The three things I learned from Week One of the NFL season:
Every NFL off-season we spend months on end talking in circles in an effort to kill time until football officially returns. We build narratives, crown champions and fire coaches before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves, I’m talking about you Zac Taylor (Insert Kliff Kingsbury or Matt LaFluer if you’re a Bengals fan).
Well rejoice football fans, the NFL is here and we finally have something to chew on. I know we’re only a week in and I know that after teams get more tape and more football is played we can’t really make any definitive predictions…except that the Patriots will win the Super Bowl, but we all knew that already.
Full disclosure; I’m a Ravens fan, so I more than anyone don’t want to see that happen, but we as NFL fans know it will. Belichick and Brady will pull a ‘these aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ Jedi mind trick and laugh their way to yet another Lombardi to the dismay of all the other fanbases in the NFL; including mine, #RavensFlock.
But with that said, I still learned a few things this week.
1. Christian McCaffery is the most dynamic player in the NFL and will win Offensive Player of the Year.
That’s pretty self explanatory, McCaffery’s performance against a good and maybe great Rams defense last week proved, at least to me, that he is the most dynamic player in this league. Simply put, he’s what we always wanted Reggie Bush to be in the NFL. The numbers alone make that argument: 19 Carries, 128 rushing yards, 10 receptions, 81 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. He averaged 7.2 yards per touch, whether rush or reception, that’s beyond comprehension for someone who got the ball 29 times.
Yes, those numbers are insane. But that’s not the only reason I feel this way, I feel this way because every time the Panthers went to someone else, they couldn’t move the ball. In the 35 plays that the Panthers didn’t give the ball to McCaffery they averaged 3.82 yards per play. Let me say that again, just to make sure you caught that. When the Panthers gave the ball to Christian McCaffery they averaged 7.2 yards per play and when they didn’t, they averaged 3.82.
THAT’S ALMOST DOUBLE THE YARDS WHEN HE TOUCHES THE BALL! Feed the man, and if they do he will win offensive player of the year this season.
2. Dak will get paid, how much? I don’t know. But he will.
He looked good, really really good, and if I was Jerry Jones I would be regretting not paying this guy in the off-season. I get it was the Giants and other than Saquon, no one expects them to do or be anything of significance. But that’s not the point; this is, Kellen Moore’s system puts Dak in a position he’s never been in before, and that’s the driver’s seat of an offense that allows him to utilize his specific skill set while adapting to modern day offensive schemes with legit dudes at every position. Or simply, Dak isn’t running an offense from the 90s meant for a backup anymore.
If Moore continues to show that he’s capable of calling plays and helping build an offense that isn’t afraid to push the ball down the field by utilizing play action with the threat of Dak running, then Dak will have a career year that could end in Miami hoisting the Lombardi with a Joe Flacco type contract on the way in the summer.
*Granted Zeke, Cooper and that O-Line all stay healthy.*
Get your checkbook ready, Jerry. I’d bet it’s going to be $30+ million and if I was Dak I’d give a hefty percentage to his O.C.
3. The Browns are fine, not great, but fine.
Yes, the Browns lost to the Titans by 30. Yes, Baker Mayfield threw 3 interceptions. And yes, the Browns only scored 13 points.
I understand those facts. But with that considered, I would still put my money on the Browns to make the playoffs. It wasn’t pretty, and a lot of that was Cleveland shooting themselves in the foot. But the other facts are really telling; this was a 3 point game with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, they out-gained Tennessee when it came to total yards and oh yeah, the browns also gifted the Titans 182 yards in penalties, that won’t happen very often.
Look I don’t think much of the Titans, I even contemplated saying they wouldn’t make the playoffs in this article, but the fact is that defense is good and the Browns won’t play a defense like that every week. Yes, the penalties are an issue and first year head coach, Freddie Kitchens, is going to need to get his team in order, but penalties are fixable.
The offense looked good, Baker looked good, and most importantly in my opinion Nick Chubb looked good.
The Browns will be fine; don’t panic, Dawg Pound.