Cumbleton’s Conclusions -AFC North Week One

Cumbleton’s Conclusions -AFC North Week One
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• The Browns decision makers were proven correct with their selection of Denzel Ward, at least in Week One. The rookie showed great skill at a position that usually takes time to develop. First year cornerbacks that excel are not a common occurrence. Ward intercepted Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice. Whilst the second was a case of ‘right place, right time’ the first was showed Ward’s impressive athleticism and looked like something you’d find on Madden.

• Speaking of defence the Browns looked to be much improved, registering six takeaways. Myles Garrett forced a James Conner fumble and limited the production of the Steelers at crucial times. The Browns’ second half performance was enough to tie the match 21-21. The last time the Browns didn’t lose their season opener Jeff Garcia was the quarterback.

• Tyrod Taylor seemed reluctant to throw the ball and the Browns offence, with number one overall pick Baker Mayfield watching from the wings, struggled. They converted none of three first-half interceptions into points. Even though the Browns line gave Tyrod very little time, he held the ball too long and wasn’t accurate when he did throw, completing only 15 of 40 passes for 197 yards. The plus side of Taylor is what he can do with his feet – he added 77 yards and a touchdown.

• The Steelers’s pass rush showed that it could be effective. T.J. Watt had four sacks and the defence was consistently harassing Taylor. Part of this appeared to be the secondary’s coverage and it will be interesting to see how the produce against a more experienced line.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp

• James Conner, starting for holdout Le’Veon Bell, was impressive. He showed good vision and no doubt reminded Steelers fans of Hall of Fame running back Jerome ‘The Bus’ Bettis. Conner rushed for 135 yards on 31 carries, including a long touchdown of 22 yards. Perhaps more impressive was Conner’s ability as a receiver. He pulled in 5 receptions for 57 yards. The one negative from his play was a fumble that contributed to the Steelers woes. He’s one to watch as the season progresses.

• The Bengals have some impressive playmakers on offence but they failed to show up for three quarters. Joe Mixon and A.J. Green turned up in the third quarter and that was enough to defeat the Colts 34-23. Mixon especially impressed as he picked up 95 yards on the ground and adding 54 receiving yards. Dalton, likeTaylor, looked reluctant to pass early. Unlike Taylor he founds his way in the third quarter. He finished 21 of 28 for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns and an interception.

• The improved play of John Ross saw him grab his first NFL touchdown. It was only a 3 yard catch, and his only of the game, but Ross build on his 115 yards in the pre season. Building a rapport with Andy Dalton going forward will help and this was an important first step.

• The NFL is cracking down on helmet to helmet contact. There have been a confetti field of flags in the pre season for helmet to helmet hits. Apparently Bengals safety Shawn Williams didn’t get the memo. He suffered the ignominy of being the first player ejected for such a hit when he was thrown out of the game for his hit on Andrew Luck. His replacement, Clayton Fejedelem, returned a fumble by Jack Doyle 83-yard touchdown to seal the victory.

• The Ravens destroyed the Bills 47-3 and Joe Flacco looked like one of the best in the league, although I feel that a vast part of this was the ineptitude of the Bills. However, he completed 25 of 34 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns before allowing Lamar Jackson to gain valuable experience. I can’t be the only one to be disappointed they didn’t put up 50!

• The Ravens front seven harassed the Bills quarterbacks all day. Starter, second-year Nathan Peterman looked abysmal as completed 5 of 18 passing for 24 yards and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 0.0. To put that in perspective Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor passed for 15 yards! Bills Josh Allen in did slightly better and will likely be the Bills starter moving in. Baltimore’s defense were relentless in

• Worrying for the Ravens was their lack of running attack. Kenneth Dixon rushed for 44 yards on 13 carries. Despite dominating the game Baltimore failed to pound the rock which may be crucial in closer games. Alex Collins, a player that many are high on also struggled

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