The early weeks of an NFL season are for sweeping, dogmatic conclusions that change overnight. Case in point ...
Coming into Week 2, there was little expectation that the Dallas Cowboys, even on the road, would be easily dispatched by the Denver Broncos. Sure, the Broncos defense is exceptional, but the 'Boys are strong on both sides of the ball.
So much for all that. The 25-point defeat to Denver on Sunday was the largest Dallas has seen since Dak Prescott assumed the reins of the offense. There's no denying Dak missed a few throws, but it was hardly a disastrous outing, especially when one considers Ezekiel Elliott had only eight yards on the ground. Prescott threw two interceptions, but one was the result of a ball that Dez Bryant let get away from him, and the other -- a pick-six returned by Aqib Talib -- was a desperation play made after the result was well in hand.
But all it took was one subpar showing for the doubters to come out. The surprising thing is that those doubts were stoked by head coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett put the blame squarely on Dak Prescott's inability to make plays in the passing game- Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) September 18, 2017
Absent an unlikely invitation for Tony Romo to leave behind a broadcasting career that is already making him the toast of NFL media, Dak's job is plenty secure. Perhaps Garrett's rebuke was made with the knowledge that Prescott is mature enough to accept the criticism and build on it. The Cowboys won't face many defenses as good as Denver's. It's almost certain, however, that they'll face more situations when Prescott will need to make plays to come from behind and win. An early season stumble does not a QB controversy make, even if it's odd that Garrett would invite even a hint of discord into a franchise always known for theatrics.
Same old Cowboys.
Jerry Jones: fed up plutocrat
Speaking of the Cowboys creating drama, ESPN reported early on Sunday that Jones is the force standing in the way of a contract extension for Roger Goodell. Jones isn't the only team owner frustrated with Goodell's often arbitrary disciplinary tactics, but he might be the only one willing to do something about it. Keep in mind that Goodell is still under contract through the 2019 season, so there are a few years for things to smooth over. Maybe Goodell can take a ride on the Cowboys party bus.
The Jags and Rams are who we thought they were
Following startling Week 1 victories, the Jaguars and Rams came into Week 2 looking to solidify their cases as sleeper teams. Well, that may be put to bed, for now. After Jacksonville posted 10 sacks on Houston in the owner, it didn't register a single sack on Marcus Mariota at home on Sunday in a 37-16 defeat. The Rams played Washington close on Sunday in L.A., but the encouraging play put forth by Jared Goff in Week 1 was absent against the 'Skins (224 yards, one TD and one interception in a 27-20 loss).
Joe Thomas is the Iron Tackle
1️⃣0️⃣,0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ pic.twitter.com/u85Tdnw014- Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 17, 2017
In one of those sports milestones that few fans are aware of until it becomes a reality, Browns tackle Joe Thomas surpassed his 10,000th consecutive offensive snap on Sunday against the Ravens. He hasn't missed a single one in his career, a testament to durability, professionalism and willpower, since no one would blame him for taking a play off here and there while toiling for Cleveland. Fellow offensive linemen, privy to the sort of punishment Thomas endures, gave the ol' tip of the cap to the veteran.
Fins linebacker goes AWOL
As of late Sunday evening, there was still no explanation from head coach Adam Gase as to why linebacker Lawrence Timmons was not with the team on Sunday. According to a report, something angered Timmons and he took off, though team officials did know of his whereabouts.
Miami ended up nearly losing on Sunday to the Chargers, thanks in part to Gase quizzically taking a timeout in the final seconds as L.A. lined up for a game-winning field goal. Luckily for Gase and the Dolphins, no matter where they are based, the Chargers are preternaturally bad at winning close games. Or they're very talented at giving them away. Further inquiry is needed.
For the second week in a row, the Bolts found themselves a last-second kick away from victory only for it to either be blocked or just plain missed, which is a familiar tale: The Chargers have lost 19 of their past 24 games decided by one score or less. For what it's worth, former Charger Nick Novak (who was cut by the Houston Texans earlier this month) has that rarest bit of trash talk -- kicker shade -- to impart to rookie Younghoe Koo.
A Jet objects to Marshawn dance time
You don't even need football in Oakland. Just host a Marshawn lynch dance party at the stadium. pic.twitter.com/jtwhZpv3HE- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) September 17, 2017
Early in the fourth quarter of the Raiders' rolling of the Jets, Beast Mode broke out in dance along the sideline. There was plenty reason for Lynch to feel jubiliant: his team enjoyed a 22-point lead in his first game played in front of his hometown fans. The dance was broadcast on the large video boards in the Oakland Coliseum, prompting fans to join in. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it. That is, everyone except Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who said it irked his "ever-living nerves" and that he vows not to let it happen again next week. That seems like a more realistic goal for the Jets than winning this season. Lose if you must, but no dancing by the opposition allowed.
Group celebrations are paying off already
Back in the offseason, when the NFL announced it was relaxing its group celebration rules, it was fair to wonder how sincere the league was, and what those celebrations would look like. Perhaps players needed a week to make sure the league wasn't playing them for fools, because some really quality ones emerged in Week 2.
Amazing pic.twitter.com/J2MS8639Ar- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) September 18, 2017
the World Series of Dice comes to Pittsburgh pic.twitter.com/tCGjYOMmoZ- Mike Tunison (@xmasape) September 17, 2017
Fans of the Week
Undoubtedly, there is a sizeable contingent of the Jaguars fan base that is disheartened once again at the prospect of a franchise turnaround being a one-week tease. Then there are those who just want to be part of the pageantry, the spectacle that is Jacksonville's tailgates. No matter what the scoreboard says, the gang down in Duval should hold their heads high knowing one of their own displayed remarkable form while belly flopping into a kiddie pool full of mayonnaise.
MAYONNAISE BELLY FLOP CONTEST AT THE JAGS TAILGATE pic.twitter.com/ACb57Nrbuq- med (@god_hates_jags) September 17, 2017
5 players who did good and should feel good
The Broncos missing the playoffs as defending champs last season made it pretty easy to overlook them in 2017, especially when their anointed future franchise quarterback was beaten out in training camp. The defense is still righteous, however. When it's playing this well, it's quite possible it can guide the team to another Super Bowl, as it did in 2015. It's hardly surprising that Miller was the standout with 12 pressures against the Cowboys in a 42-17 victory.
Crabtree tends to get forgotten in an offense led by Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and now Marshawn Lynch. He's had a solid start to 2017, however, hauling in all but one pass thrown his way so far this season. On Sunday, he had three touchdowns in the rout of the Jets, and led the team with 80 yards receiving as well.
The less said about that Colts-Cardinals game that went to OT, the better (Arizona won, 16-13, if you must know). Jacoby Brissett is clearly the Colts' best option at quarterback until Andrew Luck returns. He made the critical mistake in overtime, getting intercepted by the Honey Badger. That set up a game-winning field goal to keep Arizona from starting the season 0-2. The Cards haven't looked particularly impressive, but they're still tied for the NFC West lead after two games.
It wasn't quite a star-making turn for the Broncos second-year starter, but it's a clear stride toward respectability. Denver's defense is among the best in the league. So long as the team gets decent production from the offense, it's going to be a threat in the AFC. Siemian had four touchdowns in a big win over Dallas. He struggled some under pressure and is not going to win a ton of games where he has to match the opponent score for score. For now, the Broncos are just happy to have their quarterback situation set for the foreseeable future.
The Steelers receiver displayed the big-play capability that Pittsburgh missed all of last season. After Antonio Brown seemed to be the only functioning member of the Steelers' highly touted offense in Week 1, they looked more in sync against the Vikings. Bryant had three catches for 91 yards and a score.
Players who did bad and should feel bad
The Niners' worthy team effort might have yielded a shocking upset in Seattle if they got any help from their quarterback. Hoyer couldn't even eclipse 100 yards passing on the day. While his receivers had trouble getting open, it's not as though the quarterback was overwhelmed by pressure. The fact that he only attempted three passes for more than 10 yards was likely by design, especially since Carlos Hyde was powerful and elusive in rushing for more than 100 yards. Still, the Niners haven't scored a touchdown in two games and that blame lies at Hoyer's feet.
Non-Marshon Lattimore members of the Saints secondary
While Tom Brady and the Patriots are capable of making even sound defenses look foolish, Sunday's 36-20 loss to New England is the norm for the Saints, who have allowed 777 yards through the air in two games. New Orleans is starting 0-2 for the fourth straight year, and eventually the lack of answers on defense, and the 7-9 finishes, have to catch up with Sean Payton.
It was a general no-show from what is still supposed to be a talented Jets defensive line in the team's 45-20 loss to the Raiders. The rookie safeties, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, continue to impress, while much of the rest of the starters just look lost.
Losing your top two receivers by the second week of the season isn't going to help matters for a first-year starter. Of course, the nature of the NFL dictates having to make do on occasion. Though Glennon racked up more than 300 yards passing against Tampa, he also turned the ball over three times, and didn't lead a scoring drive until the fourth quarter, when Chicago was already down 29-0. They went on to lose to the Bucs, 29-7.
There may not be a tougher assignment for a tackle than going against Miller. The usually formidable Cowboys line had its biggest leak on the right side, where Miller generated 11 pressures, a hit and a sack consistently blowing past Collins. Dallas never getting the running game going makes it easier to tee off on the QB, but Collins could have offered something in the way of resistance.
Profile in courage: This blindsided cheerleader
It was only this year that the NFL announced it's making game officials full-time employees. The same status should be granted to cheerleading squads, especially if members are going to be upended by sprinting camera operators. NFL cheerleaders have won important legal challenges regarding pay in the last few years, and hopefully there are more to come. In the meantime, hopefully this one is okay.