The NFL is back and so are fanbases and media, myself included, overreacting to the results from one week of the 18-week-long season. This past weekend saw some surprising results, some impacted by weather as some could argue, but it exposed some glaring holes within certain teams.
Those holes for certain teams are both on the field and behind the scenes. General managers and front office staff build these teams, they do so for nine months of an offseason for some. To come out flat after the all-star games and scouting combine around the draft, as well as free agency, is a less-than-ideal result.
All 32 teams have now played which means we have a better idea of what to expect in week two. By overreacting to the week one results, however, we can project to next offseason and some tough decisions and changes that teams will be looking in the face.
Falcons’ Terry Fontenot has Some Questions to Answer
The Atlanta Falcons have a tremendous roster, General Manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith have the team climbing in the right direction. While the offense may look sluggish at times, the defense and running game have bailed them out several times over the last two seasons. While they approach getting over the hump in a less-than-ideal NFC South, they could also be doing better.
The drafting of Kyle Pitts and Drake London at picks four and eight respectively for them to not be used makes less than zero sense. Pitts and London have been targeted to produce numbers equal to that of a day three pick at their position. After Sunday’s week one win against the Titans, both men had a combined two catches. If that is all they are going to be used for why did they waste such high draft capital on them?
Arthur Smith will chalk it up to “the fantasy guys” being mad but everyone in the Falcons front office should be pulling their hair out. They may win the NFC South this year but without utilizing them to their fullest potential, this team can’t do any more than tease their entire fanbase.
The AFC North Quarterbacks Leave Us Scratching Our Heads
The AFC North is a division that each and every year in the NFL eats itself alive. Upsets occur weekly, bad teams play up to the competition of division leaders, and quarterback play is king.
In week one, Joe Burrow, coming off his hefty contract extension, and Lamar Jackson both looked like a shell of themselves. Burrow faced a new-look Browns defense that held all his receivers under 40 yards a piece. For Jackson, he was starting a new offense that while it had favorable numbers at times, the former MVP seemed off and had miscommunications all day. I fully expect both men to bounce back as Burrow gets more reps warming up after missing the preseason and Jackson gets comfortable in his offense.
On the flip side of that positivity coin, the Browns and Steelers may be staring uncertainty in the face sooner rather than later. Kenny Pickett and his arm were leaving a lot to be desired all day against the 49ers defense. San Francisco’s defense is among the best if not the best in the league. The way Pickett’s arm strength and accuracy looked however was inexcusable.
With the Browns’ Deshaun Watson, he had the mechanics of a newborn giraffe against the Bengals. Throws were short to their destination, his footwork was all over the place, and it affected his accuracy. On top of those issues, his decision-making left anyone who watched the game scratching their head at times.
Pickett has a long leash, as every Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback does, so they will remain patient with the second-year quarterback. As for the Browns, the coaching staff and front office need Watson to produce now. The money they are paying him on top of the scrutiny they had when they acquired him makes that a fact. Without producing soon several people in Berea, Ohio may be looking for new jobs next January.
Jonathan Taylor Gained Value Despite Not Playing
Unfortunately, Sunday saw a lot of injuries across the NFL including some major season-ending ones. One of those teams that suffered a loss to that degree was the Baltimore Ravens with running back J.K. Dobbins. The former Ohio State Buckeye was entering the fourth and final year of his contract after the team declined his fifth-year option last year. Justice Hill played well in his absence finding the endzone twice but to find long-term success they need an established running back presence, a workhorse if you will.
Jonathan Taylor was absent from the Indianapolis Colts loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars as he remained on the PUP list for the first four weeks. One could argue that his value to them was also proven more as rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson was the team’s leading rusher. Starting running back Deon Jackson had 10 attempts for 14 yards and fumbled not once but twice.
No other player, perhaps other than Chris Jones of the Chiefs, saw their value skyrocket by sitting at home. Jonathan Taylor could help either the Colts or Ravens win football games immediately. Jim Irsay may not want to pay him but he wants to win. For the Ravens, general manager Eric DeCosta has shown he isn’t afraid to make a splash trade and then sign the player to an extension. If not Indianapolis, Taylor should be in Baltimore sooner rather than later.