All the anticipation is over. Week one of the landmark #NFL100 season in now in the bag. We have a look back at all the talking points in the AFC South Roundup
Jaguars 26 @ Chiefs 40
The Nick Foles era in Jacksonville got underway. However, that era came to an earth shuddering halt in the first quarter. Foles left the game and is to have surgery on a clavicular fracture that will rule him out indefinitely
6th round rookie Gardner Minshew stepped in and played admirably. Going 22/25 for 275 and 2 TDs, he looked composed and assured in the pocket. It’s worth noting Minshew played 80% of the Jaguars preseason snaps, and his familiarity with the offence showed.
Although many teams will be cut down by the Kansas City buzzsaw offence, the Jaguars struggled badly on defence. Myles Jack, fresh off a new contract, did his teammates no favours. He was ejected on the first half after an altercation with Chiefs WR. The Jags seemed ill-disciplined on defence and racked up penalties. This included safety Ronnie Harrison giving up one for unsporting conduct which allowed the Chiefs to punch in a TD from close range
Although losing to the Chiefs is nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s the manner in which the Jags lost that will sting. Losing their big free agent QB signing, as well as the poor showing by their much hyped defence will provide plenty consternation for Marrone & Co. Moving forward, it looks like they are planning to run with Minshew. They have since traded with the Steelers for Josh Dobbs to come in as his backup.
Will the Moustachioed Minshew become the next Tom Brady? Or will he fail to rise to the opportunity given? Can the defence reach a level on par with 2017 or are they falling back towards the pack? There seems to be more questions than answers in Duval County
Browns 13 @ Titans 43
The Tennessee Titans began their campaign with a clash against the much-hyped Cleveland Browns. However, it was not the coming out party that the Browns fans expected.
Mike Vrabel had the Titans fired up for this encounter. Their front seven bludgeoned a forlorn and makeshift Browns offensive line. The Browns case was not helped by LT Greg Robinsons ejection for a petulant kick out at Kenny Vaccaro.
The Titans looked good on both sides of the ball. The ageless Cameron Wake wracked up sack 99 and 100 of his impressive career and already looks a shrewd pick up. Kevin Byard and Malcolm Butler both contributed in the secondary with interceptions. The latter took his home for 6.
Offensively, the Titans also looked in good shape. Derrick Hendry ran well, including a 75 yard catch-and-run TD. Rookie WR AJ Brown sparkled with 100 yards off only 3 catches. However, most welcome of all will be the return from injury of redzone threat TE Delanie Walker who hauled in 2 TDs
The Titans go into week 2 with a spring in their step, where divisional rivals the Colts await.
Colts 24 @ Chargers 30
The post-Andrew Luck gloom that many feared didn’t quite come to fruition. The Colts lost an intriguing encounter against the Chargers in overtime. The fact that the Colts couldn’t handle Austin Ekeler proved decisive, with his TD securing the ‘W’ for the Chargers
However, there are plenty of reason for optimism for Colts fans. Jacoby Brisett looked comfortable under centre going. Marlon Mack showed he can be an offensive weapon to be relied upon moving forward now that #12 is no longer in the building. Pash rush was also improved with Justin Houston, Kemoko Turay and Al-Qadin Muhammad registering sacks. A further sack was split between Ben Banagou and Denico Autry
However the big talking point in this one is long time kicker Adam Vinatieri. Missing an extra point and 2 field goals, the Colts left 7 points on the field. Although he made his next 3 kicks, it must leave the Colts wondering if father time is catching up on him. Special teams misery was not confined to Vinatieri. Denico Autry inexplicably gifted the Chargers another 4 points when he hurdles the centre on a field goal attempt. A blocked Sanchez punt on the first half also gave the Chargers a short field which they converted into 3 points.
Texans 28 @ Saints 30
Bill O’Brien’s wheeling and dealing in the last few weeks of the offseason provided the perfect prologue to what was an exciting Monday Night Football match up.
The Texans started brightly and rushed out to early lead, with DeShaun Watson exhibiting moments that prove he should be seen as one of the premier young talents under centre. However, a Drew Brees impaired comeback in the 2nd half saw the Texans slump to a last minute defeat courtesy of a Will Lutz field goal
There were lots of positives offensively for the Texans. The backfield duo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson rushed for a combined for a total 140 yards on the ground. It should be noted that the Saints never gave up more than 112 yards per game last season. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was his usual spectacular self, with 8 catches for 111 yards. Fellow WRs Fuller and Still also made some nice splash plays. However, some familiar issues persisted. Watson was sacked 6 times behind a porous offensive line, although he does leave himself open to sacks with his play style.
The loss of Jadeveon Clowney was also felt. Star DE JJ Watt probably felt this most acutely. Well marshalled by the impressive Ryan Ramczyk he totalled 0 QB pressures.
With Laremy Tunsil still figuring things out, and defence still addressing a Clowney shaped hole, things are a work in progress for the Texans. Next up, the Jaguars at home.