The NFL is back. After seven months without the sport we all love, which seemed much longer thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 season got underway.
The Houston Texans and Kansas City kicked off week one of the 2020 NFL season and the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos finished the week off on Monday night.
It is never too early to make judgements on teams for good or bad reasons but here are things we learnt from week one.
Houston Texans 20-34 Kansas City Chiefs
It may be a new season but some things do not stay the same. The Chiefs once again showed their capability to score a high amount of points in a NFL game. Mahomes threw 24 completions from 32 attempts and threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns and a 75% completion rate. The first opportunity Mahomes got to make a deep throw, he found wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, before it was ruled an incomplete catch. Mahomes shows no signs of slowing down and once again showed why he is the best player in the NFL.
Mahomes was further aided by a new addition to the Chiefs who already seems to have settled in. Rookie running back out of LSU Clyde Edwards-Helaire, was taken 32nd overall by head coach Andy Reid and Kansas. From 25 carries, Helaire ran for 138 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown.
It was clear to see from the fact that Kansas City rushed on their first two plays of their first drive that they are going to run with the ball more than last season. For the first three quarters, Helaire made significant yardage on most of his rushing attempts. He showcased in this game how special he can be. With the lack of a true off season for rookies, you wouldn’t be too shocked if rookies took time to adjust to the league. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was definitely not affected by this as he appears to have taken to life in the NFL like a duck to water.
Is David Johnson Back?
One of the most shocking trades in recent history took place in the 2020 off-season when Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien traded away Deandre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Part of the trade was the Texans getting running back David Johnson from the Cardinals. Johnson was seen by many as a running back who is not the same as he once was. However, in this game, we saw what Johnson can do. Is David Johnson back?
If you asked people who would score the first touchdown of the season, many would have said Tyreek Hill, Deshaun Watson or Travis Kelce. Instead it was David Johnson who scored the first touchdown as well as rushing for 77 yards from 11 rushing attempts. This gives him 7 yards per carry.
Arizona Cardinals 24-20 San Francisco 49ers
The aforementioned trade of Deandre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals raised the expectations of Arizona fans during the 2020 off season and the win over last season’s NFC Champions certainly lived up to the hype.
Hopkins caught the ball 14 times from 16 targets for 151 receiving yards and quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 230 passing yards and a 65% completion rate as well as rushing for 91 yards from 13 attempts.
As much as this game showed the exciting offense that Arizona has at their disposal, it also showed that the Super Bowl hangover may be a real issue for the San Francisco 49ers.
I am hesitant to write teams off and equally do not want to praise teams too early after week 1 but with the performance of the 49ers, it has to be a cause of concern. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for two touchdowns and 259 passing yards, with 19 completions from 33 passing attempts but struggled in the game with his accuracy questioned. NBC Sports’ Mike Florio called Garoppolo “out of sorts”.
With the injury to George Kittle, this may give the 49ers one less offensive option to pass to. What this may mean is more rushing attempts for the likes of Raheem Mostert, who ran for a 76 yard touchdown in Sunday’s game.
We saw in the play offs how little quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw the ball and the apparent lack of trust that head coach Kyle Shanahan has in the former Patriot. Over the course of the whole season, whether that be lack of options or the lack of trust from Shanahan, will we see Jimmy’s production drop off?
Indianapolis Colts 20-27 Jacksonville Jaguars
Are the Jaguars really tanking? All off season, ‘Tank for Trevor’ was all we could hear. With the off season departures of Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, Yannick Ngakoue, Leonard Fournette, many predicted the Jaguars to be the worst team in the NFL.
However, quarterback Gardner Minshew put on a performance which proved that maybe they do not need Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence after all. This game is only one of the 16 that the Jaguars will play this season and this may just be a one off, but you have to have some positivity as a Jags fan that your team may not be as bad after all. The New York Jets’ loss to the Buffalo Bills may also show that perhaps the team in green from New Jersey may take that title after all.
Minshew threw for 173 passing yards and three touchdowns and a 95% completion rate (19 from 20) as the Jaguars stunned their divisional rivals from Indy. Rookie Laviska Shenault Jr caught for his first NFL touchdown and showed his capabilities in the NFL.
Elsewhere In the League, the Cleveland Browns showed that once again the hype train ends in week one. Last season, we were all looking forward to seeing a Cleveland team stacked in the offense that ultimately disappointed. There was not quite as much hype as last year but the Browns certainly showed against their division rivals the Baltimore Ravens in the 38-6 loss that they are in no position to challenge for the AFC North.
The Dallas Cowboys showed that perhaps they also should not have boarded the hype train after their loss to the Los Angeles Rams, albeit they may have felt hard done by with the soft penalisation on wide receiver Michael Gallup who was judged to have fouled Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
The Rams’ looked back to their old selves with their 20-17 win over the Cowboys in their home debut at the new SoFi Stadium. They had a down year in 2019 after reaching Super Bowl 53 in the 2018 season but the offense looked back to being a threat. Todd Gurley has departed but running back Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers were a threat all game, particularly Brown. Head coach Sean McVay’s gameplan seemed to work as they appeared to be persistent with the play action calls. It is not broke, don’t fix it.
The Tennessee Titans beat the Denver Broncos 16-14 on Monday night with a late field goal from veteran Stephen Gotskowski, who missed four earlier kicks. Just as the Rams did, the Titans also persisted with the play action calls, sticking to what worked so well for them last season. Derrick Henry didn’t get a touchdown but managed to run for 116 yards, which showed how head coach Mike Vrabel will most likely stick to the running game just as he did in last season’s play offs.
Performer of the Week: Aaron Rodgers
Many thought Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers would come in to the 2020 NFL season with a point to prove. Rodgers was one game away from the Super Bowl last season and then the Packers traded up in the first round to get his replacement in Utah quarterback Jordan Love, with the missed opportunity to get a receiving option for Aaron in what was a loaded wide receiver class.
Rodgers finished the game with 4 touchdown passes, 364 passing yards and a completion rate of 72.7% and no interception. This included two brilliant touchdown passes to Devante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling late in the second quarter, the latter being my favourite touchdown of the weekend.
Many predicted the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 55 but Rodgers proved in this game that the Packers are certainly not someone to sleep on as long as he is their starting quarterback.