5 Over-exaggerations from Week 2 in the NFL

1. Dak Prescott is the Cowboys quarterback of the future and the present, regardless of when Tony Romo is healthy.

A big win against the hated Redskins and a one-point loss to the Giants has people believing the Cowboys are more than capable of competing in the weak NFC East. Dallas still has one of the best dak-prescott-pi-avoffensive lines in the NFL and Ezekiel Elliott runs well behind it. As long as Dez Bryant is healthy, he’s a big, playmaking target for the young QB. Tight end Jason Witten is a catching machine and is only going to continue helping Prescott progress.

Reports are that Romo is getting healthy and may be ready to return in two or three weeks. But Prescott could have the ‘Boys sitting at 3-1 in a couple weeks after games against the Bears and 49ers, and there would seem to be little rush getting Romo back on the field. After two weeks against stiffer competition in Green Bay and Cincinnati, Dallas faces Philadelphia and Cleveland. With the potential of going 5-3 through the first half of the season, it’s hard to see head coach Jason Garrett messing with a good thing.

2. The Cleveland Browns have a chance to go 0-16.

A 20-0 lead over the Baltimore Ravens wasn’t enough for the Cleveland Browns to earn a victory. After getting completely routed in week 1 at Philadelphia against a rookie QB and a team that many expect hue-jacksonwill finish with one of the NFL’s worst records in 2016, the Browns looked bound and determined to put that loss in their rearview mirror. The Browns opened the game with three straight first quarter touchdowns — Josh McCown looked in control, Isaiah Crowell was running wild, Corey Coleman was showing off his speed and skill set, and the defense was stout. But even when things are going right, they’re going wrong. Seconds after their third TD, Cleveland special teams had their PAT blocked and returned for 2 points the other way. And that was the ballgame.

Teams that are historically great always have to rely on unexplainable things happening to truly be historic. Luck plays a factor at some point. Conversely, historically bad teams have to rely on luck as well. Bad luck. Like scoring a TD to go up 3 scores at home against a divisional rival then getting an extra point blocked and returned, which in turn starts a cavalcade of scoring from the opponent — and you lose 25 to 20. For example, of course.

The Browns will be starting their third QB in as many weeks next Sunday when they travel to Miami. A rookie quarterback that is. And if the trend continues, they will be bringing in a free agent to start week 4 in Washington. It’s hard to go 0-16. But if any team can join the ’08 Detroit Lions, it’s the 2016 Browns.

3. Seattle needs to change the offense or they won’t make the playoffs.

So Marshawn Lynch’s retirement was no big deal, right? That’s what Seattle fans and the team’s brass robert-quinn-russell-wilson-nfl-seattle-seahawks-los-angeles-rams-1-850x560had us all believing last spring and summer. Thomas Rawls filled in admirably last year when Lynch was hurt. Then the Seahawks added Christine Michael and three running backs in April’s draft. Surely, if one  guy can’t fill Lynch’s shoes, a combination of these five players can. Right?

Well, we’re heading to week 3 and the Seahawks offense has managed a mere one touchdown. Russell Wilson is mobile, but he’s not Usain Bolt; Jimmy Graham is still useless; and the running game is not exactly shining in Lynch’s absence. Many thought Seattle was a serious threat to make it out of the NFC this year. Forget Super Bowl — this team will be fortunate to finish above .500 if they can’t fix the offense.

4. The Chargers resemble more of the team we saw in week 2, than the team we saw implode against the Chiefs in week 1.

I don’t get in the habit of placing any trust whatsoever in the San Diego Chargers. This goes back to the Marty Shottenhiemer days of 11, 12, 13, 14 win rephilip-rivers-dallas-cowboys-v-san-diego-chargers-zvirnhvflvzlgular seasons, then one and done in the playoffs. So listen when I say what I’m about to say. The Chargers are not a playoff team nor are they a team that is
going to seriously contend in the AFC West. However……

The Chargers offense put 27 points on the board against a Chiefs defense that is widely considered one of the best in the NFL, and they scorched a much improved Jacksonville D for 38 points. I’m not saying anything more than this: the Chargers have a potent offense with weapons surrounding Philip Rivers, who is a good quarterback with gunslinging tendencies — ebbs and flows.

5. Rex Ryan will be the first HC fired this season.

It’s never a good sign when you fire your offensive coordinator before the bye week. In Buffalo’s case, they fired Greg Roman before week 3.

And if they think that’s the answer, they may want to re-evaluate the game tape from week 1 and 2 and check out the defense — rather the lack of defense.

Rex Ryan better hope the defense figures itself out — but it won’t be an easy task in the coming weeks. The Bills host the high-powered Cardinals offense in week 3, then travel to Foxboro to battle Ryan’s nemesis, Bill Belichick. A trip to the West Coast against a Rams team that has a staunch defense wraps up the Bills’ next three weeks. There’s potential for this year to get real ugly real fast in upstate New York. Watch week 10 — Buffalo’s bye week. Might be over for Rex then.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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2016 NFL Preview: The NFC East

Washington came out of nowhere to surprise everyone last year by winning the NFC East. Dallas was coming off a 12-win season in 2014; the Eagles were still believers in the Chip Kelly system — and they’d just posted 2 straight 10-win seasons; and the Giants with Eli Manning at QB and Tom Coughlin coaching should never be dismissed easily. So yes, when the Redskins walked away with the division crown last year, it was quite a shock.

It seems 2016 may be a two horse race with the Eagles clearly in rebuilding mode, as new head coach Doug Pederson attempts to undo many of Chip Kelly’s doings, and the Cowboys dealing with the reality of starting a rookie QB, as Tony Romo rehabs from a broken back. The ‘Skins and the G-Men have offenses that could light up the scoreboard most Sundays. Here’s a closer look at each team in the East.

 

Washington Redskins

With the addition of deep threat Josh Doctson, the Redskins passing offense will rank in the top 2 in the NFC.

Kirk Cousins ran that Washington offense with great ease and effectiveness a year ago. A solid running
game, led by Matt Jones, and the addition of former TCU WR Josh Doctson should serve to only make0386114001456532566_filepicker Cousins’s job that much easier. Improvements on the defensive end — namely the signing of cornerback Josh Norman from Carolina — will help to give the Redskins some balance and some added intensity on that side of the ball.

Doctson proved at TCU he can be a deep threat with good hands. He should fit in nicely in the NFC East, where explosive, playmaking receivers are aplenty. With him in the fold, Washington should have an offense that is a little more unpredictable — which will likely give the below average defenses in the division fits.

 

New York Giants

Despite a defense ranked in the bottom 10 of the NFL and a run game in the lower 1/3, the Giants will win the NFC East.

No one should question the Giants offense. (At least they shouldn’t question the passing game.) Eli odell-beckham-121914-getty-ftrjpg_10t5o8xgme9741gqqufdtkxqv0Manning, as stats show, has gotten very comfortable in Ben McAdoo’s offense. He has athletic wide receivers who will make plays on the ball. And with the Giants defense being what it is (that’s my polite way of saying it’s not good), Eli is likely to find himself needing to chuck the ball around and score a lot of points week-to-week.

Don’t expect the Giants to run the ball too much — and that’s not an immediate recipe for disaster in today’s NFL. Look no further than what the Patriots do each year on the ground — it’s not exactly impressing people. Other teams have also proven that a potent air attack can make up for a weak ground game — Saints in 2009 when they won the Super Bowl, the Colts when Peyton won his first ring, the Packers every year.

The old belief of controlling the clock by running the ball and stopping the run can be balled up and thrown right out the window this season in the NFC East. And no team will be better at that than the Giants.

 

Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant will not reach 1,000 yards in receiving this year; and Ezekiel Elliott won’t be healthy enough to play in 10 games.

Before Tony Romo went down in the preseason, I thought Dallas had a very solid team — but that was assuming the key pieces (Romo, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, and the offensive line) stayed on the field, usa-today-9312149.0healthy. Now, expect Dez’s numbers to fall (I’m tempted to say he won’t reach 750 yards), but also expect the Cowboys to try and run Ezekiel Elliott all day long. You have to remember, this is just a kid, who isn’t really used to playing more than 13 games in a season and has never faced the caliber of defender he is about to take on this year in the NFL.

The offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, but that won’t help Zeke, if he’s getting 25 to 30 touches a game. That’s too many and he’s likely to feel it. But what other option do the Cowboys really have? Plus, Jerry Jones did not take the former Buckeye number 4 overall last May to gingerly nurse him along. He’s going to play and play a lot because he might be their best hope at winning this season. And if he’s actually able to stay healthy and withstand the punishment, Elliott very well could have Dallas in playoff contention in December and January. Personally, I have my doubts.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles would have been better served to have selected Ezekiel Elliott rather than Carson Wentz.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-OTAPhilly has a lot of weak spots on their roster. New head coach Doug Pederson will spend most of his first season at the helm auctioning players and evaluating his talent. Will Ryan Mathews turn into his Jamaal Charles? Mathews will have the whole season to prove whether he can be or not. Is Zach Ertz finally going to live up to all the hype he’s received over the last year or two? And is Carson Wentz Philadelphia’s quarterback of the present and the future? Peterson will find out.

Look for the Eagles to play spoiler down the stretch. Don’t mix up my words — I don’t expect them to contend nor do I expect the first 10 or so weeks to be very fruitful for Philly fans. But towards the end, I think Pederson will have an idea of what he’s got and that should translate into some better play on the field in the final month of the season.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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