Nine facts learned after Week 2 of NFL
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 00:09
The days leading up to Week Two of the NFL season were filled with rash anticipation, as fans and pundits alike were straight giddy about the prospects of Broncos-Giants and 49ers-Seahawks. Whereas the Manning Bowl and the latter NFC West showdown resulted in one-sided cakewalks, they were bailed out in the drama department by less-heralded matchups, a lot of which came down to the final moments. Of 16 games, exactly half of them were decided by four points or less—and that doesn’t include another thriller between the Texans and Titans, which culminated in a walk-off DeAndre Hopkins touchdown in overtime.
Between rookie wide receivers (Hopkins included) having a field day, a couple of stud running backs having injury scares, and what is quickly becoming the biggest home-field advantage in all of sports, there’s a lot to cover concerning Week Two. Therefore, allow me to present the second version of N.F.L.—“Nine Facts Learned”—which, for the newbies, is a column entailing nine things I’m pretty sure I know after consuming all of the action.
Why should you place your faith in me to deliver you league-wide coverage, you ask? Well, picture me being glued to the television each Sunday (and Thursday, and Monday) the way Seahawks cornerbacks were glued to Anquan Boldin. Need I say more?
1. Tom Brady needs his recognizable weapons back, and quickly.
Brady was a frustrated man on Thursday night, and quite frankly I’m not even sure he gets that crabby upon waking up with bedhead. Regardless, I believe he had every right to behave how he did. Through two games, both narrow wins over rebuilding squads with rookie quarterbacks, Brady’s completion percentage (52.7% percent) is third worst in the NFL, ahead of only Blaine Gabbert and Josh Freeman. So why aren’t Patriots fans calling for Brady’s head, much in the same way that Florida residents are gunning for Gabbert’s or Freeman’s? For one, New England is still 2-0 (and even if they were 0-2, it’s Tom-Freaking-Brady). Secondly, remember who Brady is playing pitch-and-catch with, or rather pitch-and-drop. If owner Robert Kraft built a statue outside Gillette Stadium of rookie wideout Aaron Dobson, the real-life version of Dobson would still have the coarser pair of stone hands. Dobson, combined with fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, have somehow only caught 9 balls despite being targeted 31 times. Julian Edelman has been reliable, but Brady must be counting down the minutes until his top two threats, Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski, return. Even though those two are question marks with their injury history (word on the street is that when Amendola was shipped from the Rams to the Patriots this offseason, the package was labeled “very fragile”), at least Brady recognizes the names on the back of their jerseys.
2. We’re about to find out if the Dolphins are for real.
Let’s not leave the AFC East just yet. While New England has gotten off to a 2-0 start, they are not alone atop one of the weakest divisions in football. That is because the Dolphins, anchored by Ryan Tannehill and a refined defense, have kicked off the year by winning at Cleveland and at Indianapolis. Tannehill, often the forgotten man in the sophomore QB class, has outplayed two of his peers on back-to-back Sundays—first Weeden and then Andrew Luck. In Indianapolis, he went for 319 yards and a touchdown, finding Mike Wallace early and often and opening lanes up for the running attack. Miami’s defense, led by defensive end Cameron Wake and linebacker Philip Wheeler, has been just as good. The Dolphins get to head back home with their undefeated record, but it is in the next month or so that we will learn whether they are legitimate contenders. Weeks 3, 4 and 5 consist of the Falcons, Saints and Ravens, with the New Orleans tilt appearing on Monday Night Football. In the ever-weak AFC, a wildcard spot is ripe for the taking for the Fins—if they’re prepared to make the big jump now, that is.
3. The Texans must be attending church a lot lately.
There lies a very thin line between being 2-0 and 0-2—if you think I’m kidding, see what the Bucs have to say on the matter. While Tampa Bay is one dramatic loss away from being turned into a movie script, Houston has stolen wins from San Diego and Tennessee in consecutive weeks, and they don’t plan to apologize anytime soon. The verdict is still out on whether Arian Foster and J.J. Watt have been praying a lot recently, but it seems like everything is bouncing in the Texans favor in crunch time. Down eight to the Titans with under two minutes to go, QB Matt Schaub got a chance to redeem himself after throwing a killer pick-six. He did just that, hooking up with Andre Johnson for 21 yards on the sideline—Houston challenged the incomplete pass call and won it—before handing the rock off to Foster for both the TD and the tying two-point conversion. In OT, Schaub produced more magic on a drive that starred Hopkins making play after play. After joining the league in 2002, the Texans finally possess a No. 2 wideout that can free up Johnson on the outside. That’s what happens when you go to church.