7 Up, 7 Down: Opening Overreactions

UP

1. Chandler Jones Has a Half a Season in ONE GAME

Cardinals EDGE rusher Chandler Jones had the denizens of Nashville crying out for an offensive tackle that could simply stand in front of him. Sadly for the Titans, no such man was coming on Sunday afternoon. Jones had a dominant day, putting up FIVE sacks which prompted NBA god LeBron James to tweet his support for Jones’ candidacy for DPOY. 

Jones was so dominant that the Titans’ star left tackle Taylor Lewan was beaten repeatedly into submission. Lewan later acknowledged his failure in stopping Jones and credited him for waking him up. 

2. Saints March In and Show Out

The Saints, briefly displaced by Hurricane Ida, put on a show in Jacksonville against fellow NFC contender Green Bay. The defense was all over the place, hounding Aaron Rodgers into two interceptions. Jameis Winston was efficient, throwing for 148 yards and a whopping FIVE touchdowns, including this beauty to get him over the century mark in yards for the day. He’s currently on pace for 2,500 yards and 85 touchdowns

Not to be outdone by his usual stellar play on the field, All-Pro CB Marshon Lattimore scored a well-deserved pay rise moments after the victory. The salary cap is a social construct built by mere mortals that can be exploited to profound and spectacular limitless bounds.

3. Dak Prescott IS Back!

Dak showed very little ill effects of the devastating ankle injury he suffered early last season and the recent shoulder issue he went through in training camp. He may not be back to being full force Dak but he’s well on his way to return to prior form. The Cowboys may not be an upper-tier contender but Prescott gives them a fighting chance in the much beleaguered NFC East where 9 wins might be enough to win the division. I’m glad that he’s back from such a bad injury. 

4. Sean McVay’s Football Mental Health

Sean McVay was voraciously giddy and gratuitously presumptuous when the Rams traded for former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in exchange for Jared Goff and multiple first-round selections. Well, after Stafford’s performance against the Bears on Sunday night, it appears his mental state of unabashed happiness hasn’t changed one iota. Goff, on the other hand, was valiant in trying to lead the moribund Lions to a stirring comeback victory. McVay has to be overjoyed by the fact that Stafford is more consistent and doesn’t need much of a guiding hand or protection from the Rams boss, unlike his predecessor. This frees him up to be more creatively intuitive in his play-calling ala new age Sean Payton, armed with a star-laden defense led by the indomitable Aaron Donald. 

5. Is Jalen Hurts that dude?

Yes, it was against the brutally hapless Falcons defense, but Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts began 2021 in a promising fashion, going for a combined 326 yards and three touchdowns. A game that included this beauty to former Alabama teammate and reigning Heisman winner Devonta Smith.

The Eagles quarterback is certainly showing signs of promise early on but he will need to turn in an outstanding season in order to avoid tempting the front office that has looked into the Deshaun Watson / Russell Wilson market in the past. Hurts looks spritely and in command of Nick Sirianni’s offense after one week. Philadelphia will face a much stiffer test this coming Sunday against the vaunted 49ers defense who just gave up 33 points to the woebegone Lions. For Hurts’ sake, let’s hope he has a great season for the City of Brotherly Love.

6. #LetRussCook

The Shane Waldron and Russell Wilson era got off to a flying start with the quarterback being an efficient 18/23, 254 yards and four touchdowns, including a beauty of a deep pass to Tyler Lockett. The signs of letting Russ cook full stop are there with Waldron seemingly calling the impact shots instead of the archaic Pete Carroll’s preferred ground control offense. Next up on the docket: a Titans team who got blown out by an explosive Cardinals offense in week 1. Let Russ Cook, indeed. 

7. Justin Herbert is FUN

The promising sophomore sensation led the Chargers to a win in a must-have game-icing situation when normally, Bolts teams of old would’ve found a way to blow the lead. Could it be a curse-killing win for the powder blue outfit or just a random win? Herbert has all the physical tools and is now challenging the tier of upper-crust quarterbacks. What kind of 2021 will he have?

DOWN

1. Matt Rhule in “Plus Territory”

Yes, the Panthers beat the rebuilding Jets but several decisions inside plus territory left Carolina fans wanting. A decision to punt while having the ball on the Jets’ 33 yard line is the most egregious of the issues. However, scoring only one touchdown against a hapless defense in four trips inside the 10 yard line is a giant cause for concern going forward. Especially so when one of the best dual threat running backs in football resides on the roster. Could this be a worrying trend for the Panthers? Is there anything left in Sam Darnold left to salvage? 

2. The Vikings have OL Issues

Kirk Cousins has his own warts but the offensive line was horrendous for the Vikings on Sunday. This was against a middling at best Bengals stop unit. It looks like they’re still in preseason mode and haven’t gelled together yet. Up next for the Vikings and their beleaguered line: the red hot Arizona Cardinals defense on the road. It will likely be another long day I suspect for Cousins and company.  

3. Jason Garrett is Not that Guy

Like the meme says, Garrett is not that guy. He hasn’t been handed the most ideal of circumstances such as Saquon Barkley returning from injury and a poor offensive line. Daniel Jones hasn’t developed and is quickly reaching Mitchell Trubisky territory. If this lack of production continues, Big Blue faithful will be up in arms calling for Joe Judge’s job. It’s certainly possible that Garrett is hamstrung by Jones but he isn’t helping him, either. One has to wonder if Garrett is the coach that Judge sacrifices to retain his own job security. 

4. Bad juju in Cheesehead Land

There’s some bad mojo in Green Bay, namely starting with the months-long diaspora of Aaron Rodgers dysfunction. It has carried over the season, it seems as Matt LaFleur’s men couldn’t get going Sunday. Would it be best for all parties for the Packer to end the charade of harmony and trade Rodgers? Love was inserted into the lost cause to mixed results. They will need to see what they have in their former first round pick before too long. However, one game does not make a season. It bears watching going forward though. 

5. Do the Chiefs have a good enough stop unit?

The Browns are well coached and talented but there’s no reason for the Chiefs defense not to be at least middle of the pack. They were dominated by Cleveland until they were forced to buck up in the fourth quarter. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league armed with an impressive arsenal but even he can’t keep on rescuing the defense repeatedly. The defense will need to step up better than they showed on week one. 

6. Bears Post “Help Wanted” ad for Left Tackle

It’s been an arduous journey for the left tackle position for Chicago as rookie Teven Jenkins was already injured. His replacement, aging veteran Jason Peters was injured early Sunday. The replacement for Peters, Larry Borom, was injured during the same game. They are one snap away from having to play Germain Ifedi at left tackle. Chicago’s offense was already labeled as a struggling unit, with these injuries, it will be tough for either Andy Dalton or Justin Fields to get any traction. It might be a long year for Matt Nagy. 

7. It’s still Atlanta United’s stadium, Falcons!

The Falcons struggled mightily against a retooling Eagles team, failing to impress anyone. The poor offensive line was a sieve and allowed Matt Ryan to get hit repeatedly, resulting in one iconic image. Defensively, they weren’t any great shakes either save for a few performances from Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and AJ Terrell. HC Arthur Smith’s team had a great opening drive or three but it all fell downhill afterwards. The losses may continue with the defending champion Buccaneers next on the docket. Coach Smith’s will and coaching ability is going to be seriously tested as the Dirty Birds escape from the last vestiges of the ill fated Dan Quinn era. It’s still Atlanta United’s stadium and the Falcons are paying rent for the right to play in it with a random Kanye cameo. 

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