The first week of the NFL season is in the books, and it was an eventful one to say the least. Rookie head coaches, rookie quarterbacks, blown leads, improbable comebacks, downright embarrassing performances, downright surprising performances, there was something for everyone.
Week 1 can be a funny thing. Or a painful thing, depending on what side you fall on. Somethings are expected (like Nathan Peterman’s self-inflicted burnout); somethings are unexpected (like Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 5-touchdown performance); and somethings are just painful to watch (like the Chicago Bears blowing a 20-point halftime lead.)
Let’s take a look at the Winners and Losers from Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season:
Khalil Mack – Khalil Mack might’ve only gotten four practices in as a Chicago Bear, but Mack is already earning his massive contract extension. He put on the best defensive showing by a Bears defensive player in a long time. He recorded 1 sack, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, 1 TD in one half of football against the Packers. This guy isn’t even in football shape yet. Just wait until he is.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Ryan Fitzpatrick — yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick — carved up the Saints’ secondary completing 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns. And added a fifth touchdown on the ground. How do you bring Jameis Winston back if Fitzmagic keeps this up? Spoiler alert: You don’t.
Saquon Barkley – While Saquon Barkley started slow against this Jaguars defense, he showed everyone what he’s capable of with his highlight-reel 68-yard touchdown run that had the Giants back in the game for a bit.
Tyreek Hill – This guy is electric. Tyreek Hill hauled in 7 catches for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns. And that was only on the offense. Hill added a punt return touchdown of 91 yards to an electrifying day.
Cleveland Browns – This is the best start to a Cleveland Browns season since 2004. No, they didn’t end up beating Pittsburgh, but I guess a tie is a step in the right direction. The Browns should’ve won this game. But, hey, baby steps, right?
Patrick Mahomes – Welcome to the NFL, Pat Mahomes. The Chiefs second-year QB let it fly in his second career start. While his passing yardage was mediocre, he tossed 4 touchdowns, including 2 to Tyreek Hill. This kid looks like he could be the real deal. Let’s see how this plays out.
Adrian Peterson – Who says Adrian Peterson doesn’t still have it? After being signed by the Redskins after the loss of their starting RB, Peterson lit it up in his return to the NFL with 28 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown. AP isn’t done yet.
Sam Darnold – first pass was a pick 6, but he rebounded with a couple scores in the Jets dominating win.
Aaron Rodgers – And I’d be a liar if I didn’t have Aaron Rodgers on this winners list. Even though I hate his guts and am still convinced he wasn’t as hurt as he led on. Rodgers was terrible when healthy and then was great when unhealthy as he the Packers to a comeback win after a 20-0 deficit. Only Rodgers, right?
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Browns might consider a tie a step in the right direction, but the Steelers see a tie as a loss. And boy was it. Ben Roethlisberger stunk it up with his three-interception performance against a really dominant Browns defense. The Steelers just couldn’t put the Browns away. Then there’s the whole Le’veon Bell situation. Pfft.
CBS/NFL – I don’t think I expressed as much anger aside from the second half in the Bears/Packers game then I did when the CBS NFL peeps came on my television to tell me that the NFL couldn’t contractually show me overtime between the Browns and Steelers. What are you talking about? I know it’s the Browns, but it’s still the NFL!
Jimmy Garoppolo – Welcome to the NFL, Jimmy GQ. When defenses, good defenses, have time to prepare for you. Garoppolo tossed 3 interceptions in the 49ers loss to the Vikings. So let’s not anoint him a Hall-of-Famer yet.
Dak Prescott – While Dak Prescott didn’t turn the ball over, he didn’t really do anything else at all. Might this sophomore curse turn into a Year 3 curse?
Steve Sarkisian – Steve Sarkisian just cannot find the endzone. Even with the talent on the Falcons’ roster. It was more of the same for Atlanta’s offensive coordinator in the Falcons’ offensive struggles in the red zone. Terrible play calling, terrible results. Does he survive the season? *shrugs*
Buffalo Bills – Good God, the Buffalo Bills. Nathan Peterman continued his performance of what not to do as an NFL quarterback completing 5-for-18 for 24 yards and 2 picks before being benched for rookie Josh Allen. The Bills didn’t pick up a first down until the second half. Just a downright ugly afternoon. But their horrid performance lasted only until Monday night, when the Lions showed them up.
Matt Nagy – While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype with Bears coach Matt Nagy, he showed his inexperience in his rookie coaching debut. His team blew a 20-0 halftime lead to the rival Packers, and the impressive play calls and rhythm his offense had in the first half suffered as Nagy got ultra conservative. First game, I understand. But it better not happen again.
Matthew Stafford – When Matthew Stafford is bad, he’s really bad. The quarterback that always seems to get banged up lately tossed 4 picks in a blowout loss to the New York Jets.
Detroit Lions – The Detroit Lions were so very Lions in their week 1 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. They allowed 48 points, Stafford tossed 4 interceptions, and the fans plastered on television looked like they were being killed from the inside. How you liking Matt Patricia now? This was the worst loss of the season. Yes, even worse than Buffalo
Jon Gruden – Not only did Jon Gruden look like a complete moron for trading Khalil Mack, but he looked like an even bigger moron when his Raiders, who couldn’t get pressure on Rams QB Jared Goff, were blown out 33-13 in his debut. If only they had a QB and a pass rush. *Shrugs*
Rookie head coaches – It wasn’t a good week for first-year head coaches in the NFL. Matt Nagy. Jon Gruden. Matt Patricia. Pat Shurmur. Steve Wilks. Mike Vrabel. Frank Reich. All seven lost. Just, wow.