By Matthew Shalloe
After a seven month wait from the conclusion of Super Bowl LII back on Feb. 4, the NFL is officially back. Whether it be the struggles of the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1), or the flaming hot start of quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick (eight touchdowns through two games), we have already been surprised on our beloved football Sundays. Although it’s early, the first two weeks of the NFL season has been exactly what we have waited all offseason for, both entertaining and enjoyable for fans across America.
Let’s start by talking about the previously mentioned Pittsburgh Steelers, who are off to a bit of a rough start, winless through the first two weeks of the season.
After a week one tie with the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers dropped their home opener in week two in a 42-37 loss at the hands of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes passed for 326 yards and a whopping six touchdowns, bringing his season total to 10 through his first two games as a starter.
It is still too early for the Steelers to hit the panic button, but it is the perfect time for them to finally give All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell the money he wants, as they need him back desperately. Bell has continued his holdout in dispute of being franchise tagged for the second year in a row. The offense is clearly not the same without him, and if the Steelers want to right the ship, they will need Bell in their backfield going forward.
As we continue to talk about the electric start to the season of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, it’s almost unbelievable to say that another NFL quarterback has gotten off to a better start. What Mahomes is doing is unbelievable and has Chiefs fans everywhere already thinking they’re bound for a playoff berth.
However, Buccaneers quarterback and NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick might be just that much better to start the season. Fitzpatrick is filling in for Jameis Winston, who was suspended three games for breaking NFL personal conduct policy, and making the most of his opportunity. Playing on his seventh team in his 14 NFL season, Fitzpatrick is off to a flaming hot start, passing for 819 yards and recording 9 total touchdowns. Oh, and he is off to a 2-0 start after beating the New Orleans Saints and the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. It will be interesting to see if Fitzpatrick can keep up his play throughout the season, assuming he won the starting QB job away from Winston, a former first overall pick in the NFL draft.
There are a few other teams that have come out of the gate hot to start the season, as seven teams have posted back to back wins to start the season 2-0. Some more surprising than others, as the Bengals, Dolphins and Broncos are among the teams that are off to a shockingly good start.
Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green are clicking better than ever on offense in Cincinnati, and it’s the return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill from injury in Miami that has propelled the Dolphins to an unbeaten start. The signing of quarterback Case Keenum, who played for the Vikings last season, has the Broncos perfect to start the season.
Along with those three teams and the previously mentioned Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas Chiefs, the high-powered Jaguars and Rams round out the seven perfect teams through the first two weeks of the season.
Not all teams have been as fortunate as the ones mentioned above. The Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills, who have just not looked good in any of the three phases to start off the season, have both fallen to an 0-2 start. The Raiders, Texans, Giants and Lions are the others to stand at 0-2, but perhaps none have looked as bad as the Bills and Cardinals.
The Bills were forced to turn to rookie quarterback Josh Allen in week two after an atrocious outing from quarterback Nathan Peterman in week one. The rookie looked decent under center in his first NFL start, but the result was the same in another loss, a game that was so ugly at half that CB Vontae Davis left the stadium and retired.
As for the Cardinals, the signing of quarterback Sam Bradford has been a failed experiment, as he has led the offense to just six points through the first two games of the season. Meanwhile, 10th overall pick rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has to suffer on the sidelines watching Bradford struggle. As the season goes on, you can expect the rookie quarterback to join Allen and Jets quarterback Sam Darnold as the only three starting rookie quarterbacks in the NFL.
The first two weeks have been fun to watch, and we can expect it to continue as the season goes on. It’ll be interesting to watch if the hot starts of Mahomes and Fitzpatrick can stay alive, or if the Pittsburgh Steelers can get back to what they are accustomed to: winning. Whether your team is in good standing or not, one thing is for certain– NFL football has returned to excite Sundays everywhere.