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NFL Sunday game notes

National Football Post

Let’s go back and look at the Week 1 Sunday schedule in the NFL. Ten things you should be talking about this morning: Xs and Os, personnel, game plans plus some quick hits.

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Robert Griffin III
US PRESSWIREGriffin threw for 320-yards and rushed for 42-yards in the win over the Saints.

1. RGIII lights up the Super Dome: Start with the game plan for Griffin: movement passes (sprint, boot), play action, designed runs (Zone Read), etc. A really smart call sheet from the Redskins that catered to RGIII’s skill set and allowed him to make plays in and out of the pocket. 320-yards, 2 TDs and 42-yards rushing in Griffin’s first start as a pro. Those are big numbers for the rookie in the 40-32 win over the Saints.

2. Manning’s control of the offense: Peyton Manning can still dictate the flow of the game. That’s what you should take from the Broncos win over the Steelers on Sunday night in Denver. The no-huddle system, the checks at the line of scrimmage and the ability to methodically work over the secondary. 19-26-253-2TDs. And he did it vs. one of the top defensive units in the league.

3. The 49ers’ physical brand of football: QB Alex Smith (20-26-211-2TD) deserves some real credit for how he played today at Lambeau in the 49ers’ 30-22 win over the Packers. But when I look at this game, the physical style of the Niners stands out. I love the way this San Fran secondary plays. They hit, fill in the run game and tackle. And you can add in Frank Gore (16-112-1TD), the D-Line, etc. They were a more physical team than Green Bay on Sunday.

4. Cutler to Marshall: The Bears had the 3-step slant and the back-shoulder fade all day vs. the Colts because of Marshall. Look at his size, his strength at the line of scrimmage and his ability to create leverage within the route stem.  See press on the outside? Check to the fade. And we should expect to see similar production from Marshall (9-119-1 TD) moving forward because this is where the ball is going in the Bears’ offense with Jay Cutler (21-35-333-2TD-1INT) at QB.

5. Jets, Sanchez run it up on the Bills: New York scored in all three phases of the game (offense, defense, special teams). But the story today is QB Mark Sanchez and the offense. The Jets got production out of Shonn Greene on the ground (27-94-1TD) and Sanchez tossed 3 TD passes. Forget the Wildcat or Tim Tebow aligning as a WR in the slot, etc. That will be a non-story if Sanchez can play solid football, make good decisions and take calculated shots down the field.

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Adrian Peterson
US PRESSWIREPeterson scored two TDs in his first game back after knee rehab.

6. A.P. continues to impress in his recovery: At the beginning of last week I didn’t think the Vikings would dress Peterson let alone give him 17 carries during the OT win over the Jags. However, this is exactly what continues to impress me about the Vikings’ RB after blowing out his knee in December and going through the rehab process. Getting back on the field after a knee injury is tough for any skill player, but with A.P. (17-84-2TDs) we are looking at a unique situation here.

7. Stafford’s winning TD pass: Four verticals off of run action with counter protection (guard pull) vs. the Rams’ Cover 2. But why was Kevin Smith able to walk in the end zone as a “check down” option for Stafford? In Cover 2 (or “Red” 2), the CB will sink with No.1. However, the CB here sinks with too much depth (almost in a “trail position” vs. Calvin Johnson) and vacates the flat. That’s not a scheme issue. Cover 2 is a good call in this situation, but you have to play the technique of the defense to see results.

8. Schiano’s Bucs: After reading all of the reports on Schiano’s physical training camp this August, is anyone surprised to see the Bucs win up front and limit the Panthers’ run game? I don’t really know what one week tells us about a team in the NFL, but that’s the start Tampa needed after seeing this club play soft and pack it in last season under Raheem Morris.

9. Edwards’ dropped pass: Seattle had a chance to win this game and I love the play call on the goal line: Smash-7 (corner) vs. Cover 0 (man coverage with no safety help). Work the slot WR to the corner with the No.1 on the underneath smash route. This is smart football vs. pressure—but you have to finish the play. Can’t have a drop from Braylon Edwards in that situation.

10. Replacement refs: Good and bad. That’s what we are going to get until the regulars are back on the field. The timeout issue at the end of the Seattle-Arizona game was a major problem and I’m sure we can all find calls (or non-calls) throughout the day on Sunday that were questionable. Players and coaches have to manage this and just play football.

Quick hits…

- Andrew Luck had four turnovers in his first start and missed on some outside breaking routes vs. the Bears’ defense. But you can’t deny the tools he has at the position. He made some plays as well in Chicago.

- Is there any reason to doubt that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are going to put up big numbers this season in Atlanta?

- I like the call from Andy Reid and the Eagles to use a “Flood” concept out of empty to beat the Browns in Cleveland, but Philly was lucky to get out of town with a win after Vicks' 4 INTs.

- Throw of the day? Matt Schaub’s TD pass to Andre Johnson. Fade route with the ball on the upfield shoulder. You need perfect technique as a DB to stop that.

- Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden looked (and played) like rookies. However, starting both is still the right call in Cleveland and Miami. They are going to make (multiple) mistakes—but real game experience is the best teaching tool.

- Nothing new with Tom Brady throwing TD passes to both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but isn’t the story today the Patriots’ defense? New England held Titans’ RB Chris Johnson to 4-yards…on 11 carries.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattBowen41

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