While the 2020 NFL season’s kickoff week was unlike any others in regards to fan attendance, coaches wearing face masks, and other Coronavirus regulations, there was one constant: surprise. There were the typical powerhouses like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson that led dominating performances, and then there were the surprises like the AFC South favorites losing to the “tanking” Jaguars.
The NFL is a league that fluctuates year round, so we’re going to dive into how week one sets the table for the remainder of the season. Each and every week we’ll be back here giving you the week’s top takeaways, so without much further ado…..
- No Need for Tanking with Gardner Minshew
The consensus around NFL circles leading up to this season was that the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to tank for Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft. This was always a peculiar train of thought because the Jaguars current quarterback Gardner Minshew showed major flashes of success during his rookie campaign in 2019. While the Jaguars roster on paper looks bare, Gardner Minshew proved this week that behind his quarterbacking play, this team could surprise the league.
Minshew picked up from where he left off last season by going 19 for 20 with 173 yards and 3 touchdowns. Minshew may not have the most enticing “arm talent” but his leadership, toughness, and extraordinary ability to extend plays has put him in a situation to be the Jaguars starting QB for years to come.
- The Washington Football Team’s D-Line is the Perfect Building Block
The Washington Football Team pulled off week one’s biggest upset by defeating the Eagles, and their defensive line was the main driving force. The defensive line that consists of five first round picks dominated the Eagles injury riddled offensive line to the tune of seven sacks. Rookie end Chase Young was as good as advertised as he recorded 1.5 sacks as he and the other members kept Carson Wentz on the ground throughout the duration of the game.
The correct way to build a playoff contending team is through the defensive line, “It allows us to play fast,” corner Fabian Moreau said. “It allows us to play free.” and Washington is excelling at that.
- Joe Burrow Is the Real Deal
The Cincinnati Bengals have all the reason in the world to be ecstatic about their future with Burrow now at the helm. While statistically he didn’t have the most enticing game, throwing for 193 yards and one interception, the intangibles he showed throughout the game were mind boggling. He showed unmatched leadership as he was named a team captain before taking a snap in the league along with the poise he showed during the last drive of the game.
With the game on the line, Burrow went 7-10 for 60 yards and threw a game winning touchdown before it was called back due to pass interference. While the Bengals ultimately lost the game, Burrow showed the intangibles that all the great quarterbacks possess. After 29 years of not winning a playoff game, it looks like the drought could be over awfully soon.
- The Arizona Cardinals are this years surprise team
The Arizona Cardinals were a team that many believed had the “potential” to show major improvement, but the skepticism amongst the media was real. News flash, this team has turned potential into results. The pairing of Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury has given the Cardinals the foundation of a high powered offense, and their offseason addition of De’Andre Hopkins hauled in 14 catches for 151 yards which took this team to the next level.
The Cardinals going into Levi Stadium to defeat the defending NFC champions proved not only to the media but to the team themselves that this offense makes the Cardinals a true playoff contender.
- The Cleveland Browns will be forever mediocre
Listen, I understand that we’re only one week into the season, but the Cleveland Browns aren’t going to be contending anytime soon. The expectation for the Browns heading into this season was that changing head coaches from Freddie Kitchens to Kevin Stefanski would transform this team into a playoff contender, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Baker Mayfield is by no means a terrible quarterback, but if you expect him to be an MVP candidate, or the guy to take this Browns team to the top, just forget it. Mayfield has been the same quarterback since he entered the league: He possesses a terrific arm but his accuracy issues and inconsistency will plague him through the remainder of his career.
- Russell Wilson is Closer to QB 1 than QB 3
A conversation that is 100% necessary in the NFL world is, “ How close is Russell Wilson to Patrick Mahomes?” The obvious answer is that Patrick Mahomes is clearly the best quarterback in the league, and no one is even close, but I beg to differ. Russell Wilson’s stats haven’t compared to those of Mahomes because the Seahawks rely heavily on the run game whereas the Chiefs rely on the passing game.
Wilson went 31 for 35 for 322 yards and 4 touchdowns, a near flawless game in week one, and he continues separating himself from the rest of the league. If you replace Patrick Mahomes with Russell Wilson, I can guarantee you that they have the same amount of success as before, which is why the gap between Mahomes and Wilson is marginally smaller than the gap between the Seahawks quarterback and whoever you have next up.
7. The Vikings Inexperienced Defense is a Major Issue
Looking at how the Vikings roster was manufactured throughout the offseason, it was obvious that they were approaching a season of major struggle. Their once top-tier defense had severe issues after losing marquee players and fielding a young group of corners. The score of 43-34 does not indicate how bad of a beating this was, but the game’s time of possession sure did (Packers 41 Minutes, Vikings 19 minutes). While some people will still have faith in this Vikings team, their roster screams a 10 win or below season.
8. The Buffalo Bills are this year’s 49ers
The Bills have constructed their roster in a near perfect manner. In the NFL there are two ways to build a championship contending team: Either you start with a generational type quarterback and build around him, or you build the framework with a talented defense/weapons then find a quarterback that fits the system. The Bills chose the latter.
They are once again fielding a top five defense that has young talent with Ed Oliver and Tremaine Edmunds as well as surrounding their third year quarterback with an effective system. While the Bills played the lowly Jets, the talent they added to their offense (Stefon Diggs & Zack Moss) made their impact felt.
The Bills have the talent to compete with the Patriots for the AFC East, but my only reservation lies in the hands of Josh Allen. I dissected his film from 2019 (How Great Can Bills Quarterback Josh Allen Become? – The Wright Way Network ), and although he will be helped tremendously by his system, his accuracy will always be his kryptonite.
9. New season same result for the Detroit Lions
Listen, I’m still a huge fan of what this Detroit offense can produce, but the common trend about the Lions will not stop this season. Last season they blew SEVEN fourth quarter leads, SEVEN! The Lions have one of the most talented offenses in the league, but their defense and coaching staff can’t seem to get out of their own way.
They had a 17-point fourth-quarter lead against Chicago and then completely folded. The Lions offense will continue to produce major numbers, (I predict in the top-ten in the league) but until their defense can elevate to above mediocre, they won’t be winning more than 9 games.
Despite having a 9-23-1 record as Detroit’s head coach, Matt Patricia fails to blame the coaching staff, instead indicating that his previous success as a defensive coordinator translates to his head coaching productivity, “I’ve got one of the biggest plays in the fourth quarter in the history of the NFL where I think I did a pretty good job. So I don’t think it’s that.” Regardless, something has to change in Detroit as Matthew Stafford deserves a chance to compete in the playoffs.
Stay tuned for the top takeaways from each week’s football action! If you want to stay caught up on the action or want to join the conversation, follow me on Twitter @danielalameda11.