Matt Patricia’s dreadful debut, and other Week 1 observations
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books. Some of it looked awfully familiar: The Patriots won, Tyreek Hill was incredible, Nathan Peterman threw interceptions, Aaron Rodgers was Superman, the Lions were a disaster, and the Browns didn’t win.
And some of it looked completely foreign: The Jets won in a blowout, the Buccaneers lit up the scoreboard, and the Browns didn’t lose!
In a new weekly column, we will take a look back at the most intriguing NFL story lines and developments from the weekend.
■ Matt Patricia’s head coaching debut probably could have gone better. The Lions lost to the Jets, 48-17, on national TV Monday night, and flopped in all three phases. A 17-10 halftime deficit turned into a romp in the third quarter before Patricia could blink.
Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford threw four interceptions (including a pick-6), and the Jets reportedly were calling out the Lions’ plays at the line of scrimmage. Patricia’s defense had inexplicable coverage breakdowns, allowing a 41-yard touchdown catch and a 62-yard touchdown run. And the special teams were a disaster, allowing a 78-yard punt-return touchdown.
Patricia isn’t really in charge of the Lions’ offense — that’s the domain of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, whom Patricia inherited — but his team was ill-prepared and looked like it gave up in the second half.
■ It was quite a win for Gang Green. Darron Lee’s 36-yard pick-6 was the Jets’ first defensive touchdown since 2013, believe it or not.
And it was a nice debut for No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, who completed 16 of 21 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns but was more of a complementary piece as the Jets defense dominated. Darnold became the first quarterback to win his first start by 31 points since . . . Tom Brady in 2001 (44-13 over the Colts).
But Darnold wishes he could have his first throw back. He joins Jameis Winston and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to throw a pick-6 on their first career attempt.
Then again, emerging from your first start with comparisons to Brady and Favre isn’t all that bad.
■ Peterman doesn’t just lose — he loses spectacularly.
Last year, it was five interceptions in the first half of his debut as the Bills quarterback against the Chargers. This time, it was a 47-3 drubbing from the Ravens, with Peterman completing just 5 of 18 passes for 24 yards, two interceptions, and a Blutarsky-esque passer rating of 0.0. It was the fourth-worst Week 1 loss since the 1970 merger, and the worst since the Redskins beat the Lions, 45-0, in 1991.
Peterman now has three career starts but didn’t finish any of those games. Bills coach Sean McDermott has yet to decide on a Week 2 starter, but the pressure to move on to rookie Josh Allen is immense. The Bills host the Chargers this week.
■ The Titans, who on paper look to be one of the AFC’s strongest teams, had a tough day Sunday. Losing, 27-20, to the Dolphins in Mike Vrabel’s coaching debut was bad enough, but more importantly, they lost their top offensive weapon when tight end Delanie Walker suffered a dislocated/fractured ankle, ending his season.
A couple of former Patriots had notable days for Tennessee. Dion Lewis had 16 carries for 75 yards (4.7 average), 5 catches for 35 yards, and a rushing touchdown. Lewis played 49 snaps compared with just 20 for Derrick Henry.
And Malcolm Butler had an up-and-down day that will sound familiar to Patriots fans. He intercepted Ryan Tannehill in the end zone to keep the game close, but also got burned on a 75-yard touchdown by Kenny Stills (with no safety help over the top), and committed an unnecessary roughness penalty.
■ Jameis who? Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was nearly perfect against the Saints, completing 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a 156.2 passer rating (a perfect rating is 158.3). Bucs receivers Mike Evans (147 yards, touchdown) and Desean Jackson (146 yards, two touchdowns) became just the ninth set of teammates in the last decade to record 140-plus receiving yards in a game.
Tracking other ex-Patriots:
■ Danny Amendola had four catches for 26 yards and played 45 offensive snaps, second-most among Dolphins receivers. He also returned a punt for 2 yards and recorded the tackle on Butler’s interception.
■ Jimmy Garoppolo suffered his first career loss in eight starts when the 49ers fell to the Vikings, 24-16. Garoppolo completed just 15 of 33 passes for 261 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions for a 45.1 passer rating, plus a pick-6 in the third quarter. But the 49ers lost by only one score, and the game could’ve been much different had running back Alfred Morris not fumbled away the ball on the goal line.
■ Nate Solder had an up-and-down day for the Giants as they lost to the Jaguars, 20-15. The Giants did average 5.0 yards per carry and Eli Manning was sacked only twice, but Solder had a tough time with the Jaguars’ excellent front seven.
■ Brandin Cooks had a nice day in his Rams debut. He led the Rams with five catches (on eight targets) for 87 yards, had one rush for 6 yards, and also drew two pass interference penalties of 37 and 50 yards. Cooks had receptions of 30 and 23 yards.
Our favorite odds and ends from Week 1:
■ The Browns’ 0-0-1 record represents their best start since 2004. They had lost 13 consecutive games in Week 1.
■ The Browns-Steelers game was the first Week 1 tie since the Broncos and Dolphins tied, 10-10, in 1971. The NFL currently has the unusual look of 17 undefeated teams, thanks to the tie.
■ Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 127.5 passer rating. It technically wasn’t his debut, since he started Week 17 last year, but let’s pretend that it was, and call it the fourth-best debut in NFL history.
■ Since 2000, only four times has a player recorded a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown in the same game: Brian Urlacher in 2001, Charles Woodson in 2009, Khalil Mack in 2016, and Mack in 2018. Mack was a one-man wrecking crew for the Bears.
■ Officials called only one lowering-the-helmet penalty all weekend, on Chiefs safety Ron Parker.
■ There were 39 interceptions, the most in Week 1 since 2003.
■ New head coaches went 0-7, the worst-ever performance to start a season. In 2001, new coaches went 0-6 in Week 1.
■ Thanks to two lightning delays lasting about four hours, the Dolphins-Titans game lasted 7 hours and 8 minutes, the longest game in NFL history.