Key Takeaways, Risers, Fallers, and Burning Questions from NFL Week 1
**NFL Week 1 Recap: Surprises, Highlights, and Burning Questions**
The 2023 NFL season kicked off with an action-packed Week 1. In the early games, the San Francisco 49ers, led by a healthy Brock Purdy, continued their winning ways, while the Cleveland Browns stifled Joe Burrow, and several rookies made impressive debuts.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins emerged victorious in an offensive showdown against Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. Jordan Love had a smooth outing as the Green Bay Packers' new starting quarterback, but the Denver Broncos struggled to find the end zone once again. To cap off Sunday's action, the Dallas Cowboys dominated the New York Giants with a resounding 40-0 victory.
Our NFL Nation reporters dive into the action, addressing lingering questions from each game and identifying who or what is trending upward or downward for each team. Let's dig in.
**Are the Cowboys the Real Deal?**
The Dallas Cowboys delivered a dominant performance against the New York Giants, reminiscent of their 1995 season when they won Super Bowl XXX after dismantling the Giants 35-0. While this victory is promising, the road ahead presents more challenging matchups, including one against Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets. It's too early to book those flights to Las Vegas, but the Cowboys showcased a strong performance, with their defense and special teams making significant contributions.
*Stock Up:* Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator, had the defense ready, with a remarkable six sacks in less than three quarters. Since Quinn took over in 2021, the Cowboys have scored 10 defensive touchdowns, tied for the most in that time. Their defense has also generated multiple takeaways in 22 out of 35 games, more than any other NFL team.
*Stock Down:* Brandon Aubrey had an initial hiccup by missing his first extra point, raising memories of Brett Maher's struggles. However, he redeemed himself by making his next four extra-point attempts and both field goals.
**Giants' O-Line Troubles**
The New York Giants faced significant concerns about their offensive line heading into the season opener. Unfortunately, their offensive line struggles were evident as they allowed seven sacks against the Cowboys. This performance made it nearly impossible to establish an offensive rhythm, leading to quarterback Daniel Jones' regression to earlier in his career. The Giants need to address this issue promptly, or they risk further embarrassment, especially against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
*Stock Up:* It's challenging to find any positives from the Giants' 40-0 loss, as nobody stood out with a good performance.
*Stock Down:* The right side of the offensive line, particularly Evan Neal and Mark Glowinski, struggled, giving up five sacks and allowing consistent pressure throughout the game.
**Eagles vs. Patriots: Offensive Struggles**
The Philadelphia Eagles' typically dynamic offense sputtered for much of the game against the New England Patriots, settling for four Jake Elliott field goals. The Eagles went three-and-out on four consecutive possessions in the first half, a rare occurrence for the team. This offensive setback could be temporary, as the starters didn't play during the preseason, resulting in some rust to shake off. The Patriots' strong defense also played a role in the Eagles' struggles. The key question is whether other teams can replicate this defensive success against the Eagles throughout the season.
*Stock Up:* Rookie DT Jalen Carter made an impact in his NFL debut, registering six pressures and his first sack.
*Stock Down:* The Eagles' offensive line, typically a strength, struggled to protect Jalen Hurts, with 19 pressures and three sacks allowed.
**Dolphins' Run Defense Concerns**
The Miami Dolphins faced significant issues with their run defense as they allowed the Los Angeles Chargers to rush for 234 yards, the most since the Bears' 252 yards in 2022. While the Dolphins' offense showcased firepower, getting into a shootout with the Chargers due to Justin Herbert's limited passing yards was a concern. The Dolphins must address this run defense weakness, especially against run-heavy teams like the New England Patriots in the upcoming weeks.
*Stock Up:* Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill led the offense, with Tagovailoa throwing for 466 yards and three touchdowns, while Hill had an impressive 11-catch, 215-yard, 2-touchdown performance.
*Stock Down:* The Dolphins' front seven struggled throughout the game against the Chargers' rushing attack, although they stepped up in crucial moments.
**Chargers' Rushing Resurgence**
The Los Angeles Chargers' rushing attack showed promise, becoming the first NFL team since 2010 to run for over 220 yards and three touchdowns in a season opener. The offensive line's strong blocking allowed running backs Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley to perform well. While the Chargers may not rush for 234 yards every week, this balanced attack complements Justin Herbert's passing game.
*Stock Up:* The Chargers' run defense, which was the worst in the NFL last year, limited the Dolphins to 70 yards and improved significantly.
*Stock Down:* CB J.C. Jackson, who was involved in critical pass interference penalties during the game, impacting the outcome.
**Packers' Creative Play Calling**
The Green Bay Packers demonstrated creativity in their play designs against the Chicago Bears. Coach Matt LaFleur's innovative play-calling resulted in exciting plays, including a 51-yard screen executed to perfection by Jordan Love. LaFleur's ability to create unique plays could be crucial for the Packers, considering their limited playmakers.
*Stock Up:* Defensive youngsters, including Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt, and Lukas Van Ness, showcased their potential. Walker's 42-yard interception return for a touchdown was a highlight.
*Stock Down:* RB AJ Dillon had a quiet game, with only 19 rushing yards on 13 carries and 17 receiving yards on two catches.
**Bears' Offensive Struggles**
The Chicago Bears encountered difficulties jump-starting their offense against the Green Bay Packers. Fans expressed frustration as the short passing game led to multiple three-and-outs. Chicago must find a way to establish a more dynamic offensive identity, especially against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, aiming to end an 11-game losing streak.
*Stock Up:* Rookie RB Roschon Johnson provided a spark with physical runs, tallying 4.0 yards per carry and contributing as a receiver.
*Stock Down:* S Eddie Jackson struggled in pass coverage, particularly on key targets, impacting the Bears' defense.
The NFL season's opening week delivered surprises, concerns, and notable performances, setting the stage for an exciting season ahead.