NFL Week 1 impressions: Brady's Bucs debut plagued by miscues

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September 14th, 2020

Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season saw familiar faces in unfamiliar territory, after some of the league’s biggest names jumped to new franchises in free agency.

From Tom Brady to Cam Newton, DeAndre Hopkins, and more, here are our early impressions of five NFL stars who made their debut with new teams to start the 2020 season.

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Arguably the most anticipated debut of 2020 was Tom Brady’s first regular-season action as a Buccaneer.

In a battle of two quadragenarian quarterbacks, Brady (43) squared up with a slightly younger Drew Brees (41), which ended in a 34-23 thumping by the Saints at home.

On his first possession, Brady looked sharp, as he capped a nine-play drive with a two-yard run into the end zone. On those six points, he became the oldest player to score a touchdown in NFL history.

The celebration ended soon after. The Saints evened the score early in the second quarter, and Brady responded with an interception that set New Orleans up for another touchdown. The pick appeared to be the result of a miscommunication with Mike Evans.

Brady’s next interception was all on him. Early in the third quarter, as the Bucs trailed 17-7, Brady underthrew his intended target and was picked off by Saints corner Janoris Jenkins, who ran the ball in for a touchdown.

Brady ended the day 23-of-36 for 239 yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing score, and two interceptions. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston watched Brady do his best impression of the former Bucs quarterback (who threw 30 interceptions in 2019) as Winston stood on the sideline in a Saints uniform.

Cam Newton, New England Patriots

Brady’s successor in New England had a much better outing in Week 1. Cam Newton led the charge against AFC East rival Miami in a 21-11 victory in Foxborough.

With the 31-year-old dual threat under center for the Pats, this offense looked far from the one the Pats employed with Brady.

New England ran twice as often as it passed, with Newton rushing for a team-high 75 yards and two scores on 15 carries. The QB also completed all but four of his 19 passes for 155 yards.   

Considering the Pats’ opponent, it’s too soon to say if this new-look New England offense will excel against stiffer competition. But for now, head coach Bill Belichick has created a master plan to methodically defeat opponents with ground-and-pound football and the Pats’ hallmark defense (which intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick three times Sunday).

Also of note, Newton rushed for his 60th career touchdown, thereby becoming the first quarterback to reach that mark.

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

One of the most mind-blowing moves of the offseason occurred when the Houston Texans traded star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.

Hopkins, a four-time Pro Bowler, had spent his entire career catching passes for Houston. On Sunday, he made his debut in a new uniform, and with new quarterback, Kyler Murray, the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The pair seemed a perfect match in Sunday’s test against the Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers.

Apparently Hopkins was too much to handle for one of the NFL’s best defenses. The 28-year-old tallied 151 yards through the air, as the Cardinals upset the Niners 24-20 on the road.

It's clear Hopkins will be the focal point of this offense. He was targeted 16 times — 11 more than any other receiver on the field — and caught a career-high 14 passes.

David Johnson, Houston Texans

The Texans will probably regret shipping Hopkins off to Arizona, but they still saw promise in the player they acquired in exchange for the wideout.

Running back David Johnson made his debut on Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and Houston wasted no time in feeding the ball to its new offensive weapon.

On the first play of the game, Johnson rushed for five yards, then gained seven on his next attempt. The one-time Pro Bowler finished the game with 77 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries, while he caught three of four passes for 32 yards.

The Texans were ultimately outmatched by the Chiefs and lost 34-20. On the plus side, Johnson — whose performance had suffered since a season-ending injury in 2017 — flashed glimpses of the player he was in 2016, when he rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 scores.

Jamal Adams, Seattle Seahawks

Jamal Adams wanted out of New York, and he got his wish in late July, when the Seahawks and Jets agreed to a trade.

The two-time Pro Bowler entered an ugly contract dispute with his former team in the offseason, as he hoped to sign an extension that would make him the highest-paid safety in the league.

Now with Seattle, Adams may get his wish, especially after his performance on Sunday. In Week 1, the former first-round pick notched a game-high 12 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one of Seattle’s two sacks, and recorded two quarterback hits.

For now, Adams has agreed to play out the 2020 season on his current deal. If he continues at this level of play, Seattle will need to fork up the kind of cash Cardinals safety Budda Baker received in late August. The fourth-year defender is now the highest paid at his position, after he signed a four-year, $59 million extension with Arizona.

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