The Washington Football Team delivered an upset with the help of rookie edge rusher Chase Young. The Jets delivered a familiar-smelling bag of flaming you-know-what thanks to head coach Adam Gase. NFL Recap‘s Week 1 edition of Studs ‘n’ Duds features both new faces and familiar targets among Sunday’s best players and worst players (and coaches).
The Washington Front Seven: Studs
Young recorded 1.5 sacks in his NFL debut. Veteran Ryan Kerrigan added two sacks. The Football Team’s defense combined to dump Carson Wentz eight times, erasing a 17-0 Eagles lead and turning their offense into a turnover-plagued mess in what ended as a 27-17 Washington upset.
The rugged defensive effort by Young, Kerrigan, and others made life easier for Dwayne Haskins (his average drive started on his own 40-yard line) and set the tone for the Ron Rivera era. Look for lots of messy, low-scoring games from Washington, some of which will be actual victories.
Adam Gase, Head Coach, New York Jets: Dud
The Bills won the opening toss and elected to defer. The Jets elected to wave a surrender flag, curl into the fetal position, and wait for the afternoon to end.
The Bills mounted a 21-0 lead that could have at least been 31-0 if not for a pair of Josh Allen fumbles (no matter how hard they try, don’t let Bills fans convince you that Allen had a good game) while the Jets managed just one first down in their first five offensive series.
The semi-respectable 27-17 final score conceals just how listless and unprepared the Jets looked, with Sam Darnold reduced to throwing wobblers on the run or tossing meaningless short completions on 3rd-and-long. Gase will blame injuries or find some other excuse because that’s what he does. There’s no excuse for a team to look this bad in a coach’s second year.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers: Dud
Garoppolo’s numbers look fine: 19-of-33, 259 yards, 2 TDs. But he missed open receivers, panicked in a not-yet-collapsing pocket once or twice, and uncorked a series of flutterballs into the end zone with a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter of the Arizona Cardinals’ 24-20 upset victory over the 49ers. Worst of all, he threw a routine quick screen to George Kittle that was so high that the All-Pro tight end nearly got his ribcage shattered.
You can write the rest of this segment yourself: Super Bowl expectations, troubling lack of development, lots of money invested in a guy who can only take what Kyle Shanahan’s system gives him, blah blah blah. The storyline never goes away because Garoppolo never quite takes that next step that the 49ers need him to take.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders: Stud
Jacobs rushed 25 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns in the Raiders’ 34-30 victory over the Panthers, adding four catches for 46 yards. Jacobs was effective out of the backfield as a receiver on angle routes over the middle and used a variety of stiff-arms and start-and-stop moves to weave his way through Panthers defenders. He also got an assist from…
Las Vegas Raiders Offensive Line: Studs
This week’s NFL Recap Offensive Line of the Week held the Panthers without a sack while helping Jacobs and others rush for 133 yards. Hats off to Kolton Miller, Richie Incognito, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Trent Brown, and Sam Young, who replaced the injured Brown at right tackle early in the game. Speaking of troubling Raiders injury news…
Henry Ruggs, WR, Las Vegas Raiders: Thud
The speedy rookie caught three passes for 55 yards, gliding through the Panthers secondary for a 45-yarder early in the game, before coming up limping after a sideline catch. The video looked worrisome, but preliminary reports are encouraging, and Ruggs was spotted on the sideline in the second half. NFL Recap wants more Jacobs, more Ruggs, and MORE VEGAS.
NFL Recap Week 1 Awards
Defender of the Week: Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
Alexander delivered a huge play when the Packers needed one, sacking Kirk Cousins in the end zone for a safety after a Packers drive puttered out at the goal line. Alexander also picked off Cousins at the end of the first half. No one blocked Alexander on the safety, and Cousins threw the pick right to him, but when playing against the Vikings, it always pays to be in the right place at the right time.
Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else’s Highlight: Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Drake generally blocks about as well as a turnstile at a free concert, but when Kyler Murray took off scrambling on 3rd-and-17 against the 49ers, Drake positioned himself perfectly to perform a 7-10 split on defenders Jimmie Ward and Kwon Alexander, allowing Murray to slice past the sticks for 25 yards and a first down.
Honorable mention goes to Bengals center Trey Hopkins, who steamrolled Chargers defender Rayshawn Jenkins into teammate Nasir Adderley on Joe Burrow’s quarterback draw touchdown run.
Special Teamer of the Week: Bennie Fowler, New Orleans Saints
The Saints kicked off from midfield early in the fourth quarter after a touchdown and a Buccaneers’ facemask penalty. Punter Thomas Morehead pooched a shallow fly ball toward the sideline, which caromed off two Buccaneers before Fowler pounced on it to set up another Saints touchdown. Fowler’s teammate Margus Hunt earns honorable mention for a blocked field goal earlier in the game.