Week 1 is in the books! After an uncertain offseason, and no preseason games, teams finally took the field to compete opening day in a year that will look different than ever before. There were a multitude of takeaways that were apparent, however, here are the four that I feel are worth the most detailed discussion.
Takeaway No. 1: Buccaneers struggle in their widely publicized debut.
Excitement surrounding this Buccaneers team was high prior to the start of the year. They signed Tom Brady to a two-year deal in March, surrounding him with the best set of offensive weapons he has had in a decade. Their offensive line was improved, and several members on the defense were expected to take large steps forward. However, with the new faces, and a limited offseason, Week 1 showcased the need for us to be patient with this roster.
Tom Brady threw two costly interceptions, one of them being a pick 6 to Janoris Jenkins. On this one, he threw an out route late which gave Jenkins extra time to break on the ball and make a big play. Regarding his early interception that was intended for Mike Evans, the lack of continuity and chemistry was clear. Evans was seemingly running an option route, as if it was Cover 2, his job was to stay vertical. If it was not, his job was to bend the route inside. Evans made the wrong read, and Brady threw it to the intended spot causing an interception.
Special teams was also inept with a muffed onside kick and blocked field goal giving away their chances at a comeback. The defense showed signs of promise, however, they did not make the key stops when required. In the end, there is a lot of room to be excited about this roster. The youth on the Buccaneers defense showed glimpses of high-level play, and there were a multitude of playmakers on the offense that could change the trajectory of a game if in sync. But, patience is necessary.
Takeaway No. 2: The new look Patriots offense show signs of promise.
The Patriots, unlike most years, faced a mass exodus this offseason with several opt outs, and free agents lost. Brady, the franchise’s most storied player exited on a lucrative offer from Tampa Bay. That, plus the recent signing of Cam Newton, left many wondering how offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will redesign his schematics to match his new personnel. In Week 1, the new offense looked promising. Newton did not overly impress in the passing game, but he was efficient and he took care of the football.
The running game is where heads were turned. Newton took advantage and extended several drives with his athletic ability. It was a ground-heavy attack against the Dolphins, that spread the wealth among a variety of rushers. An advantageous aspect of little offensive continuity is that new wrinkles can be added weekly to enhance offensive predictability. While many expected the Patriots to take a step back, Week 1 gave us several reasons to be excited about their potential.
Takeaway #3: The Washington Football Team is in good hands, and oozing with potential.
Despite the damning articles that exposed a demeaning front office culture,Rivera being brought in to lead the roster is already showcasing a promising return. Despite his preseason cancer diagnosis, Rivera arduously led his roster to a dazzling Week 1 showing that exuded resilience. While they got off to a slow start, Washington came surging back in the second half with a stifling front four, an advantageous secondary and an efficient offense.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz could never establish a rhythm, as he was constantly under duress by a defensive line that amassed eight sacks. Washington successfully made him uncomfortable, which also led to him throwing two careless interceptions that changed the trajectory of the ball game. No. 2 overall pick Chase Young had an astounding debut, as he had several pressures and 1 1/2 sacks. Overall, while it is only Week 1, the Washington Football Team thoroughly impressed and made them worth keeping an eye on going forward in a weak division.
Takeaway #4: Tank for Trevor? Jacksonville may have a dilemma on their hands.
Jacksonville is a team that is in the early stage of a rebuild, as they have unloaded tenured veterans in order to stockpile a handful of picks in upcoming drafts. Many pundits have argued that if Jacksonville has a top pick, that they should target Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to provide them a blue chip starter at the position. However, if Sunday is an indication, that may not be necessary. Gardner Minshew had a historic performance in Week 1, showcasing pinpoint efficiency and an ability to extend plays. He was instrumental in leading his underdog Jaguar team to a crucial divisional victory. While it is only Week 1, and I am not one for overreaction, the trajectory of quarterback play in Jacksonville needs to be viewed in detail. If Minshew proves to be a favorable quarterback for their future, they can use their high picks for need instead of best player available.