Yes, it’s football season, and the first week is over. So far, no team’s season is over, and it indeed too early to stick a fork in any one team, but some certainly are very concerned.
Now, since I really only care about a few teams, I won’t bother to inventory the league. So, let’s go!
The Patriots managed to win their game against the Cardinals, barely. But that’s a Patriot Way, just winning. The margin doesn’t matter always.
Cardinals fans were pretty disappointed, having anointed their team as Super Bowl favorites. Well, a bit of advice – don’t think your team is a lock for the Super Bowl. Jinx. Still the Cards learned three things, I think:
1. The Patriots seem to find a way to win, even when you don’t think they actually did.
2. Special teams are critical. Every special team snap or play is critical.
3. Everything is critical. No detail can be left to chance, not fully examined, thoroughly evaluated, drilled, and understood.
So the Cards actually may have learned a valuable lesson, and early enough that they can fix the obvious problems before they are 4-4 and wondering what the heck happened to their Dream Season.
The Patriots certainly learned lessons:
1. Jimmy Garoppolo is probably a competent quarterback, and that’s unfortunate. Already the buzz is swirling between ‘how do we keep him till Brady is ready to retire’, ‘can we trade Brady and move on to our Next Great Quarterback?’, to ‘how much can we get for Jimmy?’. Wow, gang, it’s just one game. Still, he didn’t show anyone any glaring defects. Accurate, ball came out quickly, good decisions, ran for good yards and didn’t tempt fate. A strip sack fumble that was a teaching moment. He’s a keeper, and could start RIGHT NOW for 6 or 7 teams saddled with failed QBs. And he won’t.
2. They can have a running game. And this makes everything on the offense easier.
3. The secondary is pretty good. They bend but they don’t break.
4. Special teams are also pretty good, so far. Some gaps, but nothing that needs to take precedence over other phases of the game.
5. Did we miss Dante or what?
Going forward, the Patriots do have to improve, but they also won the hidden yardage game, exchanging field position and getting into better positions. No team is successful in this modern league starting from inside their 25-yard line every single time.
1. The new kickoff rules have been figured out by some teams. If you have a kicker that can put the ball on the goal line most of the time, you can often deny teams that extra 5 yards. Expect the League to kill this experiment.
2. Now that Jimmy is a possibility, there’s talk of him replacing Brady outright. No, this is not going to happen. Jimmy is going to be very happy watching 12 games, knowing he will be making a LOT of money next year, somewhere. I’m hopeful he doesn’t get a girlfriend during the season, but takes advantage of the opportunity to keep learning, improve his preparation, and wait for the offers. It’s good to be good.
3. The Cards will be fine. They have heard the alarm. And it looks their divisional competition isn’t improving at the same time that they are. This is really the right year for them to go all the way.