Five players to watch in the second week of the NFL season:
New York Jets coach Todd Bowles tried to keep things in perspective after Darnold’s impressive rookie debut at Detroit. Bowles said he would need 100 games to tell if Darnold is going to be a franchise quarterback. Actually, 50 should be enough to tell if he’s for real. Darnold now goes against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and if he wins again, he’ll probably start off 3-0 because the Jets play Cleveland in their third game before taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Brady takes on the tough Jaguars defense in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game. Brady brought the New England Patriots back from a double-digit fourth quarter deficit last year with the help of a critical third-and-18 conversion. It may be the biggest regular-season home game in Jaguars history. For Brady, it’s just Sunday.
Barkley had an impressive rookie debut for the New York Giants against the Jaguars in a loss as he ran for 106 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown bolt. Against the Dallas Cowboys, he will attempt to become the first rookie running back since Cadillac Williams back in 2004 to rush for over 100 yards in his first two games. Whether he does it or not, the Giants hope he winds up being better than Williams. Only seven rookie running backs have done it since the 1978 merger. Earl Campbell was the first in 1978.
The Kansas City Chiefs had enough confidence in Mahomes to send Alex Smith packing and hand him the starting job. All he did was pass for four touchdowns in the win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He and Ryan Fitzpatrick were the only quarterbacks to pass for four touchdowns in their openers. Mahomes faces the Pittsburgh Steelers and Fitzpatrick the Philadelphia Eagles, and they both have a chance to match Drew Brees, who did it in 1997. Almost hard to believe that in this passing era, Brees is the only quarterback to pass for more than 400 yards in his first games.
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback is under the microscope after a 16-8 loss to Carolina in the opener. He’s now passed for fewer than 200 yards seven times in the last nine games. And Landon Collins of the Giants said they have a better chance of beating the Cowboys if they stop Ezekiel Elliott and put the ball in Prescott’s hands. Prescott’s response, “Challenge accepted.’’ It remains to be seen if he’s up to the challenge.