Never before had we seen five rookie quarterbacks starting in the opening week of the NFL, and it made for quite a week one. There were some great performances, and some not so great ones. But what's not debatable is that there is clearly a youth movement at the positon, and it's going to make the 2012 season even more interesting.
There was plenty going on throughout the league aside from the quarterback position. One left tackle in particular had a surprisingly good game, but was it enough to get his team a victory? Who else stood out in week one?
A Week of Debuts: How 5 Rookie QBs Fared in Their First Starts
Week one of the 2012 season may end up going down in history. Five rookie quarterbacks started in in their team's opener, something that's never happened before and may not ever happen again. There were some surprisingly good showings, and a couple of pretty concerning outings. How did each rookie do in their first starts?
Russell Wilson was a player that was talked about all preseason long, and a guy we highlighted leading up to week one as a player who could have a big game. Unfortunately, his offensive line didn't hold up their end of the bargain, and as result Wilson struggled to get comfortable. It was an issue that probably could have been predicted.
The Seahawks were starting J.R. Sweezy at guard, who just recently made the switch from defensive tackle, and his match-up against the Cardinals' Darnell Dockett made for a brutal introduction to the NFL. He and the rest of the offensive line struggled throughout the game, and that made Wilson's life very tough.
It wasn't all bad for Wilson on Sunday. His completion percentage (52%) wasn't stellar by any means, but considering the amount of pressure he was under it certainly wasn't something to hold against him. He also only turned the ball over once, something not many other rookie quarterbacks have been able to say.
He also had some success in the two minute drill at the end of the game. Seattle needed a touchdown, and Wilson was able to get them all the way to the four yard line. The success ended there, however, and the Seahawks hopes for a week one victory ended with their rookie throwing three straight incompletions. Wilson's debut showed promise, but he (and the offensive line) still has plenty of work to do.
Much like Wilson, not many people expected that Ryan Tannehill would win the starting job during his first training camp, but that's exactly what he did in Miami. And, like the rookie Seahawk, Tannehill didn't get off to quite the smooth start he was hoping for.
Houston's stellar pass rush was a nightmare for Tannehill. Jonathon Martin, draftedto help protect Tannehill, was abused by JJ Watt from the first snap, and that gave Tannehill very little time to work with. The result? The rookie threw for three interceptions, and generally looked uncomfortable all day long.
He particularly struggled with intermediate passes, completing only one. He was only given one chance to throw a deep pass, but he did complete that attempt to Brian Hartline. It's far too early to start panicking, but Tannehill clearly needs some help around him before he'll really flourish.
Andrew Luck was the most highly touted prospect heading into the draft, so it's no surprise that every throw and audible he made would be analyzed and reanalyzed for the next seven days. Unfortunately for the Colts, much of that analysis won't be too pleasant.
The good news: Luck threw for over 300 yards and one touchdown. The bad news: he also threw three interceptions finished with a 52.9 QB rating. It was certainly not what Indianapolis fans had hoped to see out of their new franchise QB, but again, it probably should have been expected.
The Colts had the first pick in the draft for a reason. Without Peyton Manning, the offense simply didn't have much to work with, and their defense had no stopping power. It's going to take more than just the presence of Luck to turn the team around. One promising note – Manning's first game as a starter included a nearly identical stat line.
No rookie had a tougher first start than Cleveland's Brandon Weeden. He was one of the more controversial quarterbacks in the draft due to his age, but based on his first performance there's more to be concerned about than that.
Like many of his rookie counterparts, Weeden's struggles were not entirely his fault. His receivers couldn't get open for most of the game, and poor play by Greg Little resulted in one of Weeden's four interceptions.
It's difficult to lay all the blame at Weeden's feet, but he didn't really give the Browns' offense a boost, either. He didn't complete a pass over ten yards the whole game, making an already lack luster offense even less dynamic. Will Weeden's age give him the maturity to bounce back from a poor week one?
There was plenty of preseason hype surrounding Robert Griffin III, and for at least one week he more than met expectations. The stats he put up were impressive: 320 passing yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. But beating the New Orleans Saints on the road? That's a tough task for any quarterback, and for a rookie in his first start it's unheard of.
Unlike the other rookie QBs, Griffin had the benefit of a helpful supporting cast. In spite of putting up big passing numbers, he took only two deep shots down the field. He had several successful screens and greatly benefited from some good runs after the catch. That's not to discount what he did in week one, but it's something to remember if he struggles to repeat the same types of stat lines later in the year.
Recapping the Match-ups to Watch
Green Bay LT Marshall Newhouse vs. San Francisco LB Aldon Smith
Green Bay knew that Aldon Smith was likely to cause problems for their offense. And although they still gave up three sacks (Smith had one) and 5 more hurries, Marshall Newhouse and the rest of the offensive line did a pretty solid job of pass protection for most of the game.
It obviously wasn't a flawless performance, but they weren't the reason for the Packers' loss. They did a good job of dealing with many different stunting concepts that were thrown at them, and it helped their offense put up 22 points on the vaunted 49ers defense, which is no small accomplishment.
Buffalo WR Steve Johnson vs. New York CB Darrelle Revis
The much anticipated match up between Steve Johnson and Darrelle Revis ended up being quite a disappointment. The Buffalo offense was inept for most of the game, and although Johnson did end up scoring a touchdown, it'd be tough for the Bills to leave the game feeling good about much of anything outside of CJ Spillers' big showing.
For Revis, the biggest question will be how quickly he can rebound from a concussion he suffered in the 4th quarter of the blow out. He's considered questionable right now, but sources around the team seem pretty optimistic that he'll be able to play in week two.
New England's Interior Offensive Line vs. Tennessee's Interior Defensive Line
For Tennessee to be successful, the battle of their defensive tackles versus the Patriot's offensive guards was one they had to win. And while the Titans' flashed from time to time, they lost those battles far too often for the team to have a chance at stopping Tom Brady and company.
Stevan Ridley gashed the Titans' line for 125 yards on only 21 carries (a 6.0 YPC average), and their DTs never were able to get to Brady. Only Tennessee's Kamerion Wimbley was able to record a sack. The pass rush is going to have to be vastly improved if they want to push Houston for the AFC South crown.
Related: 2012 NFL Scouting: Week One's Top Matchups, Rookies to Watch, and More
Scouting Notes From Across the League
Miami's offense struggled, but their defensive line played well. One player in particular that stood out was Randy Starks. Starks had two sacks, two more QB hurries, generally appeared to be unblockable.
Josh Freeman has often been criticized throughout his young NFL career, but he played pretty well in Tampa Bay's upset win over Carolina. He didn't put up big numbers, but he was efficient, ran the offense well, and didn't turn the ball over.
If it wasn't already, it's probably time to start worrying about the trajectory of Michael Vick's career. He made countless poor decisions against the Browns' secondary. He lacked a rhythm with his receivers and although he put together a game winning drive, throwing four interceptions simply isn't acceptable from a player of Vick's caliber.
Footballoutsiders.com does a great job with accumulating the snap counts from each NFL game. Some interesting ones to note from week one:
Titans WR Kendall Wright was rumored to have some issues learning the offense early in the offseason, but if that issue was there he's bounced back from it. He played 80% of the Titans snaps in week one.
WR Brian Quick appears to be dealing with a more difficult learning curve in St. Louis. After a disappointing preseason, he only got three snaps against the Lions.
Any possibility of the Rams taking too many carries away from Steven Jackson seems to be minimal for now. Jackson played 95% of the Rams snaps, where Isaiah Pead only one snap on offense.
The big running back committee in San Francisco may be over blown as well – Frank Gore got 50 snaps, and Kendall Hunter 15 (roughly a 75%-25% split).
If somehow you're still sleeping on Oakland's Rod Streater, it's time to wake up. He got 97% of their offensive snaps and got ten targets during the game.