Every Sunday we’re featuring the Sunday Six Pack that covers the day’s biggest storylines. We’ll be following this up each and every Monday with the Monday Hangover, which will look back on those stories and cover what we learned. These back-to-back articles are sure to get you primed, pumped and informed throughout the entire season. In addition, reading these articles will ensure you understand the dangers of not paying attention or drinking too much on Sundays.
Let’s get to it!
Can #1) Five Rookie Quarterbacks are Starting in Week One
A record five rookie quarterbacks did, indeed, start in week one. There was the good, the bad and the ugly when you look at the results. Let’s review their performances in order of their level of success:
Robert Griffin III was easily the most impressive rookie of the group on Sunday and it’s safe to say there won’t be too many Rex Grossman or John Beck jerseys seen in Washington any time soon. Griffin finished the day going 19-for-26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns becoming the first quarterback ever to begin their career with a 300 yard passing game with two scores and no interceptions. When you add his 42 yards on the ground and a 40-32 win on the road against New Orleans, it really couldn’t get much better.
Andrew Luck looked pretty good in his debut, all things considered. There aren’t too many places tougher to play than Chicago and for a rookie starting his first game, Luck deserves some credit. He hung in there against a tough defense and finished his day going 23-for-45 for 309 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Luck joins Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and the aforementioned Robert Griffin III as the only rookies to throw for 300 or more yards in their debut. He’s going to need some help from his teammates and his team really has an obvious lack of talent, but he still looked solid and poised even in defeat.
Russell Wilson’s preseason magic didn’t translate quite as he had hoped in week one. He finished the day going 18-for-34 for 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a close loss at Arizona. The Seahawks played very conservatively to protect Wilson and it really didn’t work as they struggled to find a rhythm on offense. What you won’t find in the box score was a great drive he orchestrated at the end of the game that finished with three of his receivers dropping what could have been a game winning touchdown pass. If Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin or Braylon Edwards make a catch at the end of the game (for what it’s worth, the one to Edwards was the only pass that really should have been caught, though the others could have been), we’d be talking about Wilson being the second coming of whoever you wish to pencil in here. Stay patient with him and you should be rewarded.
Ryan Tannehill’s box score looks pretty ugly as he finished the game going 20-for-36 for 219 yards and three interceptions. It’s not great, that’s for sure. However, keep in mind he had a couple of his passes tipped by JJ Watt that turned into two of those interceptions. He was also forced to play from behind most of the game. With Tannehill, it’s likely going to take the entire season for him to develop, especially with the lack of playmakers at his disposal. With rookie quarterbacks, there’s one rule you always have to remember – you just can’t panic under ANY circumstances, no matter how bad they may look.
It’s time to panic if you have Brandon Weeden. I’m willing to bet those people who were stuck watching the epic battle between Michael Vick and Weeden on Sunday are burning up the phone lines to DirecTV today in an effort to get Sunday Ticket. Weeden was simply dreadful in this one, finishing the day going 12-for-35 for 118 yards and four interceptions. If you want to compare the spectrum between the top and bottom of this list with Griffin to Weeden, you’d probably have to compare the Batmobile to a Pinto. We thought his completion percentage of 49% in the preseason was bad, but he found a new low by completing just 34% of his throws on Sunday. He’s played in five games when you count preseason action and he has yet to throw a single touchdown pass. Yikes.
Can #2) The Washington Redskins Running Back Situation
The Redskins running backs combined for 32 carries, with Alfred Morris taking 28 of them. Yes, 28. He was fairly effective with 96 yards and two scores. His yards per carry average ended up at a respectable 3.4, but he was far from dominant. The real news is just how much the Redskins relied on him as Evan Royster (two carries for ten yards) and Roy Helu (two carries and three catches for a total of 27 yards) were nearly invisible. This situation is going to be one to avoid unless Morris really steps up in the next couple of weeks and takes a true stranglehold on the job. He wasn’t good enough to be the unquestioned starter for the year, that’s for sure. That being said, there’s no doubt he’s the one to own for the time being.
Can #3) Players returning from injury
Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles were all in the crosshairs of many dynasty owners as they made their much anticipated returns on Sunday.
Jamaal Charles was pretty effective as he rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries. It was a little disheartening to see Peyton Hillis get seven carries and Dexter McCluster (six catches for 82 yards) used on passing downs. It’s quite possible the Chiefs are easing Charles in, but he also got caught from behind on a run – that’s something you just never used to see.
Adrian Peterson is simply amazing. He tore his ACL in week sixteen last year and ended up missing a grand total of one game. ONE. Peterson showed his trademark ability with 84 yards and two touchdowns in 17 carries in the Vikings overtime win over Jacksonville. He missed one game. ONE.
We finish with Peyton Manning’s performance against Pittsburgh on Sunday night. If I took nearly two years off from anything, I can pretty much guarantee you I’d be terrible at it when I started again. Manning? Not so much. Peyton was back to his old self against the Steelers and last year’s league best defense by casually going 19-for-26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-19 win for Denver. Remember what I said about the Grossman and Beck jerseys? Even the great Tim Tebow and his #15 jersey will be a distant wardrobe memory for Bronco fans – they’ve probably already forgotten. Amazing.
Can #4) Other Rookie Players in the Crosshairs
We’ll be covering many of the rookies later on this week, but the one performance that needs to be pointed out was that of Jets receiver Stephen Hill. After a relatively quiet preseason that had most beat writers saying he was going to take years to develop, Hill exploded for 89 yards and two touchdowns on just five catches. The next time a Georgia Tech receiver enters the league advertised as a project who needs time to learn routes and only possesses “raw athletic ability,” I’m taking him in my rookie drafts. I don’t care what his name is, I’m taking him. Hill is no comparison to fellow Yellow Jacket receivers Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas yet, but he showed tons of surprising promise on Sunday.
Can #5) Backup running backs having prominent roles
It really looked like Rashad Jennings, Jonathan Dwyer, Brandon Jackson, Ben Tate, Toby Gerhart, Robert Turbin and Ronnie Brown could have all had serious impact this week, but none really have so far. Jennings was hurt early, Dwyer had 43 yards, but had a touchdown called back, Jackson had two catches and didn’t see a carry, Tate had just eight touches to Arian Foster’s 27, Gerhart took a back seat to Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch played to take away any hope for Turbin. Ronnie Brown is the only one left to play and at this rate, Ryan Mathews will probably have some type of Terminator-like bone regeneration happen in his sleep tonight.
Can #6) Mining for the First Waiver Wire Gem
We’ll have more on this later this week as well, but there are a few names that are going to be hot this week. The hottest is still likely Kevin Ogletree at this point, but buyer beware.
Ahh, it’s nice to have football again. Thanks for spending your employer’s work time with us today!
Follow Ken on twitter @DLF_KenK.