Skip to main content

What we learned Week 2: NFC East or NFC Least?

The NFC East is considered the NFL's marquee division by the dint of storied histories and television ratings. Through two weeks, though, the four teams have comprised the NFC Least.

The Washington Redskins have been on the short end of two of the dominant first halves of the early season, falling behind 33-7 and 31-0. The New York Giants are 0-2 for the first time since 2007, with Eli Manning leading the league in interceptions. The Philadelphia Eagles just surrendered the San Diego Chargers' most yards in one game since 1985.

Coming off a loss of their own, the Dallas Cowboys appear to be the strongest team in a weak division.

Here's what else we learned during 14 entertaining Week 2 games Sunday:

  1. Falcons fans don't have running back Michael Turner to kick around anymore, but the ground "attack" is still an issue. The 36 rushing yards Sunday were the fewest in a win in franchise history. Outside of Steven Jackson's 50-yard run through a gaping hole in Week 1, Falcons running backs are averaging 1.86 yards per carry. Jackson never returned after leaving early with a thigh injury.
  1. Matt Ryan was sacked just twice while throwing for the second-most yards in his career, but he took a beating from the Rams' defensive front seven. Atlanta's offensive line remains a potentially season-long problem.
  1. Even with Sam Bradford padding his numbers in garbage time, Rams tight end Jared Cook was held to just 10 yards on one catch after toasting the Cardinals for 141 yards and two touchdowns last week. Cook drew six targets, including one where the turf monster prevented a potential gain of over 30 yards. The Falcons clearly placed an emphasis on taking Cook out of the game.
  1. The Redskins' defense in a nutshell: Three members of the Packers' aerial attack (Aaron Rodgers, James Jones and Randall Cobb) posted career highs in yards. The capitulating Redskins defense has surrendered an average of 342 passing yards and 201 rushing yards through two games.
  1. Had Packers running back Eddie Lacy not been concussed, he would have had a shot at 200 rushing yards. James Starks piled up a career-high 132 yards on 20 carries while adding 36 more receiving yards. Starks was hardly dynamic in Lacy's stead.
  1. Robert Griffin III has taken the baton from Carson Palmer as the NFL's garbage-time king. For the second consecutive game, Griffin couldn't move the Redskins' offense until the defense eased up with a big lead. He's not moving well in the pocket on his surgically repaired knee.
  1. Cleveland's pass protection officially is a bubbling crisis. The right side of the Browns' offensive line was crushed again and gave up five sacks to Baltimore. After 11 takedowns in eight quarters, sidelined Browns guard Shawn Lauvao can't get healthy fast enough.
  1. Joe Flacco and the Ravens were shut out in the first half, but Baltimore's passing game got a boost down the stretch from rookie receiver Marlon Brown, who caught his second touchdown pass in two weeks. For the Browns, one bright spot has been young tight end Jordan Cameron, who has 14 receptions for 203 yards and one touchdown in two starts.
  1. Both teams were hit by injuries. Ray Riceleft the game with what Ravens coach John Harbaugh called a hip flexor strain. Rice's setback won't require an MRI, but across the way, the Browns lost quarterback Brandon Weeden to a sprained right thumb. We wouldn't be surprised if he misses Week 3.
  1. The game will be remembered for Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel engineering an 80-yard, game-winning touchdown drive with 1:38 on the clock and no timeouts. The Bills are still running a more simplified version of the offense we're bound to see later in the year, but Manuel -- through two weeks -- has been a capable shepherd of the attack.
  1. There wouldn't have been a Buffalo comeback without the help of Mario Williams. The Bills pass rusher recorded a franchise-record 4.5 sacks as the defense -- minus Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd -- kept Panthers passer Cam Newton at bay.
  1. Speaking of Newton, Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula allowed his quarterback to test the field deep, but Ace Boogie still looks out of sync. He tossed an interception on the first series and overthrew pass-catchers on three consecutive deep balls.
  1. DeAndre Hopkins looks like the real deal. In the past, the Texans' passing game would have been in serious trouble after Andre Johnson was forced out of the lineup with a possible concussion. Not anymore, as Hopkins showed in overtime.

On NFL Network
NFL Replay
will re-air the Houston Texans' 30-24 win over the Tennessee Titans from Week 2 on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. ET.

  1. The Texans have themselves a kicker concern. Randy Bullock missed three field-goal attempts and now is 1 for 5 on the season. He hasn't missed a gimme yet, which might be the reason you won't see Houston working out kickers this week.
  1. The final score won't show it, but the Titans played well on defense. Call it the Gregg Williams effect, though defensive coordinator Jerry Gray deserves credit as well. The Titans should be a lot more competitive then they were for long stretches in 2012.
  1. Only health should keep Martellus Bennett from a Pro Bowl season. He's a fit in this Bears offense and has earned the trust of Jay Cutler.

On NFL Network
NFL Replay
will re-air the Chicago Bears' 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings from Week 2 on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

  1. Jay Cutler was sacked once, the only sack the Bears have surrendered through two games. Cutler did face more pressure than in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
  1. Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson has been a non-factor on offense to this point, but he summoned the playmaker memories of Percy Harvin with a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the game.
  1. Both young quarterbacks were very good in this game. But Ryan Tannehill was better. He made a number of difficult throws into tight windows and didn't have great protection.
  1. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland's offseason moves are off to a nice start. Cornerback Brent Grimes made the biggest play of the game with an interception in the end zone. Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler made a number of plays. And Mike Wallace was involved early and often with nine catches for 115 yards.
  1. The Colts weren't as run-heavy without injured running back Vick Ballard in the lineup. They threw the ball aggressively from the first quarter on but struggled to finish drives. Four drives that ended in Dolphins territory didn't end in points.
  1. The Broncos have blown out two good teams, and yet they can get so much better. Montee Ball has struggled running the ball, and he fumbled on the goal line Sunday. Demaryius Thomas was quiet, and Wes Welker had a bunch of drops. And they still scored 41 points.
  1. Eli Manning has thrown seven interceptions in two games. If David Wilson pulled off something like that, he'd be on the waiver wire. (Wilson, meanwhile, watched Brandon Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott for much of the game. The Giants' running game is a mess.)
  1. Jack Del Rio and John Fox have done a great job coaching up this Broncos defense without Champ Bailey and Von Miller. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase's job could get a lot tougher if left tackle Ryan Clady's injury is serious.
  1. Weird game. Alex Smith led the Chiefs in rushing and made the key play of the game with a 31-yard strike on a third-and-long. There wasn't much offense otherwise, but they didn't need it.
  1. Dez Bryant had the best first quarter we've ever seen, with one incredible catch topping the one before. He finished with 141 yards for the Cowboys but had a killer drop in the fourth quarter.
  1. This wasn't a good game for the tired Tony Romo "clutch narrative." He lost a fumble in the fourth quarter and made a number of other poor throws in the final frame, including an interception overturned by a sketchy penalty. That came after an excellent three quarters of play, including good protection. Like we said: Weird game.
  1. If you were questioning how Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson would like Chip Kelly's offense, you have the answer. Jackson feasted in the first two weeks, going over 100 yards in each game. Unlike most coaches, Kelly will run the bomb even if Jackson and Michael Vick don't connect the first, second or third time.
  1. The Eagles' defense is terrible. Cornerback Cary Williams led the way Sunday with three pass-interference penalties. Safety Nate Allen was so bad that he had beat writers exasperated.
  1. We were worried how Chargers QB Philip Rivers would perform this season with an iffy receiving corps. However, Chargers coach Mike McCoy's quick-pass offense has protected Rivers, who has spread the ball around and rejuvenated wide receiver Eddie Royal's career. Losing Malcom Floyd will hurt, but a healthy Antonio Gates helps mitigate the loss.
  1. The Bucs continue to kill themselves with yellow laundry, committing 10 penalties for 118 yards. Through two games -- both last-second losses -- the Bucs have been called for 23 penalties for 220 yards. Many losses will follow if this continues.
  1. The scrutinization of Josh Freeman will continue. The embattled Bucs quarterback threw an interception, lost a fumble and finished with 118 passing yards. In Freeman's defense, a 73-yard touchdown pass to Vince Jackson was wiped away by an illegal formation penalty.

  1. Drew Brees flies under the radar a bit in the "Best QB Alive" debate, but he provided a nice reminder of his ability in the game-winning drive. The Saints took over at their own 37 with 1:06 remaining and no timeouts. Completion for 15 yards. Completion for 8 yards. Completion for 31 yards. Spike. Field goal. Brees is an assassin.
  1. The Lions' offense went in the tank after Reggie Bush's knee injury, managing just 90 yards in the second half. Bush said after the game that he's "not too concerned" about the injury, but he still will undergo testing Monday.
  1. Bush and Larry Fitzgerald each essentially were playing on one leg before sitting out the majority of the second half. Don't be surprised if the Cardinals give Fitzgerald a week off to get his hamstring healthy.
  1. Cardinals running back Andre Ellington has taken over the passing-down specialist role in Arizona's backfield. He and fellow rookie Tyrann Mathieu played key roles in the victory.
  1. For the majority of the game, the Jaguars were without their star running back (Maurice Jones-Drew), 2012 receiving leader (Justin Blackmon) and Pro Bowl tight end (Marcedes Lewis). They didn't score their first touchdown of the season until garbage time. It's fitting that a player claimed off waivers (Clay Harbor) two weeks ago was the first Jaguar to find the end zone.
  1. The X-rays on Jones-Drew's "loose" ankle were negative, but he's still set for an MRI on Monday.
  1. Raiders running back Darren McFadden's 157-yard outburst is a bad sign for the Jaguars' defense. He hadn't shown a hint of lateral agility since the 2011 season.
  1. By the metrics of both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus, the 49ers boasted the NFL's best run-blocking offensive line last season. It's disturbing that Frank Gore has been held to a paltry 60 yards on 30 carries through two games. Is Father Time finally catching up to The Inconvenient Truth?
  1. Richard Sherman served up a handy reminder that Anquan Boldin isn't a true No. 1 wide receiver. He disappears too often against elite cornerbacks. This isn't a position of strength for the 49ers, a problem exacerbated by the ground-game woes.
  1. The Seahawks are unbeatable at home. They didn't lose a game at CenturyLink Field last year, and it's hard to imagine that streak ending this season. Even without wide receiver Percy Harvin, starting cornerback Brandon Browner and their top two pass rushers (Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin), they dominated one of the NFL's powerhouses.

The "Around The League Podcast" recapped every Week 2 game. Click here to listen and subscribe.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content