If the first game of the 2016 NFL season is any indication of what we’re to expect the rest of the way, we are in for a hell of a show. The game had a bit of everything. Rushing touchdowns, passing touchdowns, fumbles, interceptions, sacks, lead changes, and so much more. With all that said, there were two key takeaways from the first contest of the year.
One; the Denver Broncos haven’t lost a step. There was much speculation about how good the Broncos would be this season. Peyton Manning decided to hang up his… I want to say cleats, but I’m not sure he wasn’t wearing those horrible grandpa inspired tennis shoes. Anyway, this speculation went into hyperdrive when Mark Sanchez failed to impress to a point where he was cut by the team, and rookie first-round draft pick, Paxton Lynch, failed to earn the spot as the team’s starter. This left second-year, seventh-round pick, Trevor Siemian, in charge. A player who had never thrown a single NFL pass. A player who split time when playing at tiny Northwestern University. A player who thoroughly impressed me last night. For those of you who prefer to look at the stat line instead of the highlights, please disregard both. Siemian’s numbers (18 for 26 with 178 yards and a two-to-one interception ratio) were nothing to write home about, but his poise in the pocket and his cool head under pressure were. On the very first play of the game, when faced with a free blitzer on a bubble screen, Siemian pump faked a high throw, stepped to the side and fired a dart side-arm to his receiver. I hate to say this, but Peyton Manning wouldn’t have made that move. The Broncos won the game because of a missed field goal, a stellar running game, solid defense, and admirable play from their young quarterback.
Two; the Panthers from last year are not back. The majority of the team is back. The offense appears to have become better with some of the receivers that were injured last year returning to form, and yet the team managed just 194 passing yards and 333 total yards of offense. The Broncos turned the ball over three times, and the Panthers managed just 20 points. Last year this team averaged 31.2 points per game. Yes, I know it was against a very good defense in Denver. Yes I know it was at Mile High stadium and the crowd noise was deafening, but this was supposed to be the redemption game. This was supposed to be where the Panthers proved that the lights of the Super Bowl were not too bright, and that they were, in fact, the better team. Yes, there were some calls that were blatantly missed, but the only people the Panthers have to blame for that loss is themselves. I won’t even get into the horrible application of the concussion protocol when it comes to Cam Newton. Bottom line, this team didn’t seem to have the same prowess on either side of the ball, and with how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints are all chomping at the bit, there might be some cause for concern.
At the end of the day if you are a fan of football that was an epic start to the season. I’m sure that not every game will be as exciting; I mean it would be impossible for that to happen. However, if we get anything close to what we got on Thursday night for the rest of the season we’re in for a great year.