Jose Juarez, The Associated Press

Takeaways from Week One

What I noticed from the first week’s slate of games

Darnold looks the part, and that should worry Giants fans

After throwing an against-his-body, cross-field pick six on his first throw of the game Sam Darnold rebounded and looked really good. The interception could be described as nothing else but a head-scratcher, but I think the folly was actually good for him. It couldn’t get any worse than that throw and I think that relaxed him a bit. After that, it was simply go play football and do what you’ve been doing your whole life. Darnold finished 16 of 21 passing for 198 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He looked really good on some throws, especially when he caught the safety creeping up and found Robby Anderson on a go route.

People that are familiar with me know I’m a Baker Mayfield guy, but I still liked Sam Darnold coming out and had him as my QB2. His frame, mobility and his ability to improvise, and his throwing capabilities were all things I really liked about Sam Darnold. Despite some of the baffling turnovers, I also liked his ability to anticipate and throw receivers open at USC. This weekend did not change how I felt about the Giants drafting Saquon Barkley. I didn’t agree with the move on draft night. Barkley was the sexy, exciting draft pick for this year but it wasn’t the right long-term investment when Eli Manning is 37 years old and declining. And the more Sam Darnold plays, the more that’ll become apparent.

The Cowboys have never been less interesting than they are today

As a lifelong Cowboys fan I never have felt quite like this. The Cowboys are hard to watch. Which is a shame because their defense is the best it’s been in a long time. The defensive line is capable of getting pressure, the linebacking core is solid, and the young defensive backs are promising. All of which aren’t things I’ve grown accustomed to as a fan for the past ten years. On offense Connor Williams struggled to hold his own, while Joe Looney did a fine job of filling in for Travis Frederick. But the offense is nothing more than pathetic and predictable.

Scott Linehan continues to be the worst offensive mind in football, while Dak Prescott continues to prove he isn’t the right guy for the job. Dak was seeing ghosts, trying to throw the ball too hard, and still can’t anticipate a damn thing. The receiving group isn’t great, that’s known. But Dak still remains a “see it, throw it” quarterback and that just isn’t going to cut it in this league. And even when Dak does see it, he too often doesn’t make the throw. Like here…

And here…

If that’s what the future of the franchise looks like, it does not look good. Prescott has now thrown for 250 yards in only one of his past twelve games.

Linehan refuses to get Ezekiel Elliott involved in the pass game. Why can he not get his best player involved more in creative ways? I don’t understand. Linehan continues to roll with the same game plan and fails to ever adjust. Dez Bryant had every right to complain about last year’s predictability saying guys lined up in the same spot every week, and he still somehow can call out signals from his couch on Sunday.

That’s because nothing has changed, there’s zero creativity. Linehan talks about getting faster and adding athletes like Tavon Austin and Deonte Thompson but then goes to an empty set with multiple tight ends out wide. Dak arguably is still just a mobile, college quarterback and for some reason Linehan is only willing to run the read-option once in a blue moon.

The Cowboys are boring and close to unwatchable, hopefully that’s what will finally get Jerry Jones to fire Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan (and promote Kris Richard to head coach).

Patrick Mahomes is the real deal, and Tyreek Hill is still very fast

The Chiefs looked like a reverse image of the Cowboys. Offensive creativity, different formations, shots down the field, they had it all. Is that what an offense in 2018 can look like? Mahomes sure looked like QB1 and reaffirmed the faith the Chiefs had in him to move on from veteran Alex Smith. And having an offensive mind like Andy Reid calling plays sure does help. Just look at these two plays. Here Andy Reid gets his fullback in a one-on-one situation against a linebacker on a wheel route, and Mahomes has the arm and touch to make the throw.

Here Reid dials up an absolute beauty, and Matt Waldman does a great job breaking it down as always.

The Chiefs would go on to run the same exact play later and score again with Tyreek Hill instead. Hill scored another two touchdowns, first on a punt return and then he later took a slant to house.

The Chiefs offense with Patty Long Chucks (coined by @OldTakesExposed) at the helm picked up a lot of steam on the hype train over this offseason, and perhaps it was warranted.

Khalil Mack is an actual Bear, and Aaron Rodgers is the GOAT

I don’t know how anyone could watch Sunday night’s game and not come away thinking the same thing.

Khalil Mack was a one-man-wrecking-ball for the entire first half. Mack recorded a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a 27 yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half. It prompted Colin Cowherd to say “Khalil Mack had the greatest half in the history of the NFL by a defensive player” on Monday. Cowherd has been watching football for a longer time than I have obviously, but from what I’ve seen in my life I can’t disagree. As I was watching the game I kept thinking to myself, “Holy shit someone should really do something about that bear on the field.” Only to be reminded no, that’s not an actual bear wearing №52 in navy blue that’s just Khalil Mack playing football. The Raiders traded away their best player, arguably the best defensive player in the league, and a walking Hall of Famer. Not an ideal strategy.

After Aaron Rodgers had gone down and out with an apparent knee injury, Khalil Mack really started to take the game over. He tormented Deshone Kizer, stealing the ball from him like it was stealing candy from a baby.

Unfortunately for Chicago, Rodgers was only hobbled and came back into the game in the second half. And as Coach Matt Nagy got more conservative with Mitchell Trubisky and Khalil Mack and others began to run out of gas, Aaron Rodgers did what Aaron Rodgers was born to do. Being the most talented quarterback the world has ever seen, and making throws like these.

I mean we all knew that a field goal to make it a six-point lead meant diddly squat against Rodgers right? And giving the ball back to Rodgers with 2:39 left is actually giving him an eternity because Rodgers has all the infinity stones and time has no constraints on his fourth quarter heroics. We knew it was over the second Rodgers got the ball back, but it wasn’t. Instead Rodgers gift wrapped the game and put it in Kyle Fuller’s lap but Fuller just couldn’t hold on.

Instead Rodgers would find Cobb on third and ten, and Cobb did the rest.

The Vikings have a bunch of dudes on their team

The Minnesota Vikings have the best roster in the NFL. Anywhere you look on that team it’s just a bunch of football players.

“Well Trevor isn’t that obvious? They are a football team ya know.”

Nah I mean these guys are some serious duuuuudes. This team is full of tough ball players. The defensive line is loaded with talent with Daniel Hunter, new addition and 2013 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson, Linval Joseph, and 3 time Pro Bowler Everson Griffen. Linebackers Eric Kendricks and 3 time Pro Bowler Anthony Barr hold that thing down in the middle. And the secondary is also littered with talent. Shutdown cornerback Xavier Rhodes is paired with Trae Waynes and rookie Mike Hughes. And All Pro Harrison Smith at free safety and Andrew Sendejo at strong safety hold down the back-end, with former Bengals starting strong safety George Iloka recently signed as a backup.

Check out the game that Harrison Smith had.

That Vikings defense harassed Jimmy Garoppolo all game long, leaving him little room in the pocket and little time to throw.

The offense is loaded with dudes too. Dalvin Cook at running back, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs out wide, and Kyle Rudolph at tight end. The only thing was missing was “that guy” at quarterback. And after signing former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to big money in free agency, they may have found “that guy”. Cousins didn’t have some kind of unworldly game, but he did look good and some of his throws were great.

The touchdown passes to Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph were both silly.

Some other things worth mentioning

● What the Fitzmagic?!

Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, and he also ran for a touchdown on a read-option play! Jameis Winston on the hot seat if Fitzpatrick goes 3–0? I joke… but not really.

● Patriots defense stifles Deshaun Watson, and Tom Brady is still golden

Bill Belichick and the Patriots made Watson look like a rookie Sunday. They were successful getting pressure while just rushing three and had Watson looking confused and hurried often. I’m a Deshaun Watson believer and I thought he should’ve been drafted second overall by the Bears, but can we settle down with all the MVP talk and what not? He’s young, give him time.

While Tom Brady continues his fight against father time and continues to win, he finished 26 of 39 for 277 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.

● The Browns snap their losing streak! But not by winning…

The Browns were able to force five turnovers and still weren’t able to win, having the game-winning field goal blocked at the end of overtime and leaving us with the tie.

● Both the Jags and Giants look pretty good except for…

Both teams have weak spots on their roster. The Giants offensive line is still a question mark, with Ereck Flowers still being the most glaring problem.

And the Jaguars lost their №1 receiver Marqise Lee for the year in the preseason. Leaving Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook to pick up the slack.

But both teams will only go as far as their quarterback takes them. Eli Manning is 37 and has been declining for years despite Odell Beckham Jr. keeping him afloat. And it has been questioned if Blake Bortles is the right guy for the job his entire career, despite helping the Jags get to an AFC Championship just last season. Whether Eli still has it or not, and if Bortles ever had it in the first place will likely decide who these teams can be.