Photo via Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Week 2 of the NFL season came and went but not without leaving destruction in its path. Some of the game’s biggest stars and young prospects suffered significant injuries, which either ended their seasons or put them out of action in the coming weeks. This included San Francisco 49ers’ defensive ends Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas missing the season with a torn ACL, Carolina Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey missing a few weeks with a hamstring injury and Denver Broncos’ quarterback Drew Lock missing time with a shoulder injury.
After a week filled with injuries and late-game drama, here are my takeaways from Week 2.
- The Los Angeles Rams are dangerous once again
One reason the Rams took a step back in 2019 after their Super Bowl run in 2018 was their production on the ground drastically decreased. They went from gaining 139.4 rushing yards per game in 2018 to 93.7 yards per game in 2019, a 45.7-yard difference. As a result, QB Jared Goff was forced to carry the load on offense. His limited mobility combined with a struggling offensive line led to a decline in the Rams’ offense and they missed the playoffs as a result.
So far in 2020, led by the tandem of Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson, the Rams are third in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 172. Their output of 191 rushing yards at Philadelphia this past Sunday was the highest since their 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional playoff round in 2018. If the Rams can keep up this balance, Goff will have less pressure on him, allowing the offense to be three-dimensional and resemble their 2018 form. This Sunday’s game at Buffalo will be a nice litmus test for this offense.
2. Cam Newton needs more weapons
2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton was thought to have his best years behind him after coming off two major injuries (foot and shoulder). He joined the New England Patriots on a one-year deal, hoping to earn his place as the long-term replacement for Tom Brady. Against the Seattle Seahawks, he played like he did in 2015, going toe-to-toe with Russell Wilson.
While he was tripped up at the one-yard line as time expired in the Patriots’ 35-30 loss, Newton was impressive, throwing for 397 yards while adding three total touchdowns. He did so with Julian Edelman, Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry as his receivers. If the Patriots could add a good wide receiver at the deadline (A.J. Green?), the Patriots’ offense would become even more deadly and could beat some of the NFL’s best teams. Optimism is high in New England.
3. Justin Herbert is already proving me wrong
As he progressed throughout his college career at Oregon, QB Justin Herbert was gaining more and more attention and hype from NFL scouts and draft analysts. However, I never saw him as a franchise QB, especially after his 2019 season where he looked rattled in the biggest moments (losses against Auburn and Arizona State). To me, he came across as a slightly-better Mitchell Trubisky. He had talent but I felt he would make too many mistakes and choke when it mattered.
He made his debut against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs after Tyrod Taylor suffered chest pains pregame after a doctor punctured his lung during a painkiller injection (yes, that actually happened). Herbert looked poised, throwing for 311 yards on 22 completions. He threw a terrible pick where he threw into double coverage across his body but that’s a mistake he should correct going forward. Herbert looked like a good NFL QB already as he should poise I rarely ever saw at Oregon. While the Chargers lost 23-20, the blame does not lie on Herbert as head coach Anthony Lynn took the ball out of his hands in overtime. Charger fans should be excited for the future of Herbert with this team.
4. The Las Vegas Raiders bolster a dangerous offense
Going into this season, many (including myself) predicted the Denver Broncos to finish in second place behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. The Broncos already look toast with Lock missing time with a shoulder injury and stars Courtland Sutton and Von Miller are out for the season.
Instead, the newly-minted Las Vegas Raiders are in prime position to take second place and compete for a playoff berth. They opened Allegiant Stadium in style as they defeated the New Orleans Saints 34-24. Their offense looked lethal and balanced. Josh Jacobs provides a dependable option in the backfield and the receiving corp of Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards and tight end Darren Waller give Derek Carr plenty of options through the air. The Raiders’ offense has impressed so far this season and I am very intrigued to see them face off with Cam Newton in New England on Sunday.