Greetings Lions! Frank the American Lion here, back for the NFL season. Week 1 of 16 is is in the books and the NFL is officially underway. The first set of games were thrilling as we saw multiple games decided by 1 point or less, many rookies and first time starters make their debuts, and grey-bearded veterans return to form. Here are three of the main Week 1 takeaways you need to know:
1: Broncos Quarterback Trevor Siemian can play
Many questions surrounded the defending Super Bowl Champion Broncos heading into the 2016 season, but perhaps none loomed larger than the question at the quarterback position. After future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, decided to hang up his cleats after winning his second Super Bowl, the Broncos were ready to hand over his job to backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. After all, Osweiler had stepped in for an injured Peyton Manning during the Bronco’s championship run for 7 games and was able to keep the ship afloat. However, the Broncos forgot one very important thing. Money talks. Osweiler’s contract had expired and he was due for a new deal at the end of the 2015 season. Knowing the scarcity at the quarterback position around the NFL, Brock decided to take his chances on the open market. That decision paid off. Literally. Osweiler signed a 4 year 72 million dollar contract with the Houston Texans and left the Broncos with a gigantic hole at quarterback. Looking for answers, the Broncos traded for veteran Eagles’ signal caller, Mark Sanchez, and drafted rookie, Paxton Lynch, out of Memphis in the first round of the 2016 draft. However, it was a player already on the roster that would end up winning the job.
Trevor Siemian was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 7th and final round of the 2015 NFL draft (250th overall) out of Northwestern. He sat behind Manning and Osweiler last season during the Broncos Super Bowl championship season. Siemian was not the most talented out of the three QB options for Denver this year, but one advantage he did have was that he knew the Bronco’s offensive system. Trevor was able to use his knowledge and comfort in Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s offense to out perform both Sanchez and Lynch in the preseason and win the Bronco starting quarterback job Week 1. Quite the Cinderella story. Until he looked across the field Week 1 and saw the stout Carolina Panther defense, right?
Wrong. Trevor Siemian did not turn in the best statistical performance last Thursday night in his first NFL start, but what he did do was show the Broncos and everyone watching that he can perform as a capable NFL starter against a top NFL defense in a big Prime Time pressure game. That was all the Broncos needed to see. Last year, the Broncos demonstrated that they can win a championship with mediocre quarterback play and a dominant defense. Last Thursday they received slightly above average quarterback play and were dominant defensively for most of the game. The result? A win. Siemian looked poised, tough-minded, showed he could bounce back from adversity, and threw some excellent passes. His quick release and tight arm slot give Trevor a natural advantage to succeed. Kubiak’s offense fits him perfectly and he looked mature beyond his years. This is great news for Denver, and bad news for the rest of the AFC West who were counting on the champs to take a step back. Trevor Siemian can play.
2. Jeff Fisher is the Worst and Safest Coach in the NFL
It is truly mind boggling to me that the Los Angeles Rams would even consider giving Head Coach Jeff Fisher a contract extension. He consistently turns in 7-9 and 8-8 seasons, always has a bad offense, steals a game from a good team here and there, and his teams look awful in handful of games every season. Yet, the Rams organization continues to stand behind him. In each of his first 4 seasons with the Rams Fisher failed to win more than 7 games. Now, to start off year 5, his brand new “Los Angeles” Rams got embarrassed on national television 28-0. I guess when you relocate an NFL franchise everything changes but the Fisher. Still the same. The Rams offense looked horrendous (despite having all world running back Todd Gurley), and their defense looked undisciplined. The only thing you can count on from a Jeff Fisher coached team is that something weird might happen on special teams. Yay! It may be a long season for the Rams. I am happy for the city of Saint Louis. Saint Louis is a great sports town, they don’t deserve consistent mediocrity. Have fun Los Angeles.
3. Arizona may be Overrated
Coming into the 2016 season, the Arizona Cardinals were considered Super Bowl Contenders and rightfully so. They are loaded on defense, stacked with playmakers on offense, and have a great head coach. However, last Sunday night they showed that they may not be up to the challenge. Facing a New England Patriot team missing their top two offensive weapons (Brady and Gronkowski), three starting offensive linemen, and one major player on defense (Rob Ninkovich), the Arizona Cardinals managed to lose in Prime Time at home. Yes, Bill Belichick is one of the greatest NFL coaches of all time and is probably the best coach right now, but if you consider yourself a championship team, you have to beat teams missing their key players and starting a quarterback who was making his first career NFL start (Jimmy Garropollo). The Cardinals’ offense simply did not do enough, and their defense allowed an undermanned Patriot offense to go up and down the field on them in-front of their own fans. It is gut check time for the Cardinals. Are they real or fake? We’ll see what type of team shows up down the line when they face quality opponents. However, if last Sunday was any indication, this may be a huge let down year for the Cards.
Featured image by Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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