Willo's 2020 NFL stock report: Week 2

Week 2 is done and dusted, and what a hoot it was. The NFL threw up a number of surprises in the form of comebacks, choke jobs, and coupon busters. More importantly, however, is how I managed to successfully achieve a “deep fried” effect on a bundle of chicken wings. I’ve long stood by my culinary prowess, and I’m delighted with the results there. If you’re nice, I’ll even give you the recipe.

As is tradition, let’s take a look back on the last week, and make a few bold predictions along the way. When we look back on these in a few weeks time, I’m confident they’ll stand up. 

Invest heavily

As with every season, there were conversations about which young QB is going to truly break out. Who would join the likes of Partrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson among the pantheon of electric playmakers in the Quarterback position. Some thought Josh Allen, with his rocket arm and dancing shoes. Others, possibly Sam Darnold would take the steps necessary to develop into an old fashioned, super accurate pocket passer. Hell, maybe even Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa might take the league by storm in year one. Folks, I’m here to tell you that Kyler Murray is the one. This kid is dynamite.

Now I’m not saying that he’s the finished article. There are absolutely some areas he needs to improve, such as his ball retention. 516 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions to start the season isn’t exactly impressive on paper. But Murray’s ability to extend plays with his legs, as well as become a runner in his own right, is a little underrated. Murray has led the Cardinals to a 2-0 start, in a division where 12 wins might not even be enough for 1st place, and he’s playing at a very high level doing it.

I’m not telling you he’s the hottest thing in the league right now. That’s not how these reports are supposed to work. What I am saying is he is showing that he’s capable of breaking games in the future. Get your ticket for the bandwagon NOW, before it’s too late.

NFL Week 2
Photo Credit: Norm Hall-Getty Images

Trending up

Speaking of Quarterbacks, I cannot tell you how impressed I’ve been with how the two rookies to have taken snaps this season have acquitted themselves thus far. This class was vaunted for the level of talent coming out of college in the position, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how things have gone thus far.

Granted, they’ve exactly 0 wins between them. It’s worth remembering just how bad the teams they’re on are, however. Joe Burrow is proving capable of making smart decisions under difficult circumstances on an awful team. In week one, he drove the Bengals into field goal range, to take the Chargers to overtime, and was denied by a missed field goal. In week two, the Bengals came out of a shootout on the losing side. Over those 2 weeks, he’s notched 509 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, while being forced to throw the ball 60 times a game. Give him a run game and an offensive line, and watch him go.

NFL Week 2
Photo Credit: Jason Miller-Getty Images

Meanwhile, the 6th overall pick, Justin Herbert, found out he was starting against the Kansas City Chiefs minutes before kick off. The former Oregon Duck ended the day with 311 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, while taking the Super Bowl champs to overtime. If it weren’t for a simple rookie mistake on the pick, it’s not inconceivable the Chargers would have won the game. While he’s not likely to start unless Tyrod Taylor isn’t fit, he’s certainly made his case as the long term solution in the position.

The pair have done really well, and I’m looking forward to their shared development unfolding. You know what’s exciting, though? It’s only a matter of time before Miami unleash Tua. And he’s going to be the best of the lot.

Keep an eye on

Last season, you may recall, NFL fans in the UK got to enjoy something they hadn’t ever experienced. They had a home they could call their own. Well, technically not their own, but the new White Hart Lane is a stadium built with the NFL in mind. I’m not going to wax lyrical about the marvel of steel and glass that it is (I did that last season), but there was something magical about stepping into that brand new ground for the first time. 

Unfortunately, fans of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, and the Las Vegas Raiders, haven’t enjoyed that same sense of wonder just yet. What I can tell you, however, is that those new grounds they live in are beautiful. 

Let’s start in Los Angeles. SoFi Stadium is built to hold just over 70000 fans of the Rams/whoever the Chargers are hosting, and was built for anywhere between $5bn and $6bn, depending on who you ask. It’s also going to be the home of all NFL Media, which is pretty cool. Over in the fabulous Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders much publicised move to sin city kicked off with a home win over the Saints (thank you), played out to an attendance of zero. But when those fans get in, they’re going to love it. Glass and steel isn’t cool. You know what is cool? Black glass and steel. For a cool $1.8bn, 65000 people can sit inside a giant roomba, and bask in the heat of an 85 foot tall torch. 

NFL teams have a history of going all in with their stadiums, and the two newest additions to the leagues roster are no exception. Wonderful.

NFL Week 2
Photo Credit: Jason Harvey - KTNV

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What an awful weekend to be an NFL player. The league was seemingly decimated by players picking up both long and short term injuries, on both sides of the ball. The product of the league is lesser for it.

I won’t go through every single name, for there are many. I’ll hand pick a couple, however. The 49ers ended week two without Jimmy Garopollo, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert. Of those names, both Bosa and Thomas are confirmed to be missing the rest of the season, while the other 3 could well miss time. Saquon Barkley suffered a torn ACL, ending his 2020 season, and Christian McCaffrey picked up an ankle injury that could see him sidelined for 6 weeks.

The list goes on. Davante Adams and Julio Jones both suffered hamstring injuries, though neither seem serious. Dre Lock will miss up to 7 weeks. Cam Akers had the cartilage in his ribs separated. Malcolm Brown broke a finger and needed to have it surgically repaired. It’s insane.

Is this a result of the lack of real pre-season? Quite possibly. For a collision sport such as football, the body needs to be conditioned to withstand the toll it takes on you. Not having game speed warm up is obviously going to do more harm than good. We can only hope, as the season goes on, these injuries become less common. We wish the best to everyone dealing with these setbacks.

Sell sell sell!

I’ve made no secret of my affiliation with the Atlanta Falcons. I’ve supported them for 11 years now, and have suffered on both ends of the fan spectrum. Recently, however, there’s been a lot more bad than good. Last season, I had Dan Quinn trending down after Week 4. This season, I want everything associated with him sold. Like, yesterday.

There is no coming back for Dan Quinn. Two weeks into the new season, and Atlanta sit 0-2 for the first time since 2007. The Week one loss to Seattle, while frustrating, was almost forgiven, because it’s Seattle. The 40-39 defeat in Dallas is utterly unforgivable. There should be no opportunity for redemption. This should be the end of the road. 

The entire defensive display, from the 2nd quarter onwards, was a disgrace. The cherry atop the cake of failure was the Cowboys onside kick attempt. One that rolled at a comically slow pace, while Falcons demanded their colleagues leave the ball alone, before panicking as it reached the 10 yards it needed for Dallas to recover. From a fans perspective, it didn’t look like the players knew they could pick the ball up. In any facet, that is an utter failure of a coaching effort.

Atlanta are now the first team in NFL history to have scored 39 points, committed zero turnovers, and to have lost. It’s become blatantly obvious that, unless Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley all play the perfect game, Atlanta cannot win. That, again, is an utter failure of a coaching job.

It’s your sixth season now, Quinny. I can count at least 5 occasions over your reign that we’ve lost from seemingly impossible positions. You’ve tried your best, and it’s not been good enough. It’s time to go. 

Thomas Willoughby