Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season kicked off with a defensive war between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, and finished with a surprising win by the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football. The New England Patriots dominated the news throughout with a dominating 33-3 victory over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and by signing wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Here are the highs and lows for Week 1:
Green Bay’s Defense
It wouldn’t have surprised anyone to see a defensive war between the Packers and Bears to open the season, but the 10-3 score proved both beautiful and ugly. In particular, the Packers proved their defense could stand up to a Bears offense that should be better than last year’s version.
Green Bay sacked Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky five times and held the Bears to only 46 rushing yards. Chicago’s defense played almost as well, but Green Bay showed that there is finally a strong defense to back up Aaron Rodgers. The NFC North will be fascinating this season.
Lamar Jackson’s epic performance
Plenty of question marks surround second year Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. He answered many of those questions by completing 17 of 20 passes for 324 yards and five touchdown passes in a 59-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Yes, it was against the horrid Dolphins, but this is the NFL. Jackson’s performance sent a message for the long-term. He’s more than capable of putting on a dominating performance.
New England Patriots set the standard
It should have been the matchup of the weekend. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers at home to open the season. Two of the AFC’s biggest contenders facing off once again for early conference supremacy. What we got was a brutal 33-3 demolition that made the Steelers look inept in every aspect of the game.
The Patriots showed that they are more than ready to defend their Super Bowl crown, and wide receiver Antonio Brown didn’t even suit up. Is there a team in the AFC that can beat the Patriots right now?
New England Patriots set another standard
Your eyes don’t deceive you. This is the first time that a team has made both the highs and lows in the same week during the three-year history of this column. I know many Patriots fans will be offended. Fine, so be it. I’d say this: put the shoe on the other foot.
Let’s say Brown was traded to the Patriots and even signed a new deal, but he later decided that the playing for the Kansas City Chiefs is really what he wanted. So he basically acted like a nut to the point where the Patriots had no choice but to release him or keep the club cancer there. Brown even got into it with Bill Belichick the same way he did with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. The Patriots released him and he signed with the rival Chiefs within a day. Later, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen then reported that Brown hired social media experts to help expedite getting his release. Of course, this is after the Patriots signed him to a 3-year, $50 million deal, which took up a chunk of their salary cap during the offseason. Patriots fans would have been be ticked right?
There is something disgusting about a player that signed a new contract manipulating his way into free agency to join another team. Brown signed the dotted line. The Patriots sent the message that it’s acceptable for players to do that to team or worse by signing him.
The Cleveland Browns are still the Browns
The 2019 Cleveland Browns entered the season with a loaded roster. However, that roster clearly hasn’t overcome the franchise’s current culture. The Tennessee Titans gave up an early touchdown, but they stiffened up and cruised to a 43-13 victory. Instead of showing the heart of a champion, the Browns fell apart in the worst way. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield collapsed under pressure, and the defense proved unable to stop anyone.
Time will tell if this talented roster can pull it together. However, until the Browns show otherwise, they are still the team that has disappointed fans for the better part of 20 years.
The low point of the Miami Dolphins franchise
We all know the Miami Dolphins entered the season in tank mode. No one expects to see a 59-10 clubbing at home to a middling contender. The Dolphins once stood among the giants of the NFL. However, that era has long come and gone. The proud franchise led by Don Shula has now sunk to the point where it might become the third team to finish with an 0-16 record.