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QB Index: Nick Foles, Tony Romo off to slow starts

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Nick Foles' honeymoon in Philadelphia ended midway through the first quarter of the season opener. Foles lost two fumbles in his first two drives, and then left the field to a loud chorus of boos after taking a sack to end his third drive.

The box score can lie, and Foles' Week 1 effort is the perfect example. Foles wound up with 322 yards, two scores, and one pick on a day where the Eagles scored 34 points. But Foles never fully bounced back from the worst half of football we saw any quarterback play in Week 1.

Foles held on to the ball forever on snap after snap. His indecision and pump fakes made the Eagles offense look out of synch even though there were open receivers everywhere. He wasn't close on a number of throws, and just didn't see a ton of open options. Chip Kelly's ability to create defensive confusion and wide open spaces on the field ultimately saved Foles.

The Eagles comeback wasn't about Foles. He made a few nice throws in the second half, but still had an erratic 30 minutes after halftime. Philadelphia scored because of their running game, defense, and defensive blown coverages that any quarterback could have victimized. Perhaps that's the key takeaway: Kelly has provided a support system for Foles that every NFL quarterback can be jealous of. It can overcome a meltdown.

Foles had a similarly disastrous game against Dallas last season, and bounced back from it quickly. We'll be fascinated to see whether he does so this year. The Eagles don't face many top defenses early in the year, but they are dealing with a raft of losses on the offensive line. Four of their top seven players are unavailable for Week 2.

Our faith in Kelly is so complete that we assume he'll coach his way out of this dilemma. But Foles has dropped breadcrumbs of concern dating back to the preseason. Tracking his post-honeymoon season will be one of our early storylines to watch in the QB Index all season year.

Encouraging early returns


We ranked every starting quarterback last week, and will revisit those rankings after the first quarter of the season once we see how this year is evolving. For now, we'll look at some quarterbacks that put together encouraging opening salvos.

1. Colin Kaepernick: He's not Superman as Jim Harbaugh said, but his Week 1 performance was close to flawless. It was reminiscent of some of Kaepernick's best starts from 2012, minus a lot of the running. Kaepernick was accurate whether he was pressured or not. Michael Crabtree wasn't at 100 percent and it still didn't matter because Kaepernick can make sensational plays back-to-back like the ones below:

2. Matthew Stafford: He mixed in his usual sensational plays without the usual brain cramps. It was only one game, but coach Jim Caldwell's project to improve Stafford's decision making is off to a fantastic start.

3. Derek Anderson: Is Anderson one of the best backups in the league? We take the question very seriously, and were surprised how good Anderson looked in Tampa. While he made a few mistakes in the fourth quarter, Anderson completed a number of difficult throws all game. It gives us some optimism that the Panthers' offense will survive even if Cam Newton isn't running much during his return to the lineup this week.

4. Jake Locker: No one seemed to notice, but the Ken Whisenhunt-Jake Locker marriage is off to a flying start. Locker got the ball out of his hands quickly in Kansas City and picked on some matchup problems. He always mixes in a few inaccurate throws, but it looked like he had been in Whisenhunt's system for years.

Slow starts


1. Tony Romo: Nick Foles has a meltdown, and the Eagles win by 17 points. Romo has a meltdown, and the Cowboys have no chance. That's not to defend Romo's performance against San Francisco, which was one of the worst of his career. He looked like a rookie instead of a veteran that has worked under the same coach for eight years running. Perhaps new "passing game coordinator" Scott Linehan's system is difficult to pick up. But Romo took turns pre-determining throws or missing wide open receivers. He was slow to make decisions and inaccurate when he did throw. The entire operation looked random. Romo needs a bounce back game in Tennessee or things will get uncomfortable.

2. Aaron Rodgers: The Packers should give the Seahawks defense credit for their domination and move on. A second viewing of Packers-Seahawks showed a Packers offense that was out of rhythm because the Seahawks forced them to be. Rodgers did not push the ball deep and the team didn't look natural in the hurry up, but that was more about the Seahawks' defense dictating play. The Packers flew into a hornet's nest. The problem is that they might need to fly back there in January if they have Super Bowl aspirations.

3. Tom Brady: New England's offensive line struggled in the second half against Miami. The 15 hurries the Dolphins recorded were the most against Brady since Week 2 of 2009. Longtime Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired in the offseason after 30 years with the team. We believe the Patriots miss him more than guard Logan Mankins. Pressure often got to Brady very quickly.

It's worth noting: Brady was 2 for 18 on throws over 15 yards. Even when Brady had time to throw, he was off target. New England doesn't have a natural vertical receiver and it showed up. The Patriots are the best team at covering up weaknesses, so we expect a far cleaner game in Minnesota on Sunday.

4. Robert Griffin III: Griffin wasn't poor throwing the ball against Houston. He just barely made an impact. 29 of his 37 throws were under ten yards, with the vast majority of those throws within five yards of the line of scrimmage. He held the ball too long often and reacted poorly to blitzes, which is probably why the Redskins tried to keep things simple. The team's only touchdown drive came from the running game. It wasn't a terrible performance, but it's not a good sign when Jay Gruden's offense turns DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon into bores.

5. Josh McCown: Everything looked scattershot for Tampa. The Buccaneers' best plays were broken plays and McCown was not protected well. When he got some room to throw, plays like the one below happened:

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" covers the Falcons' impressive offense, RGIII's struggles and recaps all Sunday's Week 1 action.

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