It’s important to be prudent and cautious when considering your observations about how good or bad a team will be, after all, not every team can have a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning. No, some of us have to be saddled with guys like Kyle Orton and Jake Delhomme.
Of course, it could always be worse, right?
The first week, for many fans, offers a glimpse at what will be for the next fifteen weeks of the NFL regular season. Some of us will find reason to be happy, while others will be mad as heck.
Either way, we are all prone to taking a big win too seriously, “The Saints are going to the Super Bowl”, while taking a heartbreaking loss too hard, “The Texans are gonna be awful this season”.
That said, I made a few observations of my own this weekend—many of them were made prior to the first snap and were confirmed by game’s end. While others found their way in as the moments ticked away on the freshly minted season.
Without further intro, here are just a few of the snap judgments and, possibly, false conclusions that can be drawn from week one.
Jake Delhomme should no longer be starting in the NFL
February 1, 2004, New England beats Carolina, 32-29, in the Super Bowl—one of the best ever. Delhomme lights up the stat sheet and becomes the NFC South’s golden boy after throwing for 323-yards and three touchdowns while rallying his team for 19-points in the fourth quarter to nearly win it all.
It was the moment that Jake Delhomme became a household name and the Carolina Panthers went from being second-thoughts to a-listers in the NFC.
That was then, this is now.
Delhomme has made a lot of money from that one shining moment of Super Bowl glory but, like Janet Jackson, I must ask, “What Have You Done For Me Lately”? That performance, if you wish to call it that, on September 13, 2009 was deplorable. Atrocious. Horrific. Bad.
It was miles away from the Super Bowl phenom he became in 2004, but not unlike the performance in his prior game—which performance is most likely closest to the real Jake these days, do ya think?
His apologists will say it was the defensive brilliance of the Eagles, the poor performance of the offensive line, the bad playcalling by coach Fox, the ineffectiveness of the run game, etc., etc.; that’s why he only managed to throw for 73-yards. That is why he had five turnovers.
Stop making excuses for what many people already know…..Jake is done.
Now, might he come out next week and blow the doors off Atlanta? Maybe. It’s been said that he might come up with a Drew Brees like performance of his own this next week to shut the naysayers up and prove he’s still the best man for the job—that’s laughable if you consider he’s only had two 300+ yard games in three years (32 starts), but, okay.
It’s time to call a spade a spade.
Snap conclusion: The Panthers will never reach another Super Bowl with Jake Delhomme as their quarterback.
Adrian Peterson is a man amongst boys
Brett Favre can now fade into the background that is Adrian Peterson’s shadow. If it wasn’t clear to anyone before, it should be mind-numbingly clear now, Adrian Peterson is the Minnesota Vikings.
His 180-yard trouncing of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday was nothing short of amazing. He ran over, around, and through defenders and made most of that Cleveland team look like they were members of a high school scout team.
He’s a beast and, without question, the most valuable player on his team. If he goes down, may God have mercy on Minnesota’s soul because they will be dead in the water—with or without Favre standing behind center.
Speaking of whom, Favre may as well have been Sage Rosenfels. His 110-yard passing performance was hardly impressive. He will likely get better as the games progress but, so far, the only thing impressive about him on Sunday was that he didn’t throw any interceptions.
Snap Conclusion: The Vikings are the team to beat in the NFC North.
Jay Cutler is still Jay Cutler
The only person smiling after Jay Cutler’s four interception performance on Sunday night was, likely, Jake Delhomme. Why? Because he would no longer dominate the talk of which quarterback looked the worst on the day.
A lot of people are knocking Jay for his lack of emotion over a Bear’s loss. A loss, mind you, that he can claim a great deal of responsibility for having caused. No, the real issue should be his inability to read defenses any better than he did in Denver.
Jay threw pick after pick on Sunday night and didn’t seem to glean any new insight from the one before; he’s not learning how to be a more efficient quarterback. He’s not trying to develop a better feel for reading defenses. He’s just playing catch and hoping like hell the set of hands that finds the ball is wearing the same jersey as him.
In his defense, the Packers did happen to be home to one of the more opportunistic secondaries of the 2008 season, tied for third with Jay’s current team, for interceptions. However, that is no excuse for what looked like sloppy play on Jay’s part.
His task won’t get any easier when he faces the Steelers this week but maybe Polamalu’s absence will make it easier for him to see his receivers better—that or maybe a better set of contact lenses.
Snap Judgment: He’s still immature and needs to grow up in a hurry if he expects to be a leader and not a liability.
The Bills look fine…why did they even need Owens?
T.O. sat on the bench with little to run his mouth about—his team lost a heartbreaker whilst his former team basked in the glory that was a win minus his drama.
For his part, Owens did manage to make a couple insignificant catches on the night but was overshadowed by a very impressive Bills defense whose efforts were thwarted by some very bad special teams play on the part of, second-year man, Leodis Mckelvin.
Owens not only looked out of sync in the Bills offense, he didn’t even look like the man Trent Edwards wanted to throw the ball to—Fred Jackson held that honor.
The Bills looked good on both counts Monday night, despite the loss, and they looked that way without Owens providing the numbers he’s used to having in a game.
Which begs the question? Why did they need him in the first place? Owens isn’t likely to be held down for long, but the Bills offense ran crisp and clean without him and that cannot be a good harbinger of things to come—an unhappy T.O. is a no-no…just ask Romo.
It’s possible that this was just a fluke of a game and Edwards is still searching for chemistry with his newest wide receiver but, from the looks of it, Owens won’t be as important as many thought.
Snap Judgment: Owens will be lucky to hit 1,000 yards in Buffalo. He’ll be lucky to matter at all.
The Bengals are just not very good
Denver Bronco fans can take that win on Sunday and mount it on the wall of Josh McDaniel’s office at Mile-High Stadium. It won’t happen very often this season.
The Bengals, for all the Carson Palmer talk, just don’t look very good on offense. Sure, OchoCinco got his yards (89) and Benson put up some decent number (76-yards and a score), but none of those resulted in a win for the Bengals.
Carson Palmer looked dazed and confused by the Denver defense all day up to the point of his, impressive, 91-yard drive down the field to lead his team to a score—one that should have held true if not for a fluke play.
The game ended as it was played: ugly—and if the ending was any indication of how the Bengals season will go, it will be no different this year than the last.
Snap conclusion: The Bengals aren’t contenders. They never were.
The Jets are for real
Rex Ryan has brought his tough talk to the Jets and has backed it up every step of the way thus far. Anyone who continues to doubt that the Jets are for real this season, need only look at the masterpiece that was their first game of the year.
Say what you will about how the Texans are overrated and Schaub is not a good quarterback. This was a team that was on the rise near the end of last season and boasts a ton of talent in both Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson.
The Jets have owned the Texans of late but were still the underdogs in this game since they were sporting a rookie quarterback and head coach coming into this game.
Will the Jets win the Super Bowl this season? Not likely, but this much is for sure, it won’t be long before Ryan has them in the conversation.
Snap conclusion: The Jets are the new rising stars of the AFC East.
On to week 2.