Week One Mailbag – Questions Everywhere, Confusion Just Behind
Q: Are the Rams that good or are the Colts just that bad?
A: Well it’s really a bit of both. Seeing scoring play after scoring play from the Los Angeles Rams was impressive no doubt, but equally, watching the Indianapolis Colts struggle to create anything offensively shows the problem they face without Andrew Luck at the helm.
Indianapolis was hoping to get Luck ready for week one, but obviously this didn’t happen, so they were forced to go with Scott Tolzien, who to put it mildly, has struggled in his NFL career throwing for just two touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. Two of these interceptions came in this game on Sunday, and to add insult to injury, the Rams ran both of them right back to the end zone. With Luck out for at least a few more weeks, and Tolzien getting benched for newcomer Jacoby Brissett from New England, the quarterback situation is still a shambles, and I didn’t see anything from the rest of the team that can pick them up in the meantime.
On the other hand, the Rams put on a great display. Their defense played exceptionally well,even taking into account poor quality passing the Colts offered up. Scoring points with a defense is going to be a good thing 100% of the time so the fact that they can do that is promising, and when combined with a good showing from players in every skill position of offense they can look forward to more high scoring games going forward. I like Jared Goff as a very productive quarterback going forward under new head coach Sean McVay.
Q: Will the Seahawks have any sort successful offense?
A: Sitting down to watch football on a Sunday afternoon is always enjoyable, and no game on the slate held more potential than the showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers in the state of Wisconsin, this was America’s Game of the Week. Despite no points being scored for nearly the entire first half, the game was far from disappointing as a whole, but the main talking point was just how awful Seattle’s offense was. Granted, the Packers played very well defensively, bringing a lot of pressure on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, but Seattle converted just three first downs in the entire game. I’m not sure a defense in the world is good enough to do that to a successful offense, so this raises the question – is Seattle’s offense going to be successful?
The best answer I have is yes, sort of. They looked awful, no doubt, and they won’t be a top offense in the league, but they will get better. Russell Wilson is too talented of a quarterback for them not to be good, but honestly that is one of just a few things that gives me any hope for the unit. Doug Baldwin will catch passes, and Eddie Lacy is in way better shape than the past few seasons so he could get going too. Other than that, they don’t have much with Jimmy Graham at TE being underwhelming since leaving the New Orleans Saints a few years ago and the offensive line struggling big time to contain the Packer pressure. Despite the inefficiencies though, the Seahawks can’t possibly give such a poor offensive display again. With a talented group of players on the defensive side of things still, they will improve and win plenty of games this year.
Q: Is it just me, or was Antonio Brown the only receiver to impress over the weekend?
A: While Antonio Brown was undeniably the best performer of the weekend, three other guys stood out.
The first was Danny Amendola for the New England Patriots. Catching six passes on seven targets for exactly 100 yards marked a very solid performance for someone who has big shoes to fill this season, stepping up into a Julian Edelman sized hole. Despite the Pats poor performance overall, Amendola had very solid night, and will hope to recover quickly from the potential head injury he left the game with Thursday.
Speaking of that Thursday night game, The other side of the matchup had a fantastic receiving performance on show as well. Tyreek Hill reeled in seven of his eight targets for over 130 yards, and added a touchdown to boot. I’m not sure anyone saw a performance like that coming, and I see Hill being a staple in fantasy lineups in the week to come.
Finally, the third guy to break from the pack to chase Brown’s shadow was Golden Tate from the Lions. Catching passes from the league’s highest paid quarterback was something Tate enjoyed, grabbing 10 of 12 for 107 yards. Stafford looked to tate early and often, with Tate second to just Brown in receptions on Sunday.
Honorable mention to Kenny Golladay of the Lions who did manage to post two touchdowns on just four catches, a pretty impressive haul.
Q: Is Leonard Fournette going to run away with the ‘top rookie RB’ title?
A: Having drafted Fournette to my fantasy roster this year, I’m definitely going to tell you “yes” to this question. For me, Fournette has all the ability in the world, a sneaky good line to run behind, the ability to contribute to the passing game, and most importantly, bucketloads of opportunity. He would have to fall off a cliff for the Jacksonville Jaguars to turn to T.J. Yeldon or Chris Ivory as their every down back, especially after posting 100 yards in his first career start. I would be happy to say Fournette follows the same – on-field -path of Ezekiel Elliot this year and takes the league by storm, posting monster numbers and will be a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
One last point, to temper my obvious love for Fournette though, he isn’t the only rookie back with talent. Christian McCaffrey has talent and looked good for the Panthers, but lacks opportunity with Stewart still performing for the Carolina Panthers. Joe Mixon could be good for the Cincinnati Bengals, but is the third option at the moment, and didn’t “wow” anyone with the chances he did get. Tarik Cohen had a phenomenal game for the Bears but I have a feeling he won’t be able to keep that rolling. Kareem Hunt was great for the Kansas City Chiefs as well but I put him in the same boat as Cohen. There is plenty of top talent in the chase for the rookie RB title this year, but I think Fournette has the right combination of athleticism, talent, help, and opportunity to make it to the top.
Q: Which performance was the biggest fluke?
A: The Chiefs on Thursday night against the Patriots get my vote for this category. Alex Smith had probably the best game of his career, their rookie running back had a tremendous game, and their second year man Tyreek Hill put up fantastic numbers as a receiver. In my opinion they had the best performance of the weekend offensively, and a very good one defensively as well, stopping the Pats at several key moments in the game, including an early defensive stand after a turnover.
However, there are a few reasons the Chiefs will not have a performance that impressive for the rest of the year. First, the Patriots lost linebacker Dont’a Hightower not long into the second half. He is probably their best defensive player, and his absence was felt desperately by the Pats, allowing the chiefs to take advantage. Kareem Hunt was very good, but I don’t see him being able to post numbers like that week in and week out. He lacks explosive speed, and though he is difficult to tackle, I see NFL defenses game planning for him going forward, and limiting his effectiveness. Finally, Alex Smith is not a quarterback who is capable of throwing for 368 yards and four touchdowns every week. In fact, according to NFL.com, Smith threw for an average of just one touchdown per game played last season. Smith is a serviceable, but average signal caller, and won’t repeat this kind of performance again. Unfortunately for Kansas City, neither will the Chiefs.
Photo via the Flickr Creative Commons, thank to Keith Allison for the shot of Russell Wilson.
Statistics all from Football Reference, unless otherwise noted.