Week 1 of the NFL typically has plenty of overreactions, yet there are some truths from each team that lingered throughout the preseason that became notable around the league. Teams can no longer hide depth charts, coverage schemes, and offensive game plans — as the film is out for all 32 squads.
Some teams were impressive in Week 1, while others have some work to do. The season is only a week old, but each team learned (or already knew) some more about their squad after 60 minutes of football.
Here’s what we learned about each team after Week 1 of the season, something to take notice heading into Week 2.
Jonathan Gannon can still coach defense: Gannon took a lot of heat from the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs when he was the Eagles defensive coordinator. The first-time head coach still has the magic touch on that side of the ball as the Cardinals finished with six sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception, and a defensive touchdown in the 20-16 loss to Washington. The Commanders had just 248 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per play, as the defense kept the Cardinals in the game and gave them a halftime lead. The personnel isn’t as talented as Philadelphia, yet Gannon was still able to get Arizona to have an efficient defense.
They’re a better running team than last year: Adding Bijan Robinson will improve a rushing attack that was already good, but Tyler Allgeier is also a year removed from rushing from 1,000 yards in his rookie season. Allgeier led Atlanta with 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns, getting more carries than Robinson — who had 10 carries for 56 yards of his own. The two combined had 25 carries for 131 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. This is Atlanta’s offense, and the offensive line does an excellent job of setting up Atlanta’s backs to succeed.
Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen picked up where they left off: The best off-ball linebacker duo had another dominant game in Sunday’s win over the Texans. Smith finished with 16 tackles and a sack while Queen had 11 tackles and a sack. They also allowed just 74 yards in coverage on 8 of 14 passing, with no touchdowns allowed. The Ravens offense is a work in progress, but Smith and Queen are in mid-season form.
Turnover issues still plague Josh Allen: Same old story for Allen, who has vowed to eliminate the turnover woes and erratic play that has plagued him in the past. Allen threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the overtime loss to the Jets, keeping a team quarterbacked by Zach Wilson in the game. Allen had 14 interceptions and five lost fumbles last season — leading the NFL with 23 giveaways since the start of last year. If Allen takes care of the football, the Bills are 1-0. Those problems aren’t going away.
Bryce Young has no wide receivers: The offensive line protecting Young was a problem during camp, but the rookie has few wideouts to trust in the early going. Carolina’s wide receivers caught eight passes for 68 yards (on 15 targets) in the loss to the Falcons, with the leading wideout having two catches for 23 yards (Terrance Marshall). Young was just 20 of 38 for 146 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but he doesn’t have much to work with — with protection or pass catchers.
Not enough D.J. Moore in his debut: Two catches for 25 yards is not why the Bears traded for Moore. Both his receptions were in the second quarter. Moore is supposed to be the No. 1 wide receiver for Fields, yet the Bears quarterback didn’t target him much nor did the offense seem to have a game plan to get Moore the ball. Fields can’t live up to his potential if the play calling continues to hold him back. Moore needs to get more than two targets.
Elephant in the room (offensive line): Joe Burrow had arguably the worst game of his career, going 14 of 31 for 82 yards with a 52.2 passer rating. Of course, Burrow was hit 10 times in the loss and the weather was poor. Burrow was rusty after missing all of camp with the calf injury and has had slow starts before, so no need to panic yet. The offensive line is the bigger concern, especially after landing Orlando Brown to improve the unit. If Burrow keeps getting hit, that calf injury will linger and the Super Bowl hopes will be gone. The offensive line has to be better.
The pass rushing duo was dominant in debut: The Browns brought in Za’Darius Smith to help out Myles Garrett and the dividends immediately paid off. Garrett had his usual dominant performance with a sack, four quarterback hits and six pressures. Smith added four quarterback hits and six pressures himself, making sure Garrett could take over the game on his side of the line. Smith had a pressure rate per dropback of 24% while Garrett was at 23.1%. Under Jim Schwartz, the Garrett-Smith duo will be an issue for opposing offensive lines all year.
The defense may actually be the best in the NFL: Micah Parsons proclaimed as such, and the All-Pro pass rusher is probably right. Dallas forced 22 pressures against New York, finishing with six sacks and 12 quarterback hits in a dominant effort. The Cowboys allowed just 171 yards and 2.6 yards per play, with the exclamation point being the interception return for touchdown in the first quarter. Dallas led the league in takeaways last year while having a dominant pass rush. The unit may be even better in 2023.
Russell Wilson has improved under Sean Payton: The Broncos offense scored just 16 points, but Wilson went 27 of 34 for 177 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions (108.0 rating). The big plays weren’t there, but here was an encouraging sign for Denver. Wilson finished 5 of 7 for 74 yards on passes that traveled 10-plus air yards, a year after having six intercpetions on those passes in 2022. Give Wilson and Payton more time and he may cook again.
Jared Goff continues to play mistake-free football: Goff had another game without an interception, and he has thrown 359 passes without an interception dating back to Week 9 of last season (the third-longest streak in NFL history). Goff went 22 of 35 for 253 yards with a touchdown, finding seven different receivers and took what Kansas City’s defense gave him. He went 6 of 9 for 72 yards under pressure and 8 of 14 for 75 yards when blitzed, not forcing the issue and letting his offense see another play. There’s a reason the Lions are 9-2 in their last 11 games.
Jordan Love shows shades of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre: What a debut for Love in the first game of the post-Rodgers era. Love finished 15 of 27 for 245 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions (123.2 rating), completing passes to six different receivers in the dominant win over the Bears. He completed 7 of 9 passes on third down for 106 yards and a touchdown while going 2 of 4 in the red zone for two touchdowns — both to Romeo Doubs. Love looked every bit of what the Packers envisioned, an excellent sign for their NFC North chances.
DeMeco Ryans struggles in first game as head coach: Ryans didn’t have an ideal debut, burning all three timeouts before the eight-minute mark in the first half and players admitting they were unsure of what plays were being called. Ryans went for it on fourth down early in the first quarter, leading to a sack on C.J. Stroud for an 11-yard loss. The Texans went 1 of 4 on fourth down in the game, showcasing how aggressive Ryans actually was with the game management. Ryans is a first-year head coach coaching in his first game — there’s a good chance he’ll improve.
The running back situation is abysmal: Sure, Anthony Richardson had an up-and-down debut, but the Colts couldn’t establish anything on the ground. The three running backs combined to have 16 carries for 25 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 1.6 yards per carry. The Colts miss Jonathan Taylor, who isn’t returning any time soon. Richardson needs help at running back — aside from running the ball himself (10 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in his debut). Perhaps Zack Moss returning from a broken arm will help.
Missing a year due to suspension didn’t affect Calvin Ridley: The Jaguars trade deadline acquisition last season finally was able to make his debut, finishing with eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Ridley was targeted 11 times, finding his way open through crisp route running and having the trust of Trevor Lawrence early and often. He opened up the offense, allowing Jacksonville to average 5.0 yards per play and score 31 points. Ridley is still a No. 1 wide receiver, making an young offense even more dangerous.
Kansas City Chiefs
The offense needs Travis Kelce back: Not having Kelce was pretty obvious in the Chiefs’ season-opening loss to the Lions. Patrick Mahomes went 9 of 22 for 79 yards with an interception (32.2 rating) in the second half, also going 2 of 12 with an interception when targeting wide receivers in the final 30 minutes. The wide receivers had a poor game, but Mahomes needs Kelce back to complete the offense. Kelce is Mahomes’ No. 1 receiver, even if he doesn’t technically play that position. Life will be easier for Kansas City’s offense in Week 2.
Jakobi Meyers was an excellent free agent addition: The Raiders were able to reunite Meyers with Josh McDaniels this offseason, and his Raiders debut reaped immediate benefits. Meyers finished with nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders’ win over the Broncos, catching a touchdown on the first drive of the season and the game-winning score with 6:34 left. Meyers’ performance will eventually open up the offense for Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs, a good problem to have for Las Vegas going forward. He’s a reliable pass catcher for Jimmy Garoppolo, needing to be in the right system to thrive. McDaniels provides that offense.
The run offense will benefit Justin Herbert: Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley put on a show against the Dolphins, as the two combined for 32 carries for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Ekeler had 117 yards and a score while Kelley had 91 yards and a touchdown. Even with Ekeler terrorizing the Dolphins defense, he had just three touches for eight yards in the fourth quarter — in a one-score game. The Chargers have to trust their backs more down the stretch, as they proved they can carry the offense when needed.
Matthew Stafford makes a difference: The Rams certainly welcomed the return of their quarterback, as Stafford went 24 of 38 for 334 yards with a 91.3 passer rating (no touchdowns or interceptions). Stafford wasn’t sacked and found Tutu Atwell and rookie Puka Nucua often, as both wideouts finished with over 100 yards receiving. The Rams only punted once and scored on all five second half possessions, showing signs of the Super Bowl LVI championship offense. While Los Angeles may not be at that level, having Stafford back gives them an opportunity to win games if he plays like he did Sunday.
Tua Tagovailoa is the key to the 2023 season: A healthy Tagovailoa makes the Dolphins a Super Bowl contender in the AFC. Tagovailoa completed 28 of 45 passes for 466 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for a 110.0 rating, throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill with 1:45 left to put Miami ahead for good. Last year, the Dolphins were on their way to making a deep playoff run before Tagovailoa’s concussion issues lingered and he was lost for the season. They stole a game in Los Angeles on Sunday because of what Tagovailoa brings to the passing game.
Brian Flores’ defense makes impact: The hire of Flores as defensive coordinator was one of the best in the NFL this offseason, and the early returns are promising. The Vikings defense allowed just 242 total yards and 3.6 yards per play, holding the Buccaneers to just 20 points. Three points were off a fumble by the Vikings offense at their own 18 (which was the difference in the final score). The Vikings didn’t have a single game holding an opponent under 250 yards last year, so Flores is already making an impact on the unit.
The offense is much better than last season: Despite the slow start, the Patriots looked like they actually had a pulse on offense. Mac Jones went 35 of 54 for 316 yards with three touchdowns and an interception (91.3 rating), but went 17 of 21 for 116 yards and two touchdowns and one interception on throws from the numbers to the hash (101.6 rating). The run game wasn’t there, but Jones found holes in the Eagles defense he exploited to move the chains. There’s still work to do on the revamped unit, but Sunday was a promising start — especially for the quarterback.
Don’t sleep on Rashid Shaheed: He’s been mentioned here several times before, but Shaheed continued to show why he’s going to be a player in this league. Shaheed finished with five catches for 89 yards and a touchdown in the win, including a 19-yard score that gave the Saints the lead for good in the third quarter. He was out wide on 21 snaps and in the slot on 14, using his speed to corral a 41-yard catch in the fourth quarter to essentially seal the win for New Orleans. With Chris Olave and Michael Thomas surrounding him, Shaheed can make some big plays for the Saints this year.
The offensive line is still not good: New York added center John Michael Schmitz as its significant change on the offensive line. The Giants needed to upgrade the unit even more after what the Cowboys defense did. The Giants allowed six sacks and 22 pressures in the shutout loss, as guard Mark Glowinski allowing four sacks on his own. Daniel Jones went 8 of 16 for 58 yards and an interception under pressure, having no time to get into a rhythm. The Giants boasted about the line being better, but it might have gotten worse.
New York Jets
They’re cursed at quarterback: Aaron Rodgers lasted four snaps before being lost for the season with an Achilles injury. The Jets had their franchise quarterback and the player that could take them to the elite in the AFC. Instead they’re trying to survive with Zach Wilson at quarterback — and no good free agent option available. The Jets are in survival mode, relying on their defense and running game to get the team wins. The sad truth is this: there are no good options available that won’t cost much (and no team is parting ways with their starting quarterback). The franchise just can’t have good quarterback play.
The offensive line contributed to rusty performance on offense: Jalen Hurts only led the Eagles on one touchdown drive in the season opener, which only happened once all of last year (Week 18 vs. Giants). The Eagles didn’t take deep shots down the field, mainly because Hurts was under pressure all afternoon. Hurts was just 3 of 11 for 10 yards with a 39.6 passer rating under pressure, being sacked three times. Perhaps Bill Belichick’s mixed coverages had a lot to do with it, but the offensive line wasn’t its usual dominant self.
Horrendous start for the offense: Credit goes to the 49ers defense here, but Pittsburgh didn’t do anything to move the chains early in the game. On the first five drives, the Steelers ran 15 plays for one yard and went three-and-out each time. Counting the 10 penalty yards, Pittsburgh was at minus-9 net yards when it was down 20 (San Francisco scored on its first four possessions). The entire performance was poor, especially for an offense that has the skill position players Pittsburgh has.
San Francisco 49ers
Forget about that Brock Purdy elbow injury: You wouldn’t know Purdy had elbow surgery after watching him maestro the 49ers offense. In his first game back from a torn UCL, Purdy went 19 of 29 for 220 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for an 111.3 passer rating. In the pocket, Purdy went 17 of 25 for 208 yards and two scores, as Kyle Shanahan made sure he kept his quarterback where he was most comfortable — and least vulnerable. The 49ers still haven’t lost a game Purdy starts and finishes.
Losing Charles Cross and Abe Lucas was devastating: The Seahawks lost not just one, but both of their starting offensive tackles in the second half of Sunday’s loss. Cross was carted off the field with a toe injury, and while Lucas left with a knee injury. The severity of both injuries are still being determined. The Seahawks crumbled in the second half, having run 14 plays for 12 yards in that span — punting four straight times. Seattle needs Lucas and Cross back soon.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The run defense is back: After finishing 15th in rushing yards allowed per game and 19th in yards per carry allowed last season, Tampa Bay’s run defense looked like its dominant self again. The Vikings had just 41 rushing yards and averaged 2.4 yards per carry, as Tampa Bay’s defense forced Minnesota to become one dimensional. Having Devin White and Lavonte David back at off-ball linebacker certainly helped the Buccaneers get back to that 2019-2021 form.
They have a quarterback problem: Ryan Tannehill was terrible against the Saints, going 16 of 34 for 198 yards and three interceptions for a passer rating of 28.8. The Titans scored just 15 points and had no offensive touchdowns, while averaging 4.9 yards per attempt. Two of Tannehill’s interceptions were attempts to DeAndre Hopkins, who was targeted 13 times in his debut. All of Tannehill’s interceptions were in the pocket, creating even more concern going forward. With no backups better than Tannehill on the roster, the Titans have to ride it out and hope the veteran plays better going forward.
The defensive front is still very good: The Commanders were credited with 11 pressures in the win over the Cardinals, finishing with six quarterback hits and three sacks. Montez Sweat had 1.5 sacks, but Da’Ron Payne was the catalyst for Arizona having just 38 rushing yards in the second half — and scoring just three points. This front didn’t have Chase Young, but they were still dominant.