Week 1 NFL takeaways – Early concern for the Browns and Falcons?

11:38 PM ET

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Quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ offense exploded for 59 points, but they weren’t the only ones to light up the scoreboards in the NFL’s opening week. The Patriots dominated the Steelers, the Titans took advantage of a slow start from the Browns, and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes picked up where he left off by throwing for 378 yards and three scores versus the Jaguars. The Eagles and Bills also pulled off big come-from-behind division wins to start the 2019 campaign. And there even was a tie!

All that and more in Week 1’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

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The blowout loss to the Patriots exposed a jarring lack of playmaking in the Steelers’ offense, raising serious questions about how Pittsburgh moves the ball without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. There was no real identity, with a no-huddle attack falling flat and no power running game. A major concern is the Steelers’ No. 2 receiver position opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster, who didn’t get help thanks to Donte Moncrief‘s multiple drops. Couple that with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s road woes resurfacing with another uninspired outing at Gillette Stadium, and the Steelers need to regroup for Sunday’s home opener against Seattle. At least young receivers Diontae Johnson and James Washington showed flashes, though no one showed nearly enough. — Jeremy Fowler

In an offseason headlined by how the Patriots might replace retired tight end Rob Gronkowski, and if they have enough weapons around 42-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, the defense has at times been overlooked. The hot topic has mostly been about who would be calling the plays after Brian Flores left to become the Dolphins’ head coach and Greg Schiano resigned in March. First-year inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has mostly taken the reins in that area, with coach Bill Belichick, as usual, having plenty of oversight. The early returns against Roethlisberger — with a veteran secondary that is already building on its 2018 success and a swarming, diverse front seven — were extremely impressive in a dominating performance Sunday night. And now New England travels to Miami to face a Dolphins team reeling after a 59-10 loss to the Ravens. — Mike Reiss

Running back Austin Ekeler said in the lead-up to the season opener against the Colts that he just wanted to play his role. With Melvin Gordon not available, Ekeler finished with 154 yards from scrimmage, including a 55-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, a one-yard reception for a score and the game-winning, seven-yard plunge up the middle in overtime. Backup running back Justin Jackson also was productive, totaling 57 rushing yards. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said he would lean on a running-back-by-committee approach with Gordon out, and it has proved effective. Detroit is next up in Week 2. — Eric D. Williams

Has age started to catch up to 46-year-old kicker Adam Vinatieri? He missed an extra point and two field goals in the overtime loss to the Chargers, and the Colts likely would have won had Vinatieri not left those seven points off the board with the missed kicks. “If you’re a [general manager], you’d cut me, wouldn’t ya?” Vinatieri asked an ESPN reporter. “I don’t make those decisions. Those are decisions for somebody else to make. I’m going to go out there and figure out what I did wrong and try to fix that, and let those decisions be made by other people.” The fixes better happen fast with the 1-0 Titans up next in Nashville. — Mike Wells

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Seattle’s pass rush was hit-and-miss on Sunday, but the hits came at the right time. Quinton Jefferson had the game of his career with two of Seattle’s five sacks, Rasheem Green finished the victory with a strip sack and Jadeveon Clowney brought down Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton once while spending a lot of time in Cincinnati’s backfield. It surely helped to be playing at home against a backup left tackle. But Seattle’s defensive line wasn’t even at full strength with Ezekiel Ansah inactive, Clowney still knocking off some rust after no training camp and Jarran Reed starting his six-game suspension. Once all hands are on deck and in midseason form? “We’re going to wreak havoc,” Branden Jackson said. They will get after Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger next week. — Brady Henderson

The Bengals’ offensive showing was a mixed bag. They racked up 429 yards but had two touchdowns to show for it. While Cincinnati should have left Seattle with a victory, the offensive performance against a quality Seahawks defense should be an encouraging sign under first-year coach Zac Taylor. If the Bengals can convert more of those yards into points, they could prove problematic for opposing defenses this season. And they’ll have to next week against the 49ers, who gave the Bucs fits with their defense. — Ben Baby

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones was effusive with his praise of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore after Sunday’s win and more than pleased with the Cowboy’s 494 total yards. “I don’t know that I’ve seen us at any time put in place the one-two punch,” Jones said. “I know that if they tried to put more at the line to stop Emmitt [Smith], [Troy] Aikman would just pick them apart going down the field. One or the other. I don’t know that I’ve seen us since those days take whatever the defense gives and find an answer for it. I feel that I saw us do that out here against the Giants.” The challenge next week is Washington, which couldn’t finish off the Eagles on Sunday. — Todd Archer

The Giants are going to have a problem on the defensive side, as a season-opening loss to the Cowboys exposed their insufficient talent. No pass rush. An inability for any cornerback other than Janoris Jenkins to cover. No difference-makers or playmakers. The Giants were outclassed by the Cowboys, allowing almost 500 total yards despite Dallas shutting it down early in the fourth quarter. And now the Giants will travel to Buffalo next week to face a team that overcame a 16-0 deficit to beat Jets on Sunday. — Jordan Raanan

The biggest takeaway for the 49ers on Sunday? Takeaways. Four, to be precise. The Niners listened all offseason as they were reminded of their futility in the game’s most important statistical category in 2018, when they set league records for fewest turnovers created (seven) and interceptions (two). Against the Bucs, they came up with three picks — including two returned for touchdowns — and a fumble recovery. On a day when they won by 14 points, those two scores provided the difference and gave Niners coach Kyle Shanahan his first winning record in a season since he took over in 2017. “It’s good to have that monkey off your back a little bit,” Shanahan said. The Niners will now try to win back-to-back games on the road when they face Cincinnati next week. — Nick Wagoner

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Jameis Winston throws three interceptions, two going for 49ers touchdowns, as the Buccaneers fall 31-17.

In his debut in coach Bruce Arians’ offense, quarterback Jameis Winston threw three interceptions and became the third quarterback in the past 15 years to throw two pick-sixes in a season opener. New system or not, that’s not what you expect out of a fifth-year quarterback who has been with stellar wideout Mike Evans his entire NFL career. When asked about Winston’s decision-making, Arians said, “It’s still a thing of growth,” adding that those picks weren’t solely on Winston. “When we stop beating ourselves, we’ll be pretty good,” Arians explained. The Bucs have Carolina next week. — Jenna Laine

The mood was somber for the Lions after an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead devolved into a tie game. “I feel like everybody is just confused right now because it’s a tie,” Detroit cornerback Justin Coleman said. “Not everybody in here experienced a tie before, and we are just going to treat it as a loss so we can come out stronger the next game and use it as motivation, keep us going.” And considering what is coming the next month — the Chargers, Eagles, Chiefs and Packers — a win is something the Lions needed. — Michael Rothstein

If the Cardinals can bottle their offense from the fourth quarter and save it for the rest of the season, things might turn out all right. The offense looked awful for three quarters before finding its rhythm. The key is how the Cardinals respond next week. If they start slow again, they might not recover. But if they can pick up where they left off, with quarterback Kyler Murray going 15-for-19 for 154 yards with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, then Arizona could start surprising some people. — Josh Weinfuss

The Chiefs will have to play without receiver Tyreek Hill for a portion of the season because of an injured collarbone and sternum. The Chiefs have some depth at receiver after last year’s signing of Sammy Watkins as a free agent and drafting Mecole Hardman in the second round in April. That depth will be tested against the Raiders next week and until Hill’s return, but Watkins (9 catches, 198 yards, 3 TDs) looked like he can finally fill the No. 1 receiver role. — Adam Teicher

The 40-26 loss at home to Kansas City was bad enough, but the Jaguars suffered a bigger blow with the loss of quarterback Nick Foles, who will have surgery on his fractured left clavicle on Monday. Unless the Jaguars are able to sign a veteran quarterback early this week — and the pickings are slim with Matt Cassel, Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden, Colin Kaepernick (whom they passed on in 2017) and Paxton Lynch — they will go with Gardner Minshew for as long as Foles is out. The sixth-round rookie was 22-of-25 for 275 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs. Minshew will see the Texans next week. — Mike DiRocco

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Coach Sean McVay said before Sunday’s game running back Todd Gurley II would not be on a snap count, but it became apparent the offensive game plan has expanded to include backup Malcolm Brown. Gurley rushed for 97 yards on 14 carries, and Brown finished with 53 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Since McVay elected to sit all of his starters and key reserves during the preseason, it was the first look at the Rams since their loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. There appeared to be plenty of rust but plenty of reason to believe a Super Bowl hangover will be avoided. Now the Rams must prepare for an NFC Championship Game rematch against Drew Brees and the Saints. — Lindsey Thiry

The Panthers were dreadful offensively in the first half on Sunday, but tight end Greg Olsen reminded that the team can’t let the disappointment of the loss turn into two losses with a quick turnaround to a Thursday night game against NFC South rival Tampa Bay. The silver lining? The offense began to click in the second half against a good defense. Running back Christian McCaffrey was a big reason with 19 rushes for 128 yards, and 10 catches for 81 yards. The concern is quarterback Cam Newton didn’t really attempt a deep pass, with his longest completion at 17 yards, and he rushed for a career-low minus-2 yards on three carries. — David Newton

Remember how much coach Mike Zimmer harped on being more balanced in 2019? The pendulum swung heavily in one direction on Sunday, with the Vikings running the ball 38 times for 172 yards and Kirk Cousins completing 8-of-10 passes for 98 yards and a TD. Although the trend is unlikely to show up regularly, there will be moments when the Vikings can and should stress a heavy workload on Dalvin Cook (21 carries, 111 yards and 2 TDs) rather than Cousins. Zimmer’s defense and Minnesota’s special teams (blocked punt) did their part, too, with the offense scoring all of its points off turnovers. “When you get in those situations [a 28-0 lead], the clock is your friend; the faster that clock goes the better it is,” Zimmer said. The Vikings travel to Green Bay next Sunday to take on their biggest rival. — Courtney Cronin

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Mike Zimmer liked what he saw from RB Dalvin Cook and was happy his offense gave up no turnovers.

Sure, the Falcons had costly turnovers, allowed too much pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan and couldn’t get receiver Julio Jones involved against two-man coverage. But fixing the run defense has to be a primary point of emphasis moving forward. With Dan Quinn coordinating the defense, the Falcons surrendered 172 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to the Vikings. They failed to set the edge, which needs to be fixed before facing guys like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey or even Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard of the Eagles next Sunday night. “We’ve got to go back to work and address it if we want to have a good defense,” defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. “Teams are going to do that against us, they’re going to attack the edge.” — Vaughn McClure

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The Titans married a balanced offensive attack with a physical defense to go on the road and beat the much-hyped Browns. They may have found the answer for their normally pedestrian offense after scoring 34 points against a talented Browns defense. And defensive coordinator Dean Pees mixed in timely blitzes from the defensive backs on the other side of the ball to go with a strong pass rush up front, led by Cameron Wake and Harold Landry. Tennessee could be a force to be reckoned with if it can continue to display this brand of complementary football with its home opener next week against the Colts. — Turron Davenport

The most anticipated Browns season opener in decades quickly turned into one of Cleveland’s most deflating losses in a long time, with fans filing out of FirstEnergy Stadium with almost a quarter still to play. Penalties were the biggest culprit, as the Browns committed 18 for the first time since 1951. But a makeshift offensive line, down its top two left tackles, also struggled to protect quarterback Baker Mayfield, who took a beating from the Titans. The Browns defense got carved up, as well. As wideout Odell Beckham Jr. pointed out, “Adversity has to come at some point, why not come now?” Nobody, though, believed it would come so early for the Browns, who face the Jets on Monday Night Football next week. — Jake Trotter

It took a while, but the Eagles offense showed how explosive it can be now that DeSean Jackson is back. The 32-year-old Jackson brought the fireworks in his return to the Eagles, scoring touchdowns of 53 and 51 yards. He finished with eight catches for 154 yards as the Eagles overcame a 17-0 deficit. With an array of weapons at his disposal, quarterback Carson Wentz should be able to lead this offense right to the top of the league. The Eagles travel to Atlanta next Sunday to face the Falcons, who were no match for the Vikings in a 28-12 loss. — Tim McManus

The Redskins’ defense needs to be a lot more sound if this team is going to even think about having a good year. They were plagued by communication mishaps that led to big touchdowns, just like last season. Cornerback Josh Norman said part of the issue stemmed from not getting certain calls or audibles to the outside quick enough. Safety Montae Nicholson said some of it was from not playing a lot together thus far. Regardless, it was bad, and it wasn’t just the secondary. “That miscommunication will kill you every time,” Norman said. “We’ll get it corrected. … You get out like that, you got to put guys away, you’ve got to shut the door.” It won’t get any easier for the Redskins’ defense next Sunday when they face the Cowboys. — John Keim

Quarterback Josh Allen is not yet a finished product, but he has matured since a highly scrutinized rookie season. The four first-half turnovers were reminiscent of a version of Allen the Bills would have liked to leave in 2018, but his surgical efficiency during a spirited fourth-quarter comeback over the Jets showed he is trending upward, with the Giants on tap next week at MetLife Stadium. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

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In the fourth quarter, Josh Allen throws it deep to John Brown who makes the catch and runs in for the 38-yard score.

Adam Gase’s honeymoon is over. He lost his Jets coaching debut in epic fashion, with his offense managing eight points and the team blowing a 16-point lead at home. He was hired because of his offensive acumen, but the unit couldn’t pass protect and quarterback Sam Darnold couldn’t throw downfield. Gase has to get it fixed quickly with the Browns coming to town. The Jets can’t afford an 0-2 start with a brutal schedule ahead. — Rich Cimini

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Lamar Jackson sent a message that NFL defenses are going to have to defend him passing the ball this season. Last year, Jackson led Baltimore to the AFC North title on the strength of his legs. But Sunday, Jackson threw five touchdown passes, one fewer than his entire 2018 total. “Not bad for a running back,” Jackson said with a smile. He became the first Ravens quarterback to finish with a perfect passer rating (158.3). “This is going to be a different offense,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “I don’t think people really believed us when we said that. We’re kind of bringing a different flavor. We’re going to be able to run the ball when we need to and throw the ball when we need to. It’s going to be a pick your poison for the defense.” Next up for Jackson and the Ravens is Arizona’s Air Raid offense in their home opener. — Jamison Hensley

As expected, the Dolphins look more likely to compete for a top draft pick than a playoff spot, but Sunday’s 49-point loss to Baltimore gave an eye-opening realization of just how bad the season could go. It’s only one game, but there were so many troubling trends. The main one: Miami didn’t even look competitive. The Patriots come to town next week, and the Dolphins better have more fire and better execution if they hope to avoid another embarrassment against Tom Brady and Antonio Brown, who will be making his Patriots debut. — Cameron Wolfe

The Bears’ offense might be that bad, but the hope for the Packers is their own defense is actually this good. All the money the Packers invested in the defense looked like it was well spent on Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Adrian Amos. It buys time for Aaron Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur to find more big plays than just the 47-yard bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, starting next week against Minnesota. — Rob Demovsky

Bears coach Matt Nagy called the overall performance of the offense “unacceptable.” Chicago’s offense looked out of sorts the entire game, scoring three points as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggled and finishing with a pass-to-run differential of 50-to-15. Nagy vowed to fix the offensive issues, but Chicago’s schedule only gets tougher in Week 2 when they face former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and the Broncos’ defense. If any defensive coach knows Trubisky’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s Fangio. — Jeff Dickerson

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