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The good, bad and ugly: NFL Week 1 observations

Khalil Mack is good at football. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and what a wild one it was! We saw all sorts of great, and not so great, action. Whether your team won or lost (or tied if you’re a Browns or Steelers fan), I think everyone is generally excited that the NFL is back in session. Well, maybe there are a few exceptions. Anyway, here’s the first installment of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

The Good

-Jets’ rookie Sam Darnold became the youngest quarterback to start an NFL season opener since the merger. It started off the worst way possible with a pick six on his first throw. He proceeded to go 16 for his next 20 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. But more than that, he looked the part. Most rookie quarterbacks tend to look frazzled at some points. Darnold looked more composed than his counterpart Matt Stafford of the Lions who is a nine-year vet.

-The Bears’ Khalil Mack tried to earn every penny of his estimated $90 million dollars that is guaranteed in his new deal in his first game! Mack not only had a pick six, but he also got a strip sack in which he recovered the fumble himself. He took control of the game by forcing the Packers to account for him by changing their blocking scheme. No matter what they did, Mack did what he wanted.

-Tyreek Hill almost single-handedly won that game for the Chiefs with his performance. He totaled seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns, one of which went for 58 yards. Throw in his 91-yard punt return for touchdown, and he’s off o a great start.

The Bad

-The Saints and Bucs decided to play seven on seven ball Sunday with a final score of 48-40. The quarterbacks combined for 856 yards passing and seven touchdowns through the air. It was a 25-letter alphabet kind of game because there was no D anywhere in sight.

-The Cleveland Browns broke their losing streak…with a tie. Even though they were a plus five in the turnover department against the Steelers, they still only managed a tie. Ties like this are worse than having to kiss that one aunt at the family reunion that smokes, drinks coffee, and generally has an aversion to toothpaste.

-The Panthers beat the Cowboys 16-8. The two teams combined for 284 yards passing, which I believe is a shade more than what Ryan Fitzpatrick had against the Saints in the first half! This game epitomizes what early season football is like when starters barely play in preseason and nobody is in rhythm.

The Ugly

-Nathan Peterman’s start for the Bills was bad. Not as bad as his first start last season (five picks in the first half), but it was still historically bad. Peterman was 5/18 for 24 yards and two picks with a zero passer rating. 2006 was the last time an NFL quarterback had done that (Joey Harrington).

-Texans coach Bill O’Brien used the line “that’s not my job” when answering a question as to why he didn’t use a timeout to possibly force the booth to look at a potential non-catch before halftime. Excuse me?!? EVERYTHING is YOUR job as an NFL head coach! Giving excuses like that pisses me off and makes me realize some coaches don’t value the fact that there are only 32 of these jobs IN THE WORLD!

-There was a rash of unfortunate injuries this week. I felt badly for Falcons safety Keanu Neal, Patriots running back Jeremy Hill, and Titans tight end Delanie Walker. These guys are gone for the season, and all were expected to be huge keys for their teams’ success this season.

I, like many of you, am happy that football is back. Sure, the ancillary things that are politicized to no end draw attention to and away from the game. However, at its core, this game captivates a larger audience than any other major pro sport in this country. As much as it divides, it also brings people together. Here’s to another football season under way.

 

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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