I’m watching the Denver Broncos play the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is Peyton Manning’s first game as a Bronco and I find myself rooting for him, even though I have serial-rapist and all around awful person Ben Roethlisberger on my fantasy team.
Anyhow, here on some thoughts about the first big football weekend of the year.
Some pretty incredible upsets this weekend. Arkansas went from #8 in the AP poll to being unranked after losing to LA-Monroe in overtime. This was the second biggest one-week drop in rankings ever, only beaten by Michigan’s drop from #5 to unranked after losing to Appalachian State a few years ago. Wisconsin, who was one team picked to win the Big 10 lost to unranked Oregon St. Nebraska lost to an unranked UCLA, and Oklahoma State lost to an unranked Arizona. After starting the season ranked #8, Michigan barely pulled out a win against Air Force.
A&M and Missouri played their first games as SEC teams against SEC opponents and both lost. Similar to last season, the Aggies played a great first half and then couldn’t close out the win, losing 20-17. Missouri, on the other hand, got blown out by #7 Georgia (who had some key players suspended for the game) 41-20.
As an Aggie, I do have a major concern about the A&M performance. The offense looked sharp in the first half, but after reflecting some on the game, I realized that the Aggies hardly attempted to throw the ball downfield. Almost all the pass plays were short outs to the sidelines or just 5-8 yard quick outs to either side. I can only recall one or two passes down the middle and only 2 deep passes, one of which was thrown by a wide receiver on an end-around. They never tried to stretch the field. Once Florida figured this out at halftime, they moved the defense up and kept everything in front of them. Once they did that, they were able to corral the Aggie running game and make the short passing game completely ineffective. I’m worried that every opponent the Aggies play this season are going to see this and the Aggies won’t have the success in the first half they had this week. Defenses will approach the game from the beginning like the Florida defense did in the second half. If Sumlin is afraid to let Manziel throw the ball downfield, then I think the Aggies are in for a long, unsuccessful season.
A lot of people are talking about how the Aggies began the season the same way they played last year: getting leads in the first half and then blowing the game in the second. I’m not too concerned that this is going to be their MO this year, because of the new coach, and a lot of new personnel. But, I do think they are going to have to open the offense some more.
Also, this may be a rough year regardless, given the new coach and a freshman QB. I’m willing to give Sumlin a year to figure things out and get his own players into the mix. Going head to head with a good SEC team and only losing by 3 is slightly encouraging, but doesn’t lead me to believe that the Aggies are going to be very successful this season.
The Cowboys looked great against the Giants, except for the penalties. They have been one of the most undisciplined teams in the league over the last several seasons and it did not look like anything has changed over the off-season. They were able to overcome those penalties with some great plays from Tony Romo, Kevin Ogletree, Miles Austin, and DeMarco Murray. But you’re not going to convert a 1st and 30 into a touchdown every game. Probably won’t do it another time this season. They are going to have to get more disciplined to win games. At least they don’t have “False Start Flozelle” anymore.
That being said, Tony Romo played one of the best games I’ve seen him play. After an early interception, he bounced back and looked excellent. The running game was good too. Murray put together one run that harkened back to Barry Sanders, getting trapped behind the line, making some cuts and eventually breaking it for a big gain. Ogletree looks like he may turn into the Cowboys’ go to receiver. It’s hard to make any predictions after the first game, but he was big. Beating the defending champs, at their place, on opening day was encouraging. We will see.
I was surprised to see the Packers lose to the 49ers. RGIII looked great against the Saints. I would have taken the Saints in a heart beat, if I was a betting man, but there were times where Griffin made them look silly. The game was close, but the Redskins look like they have some offense, which is not good news for the Cowboys.
The rest of the rookie QBs stunk. I think all of them had at least 3 interceptions, including former Aggie Ryan Tannehill who led the Dolphins to a loss on opening day.