Week 1 of the NFL season is always a little bit of everything - a little surprising, a little breathtaking, and even a little crazy. But despite all of the little things, we still can't help but be amazed by what we see fresh out of a preseason that, unless your team lost an important player, wasn't even a little significant. There were five storylines that really jumped out at me this weekend, and each of them provide a little to think about going into Week 2.
Holy smokes! The Bills passing attack looked sensational in their 41-7 stomping over Kansas City (who was a playoff team last year), posting four aerial scores while Ryan Fitzpatrick amassed a QB rating of 133.0. The pride of Coe College, Freddy Jackson, also posted stellar numbers, running for 112 yards against a stout KC defensive line. These stats, however shocking they may be, shouldn't be taken for luck as the Bills have the look of a playoff-starved contender.
A questionable coaching change was just the beginning of a series of events that would have theoretically set the Raiders back another decade. However, despite a damaging free agency period, Oakland's defense appears to be firing on all cylinders and once again sending a wave of fear throughout the league. Jason Campbell played respectable football and Run-DMC racked up 150 yards behind a young offensive line. The Bolts need to watch their backs - they aren't the only contender in the AFC West anymore.
Something tells me this new spot isn't going to be around in 2012. Not only have returners opted to waive the free 20 yards, but Ted Ginn, Percy Harvin, and Randall Cobb have put a little spin on the rule change to make their resume's considerably more prolific. The chance for a 109-yard return touchdown must provide a sort of pride-based motivation inducing a sense of confidence that inspires the return men to catch the ball and just take off.
I had a lot of different predictions describing Newton's transition to the NFL back in April. "Accuracy issues", "bad decision maker", and "too reliant on his athleticism" are just a few criticisms that I fired at the Heisman Winner just before draft day. Fault me, however, for failing to praise him for the things he does well. Newton gets the ball in the hands of his playmakers, just ask anyone who had Steve Smith on their fantasy bench this week. He knows that he's operating behind one of the best offensive lines in the league and isn't afraid to offer up his body on the goal line to show them that they won't be doing all the work in short yardage situations.
But the thing that impressed me most of all was his humble attitude - after amassing over 400 passing yards in his NFL debut, you could tell that the already-decorated quarterback wasn't content with his performance and won't be able to smile again until he leads his team to victory. Cam Newton is a quarterback who is not accustomed to losing, and he seems committed to making sure he doesn't have to do much of it.
297 NFL games, the equivalent of 17,820 minutes of bone-rattling, heart-rushing, tooth-chipping football, and all of it without missing a single start, you gotta admit that's something impressive. Peyton Manning's pursuit of the streak was cut short at 208 consecutive starts after several neck surgeries were required to repair a disk in the future Hall of Famer's shoulder.
You couldn't fake an argument that Favre wasn't a true ironman, battling his way through pain, addiction, and tragedy to compile numbers and records that may never be touched again. How very fitting it is that on the first opening day in eighteen years that we weren't allowed the privilege of seeing #4 warm up, the man so many thought would be the one to surpass his streak, sat and conceded immortality upon the legendary gunslinger.
Favre's long-awaited departure is both saddening and exciting for the league - leaving behind accolades that every new face will be taking shots at until their time at the helm is through. Even while he sits in his rocking chair back in Mississippi, Brett Favre's presence will always be felt in the National Football League.