One thing that drives me crazy, both inside the League and from the outside looking back in, is how often those that report on professional football throw out opinions and then don’t follow them up. While writing for ProFootballTalk.com I analyzed key points and matchups to three games a week, then circled back with what actually happened on game day. There were a number of games in Week 1 that intrigued me as a former NFL GM; 5 Week 1 games to watch from an NFL GM’s perspective.
The ‘Skins paid a heavy price to get RG3 in the 2012 NFL Draft. He returned big dividends in his rookie debut. Griffin III went 19 of 26 for 320 yards, 2 TD’s. The first was an 88 yard strike to Free Agent acquisition Pierre Garcon that was the early and eventual tipping point of the game.
I questioned where New Orleans would be in their opener without Head Coach Sean Payton. The Saints played from behind almost the entire game, but never appeared to quit. New Orleans was tagged with 108 total penalties in 2011 (flagged with 12 on Sunday), almost 20 minutes in time of possession discrepancy, and the Saints lost their home opener for the first time since 2007…to a rookie QB.
San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers
Jim Harbaugh turned a 6-10 squad into a 13-3 NFC West Division Champion in his first season, scoring only 75 more points than the previous year while surrendering 117 less. First year GM Trent Baalke used two high draft picks to supplement Harbaugh’s offense. The rookies were inconsequential, but the rest of the offense outgained, outscored, and outperformed the #1 scoring team in 2011.
Green Bay’s defense gave up 30 points in its home opener – after giving 34 to the Saints to start 2011 and 37 to the New York Giants to close it. Improvement is not only needed, but necessary.
Indianapolis Colts vs Chicago Bears
2012 NFL Draft #1 pick Andrew Luck flashed throughout the preseason and gave Colt fans a glimpse of the future. No doubt Luck is talented and will have a productive, if not outstanding career. The young QB went 23 of 45, 309 yards and 1 TD. But intense pressure by the Bears front 7 forced 3 interceptions. The veteran Reggie Wayne caught 9 balls for 135 yards, rookie TE Colby Fleener added 6 for 82. More need to step up.
The Bears have a new GM in Phil Emery and were in need of their own steps on offense to help bail out QB Jay Cutler. I questioned where RB Matt Forte would be mentally and if Brandon Marshall would reconnect with his old “draftmate” Cutler (not bad picks by this “former GM”). Neither disappointed; Forte averaging 5 yards per carry on 16 totes (80yds) and Marshall hauling in 9 passes for 119 yards and a score. Cutler’s confidence showed in 21 of 35, 333yds and 2 TD’s. Emery’s 2nd round rookie addition WR Alshon Jeffery scored on a 42 yard play and had 3 catches for 80 yards.
We’ll look at the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens later this week. The question is now is what do Mickey Loomis, Ted Thompson, and Ryan Grigson do as GM’s to improve their clubs moving forward in the 2012 NFL Regular Season? Can they do anything? Should they do anything?