Lethargic games, such as the Packers plodding victory over the Seahawks, were the norm last weekend in the NFL. Three-and-out possessions were as routine as five-minute commercial breaks.
It says something about the quality of the product that the league’s Week 1 breakout star turned out to be Sergio Dipp. The sideline reporter for ESPN gained instant fame when he got his first cue to face the TV camera without a clue, informing the Monday Night Football audience watching him standing on the sideline that he was, in fact, standing on the sideline.
Dipp was new on the job, an excuse not available to Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks veteran tight end, in the final year of a contract paying him $7.9 million to make big plays this season, caught three passes for eight yards.
Graham’s disappearance at Lambeau Field might have been more conspicuous had several other familiar names not disappeared as well.
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady put up the kind of underwhelming passing numbers against the Chiefs – 16-for-36, with no touchdowns – that finally explain, after all these years, why he was the 199th selection of the 2000 draft.
At least Brady’s performance didn’t include an interception. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton managed to throw four of them without a touchdown. Meanwhile, Dalton’s counterpart, Joe Flacco of the Ravens, went a whopping 9 for 17, for 121 yards, during Baltimore’s 20-0 victory.
The Seahawks offense was a miserable mess Sunday, but some solace can be taken by the reality lots of other offenses were similarly challenged to move the chains. Eleven teams were held to 17 points or fewer, and five of them – Houston, Tennessee, Washington, San Francisco and the New York Giants – remain on the Hawks’ schedule.
Some other fun facts from Week One:
▪ Of 16 games, only three found both opponents scoring more than 20 points. This is in a league, mind you, that has revised the rulebook to encourage high scores, because the more scores there are, the more opportunities there are for five-minute commercial breaks.
▪ The Lions’ Matthew Stafford was the only quarterback to throw for more than two touchdowns.
▪ No running back got into the end zone more than once, which brings to mind the Seahawks’ Eddie Lacy. The 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Packers, Lacy had contemplated the possibility of punctuating a touchdown with a “Lambeau Leap.”
A Lacy Leap at Lambeau? In the immortal words of Steven Tyler, dream on.
Behind a line ill-equipped to provide the 250-pounder with some running room, Lacy carried five times for three yards. It’s possible Lacy will score a touchdown this season, but if Sunday was any indication, the possibility must be broached he won’t.
How could an offense that appeared reasonably competent through four exhibition games look like its game plan was devised sometime between the national anthem and the midfield coin toss?. It’s a fair question, one that half the teams in the NFL also are asking.
Here’s a theory: Because of recent rules regarding practices and physical contact, summer training camp has been downsized to a camp devoid of training. Four preseason contests typically translate into about nine quarters of action for the starters.
Defensive players, inclined to rely on instinct, generally aren’t impeded by kinder and gentler training camps. But offenses – linemen in particular – need the repetition that develops cohesiveness.
Count on it: You’ve seen the worst of the Seahawks offense. Further growing pains await, but nothing will compare with the three hours of wince-inducing dreadfulness at Green Bay.
As for Sergio Dipp, the poor guy reminded me of the flustered anchorman portrayed by Albert Brooks in the 1987 movie “Broadcast News.”
Sweating and distracted to the point of sheer fright, Brooks’ character reports that a detonation device on a suspension bridge has left 122 people injured and at least 22 dead.
“I wish,” he concludes, “I were one of them.”
John McGrath: @TNTMcGrath
It wasn’t just the Seahawks who struggled on offense in the Week 1 of the NFL season. Some of the lowlights:
▪ No running games. Losing teams that rushed for less than the 90 yards Seattle gained included the Jets (38 yards), Browns (57), Cardinals (45), Redskins (64), 49ers (51), Giants (35), Colts (75) and Chargers (64).
▪ Can’t score touchdowns: The Seahawks were among seven teams to score 12 points or fewer – Jets (12), Seahawks (9), Colts (9), Texans (7), Giants (3), 49ers (3) and the Bengals (0).
▪ Turning it over: The Seahawks’ one turnover looks good compared to what these teams did: Bengals (5), Cardinals (4), Texans (4), Redskins (4) and Colts (3).
▪ Can’t protect the quarterback: Russell Wilson was sacked three times, which is better than what happened to QBs for the Texans (10 sacks allowed), Browns (7), Bengals (5), Colts (4) and Bears (4).