NFL Week 1 Grades: Carson Wentz embarrasses Browns in NFL debut
We graded out every NFL team that played on Sunday in Week 1
After spending the past four years playing FCS-level football, the NFL did Carson Wentz a favor on Sunday by letting the Eagles open up their regular season against the closest thing the league has to an FCS team: The Browns.
In an impressive debut that probably turned heads in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, Wentz embarrassed the Browns by throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-10 win.
Going into the game, there was a lot of mystery surrounding Wentz, who was named the Eagles' starting quarterback just six days before Sunday's game. Once Wentz got on the field against Cleveland, he didn't waste any time in proving that he belonged there.
The only person in Philadelphia who didn't approve of that touchdown was the cameraman, who got run over by Matthews.
The Browns had no answer for Wentz, who was a brutally efficient 4 of 5 for 57 yards on the drive.
One person who wasn't surprised by Wentz's play is Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who made the risky decision to trade starting quarterback Sam Bradford away less than a week before the beginning of the regular season.
The gamble paid off big time in Week 1, and Pederson might've been the only in the stadium who wasn't surprised by what he saw.
"Carson Wentz's play today is not surprising," Pederson said, via the Eagles official website. "This is who he is. I'm happy for him, his family, and the team."
Most Eagles fans probably don't even remember Bradford's name after watching Wentz play against Cleveland. And the big reason for that is because he might actually be better than Bradford.
Sam Bradford has two career games with at least 275 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT and 100+ QB rating.— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) September 11, 2016
Carson Wentz just did that in his first start.
Wentz's performance isn't just going to raise a lot of eyebrows in Philadelphia, it's also going to raise a lot of eyebrows in Cleveland and Los Angeles. First, if Wentz continues play better, then the Rams might start to second guess their decision to take Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick. Obviously it's early, but if Wentz succeeds and Goff doesn't, that will likely put an end to the Jeff Fisher and Les Snead run in L.A.
Also, if Wentz continues to play well, it's going to make the Browns look bad, which is getting easier and easier to do these days. Less than a week ago, the quarterback needy Browns said they didn't draft Wentz because he wasn't a "good fit" for their team.
When a quarterback who's not a good fit for your team beats you by 19, you have some serious issues to fix.
On the other hand, the good news for the Eagles is that they might've just fixed their most serious issue because they might've just found their quarterback of the future.
Baltimore 13-7 over Buffalo
If you bet on Rex Ryan to be the first NFL coach fired this season, you might be able to collect by the end of the month. The Bills looked clueless on offense -- they went 3-for-13 on third downs and were held to under 200 total yards -- and the struggles of kicker Dan Carpenter continued. Carpenter missed a 49-yarder in the third quarter.
In his first game back since tearing his ACL last season, Joe Flacco wasn't elite, but he didn't have to be because the Ravens' defense was. With the game on the line and the Ravens clinging to a 13-7 lead, Baltimore's defense held the Bills to just 10 yards of offense on three combined possessions in the fourth quarter. Flacco wasn't bad either (23 of 34, 258 yards, 1 TD), and he might've found a new friend in Mike Wallace (three catches, 91 yards, 1 TD).
Green Bay 27-23 over Jacksonville
If Aaron Rodgers' back is hurting on Monday, it's because he pretty much carried the Packers to a win in Jacksonville. The quarterback thrilled fantasy fans and Packers fans by accounting for all three of the team's touchdowns (two pass, one rush), including the ridiculous TD pass thrown below where he almost had his jersey torn off.
The fact that Eddie Lacy (14 carries, 61 yards) and Jordy Nelson (six catches, 32 yards, one TD) both contributed big time to this win has to have the Packers feeling good about their offense moving forward.
It's too bad Blake Bortles doesn't have a running game to help him because that's about all the Jaguars were missing on Sunday. Not helping the Jaguars was the fact that running back Chris Ivory got admitted to the hospital just hours before kickoff. The Jags' 48 rushing yards against Green Bay marked just the second time in two years that they were held under 50 yards rushing.
Kansas City 33-27 over San Diego in OT
If you were wondering how much Keenan Allen means to the Chargers offense, you found out on Sunday. With Allen in the game, San Diego jumped out to a 21-10 lead thanks six catch and 6-yard contribution from Allen in the first half. After Allen went down in the second quarter with a reported ACL tear, the Chargers offense fell apart. With Allen, the Chargers went 6-for-6 on third down. After Allen went out, they went 1-of-9 on third downs.
The "Most Embarrassing Loss of Week 1" award almost went to Kansas City on Sunday, but that didn't happen thanks to a dramatic 17-point comeback in the fourth quarter. If the Chiefs learned one thing during the win, it's that they probably don't need Jamaal Charles to get healthy right away. Backup running back Spencer Ware totaled 199 yards in the game (70 rush, 129 receiving) on just 18 touches (11 rush, seven receptions). In other good news for the Chiefs, Alex Smith seems to have figured out how to consistently throw TD passes. Smith also tacked on a two-yard rushing TD, which won the game in overtime.
Oakland 35-34 over New Orleans
If you come back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit on the road in Week 1, then you get an "A." That's one of the few rules we have here. And if you cap that comeback by going for two and the win, then we up that to an A+. The Raiders' 486-yard outburst marked their highest offensive total since 2013. By the way, if the Saints looked like they had no idea who to cover, it's probably because Derek Carr (24 of 38, 319 yards, one TD) completed passes to eight different receivers in the game.
Relying completely on Drew Brees to carry the team to a win seems like a good idea in theory for the Saints, but it hasn't been working lately. Even though Brees threw for over 400 yards (423), the Saints still lost. New Orleans is now 7-7 in the 14 career games where Brees has thrown for over 400 yards. The good news for the Saints is that Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks looked uncoverable.
I put that in clip in there because I thought it might make you feel better, Saints fans.
Houston 23-14 over Chicago
It's not easy to score points when Alshon Jeffery is basically your team's entire offense, which is what happened to the Bears in Houston. It's also not easy to score points when your offense absolutely disappears in the second half. After taking a 14-10 lead at half, the Bears opened up the second half with an interception, punt, punt, punt, punt and punt on their first six possessions of the second half.
The decision to sign Lamar Miller looks like it's already paying off for the Texans. In his first game with Houston, Miller rushed for 106 yards. More importantly, Miller's success made life easier for Brock Osweiler, who threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in his Texans debut. The Texans also appear to have found an offensive weapon in Will Fuller, who caught five passes for 107 yards. That total actually could've been higher if Fuller didn't drop a long pass in the first half. The Texans defense also deserves some huge credit in this game for racking up five sacks.
Philadelphia 29-10 over Cleveland
If it's Week 1 of the NFL season, it's pretty safe to assume at this point that the Browns are going to play bad and lose. The loss to the Eagles marks the 12th straight year that the Browns have loss their regular season opener. RG3 got outplayed by a rookie who was just named his team's starter last week.
Although you're going to hear Carson Wentz's name a lot after what he did to the Browns defense on Sunday, he wasn't the only reason the Eagles beat Cleveland. Except for one drive, the Eagles defense dominated the Browns. The Eagles were especially good on third and fourth down, as the Browns only converted 2 of their 12 attempts. The Philly defense also beat up RG3, sacking him three times in the game with Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Connor Barwin all picking up sacks.
Minnesota 25-16 over Tennessee
This win wasn't pretty, and the Vikings probably don't deserve a "B," but when you lose your starting quarterback one week before the start of the regular season and you still come out with a road win on opening day, then you get an "B." Although the Vikings would probably prefer a "D" here because that's what won it for them. The Vikings offense didn't do much on the day, but that didn't matter because Minnesota's defense scored two touchdowns ( Eric Kendricks had a 77-yard pick-6, while Danielle Hunter returned a fumble 24-yards for a touchdown).
Marcus Mariota is probably going to want to burn the film of this game and then burn the ashes of the film he just burned because he pretty much single-handedly lost the game for the Titans with two horrible decisions. The only thing uglier than the pick-6 he threw to Kendricks was the read-option gone wrong that led to Hunter's 24-yard fumble return. You can see a clip of how that was by clicking here.
Tampa Bay 31-24 over Atlanta
Being 1-0 isn't a big deal for most teams because it means they're over .500 for the first time since 2012. Although the score says this game was close, the Buccaneers dominated the first three quarters while jumping out to a 31-13 lead. Jameis Winston was easily the best player on the field in this game, throwing for 281 yards and four touchdowns. The last time a Buccaneers QB threw four TD passes in a season opener came in 1987, so you'll have to excuse Tampa fans if they seem excited.
If you have the RedZone Channel, then you might as well start planning your bathroom breaks around the Falcons' trips to the red zone because nothing exciting ever happens. Atlanta got inside of the Bucs' 20-yard line four different times in this game and only scored one touchdown. The other thing that hurt that Falcons is that their running game disappeared. Atlanta's 52 yards on the ground was their lowest rushing total since September 2013.
Cincinnati 23-22 over New York
A.J. Green isn't just an NFL player anymore, he's also the mayor of Revis Island. Despite the fact that he's the only real receiving threat the Bengals and the fact that the Jets were focusing on him, Green was still able to torch Revis and the Jets' defense to the tune of 180 yards and a touchdown. Just to give you an idea how big Green was, Andy Dalton went 12 of 13 for 180 yards and a touchdown while throwing to Green.
The Jets paid Ryan Fitzpatrick $12 million even though they knew what they were getting: A guy who turns the ball over in the clutch. Well, guess what Fitzpatrick did against the Bengals: He turned the ball over in the clutch. A Fitzpatrick interception with just 46 seconds left in the game sealed the win for Cincinnati. This game could've been a blowout if not for a monster effort from the Jets' front seven. New York's defense sacked Dalton seven times, which was a career-high for the Bengals quarterback.
Seattle 12-10 over Miami
There's no such thing as moral victories in the NFL, which is too bad for the Dolphins because this probably would've counted as one. No one was a bigger underdog in Week 1 than Miami, and somehow, they still almost pulled off the upset on the road.
If we've learned one thing about the Seahawks over the past two years, it's that the month of September is basically their kryptonite. Over the past two regular seasons, the Seahawks have gone 3-3 in September and 19-7 when it's not September. I think what I'm trying to say is that there's no reason to panic right in Seattle right now, unless of course Russell Wilson's ankle injury turns out to be serious. Then it's probably time to press the panic button.
New York 20-19 over Dallas
Although we only gave the Giants a "B" here, they get an "A+" for their red zone play. New York only got inside of the Cowboys' 20-yard line three times in this game, but they made it pay off big each time with three touchdowns. All three of the scores came courtesy of Eli Manning, who threw three touchdown passes.
The most exciting part of the game might've been the return of Victor Cruz's salsa dance.
Cruz caught the game-winning touchdown pass from three-yards out, which was his first score in 721 days.
In the ironies of all ironies, the Cowboys lost on Sunday because a player on their team made a rookie mistake, only the person who did it wasn't actually one of their rookies. Terrance Williams made a huge blunder by not getting out of bounds on the final play of the game, a mistake that meant Dallas couldn't attempt a game-winning field goal. The good news for the Cowboys is that their actual rookies (Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot) looked pretty good in this game. The one thing the Cowboys were missing against New York was the big play: Dallas only ran one play that went for over 20 yards, and that play only went for 21 yards.
Detroit 39-35 Indianapolis
For the second year in a row, the Lions almost blew a 21-3 lead in Week 1, only this time around, it didn't happen because Matthew Stafford refuse to let it. The Lions quarterback led his team on TWO impressive scoring drives over the final eight minutes of the game. When Stafford said in June that the Lions might be better without Calvin Johnson, he wasn't kidding. The Lions put up 448 yards on Sunday, a total they only topped once last season when Megatron was still on the team.
The Colts have a $140 million quarterback and no defense, so this game is probably pretty indicative of how the rest of their season's going to go.
New England 23-21 over Arizona
Not only did the Patriots go on the road and beat one of the best teams in the NFL in one of the league's most hostile environments, but they did it without Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich, Nate Solder and Jonathan Cooper. You know what, let's also add Sebastian Vollmer and Dion Lewis to that list.
Jimmy Garoppolo put up impressive numbers in this game (24 of 33, 264 yards, one touchdown), which has to have the Patriots feeling good about the next three weeks. From here on out, Garoppolo doesn't have to worry about going on the road because New England's next three games are all at home.
Bruce Arians will probably be the first one to admit that he got outcoached in Sunday night's loss. The Cardinals couldn't do anything to stop the Patriots offense, despite the fact that Bill Belichick seemed to simplify things for first-time starter Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots playbook was filled with short passes that Arizona had no answer for. One of the few bright spots for the Cardinals was ageless wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who caught his 99th and 100th touchdown passes.
The crazy thing about this game is that it came down to a field goal that was blown by a bad snap. The reason that's crazy is because Mike Leach, the Cardinals long-snapper since 2009, retired in January. Arizona replaced him with rookie Kameron Canady, who was playing in the first NFL game of his career on Sunday night.
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