The NFL season barreled ahead on Sunday, with dominant performances, wild finishes, playoff-hopeful teams still struggling to get things going and coaches on the hot seat. Let’s check out my Week 2 stock up and down report.
Kansas City Chiefs defense
The Chiefs defense is playing some great football, and if they can play even close to this level in the playoffs they will roll into the Super Bowl. It’s clear this young core has improved with more reps, and playing at least five rookies last season has paid off early this year. The Chiefs defense allowed just 14 points to the Lions in Week 1 and against the Jaguars on Sunday it was only nine points. The Jaguars had 12 offensive drives and only two of them ended in points, including one drive that started on a short field after a Chiefs’ turnover. The Chiefs run defense only allowed 3.3 yards to Travis Etienne and sacked quarterback Trevor Lawrence four times. Chris Jones was fantastic rushing the passer after rejoining the squad this week following his contract holdout. The Chiefs have needed this defensive effort to offset the offensive issues they’ve experienced over the first two games. The offense will eventually figure it out, and if the defense can continue to play this well they are set.
The NFC East is 7-1 after two weekends, proving once against they might be the best division in the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles won on Thursday night to start the season 2-0. The bar for Eagles’ success on offense is high, and even though they’ve won both their games, the offense — especially when passing — doesn’t feel quite right yet. The Eagles are adjusting to a new offensive coordinator and it could take some time to get comfortable. Also, Jalen Hurts got hit way too much on Thursday night and that has to change. A quarterback does not survive the season getting hit that often. Once again the Eagles’ pass rush looks disruptive and will give every pass-blocking unit a tough test.
The Dallas Cowboys are 2-0 after thrashing the Aaron Rodgers-less New York Jets. Good teams take care of business against poor teams, and while the Jets are elite on defense, they have Zach Wilson at quarterback. Wilson gave the Cowboys the ball three times while the Cowboys defensive line controlled the game. The Cowboys offense was good against the stout Jets defense. We saw the Cowboys have these moments last season of great success, and maybe I speak for lots of us, but I just want to see them play games against playoff teams before I make my judgement of this squad. Nonetheless, their start is impressive.
The Washington Commanders are 2-0, which I did not expect. Their schedule did lay it out, with playing a depleted Cardinals team and a Broncos team led by Russell Wilson. You can only play the teams on your schedule and the Commanders are crushing it. Second-year quarterback Sam Howell is still up and down, and I’m not sure you can trust him quite yet. But the Commanders play hard, play physical on defense and if they get this continued play from Howell they will be a tough out.
At halftime of the Giants-Cardinals game, the G-Men had been outscored 60-0 through six quarters of football. That all changed after halftime with the Giants scoring 31 points and looking like the offense from last season. Daniel Jones was hitting receivers in stride and using his legs to extend plays. The offense looked more like it should. Defensively they just played better. Tackling improved. Rushing the passer got better. These things will be important as they play the 49ers on Thursday, followed by the Seahawks, Dolphins and Bills.
The Bengals are 0-2 after a 27-24 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the same record as the Bengals started in 2022. However, these two losses feel different because quarterback Joe Burrow is not right at the moment. Burrow missed a bulk of training camp because of a calf injury, which he appeared to reinjure again on Sunday. Burrow is far less mobile in the pocket and that zaps his best attribute as a quarterback. Burrow’s calf has hampered his ability to use his legs to help guide passes and he’s been far less accurate because of all of this. The Bengals’ offensive line hasn’t been able get the running game going, so they are just not operating at their highest level.
The Bengals defense was gashed Sunday, which is surprising with how they can play, plus the Ravens up-and-down offensive play in Week 1. It’s only Week 2 of the Ravens new Todd Monkin-led offense and the Bengals offered little resistance. The Ravens offense had 26 first downs and they were 9 of 14 on third down. The Ravens rushed for 4.8 yards per attempt, including 6.5 yards per carry from Gus Edwards. The Bengals do get a slight break in the schedule with the Rams, Titans and Cardinals in their next three weeks, but unless Joe Burrow’s calf is healed there’s cause for concern with this team.
Brandon Staley’s job
I never root for anyone to lose their job but it’s nearing the point where the Los Angeles Chargers need to find better leadership because this team continues to fail at the most important part of Staley’s job … winning. Staley was brought back for this season despite his Chargers blew a 27-point second–half lead in a wild-card loss to the Jaguars to end last season. The Chargers are now 0-2 to start the 2023 season. Staley is a defensive coach whose defense is just not any good. The Chargers allowed 36 points and a billion passing yards to the Dolphins in the opener and then against a poor Titans offense they surrendered 27 points. The Titans controlled the line of scrimmage, which continues to be an issue for the Chargers on both sides of the ball. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 300 yards with no turnovers and multiple touchdowns, and it’s just not ever enough. It always feels like they can squeeze a tad more out of the offense in each loss.
Let’s ride … to 0-2 this season for the Broncos. The Broncos were up 21-3 early against the Commanders and it appeared Russell Wilson was back to his old self. He launched multiple of his trademark high–arcing deep passes that landed beautifully into the waiting arms of his receivers. Then it just stopped. The Broncos scored just three points from the nine-minute mark of the second quarter until the final play of the game, where they connected on a Hail Mary to score a touchdown before failing to convert the game-tying two-point conversion. Wilson looked old. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket. He looked slow. These are not new issues for Wilson, but it’s striking when it happens after playing well early in the game. The Broncos defense deserves blame as well, allowing the Sam Howell-led Commanders to do whatever they liked in the second half of this game. The Broncos are just not a good football team.
Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.
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