Who Fed It And Who Ate It: 2019 Week 1
It felt like an eternity for the 2019 NFL season to begin, with all the hype during free agency in the spring and all the other stories during the summer occupying the news and analysis around the league, but finally, here we are. The anticipation for the campaign built up for many teams, with some content with the opening Sunday and others disappointed. We'll cover those whose football year started off on the wrong foot.
The Ass Kicking of the Week's victim, the Miami Dolphins, were destroyed by the Baltimore Ravens 59-10, then word came out that players were looking to get out of South Florida ASAP The Ravens and Dolphins are two teams on different paths. Baltimore is amidst a change with the emergence of Lamar Jackson as their next long term quarterback, while Miami is in the early stages of a complete rebuild. One wouldn't know it after watching this game, as this would look like an utter mismatch. The Fins did not even look the part of an NFL squad, as Jackson and the Charmed City Blackbirds scored a franchise record 59 points to send the Ravens off on a winning note on Week 1. The troubles for Miami only intensified after their abominable performance. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported through a source that many players were contacting their respective agents to open lines of communication to potentially facilitate trades to get out of the organization. While some think this is about players not wanting to play for a losing team, it's more than that. It's been an open secret that the Dolphins are tanking, which means to be intentionally non competitive, in the hopes of stockpiling premium draft picks to become a playoff contender (or more) in later years. While this works for executives and to some extent coaches within the Dolphins organization long term, this does a disservice for the players on the roster today. It's one thing for a team and its players to lose games while putting in a professional grade effort. Football folks are highly competitive people at their core, so the concept of dogging it for the sake of pleasing the franchise whose signs their check is both alien and, for some, intolerable. While owner Stephen Ross, general manager Chris Grier, and head coach Brian Flores have been doing damage control to put the proverbial toothpaste back in the tube, this situation looks like it will get worse before it gets better.
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-26. But each team lost a key offensive player in the game that will turn into extended absences for both The Chiefs are where the Jaguars want to be: in the Super Bowl conversation and on the short list of AFC title contenders. Quarterback Nick Foles coming over via free agency was a key piece in taking Jacksonville back to AFC Championship game where their season concluded two years ago. Those plans have been radically altered, as he suffered a broken collarbone that required surgery to repair and a mandatory placement on Injured Reserved, which could mean the end of Foles' 2019 season. But despite such a loss, the Jags were able to stay the course with unheralded rookie Gardner Minshew II coming off the bench and playing exceptionally well given the circumstances (22 of 25 for 275 yards, 2 TD's, & INT for a 122.5 passer rating). And they're going with Minshew, even working a trade with Pittsburgh to bring in Joshua Dobbs, once Ben Roethlisberger's understudy, for the price of a fifth round pick to back up their new starter. Only time will tell how that pans out. But the Jags weren't the only ones who lost an important offensive presence. Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill suffered a sternoclavicular joint dislocation, an injury serious enough to require him to stay overnight at a Jacksonville hospital as his teammates flew back to KC Sunday night. The good news is he'll avoid IR, but Hill will miss at least six weeks as that joint heals on its own. Kansas City has the good fortune to be in possession of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to offensive playmakers, as receiving mate Sammy Watkins had a day (9 receptions for 198 yards & 3 TD's) to ensure that the Chiefs offense didn't miss a beat. This is not to say that Hill is easily replaceable. His blazing speed once he catches a ball makes him one of the league's most dangerous gamebreakers. His presence will be missed as he convalesces. Injuries are an inevitability in football, and the better built rosters find ways to overcome them. Both the Chiefs and Jaguars are facing early adversity, and their respective responses will be worth noting.
The Cleveland Browns, the most hyped team entering 2019, were brought back down to Earth via a 43-13 drubbing by the Tennessee Titans The Browns received a cruel reminder that in the world of the NFL, what you think you can do means next to nothing when the results on the field don't back it up. Of course, this is just one game, so there is the caveat of not reading too much into this loss. However, with Cleveland committing a franchise high 18 penalties for 182 yards and QB Baker Mayfield throwing 3 fourth quarter interceptions, all the while the Browns appearing not fully prepared... Needless to say, there's a lot of room for improvement. As head coach Freddie Kitchens gets his charges in line for their Monday Night Football tilt against the New York Jets, this should serve as a reminder that no matter how talented a roster looks, it all boils down to how well they work together. Many, including your humble scribe, bought Browns stock in round lots to be a playoff contender, if not far more. And they still may, as continued repetition and familiarity with teammates will serve to improve the roster's synergy. Plus, the early adversity may serve Cleveland well, as this reality check just reinforces the fact that success only comes before work in the dictionary. Take heart, Dawg Pound. While this was not the opening to your season that you envisioned, it's still just a singular loss. There's plenty of season left to make the most of it.