Jason Bell's 5 Things to Watch in Week 2
Each week through the 2019 season, former NFL defensive back and current BBC analyst Jason Bell will highlight five things to look out for that weekend. Watch Jason twice a week on the BBC.
Here are some key things to look out for in Week 2.
There were 90 touchdowns scored in Week 1 - the most on opening weekend in the Super Bowl era - so let's watch these defenses who played. Defenses get better as the season progresses so let's see who starts making that move. The Patriots starting this well on defense was a shocker because we're always questioning that. You have to communicate on defense and when the chess pieces on the board start to move, you all have to be on the same page. At the beginning of the year, defenses kind of struggle with that; especially those who have a new coordinator. I want to see how these defenses adjust week to week and see which ones get better.
I like this matchup between these two quarterbacks. Obviously, Baltimore is the better team but what we're going to see is two teams who have committed to the new-age quarterbacks. These are two different skill-set guys but both organisations are committed to building around that quarterback. Baltimore have completely changed their organization to fit around Lamar Jackson. Who would have known John Harbaugh would do that? You have to give him credit because he is evolving and you can see that by the way Lamar played. Let's see these two guys and what they do but the storyline is... is this the way teams are going to build?
As you know, I'm an avid Minnesota Vikings fan because of my friends over there and they are going to be a fascinating team this year. Nobody liked to talk about it but they lost their offensive line coach, Tony Sparano. As a position coach, the offensive line coach is the most important because he coaches the most people. It changes the DNA of your team. Mike Zimmer wants to run the ball, he wants to be physical and he wants to control the game because he's a defensive coach. If you run the ball and control the game, his defense is resting. Dalvin Cook is there and Gary Kubiak is there because that is what Zimmer wants to do. And we saw that play out in Week 1 as Kirk Cousins attempted just 10 passes. Zimmer loved that because when your defense rests like that, you're more explosive than the offense you're playing against. On the other side of the ball, Green Bay's defense is better - they are better on the line and cornerback Jaire Alexander is going to be a star. Green Bay do well against the passing quarterbacks, but the Vikings ain't passing - they're going to run the ball and play great defense. We'll see if this formula plays out but I'm excited by it.
Given how the NFC Championship Game ended last year for the Saints against the Rams, this is one of those things where you never forget, but you move on. They are professionals with great leadership at head coach and quarterback. They have already preached that this team has to move on. That being said, you never forget when somebody punched you in the mouth. You remember who sucker-punched you. You might never get a chance to hit them, but you will look at them differently. Have the Saints forgotten about this and erased this? No chance. There is going to be a high level of emotion but the main thing about this game is though New Orleans has a great team and looked better than the Rams in Week 1, the Saints are not great on grass. That does become a factor, especially early in the year when all the elements can affect people. That and the travel will be factors, even though the Saints are a better team.
Historically, the Patriots have struggled to go to Miami and the weather is tough early in the year. New England is not known for its humidity and Bill Belichick will know that and prepare his team accordingly. They're going to start fast and strong. On the other hand, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is trying to build a team in his image. And if you've heard any of his interviews, he's not soft. He's a tough dude and he's not scared to be a leader who voices his opinion. Players who buy into him are going to really respect him and this is a game where he is going to say, 'Okay, we're rebuilding but I'm going to find some core guys. We got beaten up and guys are trying to turn. Let me see who responds in the game.' That's how he's going to build this team. Remember, he doesn't have to win this year, so the pressure is not on him. He is there to build a team and he needs to evaluate what he has. This is a results business for us, as fans, but when you're team building, there is a different objective. Flores is going to really get to evaluate the guys because he knows the team he's playing against. He's going to know the challenges those players face when taking on the Patriots and he's going to see what he's got.