Sep
17

NFL Week Two: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The following Sports Agent Blog contribution is courtesy of Brandon Thorn.

The Good:

Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) runs for yardage after recovering a fumble from Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) (not pictured) during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City strong safety Eric Berry leads a very talented Chiefs secondary. Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs are one of the most underrated teams in football due to their stout front seven. The Chiefs have all the pieces in place for their 3-4 defensive scheme. Elite pass rushers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, a very rangy, dependable middle linebacker in Derrick Johnson, and a mammoth in the middle of their defensive line that eats up space and penetrates with incredible force in Dontari Poe. Last but not least, on the backend, ball hawk safety Eric Berry leads a very talented secondary.

Offensively this team had a glaring weakness last year and that was their quarterback play. A total of eight touchdowns were thrown by Kansas City in the 2012 season. This year, through just two games, newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith has tossed four. First year Head Coach Andy Reid came over after spending over a decade in Philadelphia, and has turned around this team. Reid has shored up their biggest downfall last year – turnovers. While it has only been two games I believe this team has a top five defense and enough firepower on offense to turn the 2013 season into a wildcard birth.

Philip Rivers – There were two hiring this off-season that were largely overlooked, yet I knew could have an enormous impact. That was the San Diego Chargers two coaching hires; Head Coach Mike McCoy (previously the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator), and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt (previously the Arizona Cardinals Head Coach). Both of these men were very successful in their previous jobs, without much recognition by the mainstream media. The Cardinals have had three winning seasons since they moved to Arizona in 1994; two of those teams were coached by Whisenhunt. Known for his offensive mind, Whisenhunt failed in Arizona, ultimately because his front office could not find a long-term quarterback.

While in Denver, then offensive coordinator Mike McCoy demonstrated incredible ability to adjust his scheme to put his players in the best position to use their skills. McCoy orchestrated an offensive scheme to suit quarterbacks Kyle Orton, followed by Tim Tebow, then by Peyton Manning, all within two years of each other. This catapulted McCoy to the top of the list for Head Coaching positions around the league after the 2012 season.

Rivers is obviously benefitting greatly from these two men in his corner, who have coached him up in a brand new scheme. It seems like exactly the thing that the stagnant Rivers needed for a career revival. Through two games, Rivers has 614 yards, 7 touchdowns to 1 interception, with a 65.8 completion percentage. The Chargers just went on the road after a short week and a tough loss to Houston to beat Chip Kelly’s talk of the town Philadelphia Eagles 33-30.

Denver Broncos – Through two games, the 2-0 Broncos look like a threat to break the record for points scored in a NFL season. This team is firing on all cylinders offensively, racking up 900+ yards and 90 points. Quarterback Peyton Manning is arguably more efficient than he has ever been, with more weapons in his arsenal. Manning, has 9 touchdowns and zero interceptions through two games, throwing for an astonishing 7 touchdowns in week 1. Through two blowout victories and without the team’s best two defensive players, (Von Miller; suspended through week 6 & Champ Bailey; injured) Denver is the heavy favorite for the AFC’s bid in the Super Bowl.

The Bad:

Minnesota Vikings – Bad luck seemingly follows the Vikings year after year. Last season it was quarterback Christian Ponder’s injury right before the playoffs began. His replacement was Joe Webb who looked abysmal against the Green Bay Packers, eliminating them from playoff contention. This season, through two games, Ponder has 2 touchdowns to 4 interceptions with a 67.0 rating. What makes this more sad than anything is the fact that tailback Adrian Peterson is in the prime of his hall of fame career. General Manager Chris Spielman brought in wide receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson to further Ponder’s development. So far these additions have not done the job and the Vikings have lost two games, both to division rivals.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This early in the season, the Bucs are in as much disarray as any team I can remember. There are some positives to point out that can save their season, but first let’s cover what’s wrong. Head Coach Greg Schiano has border-line lost the trust of his team. There was a players-only meeting after week 1, virtually unheard of this early in the season. These meetings are usually reserved for a mid-season collapse. Secondly, and this could potentially be ugly, is the accusation that Schiano rigged the voting for the team captain vote to not include his starting quarterback Josh Freeman. (This is what the player’s only meeting was supposedly called to discuss). Quarterback Josh Freeman also continues his poor play from last season in which his completion percentage is among the league’s worst. What can turn around this 0-2 start is the fact that the Bucs can play some very good defense and are laden with talent on that side of the ball. The offense and team unity are what needs to get fixed and get fixed fast, before Tampa Bay is looking at another losing season.

The Ugly:

Washington Redskins – Nobody expected this. The Redskins had their rookie of the year quarterback, Robert Griffin III, returning for his second season with plenty of hype. Although returning from a devastating knee injury, everyone assumed he would recover in the same manner that halfback Adrian Peterson did in 2012 and that clearly isn’t happening. There is rust in RGIII’s game and the offense’s rhythm is off because of it. This, I believe will be a phase that will soon disappear. The real problems are on the defensive side of the ball, namely the team’s young, inexperienced secondary. Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris has his hands full is getting this thing fixed in a hurry. The defense has given up an average of 500 yards of total offense through two games, with no immediate remedy in sight. This turnaround won’t get any easier next week when the team faces off against the explosive Detroit Lions offense.