The second week of NFL action has concluded. With two close Monday Night Football contests, a big scare for Giants fans, and the Chiefs found the win column again, what actually matters? It’s time to go over the good, the bad, and the ugly as we look through and find the takeaways from week two.
Hats Off To Mac Jones
Although the Patriots are finding themselves starting the 2023 campaign 0-2, they can be happy about Mac Jones improving in year three. Against both the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, New England has kept the games within one possession. Mac Jones has kept them in each of these two games as his level of play greatly improved due to the addition of Bill O’Brien at offensive coordinator this offseason. Jones has become more aggressive down the field, with his average depth of target through two weeks sitting at 8.7 yards while his career average sits at 8.3 yards. He’s doing this behind an injured and poorly performing offensive line, resulting in him being under pressure the sixth-highest number of times in the league with 35 of his dropbacks being pressured, and he’s still playing the best ball since his rookie year and maybe even better.
Don’t Blame Captain Kirk
The Minnesota Vikings fall to 0-2 but are in a similar group as the Patriots in that it is not the fault of their quarterback. Kirk Cousins is second in the league in passing yards with 708, tied for first in passing touchdowns for six, and with only one interception through two weeks of play. The loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a rough one, but Minnesota’s Thursday night showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles saw Kirk Cousins step up big time. He was more aggressive down the field, with his average depth of target jumping up to 9.1 yards compared to the 7.1 yards it stood at in week one. He did this while being under pressure more often than in week one. The Vikings have a few problems like their interior offensive line, and their defensive line, but Kirk Cousins isn’t one.
Russ Can’t Cook
The Russell Wilson experience in Denver is going from bad to worse very quickly. The worst part is, we haven’t even entered the meat of the extension Wilson got after being traded. The Broncos have to wait until after the 2025 season to even entertain the idea of moving on from Russell Wilson. His pressure-to-sack percentage, a stat that details how often a quarterback is sacked when pressured has skyrocketed in Denver. With a career average of 19.3%, during his two years in Denver Wilson has had a pressure-to-sack percentage of 27% in 2022 and 30% so far in 2023. This is largely a quarterback-based stat, and Wilson has typically been good at avoiding sacks in his career. However, as he ages he’s losing the juice he once had and is unable to play like he once did.
Not So Sunny Cincinnati
The Bengals have been off to a brutal 0-2 start that saw Joe Burrow reaggravate his calf injury amid the slow start to the season. The first week of the season was in brutal weather which can be somewhat excused. His play improved upon the return to Cincinnati to host Baltimore, but it was not enough as a strong performance through the air by Lamar Jackson pushed the Ravens to a narrow 27-24 score. The reigning AFC North Champions find themselves in the basement to begin the season, with hopes that Burrow and Chase can get their connection back on track.
Bad News Browns
No matter what team you root for, all injuries suck and major injuries are absolutely terrible to see. Nick Chubb went down in Cleveland’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, and the team quickly ruled him out for the rest of the season. In a related move the Browns brought back Kareem Hunt, but this team has looked lost on offense when it relies on Deshaun Watson. 2019 Watson isn’t walking through that door anytime soon.
Although the Steelers won on Monday Night Football, I feel significantly worse about their outlooks as the season continues. They scored 26 total points, 14 of which came from defensive touchdowns. That’s not sustainable, and that will not lead to success in 2023. Maybe it would have in the 80s, and maybe even the 90s, but not anymore. The offense looks stagnant, lacks explosiveness and all forms of creativity. A change is needed, and it has to come soon.