Analysis

What We Learned: 33 Expert Takeaways From Week 2

Week 2 was another crazy Sunday in the NFL, or as we like to call it, just another Sunday in the NFL. Our experts weighed in with 33 takeaways from the day’s games:

Dolphins 42, Ravens 38

1. “The biggest adjustment I’ve seen in Tua’s game this year is his calmness. He’s playing like he’s free. He doesn’t have to worry about Ryan Fitzpatrick, or the coach not believing in him. And when you get Tyreek Hill in a trade and a receiver you had in college, Jaylen Waddle, it’s all in Tua’s hands now. A lot of people joke with me, saying that I’m a hard critic on Tua being that I live down here in South Florida, but he’s got that ‘it’ factor. On Sunday, he made a big step, as far as people believing in him, especially his teammates and the people down here.” — Samari Rolle

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2. “Down 21 points early in the fourth quarter, Miami pulled off one of the biggest, most-unexpected comebacks ever. Once the Dolphins started throwing every down and trusting their speed, the wide receiver combo of Jalen Waddle and Tyreek Hill was unstoppable. Tua Tagovailoa played a bad first half but came back with one of the most statistically impressive second halves we have ever seen. The untold story of the game will be the Ravens’ decision to change directions and replace their long-time defensive coordinators (Wink Martindale) with a college coach. The Giants’ defensive performance today only adds to that sentiment. On the most important play of the game with 21 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, the Ravens rushed only three and gave Tua all the time in the world, leading to Waddle’s second TD of the game. Did they make a huge mistake in letting Martindale walk?” — Joe Banner

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3. “It is not easy to defend two No. 1 wide receivers. Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill combined for 22 catches, 361 yards and 4 touchdowns in the game. Very few teams have the corner depth to cover two players like Waddle and Hill, and you can only scheme so much when trying to slow them down.  When they are targeted 32 times, as they were on Sunday, it is inevitable the talent gap will be exposed. Contributing to the Dolphins’ passing success was Tua Tagovailoa, who attempted 50 passes and was sacked only one time and was hit in the pocket just twice.” — T.J. McCreight

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4. “I think it’s safe to say that Lamar Jackson figured out the Dolphins’ defense after they seemed to create the blueprint on how to slow him down last year. With Lamar’s performance through the air and on the ground, he has shown once again that he’s got the invisible juice, and he’s one of the hardest players to game plan for in the NFL. The Aaron Judge contract plan is off and running.” — Tank Williams

Jets 31, Browns 30

5. “For several years in the NFL, I was on the headset during games identifying personnel groupings for our defense. Our head coach — when our opponent had no timeouts left, and we had the ball with the lead — would remind our running backs not to score but instead hit the turf if the first down was achieved, then take a knee and run out the clock. On Sunday, the Browns could have done just that but Nick Chubb took the ball into the end zone and scored. I understand that it was still a long shot for the Jets to score, get the onside kick and then score again, but it is possible, and it did happen. Chubb is a smart/unselfish player and if he was told not to score, I suspect he would have listened to his coach. I wonder if he was given that direction by Kevin Stefanski.  If he was not told to do so, it was a mistake by Stefanski, and it cost the Browns a victory.” — T.J. McCreight

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6. “You didn’t have to major in analytics to know the odds of the Jets winning after Nick Chubb put them up by 13 with 1:55 left were ridiculously low. Kickers miss extra points about 7 percent of the time, and Cade York made the 58-yarder last week to win the game. The Jets then hit a 66-yard pass to Corey Davis on a double move where Denzel Ward looks like he believes he has deep help and the rest of secondary is playing Cover 3. The only thing you can’t do when you’re up by two scores is give up a big play quickly. The offense is fighting both the scoreboard and the clock. Then, Cleveland isn’t able to handle an onside kick, which only has a success rate of 6 percent. Chubb should have gone down prior to scoring and after getting the first down, which would have ended the game, but the series of statistically improbable mistakes after that were soul-crushing. Kevin Stefanski is smart and there are a lot of really good coaches on his staff.  I am sure he is going to clean up the situational awareness and execution and most importantly the communication in the secondary.  The Jets did a much better job of helping their tackles in the second half with protection and benefited from Jadeveon Clowney going down with an injury in the third quarter. Robert Saleh can happily share a few of the receipts he has been taking after pulling out this game.” — Eric Mangini

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7. “Former Brown linebacker Brant Boyer is the special teams coach for the Jets. The Jets’ special teams were just that — special.  They converted a fake punt for a first down, they secured an onside kick, Greg Zuerlein hit a 57-yard field goal, Braxton Berrios had a critical 16-yard punt return that provided much-needed field position, punter Braden Mann put two inside the 20 and averaged 47.3 yards per punt and Cleveland kicker Cade York missed an extra point.” — T.J. McCreight

Lions 36, Commanders 27

8. “Inside scouting circles there has been and will continue to be a debate on who should have been the first pick in the 2022 draft. Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson are both very talented players and you can make a case for each of them going No. 1. Hutchinson took a big step on Sunday with a huge game against Washington. He is not easy to block as he finished with 6 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 TFLs. Keep an eye on their careers, but with that said, you still have to look beyond just the numbers.” — T.J. McCreight

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9. “The Lions’ performance was the opposite of last week when they had a huge lead and struggled to hold on. They still do not look like the quality team that many had predicted coming into the season. Detroit benefitted as much from Washington’s bad performance as their own good performance. The Commanders are who we thought they were. More importantly, Wentz is who we thought he is. Wentz and OC Scott Turner are a challenging combo. Early mistakes and questionable play calls contributed to the huge, insurmountable lead the Lions got out to.” — Joe Banner

Jaguars 24, Colts 0

10. “I have never been a big Matt Ryan fan. His decision-making has always been questionable and his accuracy inconsistent. Five years later, Indianapolis is still trying to recover from the unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck. The Colts could wind up being the team that turns out to be a disappointing surprise from preseason expectations. On the flip side, Jacksonville finally saw the version of Trevor Lawrence they expected. He was helped by good play-calling and a better performance from the offensive line than we’ve seen over the past few years. The biggest surprise was their defense pitching a shutout in the second game of the year.” — Joe Banner

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11. “The Colts look like they’re still wobbly from the knockout blow the Jags caught them with in Week 18 last year. There’s no other way to explain a tie to the Texans in Week 1, and then a straight-up beatdown to the Jags in Week 2. If you hadn’t noticed, Trevor Lawrence and Christian Kirk are quickly becoming the most lethal QB-WR combos in the AFC South. Kirk’s ability to break ankles in the slot and then torch defenses over the top are turning the Jags offense into must-see TV.” — Tank Williams

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12. “There’s no question the most disappointing team right now is the Indianapolis Colts. They just lost in Jacksonville for the eighth straight time. That’s their personal hell. Nothing is working right. An upgrade of Matt Ryan over Carson Wentz has not materialized yet. They are by far the most disappointing team through two weeks of the season. And, they get Kansas City next week.” — Trey Wingo

Giants 19, Panthers 16

13. “The Panthers used Christian McCaffrey better this week than they did Week 1, but his workload is still far from what he’s capable of doing, especially considering what his price tag would warrant. With predictable offensive line struggles, the Panthers better figure out how to build an offense around him before it’s too late. The Giants are an unexpected 2-0, mostly a result of their quality (and extremely aggressive) defensive play. New York may be the beneficiaries of the Ravens’ decision to switch out DCs. Still, from a talent perspective, they still have a long way to go.” — Joe Banner

Patriots 17, Steelers 14

14. “New England won the only way they can at this point: playing quality defense, shortening the game by running the ball and mixing in a few big plays. Even with a spectacular catch from Nelson Agholor on a long TD, they could still only muster 17 points. That said, a win is a win. They needed this one badly as they are set to face Baltimore and Green Bay in the next two weeks. The Steelers continue to call an extremely conservative offense and may not really have much of a choice, as Mitch Trubisky really struggles to prove he can be a winning starting QB. You can’t win playing small ball in today’s NFL, and his 7.2 yards per attempt continue to reflect the conservativeness of the play-calling. The Pittsburgh coaching staff has to call the game as if they believe in the former Bills backup or else the result will continue to be very few points scored.” — Joe Banner

Buccaneers 20, Saints 10 

15. “You never want to see guys taking cheap shots at each other but the chippy play in Saints-Bucs shows how important it is to win your divisional matchups against good football teams. Someone needs to box this up and ship it the next day to the Colts after getting bombed out and depleted by the Jaguars.” — Tank Williams

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16. “Jameis Winston could not have played worse. At one point he had thrown the ball 25 times and had fewer than 100 yards through the air. He also missed five open deep balls and consistently made the wrong decision on the receiver to target. Even without RB Alvin Kamara, Winston has a very good offensive line to work with and one of the best sets of receiving weapons in the league — yet he was still completely ineffective. I’m sure the back injury affected his play, but truthfully, he has a career filled with some really terrible performances, though not many have been this bad.” — Joe Banner

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17. “I don’t have a problem with Marshon Lattimore getting in Tom Brady’s face or getting chirpy with Leonard Fournette. Ultimately, Mike Evans came off the sideline and shoved that man to the ground on national TV. I’m not sure how anyone reacts to that situation any differently than Lattimore did, and he shouldn’t have been ejected. Evans is the homie, but from what I could see, him getting tossed was probably the right call.” — Golden Tate

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18. “The NFL needs to review the use-of-helmet rule in the off-season. The intent of the rule is good but too broadly written and almost impossible to officiate consistently. The 15-yard penalties are game-changers and officials are wrong more often than not when they throw the flag. It’s not fair to them or the players.” — Dean Blandino

Cowboys 20, Bengals 17

19. “We all said it, we all agreed: ‘The Cowboys were dead to rights. No Dak Prescott equals no wins and no playoffs.’ All of it was said. None of it was listened to by the Cowboys within that locker room, and that’s what matters most. Cooper Rush didn’t have a spectacular performance, but he stayed with it. The offense stayed with it. The defense was sound, and they fought. And if they have any chance to stay afloat (until Dak Prescott returns), it is playing the way they played on Sunday – frisky, scrappy and finding a way to win. This is why you put together a roster with multiple opportunities for people to step up and play, like wide receiver Noah Brown — someone who’s been there for a while and no one knows who he is, but he knows who he is, and he understands his moment is now. He made plays for the Cowboys when they needed it most. If the Cowboys are to right this ship and hold on and stay afloat, it is going to be with the collective 53-man roster that they have each week. Different guys are going to have to step up. The defense is going to have to play sound football – bend, don’t break – and allow the offense time to find their rhythm with Cooper Rush under center.” — Greg Jennings

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20. “The Cowboys just saw Cooper Rush and an amazing defense save their season. The Bengals? They’re finding out that being last season’s darling doesn’t mean squat in 2022.” — Trey Wingo

Cardinals 29, Raiders 23 (OT)

21. “The football world will spend the week asking the Raiders how they let a 20-0 halftime lead turn into a 29-23 OT defeat, and that’s a legitimate question our coaches panel will explore in more depth. To me, the story that takes a backseat but shouldn’t is just how huge that win was for Arizona. An off-season of seemingly constant turmoil, so much talk about their franchise QB’s study habits, the suspension of All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins, key early season injuries … and, a forgettable season-opening loss at home to Kansas City, not to mention coach Kliff Kingsbury’s comment about how his team needed to practice better. Is that enough?! Yet, this team rallied from the big deficit on the road in Las Vegas and took one of those ‘gotta have it’ wins home with them. Give the Cards a ton of credit. They appeared to be the only ones who thought they could win the game, and they banded together and got it done. Big kudos to them, and their season certainly appears much more optimistic now than it did when they kicked off in Vegas on Sunday.” — Charles Davis

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22. “Surprisingly, The Raiders are 0-2 after failing multiple times to close out the Cardinals. They need a lot more production from Davante Adams.” — Mike Tannenbaum

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23. “This game was another example of the many fantastic finishes in the NFL so far this season. Down, 20-0, at the half, and 16 points with 9 minutes left, Kyler Murray took over with his scrambling and play-making and kept Derek Carr and the Raiders offense off the field. After throwing for 210 yds in the first half, Carr only had 42 the rest of the game. It looked like the Raiders would win it in OT with a long field goal until the 59-yard scoop-and-score fumble return by Byron Murphy ended it in thrilling fashion.” — Dirk Koetter

Rams 31, Falcons 27

24. “The demise of the L.A. Rams was certainly exaggerated. Their pride and professionalism were on display Sunday, and they thoroughly beat a team they were expected to chalk up a ‘W’ against — and they did it with cool dispatch. No panic or lingering doubts to be found from their loss in Week 1, at home, to the Bills. They are the defending Super Bowl Champs for a reason.” — Charles Davis

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25. “After losing in Week 1 to Buffalo, the Rams were dominating the Falcons, winning 28-3, but then looked very average again. Jalen Ramsey bailed them out with a huge interception.” — Mike Tannenbaum

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26. “Atlanta did a good job of continuing to battle after trailing 28-3 in the third quarter. This game looked like a route by the Rams, but second-half turnovers, lack of a running game and a blocked punt made it go down to the wire. The interception at the goal line by Jalen Ramsey was a thing of beauty to seal the win.” — Dirk Koetter

 

49ers 27, Seahawks 7

27. “They ended up keeping him on their roster, reconstructing his contract, and this is why: Because you know you have an opportunity to make a run at a Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo, moving forward, we will see what it looks like. But for right now? I guarantee you everyone in that locker room is nodding their head in agreement because he gives them the best chance to win right now.” — Greg Jennings

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28. “It shows why they kept Jimmy G. I think Jimmy G is good enough for the situation. If you need him to make a play to win the game, then I don’t think he’s the guy. But if you need a guy that can win you some games on the road, win some close games, then he’s that guy.” — Samari Rolle

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29. “What’s nuts about Trey Lance is he didn’t even know his leg was hurt? He got up after the play like nothing was wrong and tried to walk and realized he couldn’t and went back down. Crazy.” — Mitchell Schwartz

Broncos 16, Texans 9

30. “The 13 penalties the Broncos committed at home aren’t sustainable. If they don’t fix that, they’ll struggle all year. Russell Wilson completing under 50 percent of his passes is alarming.” — Mike Tannenbaum

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31. “It’s rare in today’s NFL to see a game where both quarterbacks complete 50 percent or less of their pass attempts, but it happened Sunday in this game. This was a battle of field goals with Houston leading 9-6 going into the fourth quarter before Denver finally got into the end zone. Denver still needs to clean up their third-down conversions (25 percent) and red zone TD percentage (0 of 2) moving forward. It looks like the Texans’ defense will be able to keep them close this season if their offense can consistently score points.” — Dirk Koetter

Packers 27, Bears 10

32. “The Packers miss Davante Adams. That’s first and foremost. A lot of people are going to try and compare this team to last year when Aaron Rodgers goes into Jacksonville to play the Saints, and they got beat up, and then they got up and go on this unbelievable roll. But this team is not it. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have the firepower on the outside like Davante Adams, who can flip the field and make drives look easy. When you look at the Packers at times in this game, it seems so difficult for them to move the ball. And this is against the Chicago Bears … who aren’t that good.” — Tank Williams

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33. “Aaron Rodgers giving snide looks to the sidelines over play-calling. Things are great in Green Bay right now.” — Mitchell Schwartz

Watch More: Eddie George on Bills Weaknesses

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