The 791 points scored since the Wednesday opener has set a Week 1 record and with five teams breaking the 40 point barrier on Sunday and Monday it was pretty easy to get creative when I sat down to write my first blog of the season for sportcitychefs.com.
Until Monday night I was going to write about how the replacement referees were breaking a couple of things on my body but I think what changed my mind was when Monday night football’s Mike Tirico stated that head referee Richard Nicks had the nickname ‘Matt’. I thought it over and come to the conclusion that if you go by the name Matt and your name is Richard then I couldn’t write seriously about you. Sorry Rich !!!!
That pretty much summed it all up for me there with our replacement referees so I’ve decided to talk about a few rookies that caught my eye instead.
Before I stop writing about the refs I have to say that, on a positive note, I thought it was great to have the replay system the way it is as I think it saved a few coaches from spontaneous internal combustion. 85 % of the calls were upheld on Sunday and I think the luxury of having replay like this gives the coaches a bit of faith heading forward as it gives them options if they dislike a call.
In Arizona though, the officials handed the Seahawks an extra time out down the stretch and in Green Bay they flagged but failed to penalize a block in the back on a Packers touchdown return. Neither mistake effected the result so ‘all’s good under the hood’ for now I suppose and no harm was really done. The amount of pass interference calls was incredible. Maybe a few defensive backs were trying their luck but I don’t think many of the replacements were going to chance missing a call and instead flagging more to be safe and then leaving it to the coaches to challenge if they were that angry. I do think they will get better the more time they get and I bet the manager of Ed Hochuli’s gym isn’t complaining with the situation.
Bring back the guns !!!
ROOKIE WATCH – WEEK 1
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND BRANDON WEEDEN
Being a huge fan of college football, It’s always interesting to see which rookies step up on their regular season debuts and which struggle a bit with the transition from the college game. Here are a few I think stood out in both categories. In the good I will highlight one in each position and then give mention to others later. In the bad I will only mention a couple this week as it was their first start and they are only Rook’s at the end of the day. Ah, Bless !!
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins, 19/26 – 320 yds – 2 td passing / 10 att – 42 yds- Rushing.
It would be rude not to start with this one. I think starting your first regular season game as a rookie quarterback in the NFL is the most difficult thing to do in sports today but don’t tell that to Robert Griffin the third (RG3) as he made it look pretty easy Sunday. What was most impressive for me was who he did it against and the timing of it. New Orleans is well-known as a tough place to play as it’s an incredibly hostile stadium when the ‘Who dat’ nation are in full voice so to overcome that and go up against a team hoping to open the season with a profound statement performance following an offseason-long “bounty” scandal was incredible.
I thought the Shanahan’s did a great job with the game plan for the rookie as Griffin’s first six passes were behind the line of scrimmage and his seventh went for 88 yards and a touchdown to Pierre Garcon. Just a fantastic start to what I think will be a great career. The way Shanahan planned the screens, Roll out’s and option plays to set up that Saints Defence for the big play was really cool to watch. Vintage game planning from the great ball coach who I think needs a boost in reputation after the last few years and don’t forget about his son and offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, who’s also looking for respect. The offensive line in Washington is better than many think also.
Griffin finished the day with a passer rating of 139.9, the highest for any Week 1 debut since Fran Tarkenton helped the expansion Minnesota Vikings win their inaugural game in 1961. That 88-yard scoring strike to Garcon was the longest for a rookie quarterback on opening day since 1940. Cam Newton won the heisman and took the league by storm. I think RG3 is going to do the same.
Stephen Hill, Wide receiver, New York Jets. 5 rec, 89 yds, 2td’s. – Receiving
Hill’s production as the Jets’ No. 2 receiver opposite Santonio Holmes on Sunday was not a mirage. Remember, in the Jets’ third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers he led the team with five catches for 68 yards (13.6 yards per reception).
He lit the combine up back in April and I think it was that which prompted the Jets to move up in the second round to nab the Georgia Tech product. At 6’4″, 215 pounds, Hill ran the 40-yard dash in an electric 4.36 seconds, tying for first among all receivers and for second among all prospects. His measurables are sick. I think the knock on him was the option offence they run at Georgia tech and I’m wondering if their former coach Chan Gailey had a game plan for him Sunday when he was coaching the Bills. Maybe he did but it didn’t work. The route tree in the Georgia tech offence is more of a twig than a tree but it doesn’t mean he couldn’t run all the routes. I bet some GM’s are kicking themselves today. Maybe,,. I think he’ll have to keep it up for that to happen actually. I think he will.
Kelechi Osamele, RT, Baltimore Ravens. Showed great technique and was solid.
There are a few offensive linemen i’d like to add to this list and will mention them later but the way Osamele has come in and played during camp and pre season has really impressed me. I thought it would be rude not to put him in my blog. Drafted in the 2nd round coming out of Iowa state, He moved really well during the combine and I think we could see him start long-term as a bookend with Michael Oher on the ‘Blind side’. His natural position is guard but Ramone Harwood is less versatile than Osamele I think. Either way you look at it, What they did worked against the Bengals and all five opened holes and protected very well. I kept an eye on Osamele and was very impressed. Another mauler for Ray Rice to run behind and has good feet for a 6ft 5″ 333 pounder so is good in protection also. His feet and movement stood out to me at the combine back in April and I love how physical the Ravens are up front. When you think that Veterans like Bobby Williams and Bryant McKinnie are sitting behind Osamele I think it says much about the job he’s done coming in as a rookie. I look forward to seeing how he goes from here. Ravens rookie kicker Justin Tucker was also very impressive week 1.
Doug Martin, Running back, Tampa bay Buccaneers. 24 att 95 yds / 4 rec 23 yds
Although Alfred Morris was impressive in his debut for the Redskins, I felt that Doug Martin was more valuable to the Bucs winning their game compared to Morris in his. Martin is officially the main man in Rookie head coach Greg Schiano’s offense. The rookie played like a grown man on Sunday, sealing the game with a 15 yard burst with just over 2 minuets left on the clock and for me made a valuable statement in that the “Youngry” Bucs reputation we saw being promoted over here in London last year by Raheem Morris and company was truly gone. The offense reminded me at times of the style played under Tony Dungy and a little of the “pound the rock” style under Gruden.
LeGarrett Blount took a bump and the game I thought was placed on Martin’s shoulders. He didn’t disappoint. He protected the ball extremely well and looked good in pass protection, 2 areas many rookies are usually found wanting. It’s looking good for the bucs and if Blount returns healthy it will be a great one-two punch at running back.
Chandler Jones, Defensive end, New England Patriots. 3-2 tkls, 1 sack, 1 ff.
On to the defensive side of the ball now and to start I had to mention UFC champion Johnny ‘Bones’ Jones’ younger brother Chandler Jones. Chandler had a nice game along with a few other rookies from the most recent Patriot’s draft. I bet all the college scouts and draft personnel in New England were high fiving or texting at a high rate when 1st round pick Jones stripped the ball from Jake Locker as he sacked him and then 2nd round pick Donta Hightower picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown. And just before all that went down, 3rd round selection Tavin Wilson made an acrobatic interception to stop an early Tennessee drive. I love their approach to the draft. Every year they collect picks and then barter and deal to find great prospects. Just very impressive to watch.
Jones is an incredible athlete at 260 lbs and for Bill Belichick to start him in week 1 speaks volumes to me of how he’s grasped this system during the off-season. Matt Patricia is in his first season as a defensive coordinator after coaching the linebackers so a great start for him also.
Jones’ other older brother is Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones who had a pretty good game himself so a good week all around for the Jones’s. Except maybe the Jerry Jones relation that has to clean Jerry’s glasses.
Derek Wolfe, Defensive line, Denver Broncos, 3 tkls, 1 sack,
The stat line on Derek Wolfe to me doesn’t speak true towards the game he had on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think Ben Roethlisburger is the kind of quarterback that can make it look like defenders are getting pressure by how he rolls around the backfield and throws around 73 pump fakes on every pass play to give his receivers more time to get open. Keeping a closer eye on Wolfe though proved to me that he was actually making life very difficult for the Steelers by beating the offensive line and getting to the ball. Of all the defensive tackles drafted I thought Wolfe had the best week. Fletcher Cox had a decent start for the Eagles getting a few pressures and a sack but there was a run of about 5 plays where Wolfe looked un-blockable. I’m excited about him if I’m a Broncos fan. A very nice player with a great motor who will have a great year I think.
Jenoris Jenkins, Cornerback, St Louis Rams, 4-2 tkls, 1 int.
There were a few rookie defensive backs that caught my eye this week but I thought I’d mention Jenoris Jenkins as when drafting him out of North Alabama, after he got kicked out of Florida, Head coach Jeff Fisher gambled a little. Jenkins made a few great plays including an interception I thought gave the Rams a huge chance to win the game. He got into Titus Young’s head and just made his presence felt all day. I think opposite Courtland Finnegan, The Rams have a couple of corners that will get into the heads of many receivers this season and could be one of the better pair of corners in the league.
Around the league I thought Cowboys corner Morris Claiborne did a good job tracking Giants wide receiver Hakim Nicks and I really like Buccaneers safety Mark Barron who will be featured on this blog soon I promise. I was disappointed when Lions rookie corner Bill Bentley went down early with an injury in his game against the Rams.
As it’s week 1 I’m only going to choose one player under the bad category. Like I said earlier, I think it’s the toughest job in sports to start as a rookie quarterback in the NFL but I found the way all five starting quarterbacks played very interesting, But I’m aware that its way too early to judge. I thought Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson were ok. Luck made some great throws and he’s going to be ok. I think he came up against a good defence that had him on a few plays. I thought Russell Wilson played ok also but not the game-breaking Russell Wilson we saw in the pre-season.
Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins, 20/36 – 319 yds, 0 td, 3 Int – Passing / 39 QB rating
I thought Tannehill went up against one of the best defenses in the game today but to throw 3 picks in less than 6 minuets on 3 straight plays will get you in this category. The offensive unit actually turned the ball over four times in four possessions, including the three Tannehill interceptions. They gave up 24 points in the second quarter so to ask a rookie to climb out of that hole against that defense is a tough ask.
What I didn’t like was all the battered balls he was getting from the Texans defense. He’s 6ft 5″ but threw the ball like he was a Umpa Lumpa in the chocolate factory trying to throw an everlasting gobstopper over Charlie Bucket’s head. I’d expect it from Russell Wilson at his hight but not 6ft.5″. I was a little shocked by how much it happened.
As much as I like Devone Bess and Anthony Fasano I’m really concerned about the receivers he has to throw to. I like a few they have on the practice squad though. Jeff Fuller played with Tannehill at Texas A&M and I think should be activated this week. Chris Hogan had probably the most reliable hands in camp but I think they may have just cut ties with him. I think if they activate Jeff Fuller then he will make plays for them. He’s a good player and Tennehill is familiar with him. I was shocked he wasn’t drafted sooner. Time will tell.
I like Joe Philbin a lot. I think he’s a good man and coach and I see the approach he’s taken to the Dolphins similar to the one Jim Harbaugh has brought to the 49ers. I hope the Dolphins front office give him time. I think they will.
It’s too early to judge these quarterbacks really after one game and I really think the Dolphins have the offensive line to fight back straight away. Jake Long is a great leader as shown on hard knocks but I think now they’ve chosen to start Tannehill they have to stick with him no matter what.
QB, Cleveland Browns
12/35 – 118 yards – 4 int / ( 5.1 QB rating )
Not a great sign when you get knocked over by your national flag during the pre game build up of your first NFL game. I liked Weeden at Oklahoma state but I knew his age would be mentioned every time he struggled in the NFL and I think i’ve heard it about 50 times so far this week. I think there’s much more pressure on him to perform now than the other starting five. It was a tough day for him Sunday.
I think a big part of the problem is that he’s coming from a spread offence at Oklahoma state into the West coast system at a pro level in Cleveland and that it’s just too much for him to transition right now even at his age. He started the game with a nice 24 yard pass to Mohammed Massaquoi but it was all down hill from there. The Browns had lost 7 straight home openers coming into Sunday and the defense did everything it needed to get the upset.
The Eagles Defense is good but a quarterback rating of just over five is something that will get coaches thinking of your backup. Especially when the backup has experience in the system. It’s going to be interesting to see how they react to this tough loss. Trent Richardson was my 3rd best player on the board in last April’s draft and I think offensive linemen Alex Mack and Joe Thomas are amazing players. I honestly think Weeden will bounce back from this. Well,, At least get a double figured passer rating anyway.
Other rookies that caught the eye that I have not yet mentioned.
Lavonte David, Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4-2 tkls and great against the run and pass.
Jarrell Freeman, Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts, 5-1 tkls, 1 int for a td. Good debut out of the Canadian league.
Alshon Jeffrey, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears, 4 rec, 80 yds, 1 td – Receiving. Caught a great deep ball off Cutler for the TD.
Blair Walsh, Kicker, Minnesota Vikings, 4/4 on field goals, 55 yard longest and a game winner
Nick Perry, Linebacker, Green Bay Packers, 6-2 tkls, Looks like he could be good opposite Clay Matthews for the Pack.
Kevin Zeitler, Guard, Cincinnati Bengals, Looked great in the run game. Very promising player out of Wisconsin, A great school for O linemen
Thank you for taking the time to read my latest blog for sportcitychefs.com.
Please feel free to comment or ask a question below and please let me know which rookies you like or just anything football related that’s on your mind.
THANK YOU !!
By Rhodri Jones
@rhodrijones32 – Twitter
Rhodri Jones – Facebook