What we realized in NFL Week 1: Dolphins leveled up, terrifying Cowboys, standout rookies

Fifteen NFL video games are down, one stays in Week 1. It’s laborious to ask for a greater matchup than Jets-Bills, however Thursday and Sunday’s video games gave us greater than sufficient to speak about. 

What have we realized from the early batch of video games? FOX Sports’ workers of NFL writers joined forces to ship perception and evaluation from across the league. In this weekly story, we’ll inform you what we observed, what we heard and what to regulate subsequent.

Without additional ado, this is what we realized!

Calvin Ridley is “Him” 

It didn’t take lengthy for the previous Pro Bowl receiver to remind the soccer world of his influence potential as a playmaker. After lacking a part of 2021 as a consequence of damage and all of 2022 as a consequence of a violation of the league’s playing coverage, Ridley posted a 100-yard sport in his debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars whereas exhibiting all of the traits that made him a borderline top-five receiver when he performed his final full season. 

From his spectacular route-running capacity to his distinctive operating expertise, the veteran receiver didn’t present any indicators of rust regardless of a two-year layoff. Considering the prolonged sabbatical, it was a shock to see Ridley hit the bottom operating as a WR1 with restricted expertise with Trevor Lawrence & Co. The duo was in sync from the sport’s preliminary snap, as evidenced by the flurry of “pitch-and-catch” performs executed towards the Indianapolis Colts with good timing. 

With the rhythm throws revealing the chemistry and belief between passer and catcher, the bond between Lawrence and Ridley appears to be like like a longtime connection that is been solid for years on the apply area. 

If the Jaguars’ new WR1 could make an instantaneous influence in his first sport after a two-year layoff, think about the problem Ridley will pose after he’s fully snug together with his new workforce, quarterback and scheme. —Bucky Brooks

[Ben Arthur: Calvin Ridley shines in Jaguars’ sloppy season-opening win over Colts]

Trevor Lawrence after Jaguars’ 31-21 win towards Colts

Trevor Lawrence after Jaguars' 31-21 win against Colts

The Lions do not look so loopy now, do they?

General supervisor Brad Holmes confronted loads of criticism all offseason for the gamers he took and the place he took them within the 2023 NFL Draft. After Detroit beat the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs at their place on Thursday night time with loads of assist from these aforementioned gamers, these criticisms have quieted.

Running again Jahmyr Gibbs, the No. 12 total choose, had 9 touches for 60 yards and was one way or the other the least productive of the beginning rookies. Linebacker Jack Campbell, the No. 18 total choose, laid a number of huge hits and broke up a cross to Kadarius Toney within the third quarter because the Chiefs have been driving so as to add to their 14-7 lead. 

Not solely did Campbell power an incomplete cross on that sequence, however rookie security Brian Branch, the No. 45 total choose, then intercepted quarterback Patrick Mahomes off a deflection two performs later and took the ball to the home. So as a substitute of the rating being 21-7, it was tied at 14. 

Tight finish Sam LaPorta, the No. 34 total choose, seemed like T.J. Hockenson 2.0, besides perhaps a greater blocker. In an age the place most tight ends are simply huge receivers, LaPorta confirmed the all-around expertise to be a real combo tight finish. He additionally caught all 5 of his targets for 39 yards.

The Lions additionally acquired assist from 2022 first-round choose Aidan Hutchinson, who tallied three quarterback hits and 7 pressures. According to PFF (by way of workforce reporter Dannie Rogers), Hutchinson had 5 of these pressures on 14 third or fourth-down pass-rush snaps for a 35.7% win fee. Even in the event you do not completely imagine Detroit is for actual this 12 months, it’s important to hand it to Holmes. With all of the manufacturing the Lions are getting out of their younger gamers, he would not deserve your armchair-GM draft criticism. —Carmen Vitali

Dave Helman reacts to Jared Goff, Detroit Lions’ STUNNING win over Chiefs

Dave Helman reacts to Jared Goff, Detroit Lions' STUNNING win over Chiefs

Anthony Richardson exhibits unimaginable promise 

The Colts didn’t chalk up a win in Richardson’s debut however the workforce ought to be ok with the efficiency of its new franchise quarterback. Richardson accomplished 24 of 37 throws for 223 yards with a landing and an interception, whereas including 40 dashing yards and a rating on 10 rush makes an attempt. 

Although the rookie’s play was a little bit of a roller-coaster trip — with misfires and miscues sandwiching a handful of splash performs — Richardson is a uncommon athlete, as marketed, with a set of dual-threat expertise that might make him an All-Pro on the place in time. He shows elite arm expertise with flick-of-the-wrist throws that showcase his limitless vary, and his mixture of velocity and energy make him a problem to take down when he flees the pocket on scrambles or designed quarterback runs. 

With the Colts that includes a highschool/school playbook with quite a lot of zone-reads, RPOs, designed quarterback runs and bootlegs, the freak athlete was allowed to play to his strengths in his debut. The playbook was eerily just like the sport plans which have helped Jalen Hurts flourish with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

From a important standpoint, Richardson must proceed to work on his accuracy and ball placement on conventional drop-back passes. He sailed or short-hopped a handful of throws to open receivers that ought to have been layups for an NFL passer. In addition, Richardson must discover a solution to keep away from huge hits when he runs the ball. The rookie took a few avoidable pictures that left him battered and bruised by the top of the sport. 

Overall, it was a stable begin for a wild-card prospect with ridiculous potential.  —Bucky Brooks

Jay Glazer updates us on Justin Jefferson contract talks, Aaron Rodgers’ targets and Anthony Richardson

Jay Glazer updates us on Justin Jefferson contract talks, Aaron Rodgers' goals and Anthony Richardson

Christian McCaffrey an offensive MVP frontrunner with 152-yard effort

Much was mentioned concerning the Stanford product’s damage historical past since becoming a member of the 49ers in a midseason commerce final season. But McCaffrey hasn’t missed a sport throughout his time with San Francisco. And he has served because the igniter of the workforce’s operating sport.

In a formidable 30-7 win on the street towards the Pittsburgh Steelers, McCaffrey completed with a league-high 152 dashing yards. But it was his 65-yard run for a landing within the second half that put a punctuation mark on San Francisco’s victory.

Receivers Ray-Ray McCloud and Brandon Aiyuk made key blocks downfield, with McCloud driving cornerback Patrick Peterson into the top zone. Peterson mentioned within the lead-up to Sunday’s sport that he knew the place Brock Purdy was going with the ball pre-snap and would wind up with an interception. Instead, the eight-time Pro Bowl nook gave up two touchdowns to Aiyuk.

“We’ve had a few encounters,” Aiyuk mentioned about Peterson. “I’ve been speaking to him for some time now. It’s all the time enjoyable to go towards him.” —Eric D. Williams

Dave Helman reacts to Brock Purdy, 49ers’ DOMINANT victory over Steelers

Dave Helman reacts to Brock Purdy, 49ers' DOMINANT victory over Steelers

NFC South calls for your respect

The NFC South, skewered in energy rankings all offseason after the division did not produce a workforce with a profitable file in 2022, one way or the other went 3-1 in Week 1, and the one loss got here internally.

The Bucs gained at Minnesota as six-point underdogs, the Saints held off the Vikings for a 16-15 residence win and the Falcons posted a 24-10 residence win over the Panthers. While a lot of the speak this summer season was concerning the turnover at quarterback, with principally 4 new starters, the widespread thread in Sunday’s wins was defenses dominating the turnover sport. Tampa Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans every pressured three takeaways of their wins.

Baker Mayfield, who has thrown as many interceptions as any quarterback within the league since his arrival in 2018, performed a mistake-free sport. You cannot say that always, however in his profession he is 8-1 when his workforce has a plus-3 turnover margin or higher, because the Bucs had Sunday.

Can the NFC South one way or the other validate this success with extra of the identical in Week 2? The Bucs are at residence towards the Bears (drubbed by Green Bay on Sunday) whereas the Falcons have a harder take a look at towards these Packers; the Panthers and Saints play one another in Charlotte. —Greg Auman

How will the Buccaneers fare with out Tom Brady? And who will win the NFC South?

How will the Buccaneers fare without Tom Brady? And who will win the NFC South?

Bijan Robinson outplays Bryce Young — however what’s up with Drake London’s targets?

Sunday featured a much-anticipated showdown of two of the most-hyped rookies on this draft class, with Carolina quarterback Bryce Young squaring off towards Atlanta operating again Bijan Robinson.

Give the primary spherical to Robinson, each on the scoreboard with Atlanta’s win and within the total buzz following their debuts. Young, taking part in with out injured receiver D.J. Chark, did not have a completion longer than 14 yards and threw two interceptions, each to new Falcons security Jessie Bates. 

Robinson, in the meantime, confirmed a flash of the big-play potential that made the Falcons take him No. 8 total. His first profession landing was a magnificence, as he caught a display screen cross from Desmond Ridder, made the primary defender miss, then drove by way of two extra on the 5-yard line on his solution to the top zone.

Robinson’s total numbers weren’t big — 10 carries for 56 yards, which ranked fourth within the sport. But the benefit with which he reduce by way of defenders and his consolation in catching a team-high six passes have been all encouraging indicators in a debut.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith is not all the time identified for getting the ball to his excessive draft picks. A reporter identified to him in postgame that 2022 first-rounder Drake London one way or the other had fewer catches than Ridder Sunday, on a single goal. But Smith insisted the one factor that issues for him and his workforce is the ultimate rating.

“Let the fantasy guys fear about that,” Smith mentioned. “Targets is essentially the most misunderstood factor within the National Football League. … We do not care. Drake London would not care. All we care about is 1-0. … We do not care concerning the stats. We care about profitable.”  —Auman

Top 5 NFL Rookies of the week ft. Bijan Robinson, Anthony Richardson, and Puka Nacua

Top 5 NFL Rookies of the week ft. Bijan Robinson, Anthony Richardson, and Puka Nacua

Will Anderson exhibits out in NFL debut

Will Anderson Jr. performed as marketed in his NFL debut. The Texans fell 25-9 on the street to the Ravens, however the No. 3 total choose confirmed that he has the potential to be one of many league’s elite cross rushers. 

He generated six pressures Sunday, essentially the most by a rookie in Week 1 for the reason that 49ers’ Nick Bosa and the Jaguars’ Josh Allen in 2019, in line with Next Gen Stats. Anderson additionally had six defensive stops, tied for essentially the most by a rookie edge rusher within the season opener since no less than 2016, per NGS. 

Anderson’s debut included a sack of Lamar Jackson, one of many league’s most elusive quarterbacks. On a third-and-long early within the fourth quarter, Anderson beat Ravens proper sort out Morgan Moses on the sting, then grabbed the 2019 MVP by the legs earlier than he might get out of the pocket. 

“Will has been who he is been,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans mentioned. 

The former Alabama standout might be the Texans’ finest defensive lineman as a rookie. Houston’s defensive position has nowhere to go however up, after contributing to what was the worst run protection in franchise historical past final season (170.2 dashing yards allowed/sport). That’s a division during which Anderson figures to raise the unit, too, on prime of his pass-rush expertise. He was a stout run defender for the Crimson Tide. His six tackles, together with a stuff, marked a workforce excessive Sunday. —Ben Arthur

[Brooks: NFL top 10: 49ers, Cowboys separate themselves from the pack in Week 1]

Ryan Tannehill’s disastrous opener places highlight on Titans‘ 2024 QB outlook

Ryan Tannehill was the first purpose the Titans fell of their season opener Sunday because the veteran QB threw three interceptions in a 16-15 loss at New Orleans. 

None of the picks got here on a fluky play. He underthrew his supposed goal every time (DeAndre Hopkins twice, Chris Moore as soon as), and will have wound up with one or two extra interceptions on the day. Tannehill’s decision-making and timing have been off. He missed open receivers. It was his first three-interception sport for the reason that Titans’ divisional-round playoff loss to the Bengals within the 2021 season. Tannehill on Sunday accomplished simply 47.1% of his passes (16-of-34) for 198 yards and no touchdowns with a career-low 28.8 passer ranking.

Tannehill’s displaying ruined the joy surrounding Hopkins’ addition to the offense and new playcaller Tim Kelly. On the macro stage, it was a reminder of the quarterback resolution that looms over 2024. If Tannehill continues to play like this, it might make the decision simpler: to maneuver on within the offseason from the 35-year-old QB, who’s within the final 12 months of his deal.

And that is not only a post-Week 1 sizzling take. The actuality is that the Titans have traded up for quarterbacks on Day 2 of the previous two drafts: Will Levis within the second spherical this 12 months, Malik Willis within the third spherical final 12 months. The writing has been on the wall for Tannehill’s future in Tennessee past his current contract. The Titans have to see what they’ve within the younger signal-callers, and Tannehill’s play to kick off a important 2023 — what might be the final 12 months of this iteration of the Titans — would not assist his case to stay round past this season. —Arthur

2023 AFC South Preview ft. Jaguars, Titans, Colts & Texans

2023 AFC South Preview ft. Jaguars, Titans, Colts & Texans

Minnesota comes again right down to earth in one-score video games

The Vikings performed in 11 one-score video games throughout the 2022 common season. They gained all of them. Quarterback Kirk Cousins engineered a number of comebacks and the protection appeared to point out up at simply the precise time to stave off opponents.

It all shifted within the postseason.

Minnesota suffered its first one-score loss within the wild-card spherical towards the Giants at residence. On Sunday, the Vikings continued that development to open the 2023 season, shedding a one-score contest to final season’s NFC South champion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs went up by three with simply over 5 minutes to go within the sport. It was an ideal alternative for Cousins and the offense to place collectively a reasonably commonplace offensive drive. Go down the sphere and rating; that is all they needed to do. Despite the low 20-17 rating at that time, the Vikings’ finest participant, broad receiver Justin Jefferson, had as soon as once more lived as much as his Offensive Player of the Year commonplace. He had caught 9 passes for 150 yards regardless of Tampa Bay’s finest cornerback, Carlton Davis, on him for a lot of the sport. Surely, Cousins and Jefferson might muster another drive, even when it was simply to tie the sport.

Alas, the Vikings went three-and-out and surrendered the ball to the Bucs with 3:52 left. And then as a substitute of the protection developing with an important cease, Tampa Bay broad receiver Chris Godwin made the catch of his life on third-and-10 to offer the Bucs a primary down contained in the two-minute warning.

I’m not going to overreact. It is Week 1, in spite of everything. The Vikings protection went by way of a dramatic makeover and can take a minute to get used to new DC Brian Flores’ system. Cousins can hopefully return to type and never commit a number of turnovers regularly (he threw an interception and misplaced two fumbles). And the excellent news is that rookie WR Jordan Addison appears to be like to be every thing Minnesota had hoped. He caught 4 passes for 61 yards and scored the Vikings’ first landing. 

But till they show to themselves that they will win these shut video games once more, 2023 may be a bit extra rocky. Don’t be stunned if the Vikings lose greater than 4 video games this season, even with a greater roster on paper. —Vitali

2023 NFC North Preview ft. Bears, Lions, Packers & Vikings

2023 NFC North Preview ft. Bears, Lions, Packers & Vikings

Dolphins face down their offensive demons from 2022

Numerous issues stumped the Dolphins final season. But we did not see any of them on show Sunday when Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill gained a 36-34 shootout with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Chargers protection stumped Miami final 12 months. Coach Brandon Staley developed a sport plan that disrupted the Dolphins offense in a method few groups had achieved at that time within the season. The L.A. secondary, in 2022, was capable of pull off press protection and disrupt the timing between Tua and his pass-catchers. But on Sunday, Hill and Jaylen Waddle merely blasted previous the Chargers secondary for 47-yard and 35-yard chunk performs. Hill completed the day with 11 receptions, 215 yards and two touchdowns

Another downside from 2022: The Dolphins struggled with out a wholesome Terron Armstead, their left sort out. But with Amstead inactive on Sunday, Miami allowed simply two quarterback hits and 0 sacks. Again, that is precisely what the Dolphins wish to see as a result of it’ll correlate with their last subject.

Tagovailoa struggled to remain wholesome final 12 months. He handled concussions. So far, he appears to be like wholesome. He made it by way of Week 1 and had among the best video games of his profession, with 466 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Most importantly, he acquired the quantity that counted: 36 factors. In what is bound to be an extremely aggressive AFC East, the Dolphins are undefeated.

The operating sport stays a query, with Miami averaging simply 3.5 yards per carry. But when the Dolphins are averaging 10.4 yards per cross try, they appear to be doing simply effective. —Henry McKenna

Dolphins def. Chargers in Week 1: are Tua & Tyreek the NFL’s most harmful duo?

Dolphins def. Chargers in Week 1: are Tua & Tyreek the NFL's most dangerous duo?

The Chargers preserve Chargering

The begin of 2023 started very like the top of 2022 for the Chargers. After operating out to a 27-0 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars on the street within the AFC wild-card sport, the Bolts collapsed and misplaced 31-30.

Even with a brand new offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore and even with franchise quarterback Justin Herbert signing a profitable new deal, the Chargers are nonetheless Chargering — discovering distinctive methods to lose video games.

The newest instance is a 36-34 defeat to the Miami Dolphins in L.A.’s residence opener at SoFi Stadium, a sport the Bolts led by 4 factors with just below 4 minutes remaining. Led by among the best defensive minds within the enterprise in Brandon Staley, the Chargers allowed 538 yards of complete offense, together with 466 by way of the air.

That’s the worst defensive efficiency by the Chargers throughout Staley’s tenure. It’s not search for a head coach who’s on the new seat coming into the 2023 season. 

“We have to maneuver previous this one,” Staley mentioned. “Learn from all of the powerful issues that we’ll must be taught from on this sport, after which get transferring on to the Titans.” —Eric D. Williams

The Chargers have allotted extra of their cap to linebackers than any workforce within the league ($44.5 million), per Spotrac — and the third-most to defensive backs ($43.2 million). Those defenders notably have to step up. —Williams

Patriots CB Christian Gonzalez gives main brilliant spot in loss

On the Friday earlier than Week 1, Bill Belichick was requested about how he prepares his rookies for his or her NFL debut.

“Just have to leap in and begin swimming. There isn’t any child pool. Just dive proper in and check out to not drown,” Belichick mentioned.

On Week 1 vs. the Eagles, no Patriots rookie had an even bigger problem than cornerback Christian Gonzalez, the No. 17 total choose. But no rookie carried out higher than he did. He spent the night time in protection on DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown. He didn’t permit any lengthy passes, although a number of brief throws have been accomplished.

When it mattered most on a fourth down, Gonzalez logged a cross breakup — producing a turnover on downs that gave the Patriots offense a chance to win the sport (which they could not capitalize upon). He had seven tackles, together with hits on operating backs — easing a few of the pre-draft issues that he wasn’t bodily sufficient. Gonzalez was additionally, surprisingly, the primary Patriots rookie to log a sack within the sport. Who noticed that coming? 

He’s one more playmaker for the Patriots protection, which is not brief on them. He, Matthew Judon, Josh Uche and Kyle Dugger ought to create large issues for offenses in 2023. —McKenna

[Mckenna: Patriots will need an alpha to emerge on offense if they want to sniff playoffs]

Commanders want to guard Howell higher

For a workforce that’s banking every thing on a 22-year-old quarterback this season, the Washington Commanders positive did a horrible job of defending their most vital asset on Opening Day. And if they do not repair their offensive-line points shortly, that is going to be an enormous downside for Washington over the remainder of the season.

Sam Howell was sacked six occasions within the Commanders’ otherwise-festive 20-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. And the one purpose it wasn’t twice that was as a result of he is so good at escaping bother. Howell was 19-of-31 for 202 yards with a landing, an interception and a fumble, however he did that whereas continuously scrambling from a collapsing pocket.

And if he was pressured to do this towards an underwhelming Arizona defensive entrance, think about what is going on to occur towards a Philadelphia protection that had 70 sacks final season, or a Dallas protection that pummeled Giants quarterback Daniel Jones for seven sacks on Sunday night time.

“You know, we take that very personally up entrance,” mentioned proper sort out Andrew Wylie, who was answerable for no less than two of the sacks. “Plain and easy, we have got to do higher. We did not essentially do our greatest job of that tonight.”

They higher hope not, or Howell won’t ever have an opportunity to point out he is the succesful quarterback the Commanders assume he will likely be. —Ralph Vacchiano

[Do you want more great stories delivered right to you? Here’s how you can create or log in to your FOX Sports account, follow your favorite leagues, teams and players and receive a personalized newsletter in your inbox daily.]

Commanders’ Sam Howell on the protection creating alternatives for the offense to win late

Commanders' Sam Howell on the defense creating opportunities for the offense to win late

Eagles’ run sport struggles as D’Andre Swift watches

The Eagles have been praised for getting a gifted operating again like D’Andre Swift from the Detroit Lions for under a fourth-round choose within the offseason. The Eagles raved over the summer season about Swift’s capacity and the numerous other ways they may use him.

So the place was he on Opening Day?

Mostly standing on the sidelines watching the Eagles offense and dashing assault sputter in a sluggish 25-20 win over New England. Kenneth Gainwell took the lead position within the Philly backfield, dashing 14 occasions for 54 yards and catching 4 passes for 20 yards. Swift took solely 19 snaps, ran the ball as soon as (for 3 yards) and was focused twice as a receiver (catching one cross for no yards). And he nonetheless fared higher than the opposite half of the Eagles’ Budget Backfield — free-agent signee Rashaad Penny was a wholesome scratch.

The Eagles have been a powerhouse operating the ball final season. They averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored 32 dashing touchdowns. Swift and Penny have been alleged to be those to maintain that going behind Philly’s dominant offensive line.

So what occurred? Nick Sirianni blamed it on “a quantity depend” — no matter meaning — although he admitted, “I do not ever wish to come out of a sport the place D’Andre Swift has solely two touches both.”

Presumably, he’ll get Swift extra concerned and determine his downside with numbers. But the regression of the dashing assault was nonetheless alarming. The Eagles ran 10 occasions for 38 yards within the second half. They had bother sustaining drives within the fourth quarter and ending drives all through the sport. They even known as a cross play on a fourth-and-2 from the Patriots’ 44 popping out of the two-minute warning when a primary down would’ve nearly sealed the sport.

Last 12 months’s Eagles would have powered that ball proper up the center. Maybe they have been only a higher operating workforce then. —Vacchiano

[Vacchiano: Philadelphia Eagles will win Super Bowl LVIII, and here are the reasons why]

Cowboys ship a message — and make us ponder historical past

The Cowboys obliterated the Giants on Sunday night time in a 40-0 win. It was essentially the most lopsided shutout in Dallas’ 63-year historical past — and the earlier largest margin was a 35-0 beatdown … of the Giants, in one other season opener: 1995. Yes, that is the final time the Cowboys gained the Super Bowl. 

When you win 40-0, it is simpler to attract all these foolish parallels. Dallas had a 26-0 lead at halftime. The offense barely needed to do any heavy lifting. That’s what occurs when your protection blocks a area purpose and returns it for a landing, has a pick-six and forces 5 fumbles on the day. Dallas had a plus-three turnover margin for the sport.

It’s simple to say now that the Cowboys ought to have dominated; that they are the higher workforce. But this was a 3.5-point betting line coming into the sport. Most analysts did not see a blowout coming. Dallas — notably on protection — made an announcement about its intentions for this season; about its stage of expertise; about the place its bar is ready. 

It’s simply Week 1. But the Cowboys couldn’t have began the 12 months on a extra emphatic word. On the NFL on FOX podcast, I picked Dallas to achieve the Super Bowl this 12 months. I see no purpose to again down from that decision. —David Helman

Dave Helman discusses Dak Prescott, Cowboys’ protection in CRUSHING win over Giants

Dave Helman discusses Dak Prescott, Cowboys' defense in CRUSHING win over Giants

This story was compiled by:

AFC South reporter Ben Arthur (@benyarthur)
NFC South reporter Greg Auman (@gregauman)
NFL analyst Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks)
Dallas Cowboys reporter David Helman (@davidhelman_)
AFC East reporter Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis)
NFC West reporter Eric D. Williams (@eric_d_williams)
NFC East reporter Ralph Vacchiano (@RalphVacchiano)
NFC North reporter Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV)

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