Previewing NFL Week 2

The key this weekend is how many teams can avoid an 0-2 start, which is a big hole to climb out of.

Carolina became the first 0-2 team Thursday night, and the other teams that lost their openers – the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals played to a tie – will be trying to avoid that fate. Miami is almost certainly destined to fall to 0-2. They appear to be tanking and/or rebuilding and are hosting the New England Patriots.

Three of the games — Jacksonville at Houston, Chicago at Denver and Cleveland at the New York Jets on Monday night — feature a pair of 0-1 teams, so that will result in at least three more 0-2 teams unless they end in ties.

The Jaguars and Jets are without their starting quarterbacks, so they are prime 0-2 candidates. Of course, an 0-2 start doesn’t doom a team. The Texans started out 0-3 and won nine in a row last year. But they were the first team to start off 0-3 and win a division title since the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

Only three teams – Houston and Seattle last year and New Orleans in 2017 — started off 0-2 and made the playoffs the last two years.

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Looking back at NFL Week 1

The first week of the season showed that you shouldn’t make plans for Dec. 8 — the day of what is likely to be the best game of the regular season, Kansas City at New England.

There is a long way to go, but their convincing victories over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers indicate they should be the two best teams in the AFC this year.

On the other hand, Miami is already the frontrunner for the first pick in the draft. The question I asked last week is whether the Dolphins would be competitive, since they appear to be tanking or rebuilding. The answer is most definitely not. They appear to be worse than an expansion team.

Now the rest of the weekend:

Highlights

Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens showed he can do more than run as he threw for five touchdowns, but the effort should probably get an asterisk because he did it the Dolphins. A lot of quarterbacks may do that against the Dolphins this year.

–Jacksonville was the only team to stop Patrick Mahomes from throwing a touchdown pass last year. He made up for it by throwing three against the Jaguars last Sunday. He should have had four but tried to show off and threw a no-look pass to an open receiver in the end zone and it sailed on him.

T. J. Hockenenson was the first tight end drafted last April and he showed he could be the next Gronk by catching six passes for 131 yards, the most receiving yards by a tight end in the first game of his rookie season. But the Detroit Lions, being the Lions, couldn’t hold a lead and wound up in a tie with the Arizona Cardinals as Kyler Murray brought the Cards back to a tie even though he made several usual rookie mistakes.

Dak Prescott helped his bargaining position in his negotiations with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones by having his first perfect passer rating while throwing for 405 yards against the New York Giants’ porous pass defense.

–The Philadelphia Eagles, attempting to win their second Super Bowl in three years, fell behind the Washington Redskins by 17 points, but then rallied to win 32-27. This is the kind of game that good teams find a way to win. They got off to a slow start but still pulled it out on a day they weren’t at their best.

Lowlights

Adam Vinatieri had never missed two field goal attempts and an extra point in the same game in his 24-year career. Until he did it Sunday in the Indianapolis Colts’ loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Is he showing his age or just had a bad day? We’ll see.

–All that offseason hype about the Cleveland Browns may have been premature. They looked like the old Browns with their loss to the Tennessee Titans in the opener. The Browns need to do less talking and more playing.

–Houston coach Bill O’Brien is not noted for being a savvy coach, and he and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel fell into the prevent defense trap after taking the lead in New Orleans with 37 seconds left. By not putting heat on Drew Brees, they invited him to march the Saints into position for a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Jameis Winston threw three picks, including two returned for touchdowns, in the Tampa Bay loss to the San Francisco 49ers. New coach Bruce Arians says it is too early to judge a quarterback in a new system. That is no excuse for two Pick Sixes

–The questions about Todd Gurley persist. He disappeared in the playoffs last year, and the league’s second-highest paid running back got just 15 carries as the Rams beat the Carolina anthers. Are they too concerned about Gurley’s knee to make him a workhorse running back?

Previewing NFL Week 1

A look ahead to Week One of the NFL’s 100th season:

A century ago seemed to be a good time to start a sports league.

The 1920s were a golden age of sports. Baseball barely survived World War I, when attendance dropped and players were unhappy with their meager salaries.

The 1919 World Series was fixed, and there have been unproven allegations the 1918 Series was fixed, too.

But Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees gave the sport new life. College football became popular with Knute Rockne coaching the Four Horsemen at Notre Dame. Boxing was big with Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, and horse racing was a major sport.

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Will McVay join list of coaches haunted by Super Bowl losses to Belichick?

Sean McVay joined a six-man Hall of Shame coaching club last February.

He became the sixth coach to lose a Super Bowl to Bill Belichick.

All six were guilty of coaching gaffes that help hand the Lombardi trophies to Belichick.

McVay, though, at least admitted the mistakes he made when his high-flying offense was held to three points and wasted a good effort by Wade Phillips’ defense.

McVay told Peter King his mistake in the Super Bowl was being too conservative against the Patriots’ “quarters” defense, which featured four defensive backs across the field in coverage from eight to 19 yards off the ball at the snap.

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Ramsey will test Jaguars’ penny-pinching ways with premium players

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ signing of Myles Jack to a four-year contract extension last weekend was obscured because teams were making their last cuts.

But the fact they signed Jack – their second-round pick in 2016 — and haven’t signed Yannick Ngakoue – their third-round pick in the same draft – gives an interesting insight into the Jaguars’ philosophy of signing players.

They don’t seem to like giving premium money to players at a premium position.

Jack got a four-year deal for $57 million with $33 million guaranteed that made him the third-highest paid linebacker.

Linebackers don’t get paid like defensive ends, so the Jaguars were willing to sign Jack and not Ngakoue, who is worth more than Jack got.

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