GMS Academy member Micah Yongo runs down the three things we learned from the opening weekend of the new NFL season.

The Denver Broncos Offence Looks Special

7 touchdown passes.  462 passing yards. A (ridiculous) quarterback rating of 141.1. The numbers for Peyton Manning following his machine-like dismantling of the Baltimore Ravens were like something from a pop warner game, or maybe a game of Madden, with the setting on ‘amateur’. Which is exactly what he made the Ravens secondary appear for just under 4 hours on Thursday night.

Now granted, they’re not the first and won’t be the last to have this done to them. For nigh-on 15 years Manning has made a habit of dissecting even the wiliest of defensive game plans,
but all that being said, Thursday night was different.

We knew the Broncos offence was going to be potent. Demaryius Thomas and Erik Decker proved themselves last year to be a pair of talented, big-bodied receivers capable of causing match-up problems for most secondaries. We knew too that the Broncos have a strong
O-line.

And we knew the acquisition of the consistently prolific Wes Welker would only add to the special variety of headache Manning has a habit of inducing in most defensive coordinators.

What we didn’t know about is Julius Thomas. 6 foot 5 inches and 250lbs of athletic pass-catching mayhem who introduced himself in fairly spectacular fashion with a pair of touchdown catches in the first half. As Manning said himself afterwards, watching defences try and scheme to nullify the Antonio-Gates-like tight end for the rest of the year is going to be ‘interesting’.

Should the Broncos manage to put together a productive running game too? Well, let’s just say that for the rest of the AFC things could get ugly.

Reggie Bush Is As Advertised

A record-breaking year for Calvin Johnson last season it may have been, but it didn’t do much to paper over the nasty creep of predictability that had begun to stifle the Detroit Lions offence. If anything it increased it.

I mean let’s face it, the Lions weren’t exactly loaded with weapons last season. And so it didn’t take much to know what every defence’s objective would be when lining up against them – stop Calvin Johnson.

But if Sunday night’s game at Ford Field is anything to go by the Lions may have added a wrinkle to their offensive scheme to get them back into play-off contention this season.

The newly acquired Reggie Bush managed to combine, rushing and receiving, for 191 yards from scrimmage against the Minnesota Vikings, including one electrifying 77 yard catch and run for a touchdown in the third quarter that broke the game open in the Lions favour.

If he’s able to go on like this, defence’s will have to start accounting for him as well as the match-up nightmare that is Calvin Johnson.

Do you drop a safety into the box to take care of Bush or leave one over the top to help with Johnson? In other words, pick your poison. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan must be sleeping with a smile right now.

The Rookies Are Alright

To say the New York Jets have had a problem at quarterback would be like saying Dennis Rodman can, on occasion, be a little eccentric.

In the last couple of years the position has divided the locker room, dismissed a GM, solicited the media circus otherwise known as Tim Tebow, and endangered the job security of the Head Coach. Not bad for a single draft pick. Like Gotham’s own version of the Butterfly Effect, though butterfly-like is something Mark Sanchez's play will have seldom been likened to in the last few years.

Enter Geno Smith, the gifted though inconsistent rookie from Virginia Tech. The Jets drafted him in the second round to compete for the starter’s role with Sanchez. Most likely in the hope that the presence of another relatively high draft pick at the position might drive the 6th year veteran to, as though from the proverbial chrysalis, emerge butterfly-like from pre-season bearing no resemblance to his lowly 5 year pre-existence as a turnover machine.

Who knows whether the plan would’ve worked? After Sanchez had his throwing shoulder driven into the turf of Metlife stadium in pre-season the chance, and the competition over who would start, was over, at least temporarily, with Smith being awarded the starting role by default.

Bearing in mind Smith’s being hampered by an ankle injury and his having to split snaps with Sanchez throughout training camp, his debut performance on Sunday was encouraging, even admirable.

He finished 24/38 for 256 yards passing with one touchdown and an interception, and a last minute scramble that ended up leading to the game winning field goal. Not bad for a first day at the office. And should be enough to keep him the incumbent for another week at least.

Over in Buffalo EJ Manuel, in a narrow defeat to division rivals the New England Patriots, acquitted himself similarly well.

Time will tell whether these two are able to continue the trend of rookie quarterbacks adapting quickly and well to the professional ranks. The signs judging from the first week of this new
season are good.

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Topics:
New York Jets
Baltimore Ravens
Detroit Lions
Denver Broncos
NFL
Peyton Manning