Week 1 is in the books. Now it’s time to see who should be pricing asbestos underwear as we head into Week 2. (Click here for last week’s list)
We have one coach who will be coming off the list after a strong Week 1 performance while another choked on his play card and will need to redeem himself quickly after a disastrous season opener.
Time to dive into the updated list.
The Fire is Extinguished, for Now
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders (Last Week – 1 Alarm)
The squad formerly known as The Football Team took a quick, early lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars, stumbled in the middle of the game, then came roaring back in the fourth quarter for a Week 1 victory.
Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner pulled a solid performance out of Carson Wentz. The Colts castoff threw two interceptions but made up for it with four touchdown passes and a 101.0 passer rating.
In “Riverboat Ron’s” favor, the Commanders only took six penalties in the game against 13 for Jacksonville. Washington also converted on seven of 10 third downs. The Jaguars could only cash in on three in 12 attempts.
Rivera walks away with a well-coached, disciplined team win.
1 Alarm, Is It Getting Warm In Here?
Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts (Last Week, 1 Alarm)
Reich’s Indianapolis Colts played a team that they pounded 62-3 in two games and had finished the 2021 season 4-13 to a 20-20 tie. Statistically, the Colts did everything expected of them, except put the game in the win column. A key play early in the second quarter helped seal their fate.
Reich gets credit for going for it on fourth and two on Houston’s two-yard line. He gets crap for trying to get cute and take the ball out of his veteran quarterback’s hands. Wide Receiver Nyheim Hynes took the snap and misread the option, getting tackled for a two-yard loss.
There were plenty of other mistakes by Indianapolis that led to their opener ending in a tie but Reich stays in the one-alarm category by trying to be too smart for the room, especially in a division game that will surely have playoff implications down the road.
Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns (Last Week, 2 Alarm)
Stefanski steps back a slot after winning a game in which his starting quarterback could only manage 147 yards through the air and a 74.0 passer rating. Fortunately, he has Nick Chubb in his backfield.
Chubb plowed through the Carolina Panthers defense for 141 yards on 22 carries. His work kept the ball in the Browns hands for 38:26 minutes of the game.
Cleveland is hosting the New York Jets in Week 2. We’ll see if Stefanski and Brissett can pull off the same magic.
Lovie Smith, Houston Texans (Last Week, 2 Alarm)
In Week 1, Smith’s quarterback underperformed, his running game failed and somehow his outmanned group played the Indianapolis Colts to a 20-20 tie.
The Texans are eventually going to need production out of their offense to be competitive and give the impression that Houston is on their way back in the AFC South but Smith has the team off to a solid start.
2 Alarm – Anyone Smell Something Burning?
Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos (Last Week, N/A)
Can’t put Nathaniel Hackett under the three-alarm category yet, he is a first-year head coach after all, but his fourth quarter decisions against the Seattle Seahawks should have him smelling smoke.
Looking from a statistical perspective, the Denver Broncos out-rushed, out-passed and out-possessed Seattle. Russell Wilson was his usual stellar self, completing 29 of 42 passes for 340 yards and one touchdown. They should have stomped off the field at the end of the game with tatters of fluorescent lime-green uniforms clutched in their fists.
What went wrong? Goal line fumbles by Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams took 14 points off the scoreboard but the Broncos still could have escaped Seattle with a victory except for Hackett’s final drive.
First, Denver was fourth-and-five at the Seahawks 46 with 1:11 left in the game. Oh, and they also head three timeouts in their pocket. Hackett let the clock wind to 20 seconds and sent Brandon McManus out to attempt a 64-yard field goal. McManus missed, and the Broncos used their final two timeous on Geno Smith kneel downs.
Second, what the hell was Hackett thinking? Did he really believe McManus, who does have plenty of leg, could hit from that distance? Hackett had to be believing that. He ran the clock down so the Seahawks would have no time left to strike back if the field goal was good.
Problem with that strategy is, in NFL history, only two out of 42 field goal attempts have ever been successful at 64 yards or beyond. Even if Hackett didn’t know that stat, he had to know that the odds of a successful kick from that distance were slim to none.
Whatever his excuse after the game, he has a quarterback in Russell Wilson that the team traded a boatload of draft picks to acquire, paid him elite money and Hackett took the ball out of his hands when Wilson had his team on the move all night.
If Hackett continues that kind of decision making, he’s not going to be long for his first head coach position.
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks (Last Week, 3 Alarm)
The Denver Broncos made plenty of mistakes last Monday night but you have to give Pete Carroll credit. His Seattle Seahawks hung tough and that’s a reflection of him as a leader.
It is just one game though. I still don’t believe in Geno Banks as a starting quarterback and no amount of leadership is going to make him better. We’ll see what the Seahawks can do in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers.
3 Alarm, Those Britches are Burnin’!
Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers (Last Week, 3 Alarm)
Matt Rhule’s Panthers got outplayed by a team whose quarterback put together a 74.0 passer rating. How did he do that?
Baker Mayfield led Carolina back into the game with two, fourth quarter touchdowns and had the Panthers at Cleveland’s 14 with 1:27 left in the game. That’s when Rhule got conservative. After a botched snap and two nowhere running plays, he settled for a 34-yard Eddie Pineiro field goal.
The Browns got the ball back at their own 25 with 1:13 left and got close enough for Cade York to squeeze a 58-yard field goal just inside the upright for the win.
It’s his third year in the NFL and Rhule still hasn’t learned playing not to lose usually ends in a loss.
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals (Last Week, 3 Alarm)
His high-priced Cardinals came out of the tunnel at home and got their wings blown off by a superior Kansas City Chiefs team. The early season doesn’t get easier either. Arizona faces the Raiders in Las Vegas in Week 2.