Football is back. After a great season-opening game Thursday night, the first football Sunday certainly featured a lot of interesting storylines. Quarterbacks of the next generation showed up, six of the fourteen total Week 1 games this Sunday finished within one possession, and there were some new faces in new uniforms. Here are some of the biggest stories from Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season:
Future looks bright
Yesterday’s slate of games featured a quarterback uprising of sorts. All of the starting second-year quarterbacks won their season debuts. Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa all pulled out big wins for their teams over the weekend.
Herbert threw for 337 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Burrow passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Tagovailoa threw for 202 yards, one interception, and totaled two touchdowns with one passing and one rushing.
On top of the performances from second-year quarterbacks, rookie quarterbacks fit themselves right into the conversation of being competitive NFL players. Five rookie quarterbacks scored in their NFL debuts. Week 1 of the 2021 season saw four rookie quarterbacks (Mac Jones, Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence, and Zach Wilson) throw their first-career touchdown passes. However, the only rookie to not throw for a touchdown in their first appearance was Justin Fields who ran in his only touchdown on Sunday.
With many young quarterbacks fitting right into their NFL systems, the future seems to be bright for many franchises.
With @MacJones_10, @treylance09, @Trevorlawrencee & @ZachWilson each throwing their first-career @NFL TD passes today, it marked the most rookie QBs to throw their first-career TD pass in Week 1 since 1970.
The previous high was 3 rookie QBs in both 2012 and 1971. pic.twitter.com/aZQEe0QXyx
— NFL345 (@NFL345) September 12, 2021
Just a bit short
The first weekend of NFL football to feature full-capacity stadiums saw quite a competitive Week 1. Six of the fourteen NFL games on Sunday finished with a team winning by only one possession. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins all one by seven points or less. With all of these games ending within one score, the competitive nature of professional football is officially back.
New faces winning in new places
On top of the phenomenal rookie play for Week 1 of the new NFL season, four quarterbacks won in their first appearances with new teams. Teddy Bridgewater led the Denver Broncos to a win. Sam Darnold defeated the New York Jets in a revenge game against his former team for his first win as a Carolina Panther. Also, Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford shined in their debuts for their new teams. Winston’s five touchdown performance led the New Orleans Saints to a massive win over the Green Bay Packers. And Stafford propelled the Los Angeles Rams offense to a twenty-point victory over the Chicago Bears.
JAMEIS WINSTON HAS FIVE TOUCHDOWN PASSES. #Saints
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
Stafford and Winston’s performances were quite unexpected. Nobody knew how well either quarterback would play in their new systems. For Winston, the game being played in Jacksonville, Florida, also had a big effect on preparations. As Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on the city of New Orleans, the Saints and their entire organization had some big question marks heading into Sunday’s game. But against a shaky Green Bay, Winston excelled in his first game starting for the Saints.
On the other hand, Matthew Stafford looked impressive in the Rams’ Sunday night win over the Bears.
“As an offense it was tough to get into a rhythm in this first half, but we were explosive,” Stafford said.
Stafford completed 20 of his 26 passes, threw for 321 yards and tallied three touchdowns as well. Stafford’s deep ball looked as efficient as ever when he threw two touchdowns for more than 50 yards each. On the third play of the Rams opening drive, Stafford launched a 67 yard bomb to former Gator Van Jefferson for his first touchdown of the new season. Then, Stafford and Kupp extended the Rams lead to two possessions with a touchdown pass-and-catch that connected for 56 yards. By the looks of it, Los Angeles might be a dangerous opponent for some teams this season.
After an electric opening week of football matchups, there is a lot to look forward to as the season progresses.