1. The New England Patriots embrace the bad-boy mentality
Following the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game win last season, Tom Brady released an Instagram video featuring him and Rob Gronkowski smiling mischievously at the camera, while Diddy’s “Bad Boys For Life” played in the background. Now it’s time for Brady to cut a new social media promo featuring Antonio Brown.
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The controversial wide receiver went through a whole lot of trouble, including hiring a team who consulted him on what to post on Twitter and Instagram, in order to manipulate the Raiders into releasing him.
Brown’s social media took a wild ride Saturday, and as soon as Oakland let him go, it didn’t take long before word got out the Patriots would hire the standout receiver. While it might seem like an ill-advised move, the Pats have never shied away from controversial figures (Randy Moss and Josh Gordon, to name a few). Bill Belichick will keep Brown’s ego in check. If not, he’ll show him the door. But for now New England sees an opportunity to load up on even more weapons to make its case for Super Bowl LIV even better.
2. Move over Melvin Gordon
Ezekiel Elliott’s contract holdout finally ended, and the star running back got the mega-contract he desired. Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon didn’t experience the same success with his team. Gordon continued to sit out Week 1 in hopes of a new contract deal, and LA chose to move forward with Austin Ekeler in the run game. It turned out the third-year back was a fine replacement for Gordon.
In Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, Ekeler carried the ball 12 times for 58 yards and a win-clinching rushing touchdown in overtime. He was even more dangerous as a receiver, as he caught six passes for 96 yards and two more scores.
Austin Ekeler walk-off TD in overtime 🏈
— PFF (@PFF) September 8, 2019
On Sunday, Ian Rapoport reported that Gordon will return to the Chargers midway through the season, but after Ekeler’s performance, Gordon may find his role, and not his contract, the biggest change coming to 2019.
3. Lamar Jackson looked like an MVP candidate
The second-year, dual-threat quarterback kicked off the season with a breakout performance against the lowly Miami Dolphins. In Baltimore’s 59-10 win in Miami, Jackson accounted for five touchdowns, tied for the most by a Ravens quarterback in one game, and did all of his damage through the air.
Jackson went 17-of-20 for 324 yards and linked up with four different receivers on touchdown passes, with two going to rookie Marquise Brown. In his post-game press conference, Jackson made light of his performance by referencing previous criticism of his play.
“Not bad for a running back.”
Lamar Jackson’s final stats vs. the Dolphins:
✅ 17-20 passing
✅ 324 yards
✅ 5 TDs
The 22-year-old is the first Ravens QB to finish a game with a perfect passer rating (158.3).pic.twitter.com/fxZp9BHxup
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 8, 2019
The “running back” clearly worked on his passing game in the offseason, and if the offensive line can continue to protect him like it did against a weak opponent like the Dolphins, the Ravens could find themselves back in the playoffs with an MVP candidate leading the way.
4. The Cleveland Browns ‘still need to play football’
Just ask Delanie Walker. The Tennessee Titans tight end was quick to knock the Browns following the Titans’ 43-13 victory in Cleveland, as Baker Mayfield and his teammates appeared to be the same ol’ Browns, despite all the hype surrounding them in the offseason.
“They were who we thought they were.”
Delanie Walker quoting Dennis Green to jab at the Browns.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 8, 2019
Mayfield struggled throughout the day and ended with an abysmal 27.2 quarterback rating. He connected on 25 of his 38 passes, had three passes intercepted in the fourth quarter and was sacked five times, with one in the end zone for a safety.
The Browns were sloppy across the board and committed 18 penalties, plus tackle Greg Robinson got ejected from the game for kicking Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro. On top of all that, Odell Beckham Jr. decided he needed to wear a $350,000 watch while he played—an apparent safety hazard that violates league policy.
Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t backing down in his watch dispute with the NFL https://t.co/5RQZ6LtE7q
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 10, 2019
What else did you expect from the Browns?
5. Keep your eye on the Minnesota Vikings
The Falcons were considered a dark-horse Super Bowl candidate in the offseason, but more people should have been talking about the Minnesota Vikings. In a new-look offense crafted by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and adviser Gary Kubiak, the Vikings showed off an explosive run game headed by Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 111 yards on 21 carries and reached the end zone twice in Minnesota’s 28-12 win.
Isaiah Oliver engaging with Adam Thielen instead of trying to tackle Dalvin Cook is certainly a choice pic.twitter.com/5dizsSvonm
— Christian D’Andrea (@TrainIsland) September 8, 2019
Quarterback Kirk Cousins sat back and passed just 10 times and threw one 23-yard touchdown to Adam Thielen. The Minnesota defense sacked Matt Ryan four times, forced three turnovers and held the Falcons run game to 73 yards, with running back Devonta Freeman rushing for only 19 in his return.
The Vikings head to Green Bay in Week 2 and are primed to hand their NFC North rival a loss inside Lambeau Field.