NFL Week 1 Round Up: Dawg Pound Silenced7 min read
The NFL offseason brought a lot of twists and turns that helped to fill the gossip columns a summer long. But how would the headline grabbers fare once the kick-off for the 100th season was upon them? Here’s our NFL Week 1 Round Up.
Believe-land or same old Cleveland
One win in two seasons lead to the Browns having an abundance of draft picks at the start of last season, where they selected Baker Mayfield. A slightly controversial pick at the time despite the quarterback being the reigning Heisman trophy winner. However, last season he proved that they had made the right selection.
He was instrumental in leading the team to a 7-8-1 record, making a town believe once again. His personality has helped convince people that perhaps he could back up his self-belief. Add in a sensational summer where they added Odell Beckham Jr to their already talented receiving core in what could well have been the trade of the season.
So a home game to kick off the new landmark season was ideal, especially against a Tennessee Titans team missing a few starters, notably Taylor Lewan.
Someone didn’t read the script though. The Browns were blown out 43-13 on the opening Sunday. A misfiring offense saw Mayfield give up three interceptions. A few people, myself included, thought that if Cleveland were to live up to their Superbowl contenders then it would be based on their ever-improving defense built around former number one draft pick Myles Garrett. But this was not the defensive display the Browns have become accustomed to.
Things will need to improve and quickly if the hype train is to continue rolling in Cleveland or else the press will have a field day writing the obituaries for a few careers.
Not bad for a running back
In the same draft class when divisional rivals Cleveland selected Mayfield, the Baltimore Ravens traded back into the first round to pick Lamar Jackson; the Heisman winner a year before Mayfield, at number 32 of 32.
He had grabbed attention by refusing to run the 40 yard test and when unnamed teams asked him if he has considered a change of position from his preferred quarterback role. The Ravens believed though, Jackson was a mobile quarterback and what the Ravens wanted to build around. After all, a run game is what they had been missing since they hoisted the Lombardi trophy.
Having persisted with Joe Flacco for most of the season when it became obvious he was no longer the person to lead the franchise Baltimore gave Jackson his chance, he lead the team to a 6-1 record, the divisional title and the playoffs; somewhere they hadn’t been since 2014.
The addition of running back Mark Ingram from New Orleans has strengthened the run game and provides another option for Jackson to help stop the pressure on the now second-year QB. The result was impressive. Many will argue that the opposition were potentially the worst side in the NFL, but there was no denying that most teams would have struggled to keep up with this Ravens performance.
Lamar Jackson became the youngest player ever to have a perfect Quarterback rating, there was also the perfect introduction to the NFL for draft pick Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown. His first two catches were both for touchdowns and over 100 yards. That is what dreams are made of.
There are undoubtedly harder tests ahead but in a division where their rivals are grabbing the attention it may just end up being the Ravens who end up making the headlines.
Same old, same old
I’ll keep this one short. New year, same Tom Brady.
Much was made about the Pittsburgh Steelers and how they had trimmed the bad blood and built a new youthful team that had enough talent to play to Ben Roethlisberger’s strengths. This was not the case in the season opener against old rivals New England.
A 33-3 rout followed as even with old faithful Gronk, Brady connected time and again with his new raft of receivers. He has the mercurial Josh Gordon back giving him a deep threat and a talented draft pick in N’keal Harry ensuring that ‘Old Man’ Tom could well fulfill his ambition of playing until he is 45. Another divisional title looks secure and I’ve been proven wrong writing the Patriots off for Superbowl contention a few times now.
It’ll be an interesting season for both teams, I’m still yet to work out if this will be a good thing for Pittsburgh.