10 Takeaways from Week 2 of the NFL

Week 2 of the NFL is officially in the books. So let’s look at some of my big takeaways from the week.

1. The Dolphins aren’t that bad

Miami leads the AFC East, sporting a 2-0 record. Their wins haven’t been pretty (Or against very good teams), but they are finding a way. In fact, they always seem to find a way with Ryan Tannehill. In Tannehill’s last 10 games, he’s 9-1. Let that sink in for a minute. In the next 6 weeks, they have some very winnable games vs the Raiders, Bears, Lions, and Texans. If they could find a way to steal a win from New England in week 4, this team could make the AFC East race very interesting.

2. The Buccs are legit

A lot of people liked the Buccaneers this offseason because their offense had the potential to be stacked with Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, and OJ Howard. It all boiled down to whether Winston could finally step up. Well, Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped up instead and this team looks explosive. Not only have they beat two popular Super Bowl picks (Eagles and Saints), they’ve done it with huge plays. And with the Steelers next on the schedule (Who look like they couldn’t stop a high school team), I expect the Fitmagic train to keep rolling.

3. Mahomes is starting out strong

Patrick Mahomes has looked very solid so far. Some people thought that getting rid of Alex Smith after an MVP season was crazy. But Andy Reid and the Chiefs brass had faith in Mahomes and so far he’s delivered. He’s set the record for TD passes in the first 2 games of a season (10) and he’s done it without throwing an interception. I would like to pump the brakes a bit on the Mahomes hype train though. If you recall, last year’s Chiefs looked like the team to beat, after thumping the Pats at home and starting 5-0. They then went into a lull and had to finish strong to win their division. They ultimately got beat by a Titans team that had no business being in the playoffs. So while the Chiefs and Mahomes have been fun to watch, I’m still hesitant.

4. Refereeing has been pretty good…mostly

I mostly watch NFL Red Zone on Sunday’s so I don’t watch many full games. But from what I’ve seen, the refereeing has been pretty good. I’ve agreed with most of the targeting calls that have been assessed and there’s only been a couple of roughing the passer calls that I think have been poorly called. Unfortunately, one of them cost the Packers a win. Winning by 8 in the fourth, Clay Matthews went to sack Kirk Cousins, who got rid of the ball last second. The pass was picked off by Jaire Alexander and the game looked over….until Matthews was called for roughing the passer. Looking at the replay, it looked like a textbook tackle. Matthews hit him right as he threw, his head was to the side, and he even went out of his way to make sure his body weight didn’t land on him. But the NFL came out and said that they are going to use that hit as teaching tape for what they DON’T want to see. They don’t want to see tacklers “scooping” quarterbacks off the ground. If you watch the replay, there really isn’t a moment where Cousins is off the ground. This whole situation is a bad look for the NFL. This game could have major divisional implications down the road and the Packers may be the victims of the worst call of the year.

5. The Raiders miss Khalil Mack

In both post game press conferences, Jon Gruden has said that the Raiders need to rush the passer better. Hmmmmm. Can anyone think of a player that could’ve helped out? If the Raiders have Mack, there’s no doubt that they hold their 9 point fourth quarter lead and beat the Broncos. Instead, Gruden is 0-2 and hasn’t looked like the savior that Oakland needs. On the bright side, Derek Carr was 29-32 passing. That completion percentage of 91% is the highest ever in a loss (minimum 20 attempts).

6. The Steelers are imploding

The Steelers are 0-1-1 after losing a shootout to the Chiefs. They could easily be 0-2 if Zane Gonzalez wasn’t kicking injured against them (Or if the Browns had a head coach). And now, frustration is starting to show. Leveon has always been an issue and will continue to be an issue until he signs the franchise tag. And now, the Steelers have more issue, this time with Antonio Brown. Brown responded to a tweet that essentially called him overrated because he plays with Big Ben by saying “trade me and find out”. It was then reported that he didn’t show up for team meetings today. That team has a lot of personalities between Ben, Leveon, AB, and Mike Tomlin. If they don’t start winning, we could see it all blow up.

7. Patriots made the second best trade this year

The best trade this year was the Bears getting Khalil Mack. But the Patriots getting Gordon is a close second. When physically and mentally healthy, Josh Gordon is arguable the best (Or at least most talented) receiver in football. If he can get healthy and mesh with the Patriot Way, then we could be looking at Randy Moss 2.0 in New England. And he only cost a 5th round pick! If I’m a team like the Niners who need receiver help, I would’ve easily taken the chance and offered a fourth round pick for him. He’s as dynamic and electric as they come and honestly, he’s worth the risk.

8. Cleveland is close

Cleveland once again find a way to lose. After Mr. Check Down aka Tyrod Taylor threw a bomb on 4th and 5 to tie the game up, Zane Gonzalez missed the extra point. The Saints then kicked a field goal to take the lead. But then the Browns got back into field goal range. Zane Gonzalez then missed the game tying field goal as time expired. If he makes both of those kicks, the Browns win the game. The could be 2-0 but instead sit at 0-1-1. This team has talent and can play with almost anyone. I think once they get that first win, the weight will be lifted off their shoulders and they’ll start winning some games.

9. Matt Patricia not off to a hot start

Matt Patricia’s tenure in Detroit is not going well. The “defensive genius” has allowed 48 and 30 points in his first two games. Not only that, his team doesn’t like him very much. Many of the veterans think he works them too hard and ran training camp early. Not what you want to hear if you’re the guy who just hired Patricia. This team was 9-7 last year. Patricia was supposed to beef up the defense and put them over the top. But at this rate, he could be looking for a new job next year.

10. Blake Bortles is the key

The Jaguars beat the Patriots in convincing fashion Sunday in Jacksonville. The key? Blake Bortles looked incredible. And this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. He’s had success in the past. In his second NFL season, he threw for almost 4500 yards with 35 TDs. Bortles has talent. And Sunday he showed it off. If the Jags put the ball in his hands more and stop relying so much on the run, they could be headed for the Super Bowl.

-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)

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