Week Two of the NFL season is now history and a great deal has changed since the joke, they call preseason, came to a close.
Injuries dominated Week Two. We will not see Ben Roethlisberger for the rest of the season and we will not see Drew Brees for a few months. Big Ben blew out his throwing elbow and the Pittsburgh quarterback has already had surgery. Brees suffered a severe thumb injury on his throwing hand and this leaves New Orleans in trouble.
Big Ben and Brees represent the “old guard” at the quarterback position. Two “new kids” in town include Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City and Dak Prescott of Dallas. Both have their teams off to 2-0 starts and are posting big numbers.
Mahomes has thrown for 821 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 71% percent of his passes. Prescott is right in line with those stats as he has amassed 674 passing yards while completing 51 of 62 passes (82%). Prescott also has seven TD passes.
Antonio Brown made his debut for the New England Patriots on Sunday and caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the Patriots 43-0 victory over already-tanking Miami. Brown’s offseason antics have been in the news all summer. More drama was exposed last week as Brown was accused of a sexual assault in a civil case filed last week. The NFL will investigate, so a great deal is still pending. Prior to the game, New England owner Robert Kraft stated that he would not have signed Brown if he had known of the upcoming civil case. I have to take that comment with a grain of salt since Brown was on the field and was Brady’s top target all game despite having less than a week of practice with the team. Typical New England.
Speaking of “new kids” at quarterback, second year signal callers Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have their teams, Buffalo and Baltimore, off to 2-0 starts.
Older quarterbacks who are struggling include Cam Newton of Carolina and Kirk Cousins of Minnesota. Newton took the blame in last week’s setback against lowly Tampa Bay. And Cousins, who inherited a Super Bowl contending team in 2018, cannot win against quality competition. The $84 million dollar man threw an interception in the endzone against double coverage late in the Vikings’ 21-16 loss to Green Bay.
Watching New Orleans without Brees at quarterback just does not seem right. The 40 year old has missed just one game (2015) because of injury in his NFL career. Without Brees behind center, the Saints offense did little while losing 27-9 to the Los Angeles Rams.
Roethlisberger has missed a few more games than Brees has but it still looks strange to see anyone other than him break the huddle at quarterback. The Steelers offense was already in transition as it tried to navigate life after Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Life without the before-mentioned duo and Big Ben will likely lead to the Steelers missing out on the playoffs. Mason Rudolph is not the answer. Backup quarterbacks who can win games is becoming a necessity in the NFL.
It is common knowledge that schools within the Power Five conferences often shell out upwards of a $1 million to a smaller school to visit the Power Five school for a football game. It usually is a win-win situation. The bigger school gets to host a game they should win and the smaller school can pocket needed cash.
The Big Ten may need to take a closer look at this arrangement. Especially if Eastern Michigan is involved.
Illinois paid $1 million to Eastern Michigan for its football team to visit Memorial Stadium in Champaign last week. The Eagles displayed their gratitude for the hospitality by handing the Illini a 34-31 loss.
The win made it three consecutive seasons Eastern Michigan has gone on the road and defeated a Big Ten school. Rutgers paid $860,000 to the school in 2017 only to lose 16-13, and Purdue spent $550,000 on the game last year to walk away with a 20-19 defeat.
Saturday marked the third time in the past two seasons that a Big Ten team has lost a game for which it paid the visiting school at least $1 million. Last season, Northwestern paid $1.2 million to Akron and Nebraska paid $1.15 million to Troy before each lost games. Michigan came close to adding to that two weeks ago against Army, which was getting $1.5 million for that game, but escaped with a victory in double overtime.