Week one of the NFL season is complete. And what have we learned? Not much.
Because it’s a long offseason, after week one, analysts are usually chomping at the bit to make some sort of judgement about the NFL season. The problem is, one week of football is a really bad sample size to use. For instance, in week 3 of the 2008 season, the Philadelphia Eagles manhandled the Pittsburgh Steelers and won by a score of 15-6. If you went just based on that game, you’d think the Steelers had a horrible offense, and were not destined to be a playoff team. Yet in the end, the Steelers were the ones holding the trophy after the Super Bowl.
And while you can find anomalies like that in every NFL season, week one is usually the worst indicator of all. How a team looks in week one is often not how they’ll look by season’s end. One reason is that every NFL team suffers injuries. Some injuries may be obviously detrimental to the team (like Bears LB Brian Urlacher’s injured wrist that will keep him out for the rest of the season) and others are less obvious, like say an ankle injury to a running back. Sure, he may play all season, but he may not show his usual abilities because of the injury.
Also, it’s rare for a rookie to make a huge impact in week one. By the second half of the season, some rookies may be important cogs in a team’s success, but they may not quite be there at season’s beginning. Teams may also gel together as the year progresses, or on the other hand, they may collapse due to internal strife. So basically, you may get two totally different teams between game one and game sixteen.
That won’t stop everyone from jumping to conclusions about teams and players. And of course, after week two, everyone is quick to overreact to the overreactions they made after week one.
So anyway, one week has been played, half the teams are 1-0 and the other half are 0-1. Despite my warnings that we shouldn’t take too much from what we’ve seen, here are some things that we may have learned (or re-learned):
– Tom Brady looks to be healthy, but the Patriots offense looks like it may take some time to get completely in synch.
– Adrian Peterson is still really good.
– Tony Romo is better off without Terrell Owens…provided the Cowboys play the Bucs every week.
– The Lions probably are going to suck again this season.
– Drew Brees is definitely one of the top five QBs in the league.
– Donovan McNabb can’t seem to stay healthy. As you may have seen, two Panthers linemen landed on him after he scored a touchdown and he broke a rib. While he’s going to try to play this week, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Give it a week (or three – they have a week four bye) and come back at full strength.
Of course this opens the door for a QB controversy (even sooner than expected!) Backup Kevin Kolb has not looked good in any of his appearances thus far, but he’s set to be the starter this week. Michael Vick is still suspended for another week, and you can bet that if Kolb struggles in the next game, there’s going to be plenty of pressure for Vick to play. Added to the mix is Jeff Garcia who the team just signed to serve as backup this week. Garcia was the team’s backup in 2006, and after McNabb got hurt, he led the team to a division title. So he has a lot of fans on the team.
I think they have to go with Kolb for as long as McNabb is out. They spent a second round pick on him two years ago, so it’s time to find out if he can play or not. Plus, I don’t think Vick is necessarily ready to step in and lead the team. In his preseason performances, he looked especially rusty, and he also hasn’t been able to practice with the team since the season began. It might be asking too much of him to immediately step in and start.
So yeah, the season is only one week old, and it’s already shaping up to be as interesting as I thought.