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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

15 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 1

Dak Prescott

After a long, eventful, and occasionally strange offseason, the NFL is back in action. As it always does, it provided some surprises and unexpected moments in its opening week, and plenty of talking points to go over ahead of Week 2.

But where some succeed, some will inevitably fall short, especially relative to expectations. Here are 15 things that weren’t quite as advertised during Week 1 of the NFL season.

Buffalo Bills

This was a playoff team last season, even if few expect them to repeat that feat. Few also rate the Baltimore Ravens or Joe Flacco that highly, but they put up 47 points against a Buffalo team that was abject in every way. The offense was even worse. One has to wonder how many times Buffalo can throw Nathan Peterman out there before realizing that he’s simply not an NFL-caliber starting quarterback, as he went 5-of-18 for just 24 yards, throwing two picks before being replaced by rookie Josh Allen. The Bills don’t seem to have a coherent plan or anything going for them right now. They were brutal.

Dallas Cowboys’ offense

The Cowboys gambled hard on a few roster decisions this past offseason. They bet that they wouldn’t miss Dez Bryant, that they were safe to part ways with Dan Bailey, and that Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would do what they needed to do behind a strong offensive line. On Sunday, a lot of those gambles backfired in a 16-8 loss to Carolina. Prescott threw for just 170 yards and failed to find the end zone. Elliott did, but not until the fourth quarter, and he totaled just 69 yards on 15 carries. No Cowboys receiver finished with 100 yards receiving, and only Cole Beasley had more than 50. Brett Maher, the kicker the Cowboys were so comfortable with that they cut Bailey, missed his only field goal attempt of the day from 47 yards out. The people behind these roster decisions will already have some questions to answer after this one.

Sam Bradford, QB, Cardinals

The Cardinals’ desire to keep Josh Rosen on the sideline to learn is understandable, but Bradford was so bad on Sunday that there must be at least some temptation to get the rookie into next week’s game. Bradford went just 20-of-34 for 153 yards and an interception, failing to find the end zone. In the first half, he managed just 11 yards on three completions. In total, Arizona’s offense totaled just 213 yards. After a performance like that, the cries from fans for Rosen are only going to get louder during the week.

Kaelin Clay, PR, Giants

Clay was picked up on waivers to return punts for the Giants, but on the evidence, he might not be getting another chance. With the Giants down five and under a minute to go, Clay muffed a punt, allowing the Jaguars to recover and win the game. It was a brutal mistake at a brutal time for a guy who probably had to play mistake-free football to get another shot at it. Unfortunately, he’s had trouble with his hands before, and this instance could cost him his job.

New Orleans Saints’ defense

You probably would have figured that the team that could’ve easily played in the NFC Championship game last year would have little issue at home with Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That very much did not happen. Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards, Tampa Bay got 529 overall, and the Buccaneers only had to punt once. New Orleans’ resurgence last season was largely built on defensive improvement. They can’t possibly be this bad all season, but it’s a worrying sign early on.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers

This was Jimmy G’s first loss as a starter, and yes, there must be some context here. It would not be at all surprising if Minnesota ended up as one of the elite defensive teams in the NFL this season, so he was facing a difficult test. Ultimately, though, Garoppolo missed on a lot of throws, completing less than half of his pass attempts and throwing three interceptions to only one touchdown. He’s talented enough to start, but Sunday’s performance is a reality check to those who were willing to anoint him as an elite quarterback already.

Case Keenum, QB, Broncos

Keenum threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, and his Broncos did win the game. That said, he helped make it close with some recklessness with the football. After throwing just seven interceptions all season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017, Keenum threw three of them in his Denver debut. There’s room to criticize his decision-making, and some of it may have involved some miscommunication, both of which can be fixed. They’ll have to be.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs

Kelce was basically the only disappointment in a banner day for the Kansas City offense. While Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill t both went off against the Chargers, the star tight end was quiet, catching one six-yard pass despite being targeted six times. Kelce has two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, so it’s fair to say more would have been expected of him today. Hopefully, it’s just a bad week and he’ll get things going next time out. But without Alex Smith around, who loves to target tight ends, he might not see quite as much action going forward.

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