2017 Looks to be the Year of the Rookies
It’s been a long offseason, but the NFL is back, which means I’ll be busy every Sunday from now until February. Every Tuesday I’ll post an article to recap what happened over the weekend, keeping you up to date with some of the biggest storylines from around the league.
After Week 1, one thing looks very clear: This years group of rookies looks to be the real deal. Starting on Thursday night, we saw Kareem Hunt (148 yards on 17 carries, 5 receptions for 98 yards, 3 total TDs) head into New England and almost single-handedly beat Tom Brady and the Patriots 42-27. Cleveland and Houston are hoping that DeShone Kizer and Deshaun Watson can turn into their franchise QBs. Leonard Fournette rushed for 100 yards and 1 TD in his debut, and Christian McCaffrey rushed for 47 yards on 13 carries.
And how about this for a story? Dalvin Cook rushed for 127 yards on Monday night, setting a Vikings franchise record. The previous record holder? Adrian Peterson, who was on the other side of that field playing against Cook that night. AP was the face of the Vikings since being drafted by them in 2007, but looked out of place in his debut with the Saints, rushing for only 18 yards on 6 carries.
Now that’s just on offense. On the other side of the ball there was T.J. Watt (2.0 sacks, 1 interception), good enough to be named Defensive Rookie of the Week. When your older brother is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, it might be tough living up to that standard. But if Sunday was any indication, T.J. looks like he’ll have no probably following in J.J.’s footsteps.
Thursday night might’ve been the biggest shock (to me, along with everyone else from New England), but there were a few other results that nobody would have seen coming.
Most people are expecting the Texans to be the winners in the AFC South this year, but their season got off to a rough start to the team that many people are expecting to be at the bottom of that very same division. Jacksonville came into Houston, with many people skeptical that Blake Bortles was even capable of throwing a football to anyone in the same jersey as him, and while he didn’t have an amazing game, (11/21, 125 yards, 1 TD), he managed to go a full game without throwing an interception. For Houston, Tom Savage had an atrocious start to this game, going 7/13 for 62 yards and 2 fumbles lost. Once switching to Watson behind centre, the Texans showed some signs of life, but still not enough to come back into this game. Watson has already been announced as the Texans starter for their Thursday night game against the Bengals (0-1), and should be the starter for the rest of the year if they want to win a game.
Another team from the AFC South had an especially rough week, as the Colts were humiliated by… the Rams? Don’t ask me how, but one of the worst teams last year started this season on a roll. Jared Goff looked like a respectable quarterback for the first time since being drafted 1st overall in the 2016 Draft, which is especially remarkable since most people were already calling him a bust, myself included. He went 21/29 with 306 yards and 1 TD, and after Week 1 is near the top of the QBR standings.
Despite this, Goff wasn’t even the highlight of this game for the Rams. Their defense managed to come up with not one, but two Pick 6’s, taking some of the pressure off the offense. The Rams looked good but in a tough NFC West division, it’s hard to see them as a real threat right now. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just can’t see them coming out of that division ahead of the Seahawks.
Week 1 has given us a preview of what’s to come this year, but the NFL season is long and a season can fall apart at any moment (just ask David Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals.