By Stephen Juza
September 12th, 2023
Last Thursday saw the start of the 2023 NFL Season, when the Detroit Lions traveled to Kansas City to take on the defending Super Bowl champions. After a months-long offseason, we finally had meaningful football back in our life this past weekend. So what are the top things we learned after Week 1?
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Lions continue to roll
Halfway through the last year, the Lions were 1-6, and things looked bleak for Dan Campbell’s future. Since then, they closed out the season winning eight of their next ten games and half a game out of the playoffs. So how would they respond to the increased hype for 2023?
Traveling to the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs and coming home with a win. True, the Chiefs were without their second and third best players, but you can only play against the players that are on the field. The Lions showed promise, coming back from a 14-7 halftime deficit to clinch the win in the fourth quarter.
Purdy picks up where he left off
The 49ers season came to an unfortunate end last season in the NFC Championship game after their entire QB room ended up injured. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy burst out of the injury-stricken depth chart to start the final five games of the regular season and lead the team into the playoffs. He suffered a torn UCL in their final game, but had to continue playing since no other QB was healthy. So how would he look after an offseason as the starter?
Pretty sharp. The 49ers topped the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-7 with Purdy picking up right where he left off last season. 220 yards through the air, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. When he’s that efficient, the 49ers will be hard to topple. Christian McCaffery averaged almost seven yards a carry for 152 yards on the ground. The one area they need to clean up for next week is ball security - the 49ers fumbled three times.
Jets’ defense is scary, but the offense is limited by the QB position
After an entire offseason of hype for the Jets came crashing to earth just four offensive snaps into the game when Aaron Rodgers went down with an Achilles injury and missed the rest of the game. The Jets’ defense looked incredible, forcing Josh Allen into four turnovers and limiting last year’s second-ranked offense to only one offensive touchdown.
The Jets offense at times was hard to watch. Breece Hall had a few spectacular runs, and Garrett Wilson had a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch. But with Rodgers now missing the rest of the season, the team will need to add another quarterback on the roster or face a long season with Zach Wilson back at the helm.
Rough week for the new head coaches
This past offseason saw five head coaches hired with a wide range of expectations entering the season. Each of the five will need to wait until Week 2 to earn their first victory with their new team.
Sean Payton entered with the most expectations by virtue of his past success with the Saints, but the Broncos fell by a single point to the division rival Las Vegas Raiders. Frank Reich’s debut with the new rookie quarterback Bryce Young was spoiled by the Atlanta Falcons. Expectations may be lower for the trio of rookie head coaches (DeMeco Ryans, Shane Steichen, and Jonathan Gannon), but all hoped for a brighter start to their coaching careers, after having such success as a coordinator last season.
Cowboys’ Destruction of the Giants
It’s hard to picture a more complete victory than the Dallas Cowboys dismantling of the New York Giants on Sunday, a 40-0 shutout that included all areas of the game. Dallas scored their 40 points in unconventional ways. In the first quarter alone, the Cowboys returned an interception and a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Their defense limited the Giants’ offense to less than 200 yards of offense, harassing Daniel Jones to the tune of seven sacks and two interceptions.
If there was a question remaining after the game, it was that we only got to see a limited Cowboys’ offense because they were rarely on the field. The Cowboys were already at a 16 point lead by the time the offense trotted out for their second drive.
The Giants had high hopes coming into this season, with reigning coach of the year Brian Daboll and the Daniel Jones of 2022 looking like a solution to their long term QB needs. They were thoroughly outplayed by the division rivals to kick off the season.
The second week of the season will kick off Thursday when the Vikings travel to the Eagles on Thursday Night Football.
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