Some quick views on the NFL as Week Two wraps up -
With the Patriots, it's time to ignore the noise. The analyses of Tom Brady's eruptions during New England's 13-10 win over the NY Jets became over-analyses quickly, becoming indictments of Bill Belichick as GM and indictments of Brady for ostensibly not working enough with his new receivers.
Here's the deal - the issues with the receivers are correctable with time and game snaps. Bringing in a veteran receiver like Donte Stallworth is not a bad idea, but between the return (sooner rather than later) of Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski and more reps by the rookie receivers, the offense will improve. As for Belichick as GM, his superiority over the rest of the league as such remains obvious to anyone not blinded by hatred.
The Jets meanwhile despite genuinely encouraging play by Geno Smith showcased how abysmally constructed a unit they are with a glaring lack of discipline; the sideline brawl instigated by a low hit to Aqib "Aquaman" Talib was the kind of punkish behavior befitting Rex Ryan's dad Buddy and inevitable as a result.
The Bills and Dolphins meanwhile showcased inspired play; Miami won against Indianapolis for the first time since 2002 while Buffalo, once the NFL's king of comebacks (just ask Warren Moon), pulled off another with E.J. Manuel. They may not be strong enough to contend for the playoffs, but there is reason for some optimism with both.
Don't be encouraged by Baltimore's grinding win over Cleveland - it showed fight by Joe Flacco but hardly enough to warrant optimism. Cleveland's loss showed how long the road to respectability remains.
Likewise Cincinnati's win over Pittsburgh merely showed the Bengals to be good, not great, and it showed the Steelers have fallen apart. The O-line is poor, but curiously we haven't seen questioning of the wisdom of having Todd Haley on the coaching staff, given Haley's public flameouts in previous NFL jobs and given the Steelers have lost ten games with him there.
Indianapolis and Tennessee showcased heartbreak with losses in winnable games; for the Titans in particular it was a setback despite noticeable improvement on both sides of the ball; indeed, one should be concerned because we know Indianapolis will contend for the playoffs, and now Tennessee has reason to feel likewise. Houston meanwhile staged a second straight comeback win, and with a potentially reinvigorated division it's a needed showcase of fight.
It further illustrates how far the Jaguars have fallen, showing zero life in two games.
Denver of course pummelled the NY Giants and look as good as advertised. Defensively, though, they don't look any better than last year, and there are teams that know how to beat Jack Del Rio defenses. As for much-publicized free agent Wes Welker, he may not reach 100 catches this year as his catches were limited to three with three drops and nowhere has he done anything to help the offense outside of ride the wave and pile up volume stats - the touchdown catches certainly help, but his game is not as good as the acolytes back in New England want to think.
San Diego meanwhile made a statement in coming back to beat the much-hyped Chip Kelly Eagles in Philly. Blowing a 21-point lead last week is the kind of loss that sends teams into a spiral; the Chargers instead faced down the Eagles and pulled off a dramatic win.
Also making a statement is Kansas City, beating the Cowboys and now standing 2-0; another ex-Eagles coach is reviving the Chiefs, though unlike Dick Vermeil the Chiefs' offensive and special teams eruptions haven't happened yet.
Even the Oakland Raiders have some reason for optimism with Terrelle Pryor, though the win over the moribund Jaguars didn't impress anyone.
Despite being 1-1 the Eagles are clearly in charge of this division with a firepower not seen in years. Chip Kelly is proving one of the most inspiring coaching choices for the NFL in years.
Contrast this with the Redskins, 0-2 and who need to question the competence of Mike Shanahan, whose reputation as a coach has long been inflated; his record since John Elway's retirement isn't particularly impressive and his inability to develop quarterbacks has long been his most distinguishing characteristic.
The there is the NY Giants, also 0-2 with Tom Coughlin more and more looking in over his head; fast season starts are always followed by second-half collapses and that Coughlin won two Superbowls remains mystifying.
Then there are the Dallas Cowboys, as mediocre as they've been under Tony Romo and they have no potential because Romo is what he is - a bum.
NORTH - Vikings-Bears games at Soldier Field have with some frequency seen amazing shootouts; this shootout was doubly so given that Jay Cutler pulled off a comeback win, where he usually gags. It was another heartbreak for the now-0-2 Vikings despite strong play in both games.
The Packers got an opportunity to stage a frontrunning game and thus took advantage of it; as long as they can jump out to big leads the Packers remain strong, now 1-1.
The Detroit Lions alas have played from behind almost every game of recent and couldn't pull it off this time, not an encouraging sign with them 1-1.
The Falcons jumped out to a big lead but had to sweat out the win. After two games they don't look as strong as some have advertised them to be.
The Saints meanwhile have jumped to the division lead despite poor play by Drew Brees against the Bucs, who gagged again, this time by missing a late field goal; this loss comes amid reports of serious dissension within the team and with play by quarterback Josh Freeman that simply isn't encouraging.
Exactly the opposite is the case with Cam Newton, who showed fight in Carolina's game at Buffalo, and yet the Panthers can't seem to get anything going early in a season.
The Rams have been competitive in both games and are 1-1, so where are the rumors that Jeff Fisher will bolt for USC coming from?
Also 1-1 are the Cardinals and they've shown some legitimate fight under Bruce Arians, whose catchphrase appears to be "Ya Gotta Believe." So far, so good on that front.
The two top dogs of the division clashed amid a lightning delay (the second of the day after the Bucs-Saints game) and the Seahawks for the second straight time manhandled the 49ers. That bodes well for the division being the league's most competitive.