What We Learned from Week 1

With a week of NFL action under our belts, what better time is there to make some hasty generalizations about the rest of the season.

1. It’s going to take more than Andrew Luck to turn the Colts around.

Andrew Luck can’t save the Colts from the ground.

After two years of being hyped as the greatest quarterback prospect since John Elway, Luck showed on Sunday that his hype doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. He didn’t dazzle in his debut, tossing 3 interceptions to just 1 touchdown, but he still played a fairly solid game, passing for over 300 yards. Some of the blame for Luck’s shakiness can be shifted from his shoulders to those of his offensive line. While he was only sacked 3 times, Luck was constantly under pressure and forced into quick throws. Combine that with a lackluster group of receivers and a rebuilding defense and it’s clear that it may be another year until Luck is labeled a savior.

2. It’s going to take more than a great offense to win this year.

Three of last year’s top scoring teams – the Saints, Packers and Giants – came out on the losing end this week, unable to keep their opponents’ offenses at bay. What makes this cause for concern is that none of the teams they faced were amongst the leading offenses a year ago. If their defenses can’t contain the opposing team, it won’t matter how how many points New Orleans, Green Bay and New York can put up.

3. Don’t bet too heavily on young QBs.

Andy Dalton, Russell Wilson, Brandon Weeden, Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Tannehill and Cam Newton – all first or second year starters –  all lost their games and few of them were overly impressive. The eight of them combined for 6 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Apart from Weeden and Tannehill, none of them were terrible, but they didn’t look like quarterbacks who could lead their teams to the playoffs. On a brighter note, Robert Griffin III was arguably the best quarterback in the league in week one in the Redskins win over the Saints and Christian Ponder was able to lead his Vikings to an overtime win over the Jaguars. Even so, this large group of young QBs look very much like a work in progress.

4. If the Broncos could win with Tebow last year, they look awfully scary with Peyton at the helm.

Peyton Manning with the Broncos – so wrong, yet so right.

Manning commanded the Denver offense as if it had been a week since his last game, not a year and a half. He was his usual self – minus the blue and white uniform – changing plays at the line of scrimmage, making smart decisions and throwing with accuracy. If his neck was bothering him, he didn’t show it. He was able to handle the Steelers without resorting to an overtime Hail Mary to beat them.

5. ACLs, who needs ’em?

Coming off of torn ACLs last season, running backs Adrian Peterson and Jamal Charles both looked back to (or at least close to) normal. Peterson ran for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns while Charles ran for 87 yards. Not quite the hundred yard masterpieces we’re used to from the two of them, but the both averaged just about 5 yards a carry, which any running back should be happy with.

6. Were the Jets trolling us in the preseason?

After failing to score a touchdown in all three preseason games that their starters played in (and just one with the reserves playing) the Jets opened their season by dropping 48 on the Bills who supposedly improved their defense in the offseason. Mark Sanchez threw for 3 touchdowns, ending any discussion over whether Tebow should start instead of him. New York’s defense was less stout than normal, but if it returns to form and the offense continues to play well, this could finally be the year Rex Ryan’s Super Bowl promise comes true.

7. There’s a reason replacement refs are only used as replacements.

It’s said that you don’t realize what you had until it’s gone. Well the regular referees have driven that point home quite well during their lockout. Their replacements looked incompetent, confused, and uncertain in week one. There were penalties assigned to the wrong team, extra timeouts handed out, two minute warnings interrupting PATs, blown calls, missed calls, you name it. The NFL’s regular officiating crew make mistakes every game too, but the frequency and potential severity of the replacement refs’ flubs nearly marred an exciting opening weekend of football. Having unqualified officials call a game is unfair to players and fans alike, especially given the short NFL season in which every game is important. Hopefully the NFL and the locked out refs can come to an agreement soon.

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