The Weekly Kickoff with Geoff Schwartz: NFL Week 2
Editor’s note: The Weekly Kickoff is a weekly column from the pen of former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz. Check back every week for the latest edition.
We do this every football season.
After a glorious week one of the NFL season, and last weekend felt even more special than the rest, we love to overreact about the results.
Well, I’m here to help you overcome that urge as the NFL heads into a full slate of Week 2 games. Heck, we even saw last night the Browns overcome the “well, is Baker Mayfield the guy?” social media reaction after Week 1.
As usual, we begin in Tampa Bay with Tom Brady.
The Bucs’ offense was out of sync in their opening weekend loss to the New Orleans Saints. Brady threw two interceptions, one that resulted in a defensive touchdown for the Saints. In total, Tampa Bay’s offense finished week one a paltry 25th in offensive efficiency, which most view as a sign of doom.
Not me though. As we previewed the season on my podcast I explained how Tampa Bay’s offense would take time to gel. There was no offseason and half a normal training camp with no preseason games. While Brady staged workouts with his new weapons before training camp, there’s no substitute for practice and game reps. Early into camp, Brady admitted the struggle to learn a new playbook was real. “Man, that’s really tough, like all of the different terminologies,” Brady said Thursday.
So the math is simple: new team + new weapons + no chemistry + no offseason + limited practice + new terminology + road game against an extremely good Saints defense = the Bucs’ performance on Sunday.
Well folks, the Bucs aren’t playing the Saints this weekend. They get the Panthers in town, with a brand-new defense that just allowed 37 points to the Raiders. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians publicly called out Brady after the game, adding fuel to Brady’s fire for the game on Sunday. While the Bucs might be without Chris Godwin (concussion protocol), I’d expect a huge improvement in their offensive production Sunday afternoon.
Plenty of NFL journalists picked the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC championship and play in their first Super Bowl in more than 25 years. I was high on the Cowboys as well: Look at their roster and their upgrade at head coach with the hiring of Mike McCarthy.
And then Sunday night happened: 17 points on offense and an upsetting loss to the Rams. I can already hear the masses jumping off the bandwagon. Not me. I’ll stand tall for the Cowboys.
Same as the Bucs above, the Cowboys have new pieces working together for the first time. When McCarthy was hired he gave play calling duties to Kellen Moore, who was the offensive coordinator last season under Jason Garrett. While Moore is still calling plays, the offense does belong to McCarthy.
A new offense takes nearly half a season to get rolling at full speed and we saw some disjointed play in week one from the Cowboys. With all that being said, the Cowboys were a few plays away from winning. Early in the 4th quarter, down 20-17, the Cowboys had a 4th and 3 from the Rams’ 11. McCarthy decided to go for it, an aggressive decision he promised to make when he was hired. The Cowboys dialed up a good play, but the Rams made a better one and stop Lamb a yard short.
Fast forward to the final drive of the game. The Cowboys were still down by the same margin. Dak dropped back and found Michael Gallop streaking down the sidelines for a 47-yard completion. The Cowboys were in field goal range. But no, the officials flagged Gallop for a suspect offensive pass interference. Two plays later, the game was over. So even in a tough loss, the Cowboys had their chances to come out on top. I expect them to smoke the Falcons this weekend.
Geoff Schwartz is a former NFL offensive lineman and veteran of an eight-year career. He’s now a broadcaster and hosts the “Geoff Schwartz Is Smarter Than You” podcast. His column will appear weekly here throughout the NFL season.