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Sports

NFL Week 2 Review: Aging Quarterbacks and the Arizona Cardinals Soar

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NFL Week 2 Review: Aging Quarterbacks and the Arizona Cardinals Soar

2020-09-23 11:02:31

 

-by Bo Marchionte, Contributing Writer; Image: New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was lost for the season last week. (Image Source: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)​

Injuries took center stage in Week 2 in the NFL with several high-profile stars sidelined for the season. San Francisco's Nick Bosa and New York's Saquon Barkley are two of the biggest names to suffer ACL tears.

Unpredictability played out in several stadiums with the Los Angeles Chargers going toe-to-toe with the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs surviving Los Angeles valent effort. Minnesota fell to 0-2 with a dismal performance against the Indianapolis Colts, which puts the Packers in the NFC North driver’s seat after only two weeks.

Drew Brees

Peyton Manning saw a Grand Canyon drop off in performance throughout his last two seasons in the league. In 2014, at 38-years of age Manning had a completion rating of 66.2 (6th overall) and a passer rating of 101.5 (4th overall).

The following season Manning’s skillset dramatically took a turn for the worse completing only 59.8 percent of his passes (28th overall) and his 67.9 passer rating ranked 34th ahead of only Ryan Mallett.

Over the last five years Brees has had a completion percentage of 70.5 and this year after two weeks of action the 41-year old Super Bowl champion is completing 64.2 percent of his passes, not as staggering as Manning’s production, but without question, one could argue – age may have finally caught up with this quarterback legend.

While most quarterbacks would take pride in Brees’s current 93.5 passer rating in 2020, it is 22.5 points below his 116 average the last two seasons. If you think that 22.5% is not a big chunk, take your pay stub and deduct 22.5% off your weekly wages.

Passes against the Raiders on Monday night were not typical of the player we have seen over the years and after 20 years in the league it is only a fair assessment to say – The end is drawing near – quickly.

Another legend (Tom Brady) in Tampa Bay has seen his passer rating drop from 102.8 (2017) to 97.7 (2018) to 88.0 (2019) and 79.3 (2020). Just stating the obvious, this is not rocket science.

NFC Stat of the Week

Kirk Cousins passer rating was 15.9.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have finished last in the NFC West the past two seasons but now reside at 2-0 (tied for 1st). Rightfully so we must point the finger of success to second-year quarterback Kyler Murray but there is also another key factor in their turn around success from a year ago.

Their defense has been incredibly impressive the first two weeks leading the entire NFC with the fewest points allowed (35), second in the NFL only to the  Baltimore Ravens (22). The combination of Murray and DeAndre Hopkins with a defense playing this well, means the Cardinals are early favorites as the surprise team of the year.

Stat of the Early Season

Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky has more wins (2) than Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, and Matt Ryan combined – zero.

Cam Newton

This appears to be a weekly topic that we will be revisited until the inevitable happens to this former league MVP – an injury.

Seeing Newton back and playing well is wonderful, without question the league and Patriots are better for it. The issue is with the way New England is using him as their primary runner rather than trying to preserve his talents for the duration of the entire season.

The Patriots are playing a dangerous game with Newton.

Speaking to Tom Schad of the USA Today back in July after signing with the Patriots Newton was quoted saying he was “pushed out” of Carolina because he wasn’t healthy. His health was one of the biggest talking points around the league this offseason and now he is back looking fantastic.

Fear the Patriots are being foolish with Newton, who plays with a different mindset due to his imposing linebacker frame (6-foot-5/245lb). The Patriots must protect Cam from Cam. He may be built like a linebacker but at the end of the day, he is a quarterback, and quarterbacks as big as Derrick Henry should not be used like Derrick Henry.

AFC Stat of the Week

Jets rank last in points scored (30).

Follow Up

Last week Jets CEO Christopher Johnson went as far as to say head coach Adam Gase as a “brilliant offensive mind.”

Maybe as an offensive coordinator before his NFL head coaching career, one could make that statement without sounding like they live on planet delusional. Since 2016, Gase has been the head coach in three games where his offensive units have failed to score a single point.

Brilliant!

Week 3 – Game of the Week

It is easy to point to Monday night with the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Ravens in Baltimore. That is the most anticipated game of the regular season let alone Week 3.

The most likely scenario is each team is going to win double-digit games and be in the mix for the top seed in the AFC. This game will not determine the overall success of either franchise due to the immense talent above other teams.

The game that intrigues me the most and there are a few, like the Bears playing the winless Falcons or the Saints trying to avoid a 1-2 start with the undefeated Packers visiting New Orleans on Sunday night, it is the San Francisco 49ers heading back to MetLife for the second-straight week.

Bizarrely, San Francisco must play back-to-back games in the Meadowlands where the field, not the New York Jets were their biggest obstacle. Facing the 0-2 Giants this weekend on the same field could have the anxiety ramped up for the 49ers this weekend.

Saquon Barkley, Steelers offensive lineman Zach Banner succumb to the same fate as Niners Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas with torn ACL’s suffered last week. Suffered on the MetLife field.

The 49ers are the defending NFC Champs and to remain in the race for the playoffs these are the must-win games for a superior team fighting injuries, in what is shaping up as the league's toughest division.

 

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