10 Things I Learned from NFL Week 1

On September 9, 2013, in NFL, by Stephen

10. Christian Ponder is the worst starting quarterback. At least Blaine Gabbert has an excuse – he has a horrible offense and terrible defense. Terrelle Pryor can run. Geno Smith has upside. So does EJ Manuel. Brandon Weeden will at least look downfield. Ponder does nothing. Despite having the best running back in football and decent receivers, he still breaks the pocket too soon and rarely looks downfield. Then when he does throw vertical – and not his typical dump pass – it’s inaccurate. Owning Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph in one of my deep fantasy leagues, I can truly say I hate Ponder.

9. Atlanta does indeed have offensive line woes. Roddy White is far from 100 percent, too. He has an ankle sprain and until that heals he should not be among the second or third tier group of wide receivers.

8. Optimism about the Cleveland Browns is misplaced again. Weeden didn’t look like he was coached up at all. Maybe it was just one game and the offense will pick up when Josh Gordon returns from suspension in Week 3 and Trent Richardson starts living up to his hype, but it was extremely disheartening to see the Browns physically manhandled at home by Miami.

7. Buffalo with Doug Marrone and Arizona with Bruce Arians appear to have upgraded their head coaching. The Bills played with a lot of heart and led the Patriots in the fourth quarter despite C.J. Spiller being held in check and several key injuries in their secondary. Arians and Carson Palmer make the Cardinals’ offense respectable again. Their defense is solid and should improve when Daryl Washington returns from suspension in Week 5.

6. Cam Newton and Mike Shula, the Panthers’ new offensive coordinator, are not a good fit. Yes, the Panthers were playing Seattle, which has one of the best defensive backfields in the league. But the conservative play-calling of Shula doesn’t fit Newton, who’s at his best improvising and making plays with his feet. Shula doesn’t want him to run. That’s a big mistake. Carolina is 4-12 in games Newton doesn’t score a touchdown and 4-14 when he rushes for under 50 yards. The Panthers went 6-3 down the stretch last year because Newton was unleashed. Now he’s back shackled – by his own coaching staff.

5. Never put Mark Ingram in your starting fantasy football lineup.

4. Despite back to back losses in their last two games to the 49ers, the Packers are improved this year. Their defense has gotten bigger and more physical. They have depth in their secondary and defensive line. Their ground game has a legitimate stud running back in Eddie Lacy for the first time since Ahman Green and Aaron Rodgers’ quick release, nimble feet and pocket presence makes up for mediocre pass protection.

3. The official’s really have the quarterback back’s on sideline hits. If a quarterback is even touched while he’s heading out of bounds, the chances are good a flag will be tossed. Lavonte David, who is a great linebacker, cost the Buccaneers their game against the Jets by touching Geno Smith when Smith was going out of bounds. The Buccaneers proved unworthy as a road favorite committing 13 penalties and getting another poor performance from Josh Freeman. Still, the Buccaneers likely would have won AND covered the spread if Vincent Jackson didn’t get caught from behind by a linebacker in the wide open field on a late reception as he was heading untouched down the field.

2. David Wilson is not ready for prime time. He is the early leader for fantasy bust of the year.

1. The Steelers are in big, big trouble. They are fielding their youngest offensive line since 1957 and now lost their best lineman, center Maurkice Pouncey. Their running back committee is a bad joke and their receiving corps is way down with Mike Wallace gone and Heath Miller hurt. The Steelers scored an AFC-low 56 points in going 0-4 during preseason. Their offense was held to a touchdown by Tennessee, which gave up the most points per game in the NFL last year at 29.4. The Steelers still are tough on defense but losing Larry Foote makes them thin at linebacker. Their defense is going to wear down. Oh, yes, they also need a place-kicker.


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