NFL

NFL AM: Patriots Don’t Skip A Beat With Garoppolo

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Impressive Performance By Patriots, Garoppolo

The more things change, the more things stay the same.  Week 1 of the NFL season is always the most unpredictable, as we don’t know much about teams actual rosters and how they will play together for 60 minutes.

What we do know and should always remember is that as long as Bill Belichick is roaming the sidelines for New England, the Patriots will be very good and can beat anyone on a given Sunday, Monday or Thursday.

With Jimmy Garoppolo stepping in for the suspended Tom Brady, the Pats offense was extremely functional, on the road, against a team that many have picked to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LI.

Garoppolo finished 24 of 33, for 264 yards with a touchdown and most importantly no interceptions.

“I think the team, as a whole, played a very good game,” Garoppolo said before describing himself as, “amped up, I was fired up before the game.

“After that, you are just playing.”

With an offensive line virtually placed together with duct tape and without one of the best weapons in the NFL in tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots simply did what they always do.  Dinked and dunked their way down the field on drives, and if it wasn’t for a pair of turnovers the Cardinals may not have even been in the game.

“When you have confidence in your teammates and they have confidence in you, it’s easy to stay poised,” the third-year quarterback from Eastern Illinois said after making his first NFL start.

Even head coach Bill Belichick who throws around compliments like man-hole covers was impressed with his team’s effort.

“Really proud of our team here tonight,” Belichick said. “We got great effort in all three phases. We got a good complementary game.

“We came down here and played a tough, physical football game against a good team. We were just able to make a couple more plays than the Cardinals were tonight.”

If you can’t beat the Patriots without Brady, Gronk and that offensive line, how is anyone supposed to beat them when they get back at full strength?

Winston Steps Up

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scratched out a hard-fought road victory to open the season as they took down the Atlanta Falcons, 31-24.

The Bucs are one of those “trendy teams” who many believe can go from last place in 2015 to a potential playoff berth this season, and after one game that can’t be disputed.  The main reason is because of second-year signal caller Jameis Winston.

Last year’s No. 1 overall pick had a busy week as he delivered a halftime speech to his Florida State Seminoles on Monday, who overcame a 22 point deficit to beat then 11th ranked Ole Miss.  Just six days later, Winston delivered four touchdown passes to take down the Falcons in their last game at the Georgia Dome.

Winston started off slowly as the offense had just 39 yards through the first quarter, including an interception.

“I always tell him the same thing, keep reading it out, keep doing it, read it out,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, who notched the first victory of his career against his former employer explained. “Don’t be afraid to check it down. Jameis knows what to do. I’m not going to tell him anything on game day. There is no big secret coming, he knows what to do. Sometimes he gets a little hyped up. There are other things. The crowd noise, I told you all last week it is so hard to prepare for real crowd noise. That is legit crowd noise. We had issues. We had issues with our guys getting in on time. We had issues with our silent cadence. You have to overcome all that when you play on the road. This will help us for next week vs. Arizona.”

Winston then led the Bucs to touchdowns on four of the next five drives and finished the day 23 for 33, for 281 yards with four touchdowns and an interception and finished with a quarterback rating of 122.6.

“We didn’t play perfect football,” Winston said after the game. “We played good football, but we did not play perfect football. So, we have to continue to get better. We are going to Arizona, another road game. Great team. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys on the field. I know they have a lot of big name guys and a great offense. So, we have to be on it. This thing about the NFL, you’ve got to enjoy this, you’ve only got this day. I like when we play at 1:00, so I can actually enjoy it from 5:00 until I go to sleep. We’ve got to move past this victory and go ahead to Arizona.”

Huge Injuries For Chargers and Saints

Not only did both the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints drop their games to the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in heartbreaking fashion, they also lost key contributors for the season.

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has reportedly torn his ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2016 season.

Allen missed the final eight games last season with a lacerated kidney , and the Chargers will have to find offense without their best target as he never put weight on his right knee after going down Sunday.

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy wouldn’t admit after the game that Allen would miss the rest of the year.

“There is speculation about an ACL,” coach Mike McCoy said, “but we’ll run tests when we get back home.”

Although there is a certain amount of doom and gloom revolving around the team after blowing an 18-point game to their division rivals, the Chargers are in a much better position to replace Allen than they were last year.  Little known Tyrell Williams stepped up on Sunday for a pair of receptions for 71 yards and can be the new Malcolm Floyd type of deep threat to go along with free agent acquisition Travis Benjamin and the ageless Antonio Gates.

“There are many areas of concern with this roster, but the wide receiver position will not hold us back,” a Chargers source told Football Insiders.

We’ll see if losing a game like that has a lasting effect on a team with so much uncertainty.

Meanwhile in New Orleans, the Saints lost defensive back Delvin Breaux to what is being reported as a broken fibula.

The Breaux injury had an immediate effect as he was replaced by undrafted rookie Ken Crawley, who gave up the game-winning two-point conversion to Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

The New Orleans defense has been terrible for the last handful of seasons and losing it’s best player in the secondary will certainly not help.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.