Week 2 of the NFL season is almost underway, but before the league moves on, there are still some things to digest from Week 1.
Of course, a one-week sample size is too small to draw any sweeping conclusions. However, there are a few intriguing statistics from kickoff weekend worth dwelling on. Some may end up being a one-time fluke, but a few could end up being a sign of what’s to come for these teams and players.
Josh Allen’s accuracy troubles reemerge
The Buffalo Bills’ star quarterback Josh Allen, fresh off a $258 million contract extension, made an unprecedented jump in accuracy from 2019 to 2020. His development was one of the key reasons the Bills were a legitimate AFC contender and their offense was an absolute buzzsaw late in the season.
All that led to talk about potential regression from the former first-round pick, and some of that regression reared its ugly head against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.
Allen posted a 58.8% completion percentage against the Steelers. That ranked him 28th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks in Week 1.
For reference, Allen had just two regular season games last season with a worse completion percentage, according to Pro Football Reference. Those games were against the Kansas City Chiefs in week six and the Steelers in week 14. He also posted a 58.3% completion percentage in the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs.
So are his accuracy problems back, or does Allen just have a problem against Mike Tomlin’s Steelers? Time will tell, but Week 1 was certainly not the start the Bills and Allen would have hoped for.
Los Angeles Chargers’ offensive line investment pays off
Still the starting rookie posted phenomenal stats, but Los Angeles didn’t let that stop the team from completely reinventing its offensive line. The Chargers signed free agents Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi over the offseason, and then drafted Rashawn Slater to be the starting left tackle.
The new o-line jelled beautifully in Week 1, allowing only six total pressures on 49 dropbacks. That was the fewest pressures among starting quarterbacks who played the full game.
Herbert continued to impress while pressured, too, going four for four on pass attempts and 20 yards.
And it’s not like the Chargers were going against some Mickey Mouse defense, either. The Washington Football Team’s pass rush is the strength of its defense, and likely one of the best front four units in the NFL this season, led by edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat.
So if the Chargers could hold up against this powerhouse, it could bode well for the unit if all five starters can stay healthy.
Joe Mixon shows workhorse potential for Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals’ lead running back Joe Mixon led the NFL in rushing attempts on Sunday, aiding the team in an overtime win against the Minnesota Vikings.
Mixon carried the rock 29 times throughout the game for 127 yards.
Why is that significant? Well, Mixon has eclipsed that carry mark only once before in his entire career, back in November 2019 when the Bengals lost 49 to 13 against the Baltimore Ravens and Mixon had 30 carries.
Overtime certainly helped pad Mixon’s statistics a bit, as he rushed the ball eight times after the fourth quarter. But considering fellow running back Samaje Perine had just two carries in the second half and zero in overtime, it’s clear Cincinnati is keen on using Mixon in more of a workhorse role, despite his injury history.
He was on the field for 78% of the team’s snaps, which was more than wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.
Mixon fantasy managers may be eager to sell high on the fifth-year running back, which very well might be the right move. But usage like this could have managers regretting losing this potential breakout star.
An unlikely rookie pass-rusher makes a splash in first game
There were six pass rushers taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, and another five in the second.
However, one of the opening weekend’s most effective pass-rushers wasn’t drafted until the fifth round.
Daviyon Nixon, an interior defensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers, put together an impressive showing on limited snaps against the New York Jets. According to PFF, Nixon collected three pressures on just eight pass rushes against the Jets. He was also one of only three rookies to collect a sack on Sunday.
Odafe Oweh of the Baltimore Ravens led rookies in total pressures with four, but he also had 32 snaps rushing the quarterback to do so. Nixon tied with edge rusher Azeez Ojulari of the New York Giants and linebacker Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys with three pressures, but again, both collected those pressures with more opportunities.
Has Carolina found a gem to pair with edge rusher Brian Burns, or is this a fluke from Nixon? It’s likely too soon to tell, but if Nixon is a true difference maker along the defensive line, that would be a major break for a team still rebuilding its defense.