Five quick takes on Week 2 of the NFL season:
1. Patrick Mahomes is just starting his career in his second season and Ryan Fitzpatrick is nearing the end of his career as a journeyman quarterback. But they have one thing in common: They are the stars of the first two weeks of the season. Mahomes has 10 touchdown passes and no picks in the first games, something that’s never been done before. Fitzpatrick has eight touchdown passes in the first two games, a feat only Mahomes and Drew Bledsoe, who did it in 1997, have matched. Jameis Winston returns from his suspension after the third game, but don’t look for Fitzpatrick to be benched if he keeps up this pace. And he gets a chance to strafe a porous Pittsburgh Steelers defense next Monday night. That is followed by a game against Chicago and a bye, so Fitzpatrick figures to start the first four games. If he’s 4-0, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be benched in Week 6 vs. Atlanta.
2. It’s easy to jump to conclusions after Blake Bortles outdueled Tom Brady last Sunday. It’s easy to think that Bortles has turned the corner and that the New England Patriots are in decline. But Bortles has had good games in the past and then suddenly the bad Bortles shows up. And the Patriots are noted for having a bad early game. It will take a few more weeks to determine what the ramifications of the game are. But the Jaguars coaching staff did learn not to play conservative in the fourth quarter with the lead the way they did last year against the Pats.
3. The Steel Curtain now seems to be now made of paper mache Not only did they give up six touchdown passes to Mahomes, but they were often out of position and missed numerous tackles. Tony Dungy said Sunday night that as a former Steelers defensive player, he thinks Mike Tomlin needs to get better control of the team. It doesn’t help that on Monday, Antonio Brown responded to a fan who should he was fortunate to play with Ben Roethlisberger by saying they should trade him and find out. These are troubling times in Pittsburgh, a franchise noted for stability.
4. The NFL needs to decide what exactly is roughing the passer. They seemed to be overprotecting the quarterbacks. Not only was Green Bay’s Clay Matthews called for roughing the quarterback on what seemed to be a textbook sack, but they also called the Vikings’ Eric Kendricks in the first half on a similar play. If those two plays are roughing penalties, they might as well put red jerseys on the quarterbacks and not allow them to be touched.
5. The Bill Belichick coaching tree still isn’t bearing much fruit. None of his assistants have lived up to expectations. The latest is Matt Patricia, the former Patriots defensive coordinator, who took over a Detroit team after Jim Caldwell was fired for going 9-7 the last two years and making the playoffs in 2016. Patricia is off to an 0-2 start. He has to go 9-5 the rest of the way to match the 9-7 mark that got Caldwell fired.