
A wild Week 2 in a league that appears to be becoming more unpredictable with each game saw the Miami Dolphins come back from a 21-point second-half deficit to shock the Baltimore Ravens, while the Arizona Cardinals saw their best comeback victory in 23 years.
After two games, each team is beginning to present a more accurate picture of where they stand. After the Week 2 schedule of games, we will break down our key observations about each club below.
Kyler Murray earned the contract he received: Murray’s performance in Sunday’s comeback victory over the Raiders demonstrated why the Cardinals agreed to pay him a guaranteed $189.5 million. Murray had 252 yards in the second half and overtime to help the Cardinals come back from a 20-0 hole, scoring twice in the fourth quarter (once passing, once rushing) and combining to run and throw for another two-point convert.
Without Murray’s heroics, the Cardinals would be 0-2 on the season. Arizona has weaknesses, but Murray can hide them by wearing down a defence in the closing stages of a game. Having Kyler Murray on your team is preferable to not having him.
Does Kyle Pitts even exist? : For a Falcons team that has played hard, Pitts has been essentially nonexistent through the first two games. Pitts was being covered by Marshon Lattimore in Week 1, so it was understandable why his stats weren’t spectacular.
How was Week 2? Pitts was only targeted three times and had just two catches for 19 yards. For one of the top pass catchers in the game, it is unacceptable. If the Falcons are to have success on the field, Pitts must play a larger role in the offence. There should be more than four catches for 38 yards on just ten targets.
Lamar Jackson leads all Ravens rushers with 136 yards and averages 9.1 yards per carry, so the run offence needs to improve. That is not unexpected. But none of the running backs on the roster are doing much to support Jackson. With 17 carries for only 39 yards (2.3 yards per carry), Kenyan Drake leads the running back group and is a major factor in Baltimore’s failure to win the game against Miami on Sunday.
Jackson can’t carry the offence alone, and once J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards return, the rushing game will substantially improve. The running backs that are healthy now need to do better in the meantime. In comparison to what the Ravens have currently, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman performed substantially better last season.
Remember how talented Stefon Diggs is: Even though Diggs is one of the best receivers in football, not enough is said about him while discussing the best wide receivers in the league. In a rout of the Titans on Monday night, he slammed down the door when he entered that conversation, finishing with 12 catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
Diggs took advantage of the Titans’ secondary being without Kristian Fulton to completely dominate the cornerback group. Diggs forced the Titans defence to take 1,000 hits without Gabe Davis before a 46-yard touchdown catch broke Tennessee’s back.
In the Super Bowl era, just five players, including Diggs, have three games with 140 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He is a top receiver and ought to be considered among the league’s finest.
Even with a better quarterback, the offence remains pretty unimpressive. In Sunday’s loss to the Giants, the Panthers’ offensive struggles were highlighted by two fumbles that set the tone for the meagre 275 yards of offence they managed. With a performance that was helter-skelter and only 14 of 29 passes completed for 145 yards and a touchdown, Baker Mayfield hasn’t been able to make a difference.
The Panthers were just 2 of 12 on third down, with Mayfield’s sack at the 46-yard line with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter of a three-point game perhaps the most egregious missed opportunity. Even with Christian McCaffrey playing a bigger role, the Panthers’ offence appeared lifeless as they struggled for consistency.
Carolina’s offensive line is only defeated 13.2% of the time, which ranks sixth in the NFL. It’s up to Matt Rhule and Ben McAdoo to give this offence some life.
Justin Fields is not helped by the offence: same story with new coaches and a new season. Luke Getsy, a new offensive play-caller for Chicago, makes Fields appear just as confused as ever. In contrast to Chicago, which had four more punts than completions of at least 10 yards, he only completed 7 of 11 passes for 70 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception (40.8 rating).
In this offence, none of the Bears’ playmakers are producing. Fields must improvise far too frequently because the offensive line is constantly changing. The mess in the unit is seriously impeding Fields’ development.
The ball is held too long by Joe Burrow. In Sunday’s defeat to the Cowboys, the Bengals offensive line struggled once more, but Burrow spent the most of the game searching for the big play that simply wasn’t there. In order to keep the quarterback upright and stop searching for plays with 20 or more air yards to get the offence moving, Cincinnati needs to improve its short passing game.
On Sunday, the Bengals took too long to grasp that realisation, which lost the offence the chance to score earlier. Maybe the quick passes will be part of the game plan against Pittsburgh on Thursday.
A weak pass defence is displayed: A secondary’s performance through two games can be judged by the fact that it allowed Joe Flacco to complete four touchdown passes. Through two weeks, coverage lapses have been the norm, which aided the Jets’ comeback victory on Sunday and permitted the Panthers to rebound in Week 1.
In terms of pass yards allowed and touchdowns allowed through two games, Cleveland is ranked 25th in the league. Joe Flacco and Baker Mayfield are the targets of this.
If Cleveland wants to compete in the AFC North, it must address the secondary, which is the source of the breakdown.
Dan Quinn deserves praise for exposing La’el Collins at right tackle in Sunday’s victory, positioning Micah Parsons on his edge, and letting his top pass rusher trash the Bengals right tackle all afternoon. Parsons, who finished with eight pressures and two sacks, was the reason the Bengals’ offence stalled.
Parsons has recorded 13 pressures and four sacks in two games, leading the league. He is a true game-breaker and might already be the finest pass rusher in the NFL.
The Broncos’ red zone offence is a huge worry; in Sunday’s unconvincing victory over the Texans, they failed to inspire their supporters by going 0 for 2 on both of their red zone and goal-to-go chances.
In goal-to-go opportunities, Russell Wilson was 0 for 5 passing, while Nathaniel Hackett only called one running play. Remember that the Broncos have Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams.
When they are inside the 10-yard line, the Broncos must run the ball. They might even score touchdowns and assist the QB.
For the first time since 1997, Detroit has scored 30 or more points in three straight games, proving that the offence is legitimate. Amon-Ra St. Brown has an NFL-record six straight games with eight or more receptions and a receiving score, while D’Andre Swift averages 10 yards per carry.
Jared Goff, who has six touchdown passes to only one interception through two games, has an easy time of things thanks to Swift, St. Brown, and an excellent offensive line. Jameson Williams will soon join this explosive pass-catching unit in Detroit.
This Lions offensive performance is real. Detroit’s offensive talent will allow them to score thanks to their ability. In terms of points per game, they are leading the NFC (35.5).
Green Bay Packers
Although Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers, this offence can score points with the help of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon in the backfield. Jones scored two touchdowns and the two combined for 237 yards (193 rushing, 44 receiving) as Matt LaFleur attempted to distribute the ball more evenly (one rushing, one receiving).
Giving the ball to Jones 18 times, as opposed to eight the week before, was crucial for Green Bay. While Rodgers works out his rookie pass catchers, Jones can cover up the inexperience of the Packers’ young receivers in the early going of the season. LaFleur must dial his phone number.
Davis Mills’ struggles in the fourth quarter don’t make him seem like the long-term solution: Mills is attempting to establish himself as Houston’s franchise quarterback, but the late-game outcomes have done a lot of damage to his case. Mills is 5 of 16 for 75 yards in the fourth quarter of games so far, and the Texans are yet to score a point.
Houston tried to come back into Sunday’s game and upset Denver, but Mills was sacked twice and lost two fumbles. The Texans simply lack the offensive firepower to support Mills, and his performance in the closing minutes of games is also uninspiring.
Retread quarterbacks with experience might not be the solution. In Sunday’s rout at the hands of the Jaguars, Matt Ryan had a dismal day, going just 16 of 30 for 195 yards and throwing three interceptions (34.0 rating). Ryan has only completed 60% of his passes through two games, with a touchdown and four interceptions (63.9 rating), which is hardly the spark the Colts offence needed when the front management opted to blame Carson Wentz for last year’s failure to reach the postseason.
Ryan is having a difficult time because the Colts’ offence is limited to Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman. Of course, Ryan appears to be the same quarterback who hasn’t been able to win games for the Falcons in recent years.
Perhaps Indianapolis needs to take a good hard look at itself and admit that seasoned quarterbacks aren’t the solution to improving the offence.
Due to the acquisitions made in the first round of the draught and the money spent on free agents on the defensive side of the ball, Jacksonville may have its finest defence in years. Last season, the Jaguars had just nine interceptions, but they already have six in just two games this year.
Jacksonville has six sacks in two games, has given up only 14 points per game, and not only did it achieve its first shutout in four years. The Jaguars have a 5th-place NFL passer rating of just 71.8 against opposing quarterbacks.
Give Mike Caldwell credit for the prompt turnaround. Jacksonville now has a chance to contend for the AFC South thanks to the Jaguars’ defence.
Kansas City Chiefs
The new wide receivers still need some work: Despite having a much deeper offensive line, the Chiefs’ new pieces had little impact on Thursday’s victory over the Chargers. JuJu Smith-Schuster only had three catches for 10 yards, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling only had two catches for 14 yards.
Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman were used by Patrick Mahomes to carry the passing game, demonstrating his familiarity with them from previous seasons. Similar to Week 1, the new wide receivers will have their chance, but there is still work to be done to establish continuity with Mahomes.
Las Vegas Raiders
The renowned pass rush might not be renowned at all: Chandler Jones was hired by Las Vegas to make Maxx Crosby’s life simpler. Jones has largely been a non-factor through two games. Jones wasn’t in the picture when Kyler Murray was evading Maxx Crosby and the Raiders defenders.
To end games and stop running quarterbacks like Murray, the Raiders paid Jones. Through two games, he has four pressures and three missed tackles.
The main problem in Vegas is that Crosby is putting pressure on the quarterback (12 times), but he is not being sacked. Jones and Crosby have had to carry the Raiders defence late in games through two games. That hasn’t happened thus far.
Los Angeles Chargers
Better run defence is required: No, the run game needs improvement! After two weeks, the Chargers’ run offence has the second-worst average of 2.75 yards per carry in the NFL. Austin Ekeler only got 14 carries for 39 yards in the Chargers’ loss to the Chiefs on Thursday, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.
It is obvious that Los Angeles needs a capable No. 2 running back to assist Ekeler, and Sony Michel might be that player. In two games, Ekeler has averaged just 2.7 yards per run due to the Chargers’ offensive line injuries to Corey Linsley and Trey Pipkins.
If the Chargers want to be a Super Bowl contender, they cannot be one-dimensional.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams offensive line has been severely injured through two games, with guard Tremayne Anchrum being down for the season with a fractured fibula. Nevertheless, the line has improved. Anchrum served as Coleman Shelton’s backup guard on Sunday since Brian Allen’s injury forced Shelton to switch to centre.
Even though A.J. Jackson ended up playing right guard in Sunday’s victory over the Falcons, the Rams offensive line only allowed one sack. Given all the injuries to the unit, which did a decent job of keeping Matthew Stafford upright, that is an admirable performance.
The offensive line may provide a significant problem throughout the season, but this week’s test was passed by the unit.
The finest wide receiver pairing in the NFL is Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. Hill and Waddle, who had a significant role on Sunday’s epic comeback victory over the Ravens, are currently leading the NFL in receiving yards after the Sunday slate of Week 2 games. In only 2:28, Hill grabbed two touchdown passes of at least 40 yards, and with 14 seconds left, Waddle caught the game-winning throw.
Due to their speed and capacity for gaining additional yards after the catch, Hill and Waddle will both pose a challenge for opposing secondaries throughout the whole season (Hill and Waddle have more yards after the catch than the Bears have receiving yards). The passing game contributions made by Hill and Waddle make the Dolphins offence a force to be reckoned with.
Still unable to exorcise the “Monday Night Football” demons is Kirk Cousins: In his career, Cousins has been terrible on Monday nights, and his performance in the Eagles game on Monday was a microcosm of his difficulties. He completed 27 of 46 passes for 221 yards and three interceptions, all of which came in the end zone.
Despite all of Minnesota’s opportunities, Cousins was at blame for the Vikings’ inability to recover in Philadelphia. He now has a record of 2-10 on “Monday Night Football,” with the series’.167 winning percentage being the lowest in NFL history.
New England Patriots
After a disappointing Week 1 performance, the offensive line improves: With a Pittsburgh pass rush that had seven sacks against Cincinnati in Week 1, it’s reasonable to assume that New England would have trouble up front. While having trouble against the Dolphins, the Patriots’ offensive line performed admirably against the Steelers.
With only eight pressures total for the day against the Patriots, the Steelers failed to record a single sack. Mac Jones had enough time to execute the necessary moves to hold on for a narrow victory.
The Patriots offence doesn’t seem promising, but if the offensive line keeps putting up performances like Sunday, they’ll have a chance to improve.
New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston dropbacks need to be reduced in frequency because Pete Carmichael, who is now in charge of play-calling after Sean Payton resigned, is too eager to pass with Winston. Winston dropped back 46 times on 66 snaps, which was a recipe for catastrophe.
In Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, Winston threw three picks, including one that cost the Saints 17 points and placed them in a hole they couldn’t climb out of. Additionally, he was sacked six times, completing 25 of 40 passes for 236 yards and just one touchdown (55.8 rating).
Given Winston’s history of turnovers, New Orleans needs to focus more on the running game. Naturally, Alvin Kamara’s return the following week will be beneficial.
New York Giants
An afterthought worth $21 million is Kenny Golladay. Golladay had just two snaps in Sunday’s victory over the Panthers, proving that Brian Daboll meant what he said about getting playing time through practise. While Golladay is being outperformed (in terms of snap counts) by players like Richie James and David Sills, Kadarius Toney witnessed an increase in his snaps from seven to 28.
Golladay’s contract cost for this year is $21.15 million and he has just two catches for 22 yards in two games. For the Giants to simply terminate Golladay’s contract this year, they would be required to pay $14.45 million in salary cap space. It’s possible that New York won’t accept the dead cap hit, but it’s obvious that the Giants are prepared to end the Golladay experiment.
New York Jets
Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall, two offensive rookies from the Jets’ outstanding draught class this year, helped New York win in September for the first time since 2018. In total, Wilson had eight receptions for 102 yards and a score, including the game-winning catch with 22 seconds remaining.
Wilson has been impressive, but Hall is beginning to find his running back rhythm. In total, he gained 50 yards on seven carries, including a 10-yard touchdown catch that knotted the game at the half.
The offensive has the potential to be dangerous, and Wilson and Hall are dynamic players in it. With these players, the Jets may have two pillars.
Darius Slay, who shut down the Vikings wide receivers on Monday night, concluded with two important red-zone interceptions in the Eagles’ overwhelming victory against the Vikings. Slay is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Justin Jefferson was one of the top receivers in the game, but Slay’s coverage of him resulted in only one completion on five targets and two interceptions, eliminating him from the game.
Kirk Cousins’ passing rating against Slay was zero. The seasoned cornerback is still one of the finest in the league at his position and is by no means an afterthought among the top players.
Mitch Trubisky might be in trouble: Through two games, Trubisky hasn’t shown enough promise to earn Pittsburgh’s long-term starting quarterback job. The Steelers offence is 30th in yards per game (255.0), and he is only completing 59.2% of his throws for 362 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception (76.2 rating). The Steelers have only scored two offensive touchdowns in two games.
Trubisky may be the starter for the time being, but Kenny Pickett needs to ignite things off quickly. Simply said, Pittsburgh’s attack hasn’t been strong enough to give Trubisky a break.
San Francisco 49ers
This club becomes a Super Bowl contender thanks to Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo will once again be in charge of the 49ers offence now that Trey Lance is out for the year, just weeks after the team was unable to acquire him through trade. With Garoppolo back at the helm, the 49ers’ passing game was fluid; in relieving duty, he completed 13 of 21 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
Imagine how the pass offence will function once Garoppolo has a game plan in place. More Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk participation in the passing game made tight end Ross Dwelley more effective (and catch a long touchdown). The offensive will be much riskier once George Kittle returns.
It’s advantageous for the 49ers in 2022. At quarterback, Garoppolo is back.
The running game needs to improve: Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Walker were huge letdowns on a soggy day in Santa Clara. Walker finished with just four carries for 10 yards in his NFL debut, while Penny led the Seahawks in rushing with just six carries for 15 yards.
Seattle was outnumbered on the offensive line and managed only 36 rushing yards as a team. The running game is suffering, and Geno Smith is simply not a good enough quarterback to make up for it.
If Penny doesn’t get going and the Seahawks lose the battle for possession time, many games will resemble the one they played on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady received the necessary defence: Tampa Bay had to defend its most valuable player from the Saints pass rush and succeeded in doing so. As Tristan Wirfs made sure to keep Cam Jordan at bay (Jordan had no pressures), Brady was only hit three times and sacked once.
Brady had ample time to make the plays necessary to escape with a victory since the Saints only applied six pressures on him on the day. With the Dallas game standing out as an exception, Tampa Bay’s redesigned offensive line may do far better than anticipated.
Derrick Henry’s last five games haven’t included a 100-yard rushing game, and the Titans’ offence relies heavily on him. Henry has 34 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown in two games after ending with just 25 yards on just 13 carries in the previous contest (3.1 yards per carry).
If Henry’s foot issue from last season has slowed him down, it would be even more concerning given how average he has been over the past five games. Since the injury, he has only amassed 169 yards on 54 carries for an average of 3.1 yards.
Henry needs to revert to his dominant form if the Titans are to contend in the weak AFC South. Nothing else is going for the offensive.
There is a huge void at linebacker because the Commanders’ head coach and defensive coordinator were both linebackers in the NFL and chose not to fill the position during the summer. That choice is currently not looking good, as the Detroit offence shredded Washington on Sunday. The entire defence is suffering as a result of Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis’ uneven play and constant out-of-position play.
This linebacking unit consistently gets destroyed because of its awful coverage. Carson Wentz is performing well, but it seems like the offence needs to score 30 points each week to win. Washington would not find that desirable.