Every year, the Monday following an NFL season’s opening slate of regular season games brings some of the hottest takes of the year, and has simply become known as “Overreaction Monday.”
Fans and analysts alike blow a team’s first game or a rookie’s debut out of proportion, and begin to speculate about what will happen throughout the rest of the season based on 60 minutes of football.
And, in a season impacted by COVID-19, those overreactions can become even crazier. Even with no preseason games to work off of or any basis for fans looking to evaluate players on new teams, the first glance may seem like all someone would need to make an assumption about a player or team’s future.
Instead of using this space to make some of those generalizations and throw players under the bus, we’re going to evaluate some of the biggest and most common overreactions to come to light following the first week of the 2020 NFL season.
- Tom Brady is done and shouldn’t have joined the Buccaneers
Arguably the most popular overreaction to result from the NFL’s opening weekend, many watching Tom Brady’s debut as the Buccaneers starting quarterback were quick to declare Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as the “winner” in the former 1-2 punch’s break-up from this past offseason.
Viewers saw Brady throw a bad interception to Saints safety Marcus Williams in the first half on what appeared to be a case of miscommunication with Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, and the snowball kept rolling.
In the third quarter, TB12 picked up where he left off last year, throwing a pick-six to Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins that served as the proverbial dagger for Tampa Bay’s comeback hopes in their season opener.
The performance was Brady’s first multi-interception game in a season opener since 2003, and didn’t start his relationship with Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians off on the right foot.
But, with all of the talent surrounding Brady in Tampa Bay’s offense, it seems almost insane to throw him off the cliff this early in the season. The season opener was Brady’s first chance at true, live reps with his new team, and the timing just wasn’t there.
Even then, he showed flashes of his old self when finding Scotty Miller for five receptions and 73 yards, and showed off his precision on floating passes, as well.
At 43 years old, it’s not shocking to see a drop-off in Brady’s play, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to anyone to see him fire back with a stellar showing in Week 2 against the Panthers. So, don’t be too quick to toss Brady to the side in 2020, especially in an NFC South that didn’t look too strong overall in Week 1.
- Cam Newton is going to take the Patriots to the Super Bowl
Back up in Foxborough, Tom Brady’s successor got off to a great start in those new red, white and blue uniforms as Cam Newton led the Patriots to a Week 1 victory.
The new-look Patriots offense was fast-paced and physical, with lots of running across the board. Whether it was Newton taking himself, or running backs like James White, Sony Michel and J.J. Howard showing out with their own reps, fans in Foxborough got a glimpse at something they truly were not accustomed to.
And, just like when someone gets a new car or a new puppy, attention tends to shift to the fresh, shiny option. In this case, Patriots fans ran with a view of “Out with the old, in with the new” as their hopes for a Super Bowl run returned.
Just like with everything else on this list, the proper response should be: “Not so fast, my friend.” Yes, Newton and company looked solid in their 21-11 victory, but they didn’t look like anything earth-shattering, either.
Enter the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, and those same Patriots may be coming back down to Earth, rather than doing that aforementioned shattering. With the Patriots’ first week of true travel to worry about, and the ability for a team to build a proper game plan for their new offense, a Super Bowl contender could quickly turn into a 1-1 team in an instant.
The Chiefs and Ravens still seem like the teams to beat in the AFC, and as much as fans will want the Patriots to be in that conversation, there needs to be a bigger body of work to make that sort of comparison.
- The 49ers are falling victim to the Super Bowl hangover
The 49ers may be the reigning NFC champion, but they did not look like it when they took on the Cardinals in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season.
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo continued a trend of under-performing that seemed to begin in the postseason last year, and came to light in a big way during the team’s Super Bowl LIV loss against the Chiefs.
Rather than over-throwing a receiver in a big moment like he did in February, however, it was an under-throw in the end zone that drew the ire of 49ers fans everywhere during their 24-20 loss against the Cardinals on Sunday.
Similar to Garoppolo’s former teammate Tom Brady, however, there needs to be more of a resume built up in 2020 to know if this is truly a Super Bowl hangover, or just a brief headache to start the year.
The Niners have very little for Garoppolo to work with when it comes to wide receivers at the moment due to a litany of injuries.
Then, star tight end George Kittle was left to deal with an injury that sent him to the locker room during the season opener.
He played every snap in the second half despite the injury, but was not targeted once when on the field in the third or fourth quarter.
The rhythm and chemistry didn’t seem to be there offensively, and it could just be rust after seven months away from live reps in a game. The recent trend in the NFC, and even the NFC West, seems to be a year of a hangover after a Super Bowl appearances, but it’s too early to know for sure given the circumstances.
- Joe Burrow is a bust because the Bengals lost to the Chargers
The number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft made his debut in Week 1, as Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow squared off against the Los Angeles Chargers to start his career.
Unfortunately for Burrow’s Bengals, the game ended in typical Cincinnati fashion, and the LSU product’s first NFL action ended in a 16-13 loss.
You can argue that the team with the number one overall pick and some talent around him offensively should put up more than 13 points against a Derwin James-less Chargers defense. But, those that watched the game know that the loss surely can’t fall squarely on Burrow’s shoulders.
Anyone looking at the box score might view it as a failed comeback attempt with a fourth-quarter interception as a large blemish, but those in the know are aware of Burrow’s resiliency under pressure, and the lack of that same quality for Bengals kicker Randy Bullock.
Down three points with less than two minutes to go, Burrow led a drive downfield to set the Bengals up in range for a potential game-tying field goal, going 8-of-11 for 70 yards in the process. A potential game-winning touchdown pass to A.J. Green got called back for offensive pass interference, and a few seconds later, Bullock missed a 31-yard field goal to end the game.
Sure, the end result wasn’t a “W” that LSU fans became accustomed to in 2019 and the early part of 2020. But, higher-ups in the Bengals organization have to view the game as a mental win, and things look promising for the rookie in the AFC North.
- The NFC East is doomed once again
The NFC East has gone downhill in recent years, evident by the 9-7 record the Eagles compiled as a division winner in the 2019 season. Unfortunately for the Eagles and Cowboys, if the division made any wishes for a strong start for the 2020 season, they certainly didn’t come true.
The Eagles lost in incredible fashion to the Washington NFL team, giving up 27 unanswered points after taking a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. Then, the Cowboys couldn’t come through in crunch time against the Rams, falling in a dramatic, 20-17 game in Sunday night.
The Eagles’ loss said more about them than it did about Dwayne Haskins and his squad on the other end, while the Cowboys came up just short in their own comeback attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Many fans will likely just assume all is the same as it was in 2019, with all four of the division’s teams set to falter throughout the 2020 season. But, in an NFC that doesn’t seem to have any clear front-runner at the moment, another common thought from earlier comes to mind: “Not so fast, my friend.”
The Cowboys’ loss seemed to have more to do with a new coach and a rookie wide receiver than it did about the team as a whole, with a poor decision on head coach Mike McCarthy’s end leading to a turnover on downs deep in Rams’ territory in a 20-17 game.
Rookie wideout CeeDee Lamb’s route-running led to the failed fourth-down conversion, and a controversial offensive pass interference call on Michael Gallup late in the fourth was the final straw for the Cowboys in their opener.
Away from those two things, there didn’t seem to be many reasons to argue against a potential run for them in 2020.
Combine that with the first full season for Daniel Jones as the New York Giants’ starting quarterback, and the NFC East seems poised for a bounce-back performance in 2020, despite what Week 1 showed fans of the division.