Sports Illustrated's Don Banks tackles three issues from around the league:
What recent NFL QB trend was borne out once again in Week 1?
Jim Miller AP
That the NFL has become a reject's league. Check out Week 1's top five passers in terms of yardage. None of them are with the team that originally signed them or drafted them. Four of them are with at least their third NFL organization, and the other one is on his third professional team.
The who's who of cast-offs begins with the Giants' Kerry Collins (a Week 1-high 342 yards), the former Carolina franchise quarterback who arrived in New York via a quick trip to skid row in New Orleans. Then there's Shane Matthews (327 yards), who has bounced between Chicago, Carolina and now Washington in his largely non-descript NFL career.
Cleveland's Kelly Holcomb (326 yards) hadn't started an NFL game in five years when the Browns turned to him Sunday against Kansas City. Holcomb, out of that cradle of NFL quarterbacks, Middle Tennessee State, has been kicking around the league since 1995, with the Bucs, Colts and Browns.
Kurt Warner's 315 yards at Denver put him in the fourth position. Warner, of course, in 1999 became the poster boy for just how inexact the science of discovering NFL quarterback talent has become. After his 1994 training camp stint in Green Bay, Warner starred three years for the Arena Football League's always-tough Iowa Barnstormers and played a season in NFL Europe.
Lastly, Chicago's Jim Miller cracked the top five with his 297-yard passing performance in a comeback win against Minnesota. Miller is 31 and has been in the NFL since 1994. But the game against the Vikings represented the first time he has both started and finished his team's season opener as a No. 1 quarterback.
As if that's not enough proof of our premise, the sixth-ranked passer in terms of yardage was New England's Tom Brady (294 against Pittsburgh). True, Brady's still with the team that drafted him -- in 2000's sixth round. But don't forget, last time at this year, none of us really knew who he was.
Which team already faces a must-win situation in Week 2?
And we know what you're thinking. How can they have a big game, since nobody picked them to go anywhere this season any way?
A valid point. But so is this: Detroit plays at Carolina on Sunday. If the Lions can't handle the Panthers, who squeaked past Baltimore 10-7 on Sunday, giving them their first win in a year, they'll know they're really in trouble again this season. And once that kind of depressing reality starts sinking in, you don't know where it could lead.
Rest assured, Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg doesn't want to find out. Once things start snowballing the wrong way, even this early in the season, it's usually the coach who takes the fall. After the debacle that was their season-opener at Miami -- a 49-21 loss -- the Lions desperately need a solid performance against the Panthers.
Otherwise, they'll come home the next week to open new Ford Field against Green Bay wearing the look of a team that has no hope, no clue and no reason to think anyone has any answers. As bad as things were last year in Detroit, when the Lions lost their opening 12 games and went 2-14, things were worse in Carolina. The Panthers went 1-15 and for the most part were far less competitive than Detroit.
As ugly as it was Sunday in Miami, where the Lions suffered their worst opening day loss since 1968, and gave up more points than they have in nine years, it'll get far uglier in the Motor City if they can't win the cat fight in Carolina. The Lions weren't competitive in any facet of the game against the Dolphins. They were down 21-0 before they knew it, trailed 35-7 early in the third quarter and wound up allowing seven touchdowns on the day.
And all that after the Lions flew to Florida two days earlier than usual in order to get acclimated to the heat and humidity. Imagine how bad a beating they would have absorbed if they hadn't traveled until Saturday?
Let the Lions lose at Carolina and the pressure really will start to build on team president Matt Millen and Mornhinweg. Since arriving in 2001, that tandem has produced a 4-21 record, including the past two preseasons. With Lions owner William Clay Ford trying to capitalize on the opening of a new stadium, and having ponied up millions for a new team complex, not to mention the contracts he handed the M&M boys, suffice to say the honeymoon period would be over with another loss.
So for the Lions at Carolina, it's win or else. And trust us, nobody in Detroit wants to find out what "or else" means.
Which Super Bowl contenders got the biggest wake-up calls?
Bill Cowher AP
St. Louis and Tampa Bay started out on the wrong side of the win-loss column, but their failures weren't all that damaging and probably won't have any real long-lasting effect.
I can't say I'm quite so optimistic after watching Philadelphia and Pittsburgh slop through their season openers. Yes, both lost on the road to quality teams, and there's no shame in that in the NFL. But still, you might want to hold off just now on those plans for a Pennsylvania Turnpike Super Bowl.
The Eagles played a superb first half at Tennessee, grabbing a 24-10 halftime lead behind three Donovan McNabb touchdown passes. And then, nothing. And we mean nothing. The Eagles' offense had just 78 total yards in the second half, after amassing 183 in the first half. All told, McNabb was sacked six times, intercepted twice and lost a fumble.
The Eagles looked a little too content to sit on their 14-point halftime lead, and afterward head coach Andy Reid took the blame for not being aggressive enough in the second half.
But for me the outcome only reinforced a couple worries I've had about the Eagles' offense for quite some time: Does it feature the kind of running game that can close out the game and eat up the clock when it has a late lead? And does McNabb have a go-to receiver who can make the difference between a three-point win and a three-point loss?
The Eagles got a break in that both New York and Dallas lost in the NFC East. But Philly now has to go on the road for a Monday nighter at revved-up Washington. They've owned the Redskins in recent years, but not Steve Spurrier's Redskins. Lose and they're two games behind first-place Washington after just two weeks.
As for the Steelers, they got punched in the mouth by the Patriots in the game that was supposed to be all about revenge for the AFC title game. So much for payback.
What was most disturbing was how the Steelers self-destructed early beneath a blizzard of penalties, interceptions and other mistakes. They seemed to be knocked back on their heels by the Patriots' intensity, and showed very little fight. I hate to say it, but it looked like Pittsburgh is still battling a hangover effect from January's AFC Championship Game meltdown. Players and coaches always pooh-pooh the idea, but I think a Super Bowl-near miss always has to be overcome mentally early the next season.
Despite the loss, Pittsburgh remains tied for first in the AFC North, because Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland all lost. And once the Steelers get past this week's Sunday-night visit from Oakland, their schedule turns softer. But that means there's a good chance Pittsburgh could be 0-2 heading into its Week 3 bye. And that's no way to start prepping for a Super Bowl trip.