Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, as teams have revealed the strengths and weaknesses they’ve been trying to highlight and hide throughout training camp. There’s plenty of film exploiting a formula of how to beat them in Week 2 — or later in the NFL season.
The tape is out there, along with a game plan that teams are looking to replicate. What issues does every team have to fix or improve prior to Week 2? Let’s dive in:
Arizona Cardinals: More aggressive offense
Josh Dobbs averaging just 4.4 yards per attempt isn’t going to win football games, especially considering how well the defense played in Week 1. The Cardinals had just 210 yards of offense and failed to score an offensive touchdown. Dobbs just joined the Cardinals two weeks ago, but the offense needs to take more shots downfield if it actually wants to put points on the board.
What’s the point of drafting these players high in the first round if they don’t get targets? Pitts had just three targets and London had one, as Desmond Ridder threw just 18 passes (completed 15 of them). The Falcons have a great rushing attack, but they need to get the football to their playmaking pass-catchers on offense to avoid being one dimensional.
Baltimore Ravens: Consistent OL play
The Ravens offensive line came out of the game slow against the Texans new-look defense, allowing seven pressures in the first half. The pass blocking improved in the second half, allowing just four pressures. The run game suffered, however, as the Ravens had 18 carries for 49 yards (2.7 yards per carry) in the second half compared to 14 carries for 61 yards (4.4 yards per carry in the first half). The offensive line just has to be more consistent in both pass and run blocking against Cincinnati.
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen turnovers
Allen threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the Week 1 loss to the Jets, playing too aggressive when he didn’t have to against a New York team with Zach Wilson playing. Allen has the most giveaways since the start of last season — and the most since 2018. The careless play has, and his reputation as a quarterback. Allen needs to pull the reins back a bit if the Bills want to win games against inferior teams.
Bryce Young’s debut was, yet the entire team wasn’t good in the Week 1 loss to the Falcons. The Panthers had nine penalties for 65 yards, a holding penalty on special teams, a delay of game penalty on offense, and a pass interference penalty and a too many men on the field penalty on defense. Three giveaways also led to 17 points for the Falcons. Carolina just has to play smoother football.
Fields threw 37 passes Sunday, but those throws were more checkdowns — as his actual depth of target was 3.1 and yards per attempt was 4.6. There were just two targets to D.J. Moore, and the longest completion was 23 yards to Darnell Mooney. With Moore and Mooney, more shots need to be taken downfield. That’s on play-caller Luke Getsy.
As poor as Joe Burrow was in the opener, special teams might have been worse. The weather didn’t help, but the Bengals missed a kick, had a botched snap, and averaged 40.9 yards per punt on 10 punt attempts (37.4 net average). Cincinnati needs a clean performance on special teams against Baltimore.
Cleveland Browns: Tell Deshaun Watson to stay aggressive
In better conditions, Watson might have had a bigger day throwing the football. Watson’s average depth of target was fourth in the league, as the Browns receivers were getting open against the Bengals secondary. Per Next Gen Stats, Watson was third in intended average air yards — so he took his chances when given the opportunity. The Browns offense needs to keep that approach.
Dallas didn’t exactly need Cooks on Sunday during its 40-point destruction of the Giants. Cooks was getting open throughout the night, which opened up the offense for other opportunities. The Jets secondary is one of the best in the NFL, though, so Dallas will need to target Cooks again and use his route running to move the chains.
Denver Broncos: Penalties still a problem
Sean Payton emphasized cutting down the penalties in 2023, yet Denver had 10 penalties for 97 yards in Week 1. The biggest one was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Kareem Jackson with 2:54 left on a play that would have gotten the defense off the field in a one-point game. Instead, the Raiders were able to run out the clock and claim victory. This problem lies beyond Nathaniel Hackett, as penalties are still an issue for this team.
Week 1 wasn’t Ben Johnson’s finest as a play-caller, especially with the lack of usage of Jahmyr Gibbs. The first-round pick played just 19 snaps and had nine touches for 60 yards (6.6 yards per touch). He’s a cheat code in an offense with playmakers and an efficient quarterback. The Lions need to use him more and take advantage of his skill set.
Green Bay Packers: Throw outside the numbers
This is just being nit-picky with how well the Packers played Sunday, but Jordan Love certainly took advantage of attacking the middle of the field in the blowout win over the Bears. He didn’t have Christian Watson either, so take that into accord. If Watson is back this week, let’s see if Love targets between the numbers and the sidelines more.
Houston Texans: Run the ball more
The Texans were only down by one point entering the second half, yet the final box score showed they had 48 pass attempts and had 23 designed runs. Dameon Pierce wasn’t on the field for 50% of the snaps and had 11 carries. With Pierce and Devin Singletary at running back, the Texans need to commit to the run — especially with a rookie quarterback.
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Indianapolis Colts: Find someone to help Anthony Richardson in the ground game
The Colts running game was even worse than expected. Their running backs had 16 carries for 25 yards, an average of 1.6 yards per carry. Deon Jackson had 13 carries for 14 yards. For the Colts sake, Zack Moss may significantly improve this group if he’s back this week. The running game can’t get any worse.
Losing Brandon Scherff is the bigger concern, but Jacksonville allowed two sacks and eight pressures in Sunday’s win. Trevor Lawrence’s ability to get rid of the football helped out those numbers. The running game didn’t erupt until the fourth quarter, as Jacksonville struggled to get anything going on the ground early. The Jaguars have some issues to correct up front.
This should improve with Travis Kelce potentially returning this week, but the wideouts had their struggles getting open in the second half of their Week 1 loss. Skyy Moore was a non-factor and Kadarius Toney had three drops, one of which led to seven points from the Lions. The wideouts have to make a more significant impact going forward. Perhaps more targets for Rashee Rice will help.
Las Vegas Raiders: Limit penalties
Notice the theme here? The Raiders were one of the most penalized teams in the NFL last season, and they had 10 penalties for 97 yards Sunday. Jakorian Bennett had two pass interference penalties that aided two touchdown drives, but he’s also a rookie cornerback. The Raiders were 30th in penalties for per game last year — and Sunday didn’t exactly showcase they’ve improved in that department.
Los Angeles Chargers: Improve against pre-snap motion
The Chargers had no answer for Mike McDaniel’s bread and butter. Miami confused Los Angeles on every play, moving guys around the backfield and exposing the defense. There was a reason why nearly every Dolphins receiver seemed to gain separation. Whatever defensive scheme the Chargers were running was exposed because of the lack of ability to react. Brandon Staley has to clean that up.
The Rams certainly want Williams to play a factor in the run game, as evidenced by his two touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Seahawks. The run game averaged just 2.3 yards per carry, but Williams had 52 yards and two scores. Perhaps using Williams more in the backfield will help that run game and make the unit more efficient.
Miami Dolphins: Greatly improve run defense
The Dolphins allowed 234 rushing yards and 5.9 yards per carry against the Chargers last week, having no answer to contain Austin Ekeler or Joshua Kelley. If it wasn’t for the Chargers abandoning Ekeler in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins may be 0-1 despite having 536 yards of offense. Poor angles and missed assignments led to the run defense woes, which are signs of adjusting to a new defensive coordinator. Miami can’t be that bad this week.
Minnesota Vikings: Figure out a way to run the ball better
Think the Vikings are missing Dalvin Cook yet? Minnesota had 14 carries for 34 yards from its two running backs (2.4 yards per carry), a product of the interior of its offensive line. The Vikings will have to clean that up against an improved Eagles run defense. They did sign Myles Gaskin to the active roster this week to help out Alexander Mattison.
New England Patriots: Clean up the early mistakes
The Patriots would be 1-0 if they didn’t create a 16-0 hole against the Eagles — all self-inflicted wounds. Two early drops stalled drives, while one led to an interception return for a touchdown. A fumble led to a touchdown and an offensive penalty took away a negative play early in the game. A better start will help New England against Miami.
Hope the Saints learned that Penning needs help at left tackle, as he struggled blocking one-on-one against Harold Landry and Arden key (the latter finished with eight pressures). Penning allowed two sacks and six pressures, as his footwork is still a work in progress. The Saints need an extra blocker next to Penning for the time being.
New York Giants: Improve OL play
The offensive line has Andrew Thomas, but the overall unit still stinks. Daniel Jones was pressured on 60% of his dropbacks and was sacked six times. The unit allowed 22 pressures against a defense that attacks with multiple fronts. The Cardinals defense isn’t a pushover, either. This has to be better in Week 2.
New York Jets: Protect Zach Wilson
The offensive line played a major role in Aaron Rodgers being lost for the season after four plays. If Zach Wilson couldn’t run away from the pressure, he would have suffered the same fate. The offensive line allowed 14 pressures in the win, a number that has to be significantly reduced going forward. Perhaps handing the ball off more will improve that mark, especially since Wilson is the quarterback.
Philadelphia Eagles: Be more aggressive with play-calling
The Eagles didn’t attempt many passes downfield in Sunday’s win over the Patriots, attempting just three passes over 20-plus air yards (Jalen Hurts went 0 for 3). Only 12 passes were thrown 10-plus air yards in the game — and Hurts completed four of them. Brian Flores will mix things up for the Vikings like Bill Belichick did for the Patriots, but Minnesota doesn’t have the same personnel as New England. The offense needs to attack downfield.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Run the ball more
Easier said than done when the team faces a 20-0 deficit midway through the second quarter, but the Steelers only had 10 carries in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers — and one of them was Kenny Pickett. Going three-and-out on four of the first five possessions (with an interception on the other possession) could be avoided by giving the ball to Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. That’s on Matt Canada.
San Francisco 49ers: Clean up the penalties
The 49ers were basically perfect in Sunday’s win over the Steelers … except they had 11 penalties for 85 yards. The 11 penalties were second most in the NFL, not good for a team that finished tied for seventh in the league last year. While the penalties didn’t cost the 49ers on Sunday, they need to cut down the flags being thrown on them.
Seattle Seahawks: Clarify the secondary confusion
The Seahawks pass defense was picked apart in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, probably as a result of all the combinations Seattle tried during the preseason. The Seahawks have too many guys who can play multiple positions, which will get even more confusing if Devon Witherspoon returns this week. Too many different corners and safeties on the field led to confusion in pass defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Run the ball more effectively
The Vikings aren’t exactly a physical team, yet the Buccaneers had 33 carries for 73 yards — an average of 2.2 yards per carry. Rachaad White’s longest run was six yards, as he had 17 carries for 39 yards in the win. The Buccaneers were taking shots downfield, but they’ll convert more if the run game can actually be more productive.
Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the Saints, not looking like the veteran quarterback who has efficiently led the offense over the past five years. Sure, Tannehill was pressured throughout the game, but his decision-making was poor — especially when forcing passes to DeAndre Hopkins. Tannehill was 16 of 34 for 198 yards and three interceptions (28.8 rating). He must have a clean game Sunday.
Washington Commanders: Better play in front of Sam Howell
If Eric Bieniemy wants to continue taking shots downfield (which is a great sign), the Commanders have to protect Sam Howell better. He was sacked six times and hit six times. The run blocking wasn’t much better, as the run game averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. The offensive line was a weakness going into the year and didn’t do anything to prove the doubters wrong.
This content was originally published here.