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The Schein Nine

NFL Week 2 takeaways: Pats persevere, Rams rebound and more

Sports. You gotta love sports. The ultimate reality TV.

After months of intense and loud chatter, the NFL is giving us an incredible show early in the season. There were many moments in Week 2 that had me shaking my head, many developments -- positive and negative -- that simply left me in a state of disbelief.

So let's get into it with some confessions, can't-make-it-up observations and sizzling opinions, Schein Nine style:

1) Jacoby Brissett is playing, Jared Goff is not

I felt so terrible for my guy Jimmy Garoppolo. He was playing quite well -- yet again -- admirably filling in for the suspended Tom Brady with touchdown passes in each of the Pats' first three drives vs. Miami. And then, with just under five minutes remaining in the second quarter, Jimmy G rolled out of the pocket to create more time on a third-and-9 play. With Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso bearing down on the young QB, Garoppolo calmly located (and delivered a strike to) rookie wideout Malcolm Mitchell to move the sticks. Unfortunately, Garoppolo paid for his courage under fire: Alonso drove the quarterback into the turf just after he released the ball. The hard landing took its toll on Garoppolo's throwing shoulder -- he immediately left the game and didn't return. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported after the game that it's a sprained AC joint. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said Monday morning that the QB will not start Thursday vs. Houston, but there's optimism that he could return in Week 4.

So ... It's Jacoby Brissett time. Really.

I liked when New England scooped up Brissett in April with a third-round selection. The N.C. State product is a good-looking developmental quarterback -- and if the Patriots were to, say, flip Garoppolo for a high pick in the offseason, Brissett could project to be Brady's backup in 2017. You thought that was the ceiling over the next two years.

But now, quite suddenly, Brissett is in line to start a spotlight game on a short week. That's a tough task. Brissett looked solid replacing Garoppolo on Sunday (6 of 9 for 92 yards), but he will have to be better versus J.J. Watt and the Texans' defense. A healthy Rob Gronkowski would be nice, too -- but the All-Pro tight end has yet to play due to a lingering hamstring injury. One thing that weighs heavily in the rookie QB's favor: Bill Belichick is the single best coach in NFL history. That's why the Pats are 2-0 despite playing without quite possibly the best quarterback and best tight end in NFL history.

But if you had told me right after the draft that Brissett would play meaningful snaps before No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff got off the bench, I would've laughed at your craziness. Yes, Goff still rode the pine for the Rams on Sunday -- but he did make it to the active roster!

Speaking of the Rams ...

2) Rams rebound from Week 1 debacle to beat Seattle! L.A.! We love it!

Football is back in L.A. As a longtime proponent of just that, I'm thrilled. It's great news. And after a humiliating road loss at San Francisco in Week 1, the Rams returned to Los Angeles and flipped this movie's script on Sunday.

I still have plenty of skepticism about this team's QB situation and its head coach, but today, you gotta give credit where credit is due. The Rams' defense stepped up in the home (re)opener and crunched a talented Seattle team, winning a 9-3 field-goal-fest. And what an awesome scene it was. So happy for L.A. football fans.

Not only was I stunned by the win, but the Rams managed to prevail without scoring a touchdown! That's crazy.

Honestly, I'm surprised Fisher is still coaching these Rams, given his run of consistent mediocrity. In his fifth season with this team, Fisher has yet to hit the .500 mark. Now he's 1-1! That might earn him a lifetime contract.

3) Sam Bradford outplays Aaron Rodgers to open Vikes' stadium in style

Everything about that sentence is nutty. But Mark Twain had it right: Truth is stranger than fiction.

I usually make jokes about Bradford being the NFL's Bigfoot. (I've heard rumors that he's a franchise quarterback, but have yet to see legit evidence to back that up.) Well, no chuckles today. After Teddy Bridgewater's season-ending injury, Bradford became a Viking in a "wow" trade a little over two weeks ago and absorbed Norv Turner's offense like a sponge. Bradford looked incredibly comfortable in Minnesota's prime-time win over the Packers on Sunday night, showing off his accuracy and arm while completing 22 of his 31 passes for 286 yards with two touchdowns and zero picks. His connection with second-year stud Stefon Diggs (nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown) was fantastic. And the usually brittle Bradford showed tremendous toughness by playing through a swelled-up hand (courtesy of a hit by Clay Matthews) that briefly sent him back to the locker room.

I watched the whole game. Still don't believe what I saw. It was quite impressive.

Now, though, Bradford, Diggs and the rest of the offense really will be tested, as all-world back Adrian Peterson suffered a torn meniscus on Sunday. His recovery timetable is unclear, but you'd have to think he'll be sidelined for a bit. And Minnesota's schedule doesn't let up, with these three games on tap: at Panthers, vs. Giants, vs. Texans. I'll be very interested to see where this team stands when it reaches its bye in Week 6.

4) Giants 2-0, Redskins 0-2!

Kirk Cousins doesn't like that. At all.

I raved about Cousins' leadership and accuracy last year, when he guided the Redskins to the NFC East title. Expected the former fourth-round pick to continue blossoming this season, after a full offseason as The Guy. Frankly, Cousins has looked like an unsure Day 3 selection. It's early, but it hasn't been pretty for the man making just under $20 million this season. Washington has lost two home games. And now there are reports of locker-room unrest.

Meanwhile, life is good for the Redskins' division rival in New York. I am very impressed with how the Giants are winning. They've been in two very tight games and played well when it mattered the most, earning both victories. These are the types of game the Giants lost last year. Big Blue's defense has made progress. And on the game-winning field goal drive, Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for an absolutely gorgeous completion. Major progress.

It ain't 2015 anymore -- and it's quite clear with both of these teams, whether they like it (Giants) or not (Redskins).

5) Bills give up 37 points ... and fire the offensive coordinator

Obviously. It's Rex Ryan. It's a comedy show.

Greg Roman's offense had its way with a stout Jets D. But the Bills lost a shootout, and Roman lost his job.

Yes, this is a head coach on the hot seat making a panic move at 0-2. And yes, we're in for another campaign of futility, chaos and confusion for a Rex-coached squad. Though I do think this will be the last such season for Rex in Buffalo.

6) Chargers destroy Jaguars

I essentially declared the Chargers' season over after they coughed up a 21-point lead in Kansas City and, in the same game, lost stud receiver Keenan Allen for the year with a torn ACL. I praised the young Jaguars for hanging with the Packers in Week 1 -- if Green Bay wasn't quarterbacked by a legend, Jacksonville would have won. This came after I raved about the Jags' offseason, and while I didn't pick them to make the playoffs, I thought they were primed to make a statement by winning a game with no excuses in San Diego.


And it was ugly.

San Diego wiped the floor with Jacksonville, leading the game 35-0 through three quarters before ultimately prevailing 38-14. The Jaguars were a total mess in every phase. These are the kind of games you have to show up for if you're to be taken seriously in this league.

At some point, Gus Bradley has to win games, right?

7) Falcons humble Raiders

Yes, that's the correct verb here: humble. Matt Ryan absolutely picked apart the Raiders' porous defense in the 35-28 win at Oakland.

Raider Nation was rightly whipped into a frenzy when Jack Del Rio went for two in Week 1, with Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree cashing in on the gutsy decision. But that had to carry over to the home opener. And by "that," I don't mean Oakland's weak pass defense -- which picked up right where it left off in Week 1, with another dispiriting showing. One week after getting roasted through the air by Drew Brees, Oakland struggled mightily with another NFC South QB. Matty Ice was back to form, throwing for 396 yards and three touchdowns.

The Raiders were the most talented team on the field. If you are going to make the playoffs and earn a division crown in the process (my preseason expectations for this team), these are the kind of games you have to win.

8) Trevor Siemian is undefeated

Yes, Denver's defense carried the day vs. Indianapolis, and Von Miller fittingly sealed the deal by blasting through the Colts' offensive line in a one-score game late in the fourth quarter and forcing a fumble that Shane Ray returned for a touchdown. Miller sacked Luck three times, harassing him throughout the game. He is worth every penny.

But as someone who laughed at the Broncos' quarterback situation often this offseason and was 100 percent convinced that John Elway made a faux pas by not bringing back Brock Osweiler, I have to give credit to Siemian. He hasn't been excellent, but the former seventh-round pick out of Northwestern has made many fine throws and displayed a short memory after rare mistakes.

We're just a fortnight into this season, but I'm surprised Siemian has looked this solid. Touché.

9) Andre Johnson's back from the dead!

DeMarco Murray pounding Detroit's defense? He was my pick for Comeback Player of the Year. Still no surprises here.

Marcus Mariota engineering a fourth-quarter comeback on the road? Sure. I love Mariota.

I thought the future Hall of Famer was done after the Colts said goodbye in March. And now he's winning games as a member of the Titans, a division rival of the Texans (the team he once starred for)?

I've seen it all.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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