It's Week 2 in the NFL season and I already have players labeling their games "redemption Sunday." There are very strong indicators that seasons can be in peril if your favorite team gets off to a 0-2 start.
Another week of bonehead plays would shed a bad light on players that simply don't know the rules or others that can't control their emotions. The game needs to be cleaned up as quickly as possible. There will be TV cameras dedicated to a few players and coaches this week in hopes of uncovering a juicy story if and when emotions get the best of people.
The Manning brothers meet in New York, the officials are walking on egg shells and a few young quarterbacks are carving out their reputations.
Here are six storylines I will keep my eye on this weekend.
What does 0-2 mean for the 16 teams coming in 0-1? In the past three seasons there have been 21 teams that started 0-2. Not one of them made the playoffs and not one had a winning record at the end of the season. Every player in the locker room of an 0-1 team this weekend knows those numbers and it will create a "backs to the wall" mentality.
I already had Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders describe this weekend as "Redemption Monday" since Pittsburgh plays the Bengals on Monday night. The problem is it's also redemption Monday for the Bengals.
The good news for the 16 teams staring down the barrel of a 0-2 start is that slightly more than half of the 48 teams over the past three seasons that were 0-1 won their next game to get to 1-1. With that, there's a 56 percent chance that 0-1 teams will win.
Which nine of this year's 16 will win? We are guaranteed five winners -- the 0-1 teams in parentheses play each other. Can you find another four from this group: Arizona, Atlanta, (Cleveland-Baltimore), (Carolina-Buffalo) Minnesota, (Pittsburgh-Cincinnati), (Washington-Green Bay), Giants, (Jacksonville-Oakland), San Diego, Tampa Bay.
Buc Ball isn't for everyone: Derrick Brooks has told me on many occasions that "Buc Ball isn't for everyone."
What he meant was the brand of defense Tampa Bay played when he was working on his Hall of Fame career was a disciplined, simple defense that involved a big commitment to a system. Not every talented player could fit into that way of thinking.
Well, "Buc Ball isn't for everyone" seems to fit once again for different people but for the same reasons. The battle between Josh Freeman and head coach Greg Schiano could be coming to a head. All week we heard about players-only meetings, loss of captainship, missed team pictures and denials of missed meetings.
Now there is a game to be played, a division game at home against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had their troubles last season but Drew Brees, without the help of head coach Sean Payton, still beat Tampa twice and threw for 684 yards and eight touchdowns. Freeman and Schiano better get on the same page quickly or the Bucs will be 0-2 and the no-shows will start piling up in Tampa.
The camera eye: The networks know where the juicy NFL stories are percolating. There will be cameras dedicated to potential powder-keg situations to make sure we all see the story behind the story.
Keep an eye on the following subplots:
•Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace as balls go to any wide receiver not named Mike Wallace.
•Giants running back David Wilson, if he fumbles and has to face Tom Coughlin.
•Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley if a series ends in a three-and-out.
•Ndamakong Suh if and when he gets a chance to tee off on Carson Palmer.
•Brandon Weeden if he throws an interception.
•Christian Ponder if he can't deliver in the passing game.
•Robert Griffin III if he tries to run and takes a big hit from Clay Mathews.
•LeSean McCoy if he starts creeping up into the 30-carry area again.
•If the home crowd in Seattle causes the 49ers to jump offside on defense or malfunction as an offense.
Hat's off to the rookie class: Last week was a strong statement for the Class of 2013 in the NFL. There were 30 draft picks starting and 60 undrafted rookies on 53-man rosters. I have seen years with 20 rookie starters and 30 undrafted players on rosters. I look forward to watching all the rookies this weekend -- especially EJ Manuel, DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Reid, Eddie Lacy, Alec Ogletree, Kyle Long and Star Lotulelei.
Did you know?
Last week the league got what it wanted in the kickoff game, with 114 of 163 kickoffs resulting in touchbacks, up 20 percent from last year's opening weekend. There were 35 fewer returns vs. just two years ago in Week 1 action.
Starting out 0-2 is bad but 1-1 is more than alright. Last year, nine of the 12 playoff teams were 1-1 after two weeks.
Games are tighter than ever -- last week 12 games were decided by seven or fewer points, which is the most ever for a weekend.
Jim Schwartz told me "We couldn't get teams out of cover 2 before we got Reggie Bush. Now thing are different."
Cam Newton is 4-12 on the road when he doesn't rush for a touchdown.
Christian Ponder has a 5-10 road record and has thrown one touchdown pass in Chicago in 60 pass plays.
Alfred Morris had 3.8 yards per carry last week. If RG3 isn't a run threat, things will get worse. Go back and look at last season's game when RG3 didn't play -- 3.2 a carry.
Jake Locker was sacked eight times in 51 pass plays last year against Houston -- that's one sack every six attempts.
Calling the game: Officials are under more scrutiny now than ever and the league office is quick on Monday to tell fans of any mistakes. Officials get downgraded all the time, except now we all hear about it.
Keep in mind, in the new CBA with the officials there is a "bullpen" of officials and if this week is like last week we are going to see officials sat down on a suspension and someone called in to replace him.
There's no guarantee the replacement will be any better. In fact, I'm sure they don't have anyone in the wings as good as Bill Leavy, who was downgraded last week. The truth is the league office doesn't need to tell us about the mistakes. They need to correct them on the field during the game. How hard is it for the head of officials in New York to phone the game official and correct a potential mistake?