The 2023 NFL season is here, and Week 1 has been wild. In the early window,the San Francisco 49ers picked up right where they left off with a healthy Brock Purdy, the Cleveland Browns shut down Joe Burrow, and a handful of rookies really stood out in their debuts.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins came out on top after an offensive battle against Justin Herbert and theLos Angeles Chargers Jordan Love had no issues being the Green Bay Packers No. 1 quarterback and the Denver Broncos didn’t score enough — again. Capping off Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys dominated the New York Giants en route to a 40-0 blowout.
Our NFL Nation reporters are reacting to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who — or what — is rising and falling for every team. Let’s get to….
Are the Cowboys really this good? The last time the Cowboys opened the year with a dismantling of the Giants was in 1995 (35-0). That team went on to win Super Bowl XXX. The Cowboys have been searching for another Super Bowl ever since. The road ahead will be much more difficult — maybe as soon as next week against Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium — so don’t book flights to Las Vegas yet.
But this was as dominant of a performance the Cowboys have had in Mike McCarthy’s tenure. The defense shut down the Giants and contributed a touchdown. The special teams contributed a touchdown. Tony Pollard contributed two goal-line touchdown runs, answering any questions as how the Cowboys would handle the loss of Ezekiel Elliott.
Stock up after the win: Dan Quinn. The coordinator had his defense ready, which wasn’t unexpected, but the unit was completely dominant (six sacks in less than three quarters of action). Since 2021 when Quinn took over, the Cowboys have 10 defensive touchdowns, including DaRon Bland’s pick-six Sunday, tied with the New England Patriots for the most in that time.
with multiple takeaways, three more than any other NFL team.: Since we have to pick somebody, Brandon Aubrey didn’t help turn many into true believers by missing his first extra point of the season, bringing up some Brett Maher memories. But he made his next four point after tries and both field goal attempts,
Is the Giants’ offensive
Is the Giants’ offensive line going to be their Achilles heel all season long? GAINTS- This was perhaps the team’s biggest concern entering the opener. Would the Giants’ line hold up against a dominant Cowboys pass rush? The answer was clearly “No” after New York allowed seven sacks. It made it impossible for the team to run any offense and quarterback Daniel Jones was flustered and regressed to his early form.
The Giants need to figure a way to get this right quickly, otherwise they’ll be embarrassed again by the 49ers in prime time in Week 3. Second-year guard Joshua Ezeudu is an option, but he couldn’t win a starting job this summer despite every opportunity. Looking outside the organization for a veteran (Justin Pugh, Dalton Risner or D.J. Fluker) might be an option the Giants need to explore.
Stock up after the loss: Sorry, can’t think of anything. Nobody was good for the Giants. They lost 40-0 after giving up 26 first-half points. It’s hard to pick positives from that kind of takedown. The Giants opened with a field goal attempt returned for a touchdown. Jones had two interceptions, including a pick-six. Even the always reliable Graham Gano missed a chip-shot field goal.
What’s up with the Eagles offense? The normally dynamic offense sputtered for much of the game and had to settle for four Jake Elliott field goals. The Eagles went three-and-out on four straight possessions in the first half. They had only one game with four three-and-outs last season: their Week 17 loss to the Saints with Gardner Minshew under center. And Jalen Hurts’ late fumble could have cost them the game. It’s likely just a temporary malaise — the starters didn’t play during the preseason so there’s some rust to knock off, and the Patriots’ defense is legit. The concern would be if this is a sign teams have identified ways to slow this attack through their offseason studies.
Stock up after the win: DT Jalen Carter. The rookie made his presence felt in his NFL debut, generating a team-best six pressures and registering his first sack. Carter made it look easy, using his unique blend of speed and power to routinely pierce the backfield.
Stock down after the win: Eagles offensive line. Normally a primary strength of this team, the offensive front struggled to keep a clean pocket for Hurts, who was pressured 19 times and sacked three times. It was a tough first assignment, as Bill Belichick is as good as it gets at creating confusion upfront, but this unit needs to be better.
Can the Patriots start faster in Week 2? Self-inflicted mistakes helped put the Patriots into a 16-0 hole, which made life more difficult than it had to be. Captain Deatrich Wise Jr. lined up in the neutral zone on the initial second down of the game, so instead of a third-and-long after a botched snap, the penalty helped extend the Eagles’ opening drive that ended with a field goal.
That was followed by a Mac Jones pick-six and Ezekiel Elliott losing a fumble that was turned into a touchdown. The Patriots didn’t look ready to play early, which was a major disappointment on a day when Gillette Stadium was rocking with Tom Brady back in town to be honored. The team is home again in Week 2 and another slow start could be costly with road games at the Jets and Cowboys in Weeks 3 and 4.
Stock up after the loss: Defense. After a shaky start to open the game, the unit held the Eagles to nine points after the first quarter. The Patriots were stingy in limiting the Eagles to 251 total yards.
Stock down after the loss: Running game. It didn’t help that starting guards Cole Strange (knee) and Mike Onwenu (ankle) were inactive, but holes were hard to come by for backs Rhamondre Stevenson, Elliott and Ty Montgomery II. The group tallied 76 rushing yards on 22 attempts —
Was today’s run defense the new normal or an anomaly? The Chargers ran for 121 yards in the first half and didn’t slow down, finishing with 234 rushing yards — the most the Dolphins have allowed since the Bears ran for 252 yards in 2022. The Dolphins’ offense looked plenty capable of holding up its end of a shootout, but it’s disheartening to get into a shootout with the Chargers when Justin Herbert passes for only 228 yards. Against a run-heavy opponent in the New England Patriots next week, this facet of the Dolphins’ game must be cleaned up.
Stock up after the win: Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill. Tagovailoa had 466 yards with three touchdowns and was 8-of-14 on throws of at least 15 air yards, with five going to Hill, whose road to 2,000 receiving yards got off to a scorching start with a 11-catch, 215-yard, 2-touchdown day.
Stock down after the win: The Dolphins’ front seven. They were dominated throughout the day by the Chargers’ rushing attack — but Miami’s pass-rushers were also quietly ineffective. They did come through when it counted, forcing a Herbert intentional grounding before sacking him twice on the Chargers’ final drive to seal the wiN
Is the Chargers’ rushing resurgence for real? As the first NFL team to run for more than 220 yards and three touchdowns in a season opener since 2010, the initial returns under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore look more than promising. The offensive line blocked well, and tailbacks Austin Ekeler (117 yards on 16 carries) and Joshua Kelley (91 yards on 16 carries) ran decisively behind them.
Los Angeles can’t run for 234 yards every week, but it won’t have to on those days when quarterback Justin Herbert and his receivers do the heavy lifting.
Stock up after the loss: The run defense. The NFL’s worst run-stoppers a year ago, the Chargers limited the Dolphins to 70 yards on a 3.5 per carry average, which qualifies as a significant improvement on 2022.
Stock down after the loss: CB J.C. Jackson. While he wasn’t the only member of the secondary at fault for Miami’s monster passing game, Jackson’s 30-yard pass interference penalty to give the Dolphins a 41-end the first half proved costly.
tt LaFleur kCan Maeep coming up with creative play designs? He might have to given the Packers aren’t exactly loaded with playmakers — especially with receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) out. And the 51-yard screen LaFleur called and Jordan Love executed to perfection in the third quarter was as creative as anything the Packers’ fifth-year coach has unveiled. Love ran a bootleg to the left and threw across his body to the right, where Aaron Jones had linemen Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers and Jon Runyan to block for him. It was part of a monster day for Jones (13 touches, 127 total yards, 2 touchdowns) before he left with a hamstring injury.