Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season is complete. The week saw lacklustre performances from a couple of AFC North teams but one team has gained widespread praise. So let’s get down to the first conclusions of the year.
Much of the pre Season was spent praising James Washington and he definitely continued to shine in Week 1, making the most of his 2 receptions by taking them 51 yards. The same cannot be said for Donte Moncrief who was underwhelming to say the least. He looked lost at times and often failed to complete the catch. While Ryan Switzer was better catching the ball he totalled a paltry 29 yards on 6 receptions.
Mike Tomlin saw his team lose in the final week of his 2018 and that carried on in 2019. Last year’s emerging star, James Conner, seemed to be used as an afterthought rather than as the main weapon that he is. His 10 carries yielded just 21 yards against the Pats and he showed nothing of last year’s form. Speaking of disappearing stars, TJ Watt and the Steelers defence failed to register for the majority of the loss to New England.
While Lamar Jackson will, rightly, draw much of the praise for the Ravens win over Miami, his weapons were what stood out for me. Running back Mark Ingram stopped teams focusing on the pass, something they were able to with last year’s anaemic display. Ingram’s aggressive running style seems a great fit for the Ravens and he bullied his way to 107 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns.
Receiver Marquise Brown put on a display in his first NFL start. He accounted for an impressive 147 yards and two touchdowns on four catches which bolstered Jackson’s performance. Mark Andrews also got his account off to a positive start. The tight end collected 8 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown.
The off season additions of Brown and Ingram make the Ravens offence infinitely more deadly. So, while they’re unlikely to record the sort of numbers they did against the Dolphins, they will continue to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Despite losing to the Seahawks there were encouraging signs for the Bengals. John Ross, filling in for injured A.J. Green, found somewhat of a revival under new coach Zac Taylor. For Ross, it was a career day, 158 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals receiver suffered from drops to some degree but his top shelf speed was on display and the confidence boost for the young play maker should not be under rated.
Last year I wrote about how errors hurt the Bengals. 2019 started in much the same manner. Cincinnati struggled to hold on to the ball, fumbling three times, and these struggles left the offense hamstrung. Although Andy Dalton through for over 400 yards, the offense too often stalled, especially in the second half. Their day could have been even worse were it not for a mistimed jump by the Seattle Safety on one of Ross’ touchdowns.
Much was made of the Browns off season additions. The barn storming offense started with a bang but then landed with a bump. That bump too often took the shape of the Browns’ offensive line. The unit saw starting left tackle Greg Robinson ejected for doing his best Daniel LaRusso impression and surrendered five sacks, including a safety. The issues meant Baker Mayfield had little time to take advantage of his weapons. If there aren’t changes, the team may see its lofty expectations grounded.
Combine the Browns ineffectual play on offense with a ridiculous 18 penalties for 182 yards and it’s easy to see why they lost. There must be changes and accountability for those numbers. If there aren’t changes the Browns’ big name additions will be for naught and Freddie Kitchen May feel his seat getting slightly hot!
Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season is a funny beast. While there are, without doubt, conclusions to be drawn here, teams are rarely as good as they look in Week 1 but neither are they as bad. The Dolphins will likely be the NFL’s whipping boys all year so does that limit the Ravens achievements? The Bengals and Browns started the season strewn with errors but was this just knocking off rust? Follow @Cumbleton and @Ninetynineyards throughout the season to find out.