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Two Minute Warning: Welcome to overreaction NFL Monday

NFL
Photo Credit: Sporting News

The NFL season officially arrived on our television screens Sunday morning. Teams tanked, others thrived, and in the end, the New England Patriots pissed off every other fan base with their sixth banner being raised to end the night. 

With the season now in full swing, teams are finally getting a chance to see their starters work together. Preseason will see a few snaps here and there, but the first regular-season game is where the fans can get a better a view. 

Oh and you know, overreact to pretty much everything on the field.

The night hadn’t even come to a close before messages started to fill into the Twitterverse.  Teams barely have had time to adjust to the new locker room, and fans are all ready to pack it in for next season. 

I mean, Miami fans, you have a legit reason to, and I’m sorry for that. 

That’s the thing with the league returning, so does the overreaction. Preseason hype means nothing but one week one tell you how the season will turn out as well. So many teams saw struggles, and that’s the reality. It will take time for rosters to look the part, and first-week struggles mean absolutely nothing.

Let’s just go down the list of some of the popular ones:

The Chicago Bears are in trouble with Mitchell Trubisky

Ryan Pace should feel foolish after Thursday night’s game. Two years ago, the Chicago Bears general manager traded up one pick in the NFL draft to select a quarterback. Deshaun Watson was a proven winner while Patrick Mahomes had mechanics only a coach could dream of working with.

Instead, he went with Mitchell Trubisky, a one-year starter out of North Carolina. And now entering his third season, everyone is still wondering how Pace has a job after seeing the recent success of Watson and Mahomes. Meanwhile, Trubisky still can’t pass left and played as if it was his first professional snap on Thursday in the season opener.

But the Bears are still contenders even with Trubisky under center. Thanks to the league’s top defense, the thrip-year quarterback doesn’t have to be an elite player. He just has to be slightly above average and limit the missed connections.

Chicago’s defense held an Aaron Rogers led offense to 10 points and collected five sacks on the night. Forcing the future Hall of Famer to feel the pressure, the Bears will be one of the better defenses in the league. On offense, Allen Robinson showed his best days are still ahead with a seven-catch, 102-yard night. Taylor Gabriel and Tarik Cohen both used their speed to find ways to get open.

Chicago’s offense has the pieces to be a quality contender. Everything relies on Trubisky limiting the turnovers and connecting with his targets. On any other roster, he’d likely be nearing the end of his rope. In Chicago, the defense will be able to carry the roster throughout the season. 

It also should be noted Trubisky did not play a single preseason snap. For a third-year player, there’s no reason outside of the coach’s call he shouldn’t be out on the field. 

Pace made the wrong call in 2017. He fixed it in 2018. In 2019, it’ll be Trubisky’s job to keep progressing under center. It’s far too soon to say the Bears are “done” with him at quarterback.

The Cleveland Browns were overrated this whole time

As one of the few who believed that Cleveland was all hype, this makes me happy. Even with a new upgrade across the field, the Browns’ offense looked sluggish and couldn’t find a way to put up points. Second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions while the defense allowed Marcus Mariota to look like a competent pocket passer.

With that much talent, it’ll be on coaching to correct the problem. There’s no explanation to say that the Browns are going to struggle in 2019 after the additions made this offseason. Plus, history was never on the team’s side.

In 15 years, the Browns have yet to win their season opener. Also, a majority of the key players such as Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. did not play during the preseason. Live-action is genuinely the only way to build a connection on the field.

The Browns will head back to reality after an embarrassing season opener. That will humble the team to get back to the basics and correct the problems on offense. Once Mayfield can become comfortable with his targets, everything should fall into place.

Either that or John Dorsey might be wondering why did he stick with Freddie Kitchens over Gregg Williams. It’s still hard to imagine that Cleveland will look as bad as they did on Sunday.

Now that we got those two big overreactions out of the way, the first week of the regular season Two Minute Warning is in place. With speed being a cool toy now, injuries already starting to hurt rosters and an early MVP race ensuring, the weekend had some great moments. 

Ok, time to talk about them. 

Speed killed on Sunday

Fast players usually will be over-drafted. Thanks to a strong 40-second dash time or great special teams ability, the value of a player will rise, specifically at wide receiver. And on Sunday, those speedsters looked like stars.

Even at 32-years-old, Philadelphia Eagles’ DeSean Jackson is near impossible to guard. In his return to Lincoln Financial as a member of the good guys, he turned on the jets and electrified the fans. Finishing with eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference, Jackson wowed and helped the Eagles pick up the win. 

The Cincinnati Bengals drafted John Ross in the top 10 two seasons ago for his speed. With Marvin Lewis calling the shots, he looked like a bust. Now with Zac Taylor, he’s showing the fanbase what he can do. Ross would finish against the Seahawks with seven catches for 158 yards. He’d also score a 33 and 55-yard touchdown where he blazed past defenders. 

And Marquise Brown made sure the NFL knew why he was nicknamed “Hollywood” in college. Drafted to become the home-run threat for Lamar Jackson, the speed demon set a Ravens’ rookie record with four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns also came on 45-plus yard catches, allowing the former Sooner to show off his speed. 

It’s early, but expect fantasy NFL rosters to look a little different next week. There’s no way these three will be on the waiver wire for long. 

Also, speaking of the Ravens…

Lamar Jackson for MVP 

Everyone wondered if the second-year quarterback was going to take the proper steps in the next direction. Well, Lamar Jackson certainly looked the part of franchise quarterback Sunday afternoon. And while it was against the Dolphins, that doesn’t change the fact that the once doubted gunslinger solidified himself as an early MVP contender. 

Jackson went 17 of 20 for 324 yards and five touchdowns on his way to a franchise-record 59-10 victory. In fact, he wouldn’t miss a completion until the 12th throw of the afternoon. Connecting with his targets and delivering beautiful passes, Jackson looked stronger than ever under center, proving his value as a quarterback. 

“Not bad for a running back,” Jackson said after the game.

One game into the season and Jackson is leading the league in touchdowns and completion percentage. He also threw 54 yards shorter than last season’s MVP Patrick Mahomes. One game won’t decide a season, but betting against the Ravens right now would be foolish. 

Jackson might never duplicate the success, but he’s on the right path towards a breakout season. One thing is clear heading into week 2: Jackson is a quarterback. 

And a damn good one at that. 

Entering the Gardner Minshew era 

This time last year, Gardner Minshew began his restart at Washington State. Originally planning to go to Alabama and learn to become a coach, Mike Leach convinced the graduate transfer to join the roster in Pullman.

One year later, Minshew will likely be starting under center for a majority – if not all of the 2019 campaign and further. During the first quarter, Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles would leave the game with a shoulder injury. According to reports, he’s out indefinitely with a broken clavicle.

Minshew was one of the team’s few bright spots Sunday afternoon. Going 22 of 25 for 275 and two touchdowns, the sixth-round rookie took significant steps forward after a brutal preseason. Despite throwing an interception, it came off a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage.

The Jags defense will need to improve, but outputs look Sunday still keeps Jacksonville in the running for the postseason. Plus, this could be a blessing for the team in multiple ways. Should Minshew thrive, he will likely become their future. Should he fail, Foles will return under center for the foreseeable future.

No matter what, things are about to get weird in Jacksonville. It’ll be like Woodstock, but everyone has their clothes on.

Dak’s getting paid and Jerry knows it

If there’s any doubt that Dak Prescott is not going to get paid, you can check yourself out now. With Ezekiel Elliott now paid his extension, all eyes turn to the quarterback as he looks for a new deal entering a contract season.

Prescott certainly added a couple of extra dollars to his paycheck with the performance Sunday afternoon.

The fourth-year signal-caller couldn’t seem to miss his targets as he’d finish 25 of 32 for 405 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Connecting with seven different receiving options, the Cowboys quarterback dominated against the Giants, making fools out of their front seven. Torching the secondary, Prescott looked the part of a franchise quarterback and wowed AT&T Stadium for four straight quarters. 

Jared Goff recently found himself with a $134 million contract extension. Carson Wentz received his $128 million extension that could end up becoming $144 million should he finish the deal. Prescott is likely entering the conversation to be in that range. Despite his playoff downfalls, the regular season has been kind to the franchise and their quarterback. 

One thing that held Prescott back in negotiations was the use of Elliott in the backfield. On Sunday, the running back was a compliment to the 26-year-old’s historic season opener. It’s time for Jerry to start listening to deals. 

The Jekyll-Hyde season of Kyler Murray and the Air Raid offense  

Write this post before the fourth quarter, and pretty much this would be calling the No.1 pick a complete bust in his debut. Write this following the game and Kyler Murray would receive some praise. No matter how you look at it, that’s probably going to be the season Murray, and the Arizona Cardinals can expect to have. 

With just over six minutes remaining in the game, everything seemed to click for the rookie gunslinger. For three quarters, Murray and Kliff Kingsbury highly-anticipated debut looks like it was stuck in first gear. Then, it just didn’t. The former Sooner quarterback would go a perfect 7 for 7 and score his first touchdown. 

Then, he would tie it up against the Detroit Lions and send the game to overtime. And then he made this throw, setting up for another Zane Gonzalez field goal.

Plain and straightforward, Murray is not your average NFL quarterback. 

There will be flashes for greatness for the young signal-caller this season. But there will also be moments where he looks lost. The same could be expected for Kingsbury as he looks to transition his college-based offense at the professional. That’s likely going to be the entire season and Cardinals fans should be ok with that. With promising throws and game-tying drives, Murray will at least be taking steps in the right direction to build for the future. 

It’s going to be a long season in Arizona. Patience will be key from the fanbase. There’s promise for the future with Murray under center. 

Parting Shots 

  1. Terrell Suggs went to “Ball So Hard University” as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Micheal Bennett is now a graduate of “Wakanda Forever” as a member of the New England Patriots. Carry on with your morning. 

  1. Despite several rookies having a great outing, the rookie of the week for me has to go to Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson. Detroit has been known for its selection of tight ends, but they might like this kid. Hockenson set an NFL record for most receiving yards for a rookie at the position with 131. He also made six catches and scored a touchdown. 

  1. Sammy Watkins should become a feature point for the Kansas City Chiefs offense this season. With Tyreek Hill expected to miss several weeks with a shoulder injury, Mahomes will likely turn to the former Clemson standout to become his leading receiver. Watkins impressed Sunday against the Jaguars, collecting nine catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns. 

  1. The Indianapolis Colts suffered the loss of Andrew Luck earlier this season. They now will be without a weapon on offense for the majority of the season. Wide receiver Devin Funchess suffered a broken collarbone against the Los Angeles Chargers. Signing with the team in the offseason, Jacoby Brissett will likely now turn to second-year wideout Deon Cain for help. 
  2. For anyone wondering, Malik Hooker is a stud safety and demands your respect. Big. Boy. Pick! 

https://twitter.com/PFF_Sam/status/1170826879261167618

  1. We all know Delanie Walker is an older tight end, but man, his postgame press conference following the Titans’ made me feel old. We sill miss you, Dennis Green. 

  1. Remember how Melvin Gordon was deciding to holdout for a new deal? Remember Philip Rivers said the team would be fine with the running backs they have? Austin Ekeler remembers. 

Ekeler and Justin Jackson combined for 115 yards and touchdown, probably making Gordon reevaluate his holdout decision.

  1. D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown were a deadly duo at Ole Miss. While they might not play on the same team, they’re likely going to be dangerous in the NFL. Metcalf finished his debut with four catches for 89 yards. 

Brown would lead the Titans with three catches for 100 yards. 

But Metcalf might need to call Antonio Brown. I’m pretty sure they mixed up their mouthpieces. 

 

  1. The Buffalo Bills could be an exciting team this year. Josh Allen struggled at times, but throws like these are why it’s easy to believe he can be special for the foreseeable future. 

A below-average NFL game, but somehow he led the chargeback. 

 

1) Make sure you check out the PFN’s Podcast network. This week, the guys recap the whole Antonio Brown saga that I refuse to speak of anymore and much more surrounding the league. 

Cole Thompson is the Lead NFL writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MrColeThompson

 

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