What a first week in the NFL! Fast starts, amazing performances and even the start of a new trend…Griffining! In fact, I’m Griffining as I write this right now….and with that, here are three things I’m looking forward to in week 2 of the NFL season:
1.) The RG3 show hits another dome! I know it was just one week, but he was remarkable in his NFL debut at New Orleans. He’s a huge hit in D.C. He’s a huge hit on your fantasy team (really, you have to start him from here on out, don’t you?) and now we find out how he plays farther up the Mississippi in St. Louis. It’s a test that you would think he’d be able to pass with ease, but the Rams looked solid last week in their close loss to the Lions. The Rams are in the midst of a makeover, much like the Redskins. They’ve retooled the roster with a lot of young faces, but will they be enough to stop RGIII?
Personally, I doubt it. I’m an RGIII believer. I don’t think he leads the Skins to the Super Bowl, but can you blame a championship-starved franchise and its fanbase for getting excited after that performance? The best news for Redskins fans is that he made it look effortless. RGIII took a school in Baylor, one that had never before experienced much beyond .500 status in football, and he made them relevant in the Big 12 and in college football as a whole. He’s now, in one week, done the same for the Redskins in the NFL. The second act comes Sunday… in another climate-controlled setting… in a building that once housed the “fastest show on turf.” Seems like a pretty good spot for some more Griffining.
2.) Lions in San Francisco to take on the 49ers. Yes, this is the game I’m doing for Dial Global Sports, but it’s an intriguing matchup regardless. Sure, you have the drama of, “What will happen with the postgame handshake?” but I’m more intrigued by what happens before that…you know, the 60 minutes of football that will be played before they hug, or shake hands, or lock arms and skip off the field. San Francisco was arguably the most impressive team in the league in week one. All the 49ers did was march into Green Bay and knock off last year’s #1 seed with relative ease. They led throughout. They got a solid run game. They got a terrific game from Alex Smith. And they limited the normally high-powered Packers offense in the process by playing tremendous defense. In other words, they played exactly the way Jim Harbaugh expects them to play.
Now this week? Another extremely high-powered offense comes to town, but an offense that shot itself in the foot time and time again last week. Three interceptions. Key drops. But some good signs came out of that game for the Lions as well. Did they discover a running game? Kevin Smith was solid, rushing for 62 yards on just 13 carries, but this week will be the real test. Running the ball against the 49ers defense has been nearly impossible for the better part of a year in the NFL. If the Lions can move the ball at all on the ground, they’ve got an excellent shot to come on the road and steal a big win on Sunday night.
3) Replacement officials. It sounds like the replacement refs are here for a while, and like any of us in our jobs, one would assume that the more experience they get, the better they will be. And I do wonder if part of the issue is that we are paying closer attention to the minutiae so that we can have that “gotcha” moment with these fill-in guys. And one would assume that even the regular guys would make the occasional mistake. But two things I saw this week that are worth paying attention to, because if they continue, it becomes a real issue.
One is the time of the game. Now, I’m not the guy who complains about game time. Heck, if I’m at a game, I’ve committed my entire day anyway, so let’s play football. But the league isn’t interested in making games longer. In week one, games averaged 3 hours and 13 minutes. Last year, three hours and 8 minutes. That extra five minutes could be a fluke. Or it could come from indecision in spotting a ball, or making a call. We’ll see if that continues this week. The other came from Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, and is more troubling. 26 more penalties were called against the road teams than the home teams in week one. Again, could be a coincidence. Or it could be that replacement officials were impacted and influenced by the home crowd. Will the refs in the stands have a bigger impact on the games than in years past? Keep an eye on that trend as you enjoy the games this weekend with your Buffalo Wild Wings food and drink. Have a great week 2!
- Kevin Kugler
Dial Global NFL play-by-play announcer Kevin Kugler tackles subjects that are interesting to him each week in his blog. The Football Insider Report is brought to you by Buffalo Wild Wings. Protect the Football. This weekend, Kevin will be calling Sunday Night Football as the Detroit Lions take on the San Francisco 49ers. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM Eastern.