THREE & OUT: WEEK 1 RISERS, FALLERS

September 12, 2018

 

 

"Three & Out" is a weekly feature where we highlight three teams that dropped as well as three teams that moved on up in the ScouTurf team rankings formula based on their performance from their previous game.

 

We watch every NFL game from the previous weekend before making an assessment, and these are this week's big winners and losers:

 

THREE UP

New York Jets

Wow, Sam Darnold. What a rollercoaster debut for the youngest QB to ever start an NFL game, starting with a silly pick six on his first throw of the game and then shaking it off to lead the offense to a route on the road in Detroit. I compared Darnold to Blake Bortles in the pre-draft process due to his decision-making, proclivity for turnovers, and underrated athleticism, and the similarities definitely manifested in week one. The difference, however, is that Darnold's a much better thrower than Bortles, and the chemistry he showed with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa caused a flurry of activity on the fantasy waiver wire. The Jets defense deserves praise as well, and Darron Lee's two interceptions may be a glimpse of him developing into the type of player they drafted him to be. This team was being slept on, and if they can get good, consistent performances from Darnold as a rookie, they can push for a playoff spot or at the very least give the Patriots some formidable competition for an AFC East division that most perceived to be lopsided.

 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If you thought a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bucs team with a head coach on the hot seat would strut into New Orleans and upset Drew Brees in a shootout, you're a liar. The Bucs play calling on the offense is now under the guise of Todd Monken, and whether it was due to Monken's new-look playbook or the Saints simply looking past the Bucs without Winston, they were embarrassed in week one. It seems like they are finally utilizing the different skill sets of wide receivers Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin, and Peyton Barber is an under-the-radar runner who should make rookie Ronald Jones II have to earn snaps. The defense is a little banged up after the contest, with Jason Pierre-Paul admitting today that his knee is "jacked up" and former first round pick Vernon Hargreaves landing on IR with a shoulder injury, so they could come back down to Earth in a hurry against the Eagles this week. Can Fitzpatrick hold onto the job after Winston's three game suspension? Stay tuned.

 

 

Washington Redskins

I was bullish on the Redskins before the season and it was good to have this notion validated by their dominant performance on the road against a veteran Arizona Cardinals squad. Alex Smith is the perfect quarterback to execute Jay Gruden's offense and Adrian Peterson is running like he's 22 years old again. Can you imagine what this team will look like when Derrius Guice returns next season? On defense, the Skins fixed their Achilles heel over the last several years in shoring up the defensive tackle position, and a combo of Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne on nickel looks is going to give a lot of linemen headaches this season. In addition to all that, Washington's developmental players are starting to emerge, as evidenced by super strong games from defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis and cornerback Quinton Dunbar. The Redskins have another cupcake this week against the Colts, but then enter a three week stretch of death against the Packers, Saints, and Panthers. If they can enter week six at 3-2 or better, watch out.

 

 

THREE DOWN

Tennessee Titans

It's difficult to get a good gauge of the Titans due to the weather circumstances surrounding last week's game against the Dolphins, but their inefficiency under Matt LaFleur's new offense going back to preseason is alarming. Marcus Mariota looks like he's regressing and he simply can't get any chemistry going with last year's first round pick Corey Davis. When you factor in tight end and 2017 team target leader Delanie Walker's season-ending injury, there is definite cause for concern in Nashville. The next three games for Tennessee? Texans, Jaguars, and Eagles, so those who were picking the Titans as a 2018 playoff contender may need to re-evaluate that selection, as there is a real possibility that they could enter week five without a win. They get a lollipop against the Bills after that stretch, and then back-to-back nightmare bouts against the Ravens and the Chargers. Yikes.

 

 

Detroit Lions

48-17. Matt Patricia had the worst loss for a head coach making his debut in NFL history. That's really all you need to know. When you read reports about Jets players saying they knew all of the Lions signals ahead of time despite a new coach in charge, it becomes almost cringeworthy. The most concerning thing for me was the lack of a running game despite a big investment in the offensive line between paying TJ Lang and Ricky Wagner and burning a first round pick on Frank Ragnow. Patricia wanted to get back to being a smash mouth, ground-and-pound offense this season, and Kerryon Johnson had the most carries with five for 17 yards. In fact, if the Lions don't have a rusher surpass 100 yards this weekend against the 49ers, they will break the NFL record of 70 consecutive games with a 100-yard rusher. Sprinkle in reports that there are already rumblings from Lions players griping Patricia's leadership style after only one game, and baby, you got a regression stew going. When you remember that the Lions have the Vikings, Packers, and Mack-infused Bears in their division, things only get worse.

 

 

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have the worst offensive line in the NFL and guess what? It's not even close. So let's put our 7th overall rookie quarterback behind them, that should be great for his development. Snide remarks aside, Josh Allen is droves better than Nathan Peterman, but Brian Daboll is not looking overly impressive in his fourth stint as an NFL offensive coordinator. The offense is absolutely inept and the defense didn't look much better against a Joe Flacco-led Ravens unit that was far from explosive in 2017. We had the Colts as the preseason favorite for the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, but after week one, it's hard to imagine a team other than the Bills on the clock unless Josh Allen somehow evolves into the next Jim Kelly as a rookie. At least Allen is used to playing with bad players at Wyoming, so this should be par for the course.

 

Here are the ScouTurf Power Rankings following Week One:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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