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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A tour of the NFL, week two

Published: September 20, 2013
Section: Sports

The first two weeks of the 2013 NFL season are in the books and, as always, there is plenty to talk about in the league.

The local headline is the New England Patriots, a preseason 2-to-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl by Bleacher Report. The pass-heavy Patriots were without their three primary targets last season, as Wes Welker is in Denver, Rob Gronkowski is injured and Aaron Hernandez is incarcerated. The effects that these three had on the team were made evident in the opening games. The Patriots won both of their games but did so only by a few points, each edging out AFC East rivals led by rookie quarterbacks. Tom Brady has been upset with an inexperienced core of receivers, excepting Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, the latter of whom played with Welker at Texas Tech. Amendola was injured for week two while Edelman was able to wrangle in 13 of Brady’s 19 completions.

Eli Manning and the New York Giants are zero and two, respectively, despite throwing over 800 yards across the field. They lost running back David Wilson early in the second game, which left them with the worst rushing attack in the NFL. Their lack of ability on the ground allowed Eli to be only one yard short of leading the league, but their tactic has not been effective overall, as their record exhibits. Manning faced off against his older brother Peyton in week two. He was not able to beat the more experienced Manning, throwing four interceptions while Peyton led the league with nine touchdowns.

During Mark Sanchez’s time as quarterback on the New York Jets, the team managed to make it to two conference championship games but had disappointed the high expectations of New York fans overall. After an intense quarterback battle between Sanchez and second-round pick Geno Smith, Sanchez was placed on injured reserve for the season, allowing the rookie to be named the starter for the Jets. Smith went into the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, putting up a decent showing and a late game-winning drive to win by one. Week two pitted the Jets against the highly favored Patriots, and both teams played sloppily. The Patriots had a weak passing game but earned the win after Smith was only able to complete 15 of 35 passes with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. He was also sacked four times.

Other headlines across the league include the 0-2 Washington Redskins who was led by the recovering Robert Griffin III in his sophomore season. Griffin III had surgery on his LCL and ACL in January. He had an outstanding rookie season, becoming the first rookie quarterback to be named offensive player of the week in his debut game. He finished the season with the record for highest passer rating and highest touchdown-to-interception ratio among rookie quarterbacks and was also named to the Pro Bowl. Griffin appeared to be uncomfortable fully throwing on his leg, which led to shorter passes, more incompletions than was ideal and a less profound running game for the man who broke the NCAA Midwest Regional record in the 400-meter hurdles during his time at Baylor University.

The Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers leads the league in passing yards, but his team came up short in week one against the Colin Kaepernick-led 49er’s. After a season full of high expectations for the Eagles, they now have the league leaders in rushing and receiving in Lesean Mccoy and Desean Jackson,respectively. They are led by Michael Vick, who completed 62 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception.

With the league becoming more pass-heavy with each season, defense will become more vital. Some of the most prolific quarterbacks of the opening two weeks have been disappointed by their teams’ outcomes, and whoever is able to stop the pass will have a monopoly on the game. This has been made evident by the 2-0 Seattle Seahawks, who permitted only one touchdown and as many points to their first two opponents as the Patriots scored in the first six minutes of their game against the Jets.