Truths were uncovered and myths debunked during the first full slate of NFL action this past week.
Would Jimmy Garoppolo ever lose? Would the helmet rule make games five hours long? Week 1 of the 2018 regular season answered those questions and more.
New coaches, same problems
Seven teams entered the year with new head coaches at the helm. All seven of those teams lost in Week 1.
It could be argued that Jon Gruden, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, Pat Shurmur, Frank Reich, Matt Nagy, and Mike Vrabel are each facing more challenges now than when they signed on for their new jobs.
Darnold is the real deal
In the Monday night spotlight, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold showed why the New York Jets had no reservations about naming him their starter from the outset of the season.
The No. 3 overall pick exuded the poise and presence of a seasoned vet and routinely placed the ball exactly where it needed to be in an impressive NFL debut.
Cover the names on the box score and one would assume Matthew Stafford had two passing touchdowns and a 76 completion percentage and Darnold was the quarterback with four picks.
Concerns over new rules overblown
Remember all that hand-wringing about the number of use-of-helmet flags thrown? A total of 71 helmet-rule penalties were called in the preseason, but only one such foul was called Sunday. The most high-profile penalty of the day – Cincinnati Bengals safety Shawn Williams’ blow on Andrew Luck – was for unnecessary roughness, and it was handled swiftly as Williams was ejected from the game after a brief review.
Sophomore QBs ready to make the leap
Patrick Mahomes and Mitchell Trubisky are poised to do exactly what Carson Wentz and Jared Goff did in their sophomore years: Take the league by storm.
Mahomes announced his presence in a scintillating debut as the Kansas City Chiefs’ unquestioned starting quarterback and Trubisky looked dangerous in the Chicago Bears’ new offense.
While the old guard is holding onto the last vestiges of their careers, a young crop of talented passers is ready to take the spotlight.
Saints’ D could be a problem again
After the New Orleans Saints’ defense improved from 31st in points against in 2016 to 10th last season, the unit was expected to pick up where it left off. After all, the defense is returning many of the same players, including 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore.
But there’s a reason the Saints gave up a future first-round pick to select a pass-rusher in this year’s draft. New Orleans didn’t manage even one sack of backup Tampa Bay Buccanneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and allowed the journeyman to shred its defense for 529 total yards.
Big Ben hits the snooze button
A trend appears to be crystallizing: Ben Roethlisberger is bad in 1 p.m. start times on the road.
The idea’s been bandied about for years, but Roethlisberger’s produced more convincing evidence in recent seasons. Here are the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback’s splits depending on start time (regardless of home or away).
The trend continued Sunday in Cleveland as Ben threw three picks, coughed up two fumbles, and was sacked four times in an embarrassing tie with the Browns.
Browns nailed top defensive draft picks
In each of the past two drafts, the Browns have used top-five picks on defensive players. Those two selections – Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward – are already on their way to stardom.
Garrett was a terror Sunday, racking up two sacks, two QB hits, and two forced fumbles. Ward, this year’s No. 4 overall pick, picked off two passes in his first career game.
That’s two big booms for a team used to selecting busts.
Garoppolo is human
Garoppolo entered the season with an invincible aura about him. After spending three years under the tutelage of Tom Brady, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback began his career as a starter with a 7-0 record.
Then the Minnesota Vikings happened. Last year’s top-ranked defense frustrated Garoppolo for four quarters, corralling three interceptions, sacking him three times, and holding the $137-million man to a 45.5 completion percentage.
He’s human, but keep in mind Sunday’s loss was the first of Jimmy’s career, and he had the Niners driving to tie the game on their last series.
Bucs might be fine without Winston
The issues the Buccaneers’ passing offense faced last season were nowhere to be seen in Week 1 of the new campaign. Fitzpatrick had no problem connecting with DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans on deep balls, and he found a way to spread the wealth to Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, and Adam Humphries.
Bucs’ brass warned that the starting job might not be there for Jameis Winston when he returns from suspension in Week 4. If Fitzpatrick continues to play like he did in the opener, they might follow through on that threat.
Nathan Peterman: Worst QB in NFL history?
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Of the 882 NFL signal-callers with a career quarterback rating, Nathan Peterman’s 25.7 ranks 805th.
Sunday’s starter for the Buffalo Bills is averaging minus-0.23 adjusted net yards per pass attempt. Impressive.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)