By HCR Staff | September 9, 2019
Ahead of HCR’s first set of rankings for the 2019 season, here are some observations we made on Sunday’s Week 1 games:
- Three minutes remained in the second quarter of what was looking like a blowout. Still, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and special teams coach Chris Horton called a fake punt from their own 30-yard line. The play got them 60 yards, but it wasn’t necessary. It’s also a bit early to show teams the tricks up your sleeve, especially in a blowout. Harbaugh defended his decision stating, “Well, it’s there. That’s what we do.”
- Down 24-6 into the second half, one could have been upset with Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury choosing to kick field goals, but he managed the game well and gave his team a chance to win. We’re sure the analytics folks were pushing him to bypass the uprights and attempt fourth downs.
- Bill Belichick has simply transcended any Coach of the Year voting. The disciplined play of his team was extraordinary.
- Alternatively, we have no idea what the Steelers game plan was – it showed no rhyme or reason. Head coach Mike Tomlin even spoke about the lack of preparation and execution by his team after the blowout loss to the Patriots. The Steelers lack identity on both sides of the ball at the moment. Somehow under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have become more of a finesse team. This is pretty alarming given the offensive and defensive line talent on this team.
- The Jaguars are talented, but the continual lack of emotional discipline is a poor reflection on head coach Doug Marrone.
- Mike Vrabel is building a team in his image – tough and disciplined, and with a clear vision on how they want the game to play out. Win or lose, the Titans play with passion and physicality. New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith did an excellent job utilizing the entire field. He is an OC to watch.
- Similarly in Buffalo, head coach Sean McDermott is happy to win ugly, physical defensive battles. The Bills showed a lot of poise on defense down the stretch.
- Kyle Shanahan made a brilliant third down call at a crucial point by splitting TE George Kittle out wide. Kittle is by far the 49ers’ best player, and Shanahan is making him effective by making him position-less.
- Zac Taylor’s debut at Seattle was very impressive. Cincinnati competed well in a tough road game.
- Jay Gruden has a tough coaching environment in Washington given his erratic ownership, but he put his team in a good spot to win nevertheless. QB Case Keenum missed one critical deep throw that could have brought a win, and star DL Jonathan Allen had to leave the game with an injury. We still like the job done by Gruden.
- Eagles head coach Doug Pederson gets the win, but in this game, we feel the elite athleticism of his players bailed out his decision-making.
- Likewise, Rams head coach Sean McVay got a big road win, but he was helped immensely by some lucky bounces of the ball. The ball was on the ground far too much for such a talented team.
- Only 10 pass attempts by the Vikings? We like it. Of those 10 pass attempts, four landed for first downs and the Vikings only threw three times the entire second half. Mike Zimmer eschews the style points for a physical win. Perhaps the Vikings game planning is going to improve this season.