The first Sunday of the NFL season is officially in the books. The day saw upsets, shootouts, a two-point conversion to win a game, a star wide receiver tearing his ACL and much more. So needless to say, there are plenty of things that fans will be talking about for the rest of the week.
And this is only the first Sunday! There are still 16 more Sundays left in the NFL season. Fans can take some of the things from this Sunday and make some predictions on how the rest of those weeks will end up playing out. But also, there are still plenty of questions going forward, with several of them coming thanks to Sunday’s action.
So let’s get right to it. Here are five questions from Sunday, week one edition!
Is Carson Wentz for real, or was it the Browns effect that made him look so good?
Rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles, entered week one’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns having only taken 24 snaps in the preseason. This led several Eagles’ fans, myself included, questioning the team’s decision. They did, in fact, go out this off-season and sign Chase Daniel to a three-year, 21 million dollar deal. And Daniel came from the Chiefs like new head coach Doug Pederson, meaning Daniel knows his playbook like the back of his hand.
So it was a bit of a head-scratcher when the team named the second overall pick who had been hurt in the preseason their week one starter. But he sure did not disappoint. Wentz looked sharp and led the team to a 29-10 victory at home. Wentz completed 22 of 37 passes while connecting for two touchdowns and not throwing any interceptions.
But was the rookie’s first start an indication that he can lead the team to a successful season, or was the easy victory and solid stats all because the team was facing the NFL’s favorite punching bag? The completion percentage just under 60 percent does leave me thinking there will be some seriously rocky games, with a better defense picking apart the typical rookie mistake passes. But he also showed some solid chemistry with several of his teammates, including Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz.
How badly will the loss of Keenan Allen hurt the Chargers?
The San Diego Chargers will be without their star wide receiver for the rest of the season, as it is believed Keenan Allen tore his ACL in his right knee during the second quarter of the Chargers game in Kansas City. The team had built up a 21-3 lead at the half, but would go on to collapse, and lose to the Chiefs in overtime by the score of 33-27.
Had Allen been in the game, he certainly could have been the difference to keep the Chargers afloat and end with the W that ended up with the Chiefs. His absence will certainly mean other players will need to step up their game if the Chargers wish to succeed this season, as their division is pretty stacked. Players like Travis Benjamin, an aging Antonio Gates, and Tyrell Williams are going to see an increased role.
Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead will also be featured more heavily, and their success could be integral to the team’s season moving forward without Allen. The loss is clearly going to hurt, but the question is how bad, and will the team be able to remain involved in a highly competitive AFC West?
When Jamaal Charles is back, how will the carries be split with Spencer Ware?
Jamaal Charles was inactive week one against the Chargers with a knee injury as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered last season. His return date is still uncertain, and it will likely be taken on a week to week basis. While the team’s star back is out, Spencer Ware will be handling the duties of running back. And boy did he not disappoint Sunday.
Ware got a look at the end of last season after Charles went down against the Bears, and put up good numbers. Then in the season opener, Ware proved he was no fluke as he ran for 70 yards on only 11 carries, and scoring a touchdown. He also hauled in seven receptions for 129 yards, meaning he led the team in both rushing and receiving. So to put it simply, Ware looked like an absolute stud.
Assuming he continues to look as good as he did in week one, the team will not simply slide him back to a pure backup role when Charles returns. He will be used more than the typical backup to help keep Charles healthy. He will also be used more often because he is helping the team win. But will he overtake Charles and necessarily become the lead back? That answer will have to wait until Charles returns.
Could the Seahawks be set to disappoint this season?
The Seattle Seahawks opened their season at home, where they usually dominate their opponents. So when the Miami Dolphins came to town, many people assumed the Seahawks would roll right over them, as 10.5 points favored the team. But the team struggled to score all game, and only pulled out the victory thanks to a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin in the closing seconds of the game.
Now the Dolphins are no pushovers, but they are not seen as one of the premier teams in the league either. The team’s defense was not the issue, as they sacked Ryan Tannehill five times. But the offense, on the other hand, was virtually non-existent. To add to that, quarterback Russell Wilson appeared to tweak his ankle in the second half, and his status needs to be monitored.
The team has plenty of offensive weapons, with Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jimmy Graham among others. But the team will only go as far as Russell Wilson takes them. And if he performs like he did in week one, the team could be looking at a season that does not live up to the hype. Also, if the injury turns into something that lingers or becomes more serious, the team better invest in another quarterback, as Trevone Boykin does not exactly strike me as a guy who will be able to keep the team on the winning side of games.
Did Jack Del Rio’s bold decision set the tone for the Raiders season?
Jack Del Rio, I would like to applaud you. Not very many head coaches would have made the call Del Rio did. But the faith he showed in his offense helped secure a victory for the Oakland Raiders on the road in week one. For those of you who did not hear what happened, the Raiders scored a touchdown late in the game to make the score 34-33 Saints. An extra point would have tied the game, and we would have likely been headed to overtime.
But Del Rio was having none of that conventional logic and opted to send his high-powered offense out on the field for a two-point conversion and the win. One Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree connection later, and the Raiders had the lead, and overtime was out of the question. The decision took some serious balls, but also showed how much faith Del Rio has in his club.
This opening week victory could very easily give the Raiders some extra confidence headed into the rest of the season. The club has some of the best offensive talents in the entire NFL, and they feel they can go toe to toe with anyone. The fact that their head coach feels the same way means this is a clubhouse that is going to be highly motivated this entire season, and they could become dangerous real quick. They have shown they are willing to do whatever it takes to win, but will this bold move carry over into the coming weeks? I sure hope so, as the Raiders are going to be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season.
Now these are only five things to ask following a day full of action. We will certainly learn more with each passing Sunday. But for right now, these five questions remain unanswered. We will certainly find their answers eventually, and new questions will take their place. That is the fun of this sport. You learn something one week, ask a question the next, and repeat the process over and over, all while enjoying some good old fashion football. Now time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the season!