NFL Week 2: Over & Under Reactions

By Steve Moyse

Whether you’re an overjoyed Giants’ fan after a comeback for the ages, a Bengals’ fan staring down 0-2 or a Browns’ fan contemplating life without Nick Chubb, Week 2 left every fan dealing with a world of emotions. 

But what are we overreacting to and who deserves a bit more love ahead of Week 3.

Overreaction: The Cowboys are a lock for the Super Bowl

Led by their ridiculously talented Defence, the 2023 Cowboys are playing with a confidence that has fans eyeing up a trip to Vegas in February. But Cowboys’ fans might want to take a second before pre-booking any hotel rooms.

A strong regular season is no stranger to the Cowboys. In 2022, they finished the season with a very strong 12-5 record only to fall short in the playoffs, due in large part to a high-powered 49ers’ Offensive Line.

So far this season the Cowboys’ Defence has overcome any and every Offensive Lineman they’ve faced. In fact, last week the Defence recorded a QB pressure on over 50% of dropbacks while only blitzing 5 times. 

However, both the Jets and Giants have notoriously under-developed Offensive Lines – a long way from that of the Eagles or 49ers, who they would be facing come playoff time.

Prove that you can generate pressure against the best O-Lines in the business on the biggest stage, and then we can discuss Super Bowl guarantees.

Overreaction: The Vikings need to move off Kirk Cousins

When you start a season 0-2 after going 14-3 the year before, fans getting frustrated and demanding change should come as no surprise. 

As the Vikings look to find their first win of the year in Week 3, fans have placed QB Kirk Cousins on the hot seat – with many begging for him to be traded before the deadline. 

While I can completely understand the frustration, placing the blame on a QB who has put up 708 yards for 6 TDs and only 1 interception, over the first 2 weeks, is completely baffling. Even when facing a stacked Eagles’ Defence in Prime Time, Cousins’ kryptonite, he was able to throw for over 360 yards and 4 TDs with a passer rating of 125.6. 

Meanwhile, the Vikings Defence is ranked in the bottom 10 for points allowed and, in Week 2, ranked 31st for yards allowed. 

With the defense seemingly only getting worse, it’s becoming glaringly obvious how much the 4x Pro Bowl QB has had to overcome in his Vikings tenure.

Overreaction: Sauce Gardner’s Sophomore Slump

As of right now, it’s fair to say that 2023 isn’t going as planned for reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Sauce Gardner. The 1st team All-Pro corner, is currently allowing an 83.3 reception percentage and an average passer rating of 121.2 – leading many to label Sauce as a ‘one-hit-wonder’ in the midst of a ‘Sophomore Slump’.

However, when you look at each game separately, a struggling Sauce is still capable of giving opposing teams major problems…

In Week 1, Sauce directly conceded only 62 yards despite facing Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis and Josh Allen. Then in Week 2, the singular time that stud WR CeeDee Lamb was targeted while being covered by Sauce, it resulted in a forced incompletion. 

While we are yet to see ‘Rookie Sauce’ in 2023, productivity like this would be considered really positive for 90% of Cornerbacks.

As we move into Week 3, watch the ‘Sophomore Slump’ label motivate Sauce to resume his rookie form and silence all doubters.

Under-reaction: Christian Gonzalez

When he fell to the Patriots in this year’s draft, many expected Bill Belichick to guide Gonzalez through a solid season in 2023. However, nobody could have predicted just how dominant the 21-year-old CB would be.

According to PFF, in Week 2 Gonzalez earned himself a 91.6 coverage grade after allowing just 3 catches for 32 yards while claiming 1 interception and 1 forced incompletion. Even more impressive when you consider that this was against Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle – arguably the most explosive WR tandem in the NFL. 

After 2 weeks, Gonzalez is ranked as the 3rd best Corner in the league, allowing a passer rating of just 58.5. For context, in Sauce Gardner’s Rookie Season, he allowed an average passer rating only slightly better, at 53.9 – helping him become the first Rookie CB to earn 1st team All-Pro honours in 41 years.

As the season goes on, I fully expect Gonzalez to solidify himself as one of the best CBs in the league and give Sauce’s rookie season a run for its money.

Under-reaction: Sam Howell

After taking over from Carson Wentz for the finale of the 2022 season, 5th-round pick Sam Howell led the Commanders to a 26-6 win over the Cowboys – prompting HC Ron Rivera to confidently name Howell as QB1 for the 2023 season.

While Howell hasn’t necessarily taken the league by storm, to begin his first full year as the starter, he does deserve considerably more credit for his effectiveness thus far. 

Through 2 weeks, Howell has 501 yards for 3 TDs and an average passer rating of 95, while leading the Commanders to their first 2-0 start since 2011. 

In Week 3, Howell will face his toughest challenge yet, as he takes on reigning AFC East Champions, the Buffalo Bills. That said, with an insanely talented Defence, an exciting group of Offensive weapons and a notoriously creative OC, Sam Howell has everything around him to shock the Bills and prove his worth.

Under-reaction: Tutu Atwell

When Cooper Kupp was placed on IR to start the year, and reports of QB Matt Stafford struggling to bond with the younger players came out, people were quick to write off the LA Rams’ offense heading into the 2023 season.

Now, after destroying the Seahawks and pushing the 49ers to the wire, the LA Rams are proving all their doubters wrong – predominantly thanks to the unexpectedly elite play coming from their young receivers.

Understandably so, most of the attention has gone to Rookie sensation, Puka Nacua. The 5th-round pick has blown everyone away, sitting second in the NFL for receiving yards and first for receptions. 

That said, very quietly Tutu Atwell has also been putting up elite numbers. The kind of numbers that would be the talk of L.A., if not for Nacua. 

So far in 2023, Atwell is 8th in the NFL for receiving yards and 10th for receptions. As teams increasingly pay more attention to Nacua, expect Atwell’s targets to only increase.

Feature Image Credit: OutKick

Steve Moyse

NFL Analyst

Steve Moyse is a Writer, Podcaster and long suffering New York Jets fan. Stay tuned with his content via Twitter – @steve_moyse