5 Takeaways Two Weeks Into The NFL Season

Patrick Mahomes Is Legit

The moment Kansas City traded Alex Smith — at the time their starting quarterback — to the Washington Redskins, it was clear they believed Patrick Mahomes was a future cornerstone of the franchise. Blessed with a prodigious arm, the thought was that Mahomes would add a dimension to the offense that Smith simply couldn’t provide. After two games, it appears as if the Chiefs made the right decision.

While there was certainly optimism heading into their Week 1 tilt with the Chargers, not even the most hopeful pundit could have predicted the type of performance Mahomes put forth. Helped by great protection throughout the day, Mahomes went 15-of-27 for 256 yards and four touchdowns. It’s one thing to produce against a porous defense, but to put up gaudy stats against a talent-laden Chargers secondary was special.

Fast-forward to this past Sunday and Mahomes somehow exceeded his display from Week 1. The rocket-armed QB absolutely shredded the Steelers, throwing more touchdown passes (6) than incomplete passes (5). The Chiefs’ offensive ingenuity is surely a tremendous boon to Mahomes’ game. The current scheme — buoyed by all-world talent — sees players constantly finding room to operate. To his credit, Mahomes has continuously made the correct read, and as a result, has not thrown an interception thus far. It’s early, but Mahomes appears to be a top-end quarterback.

The Steelers’ Problems Extend Beyond Le’Veon Bell

Heading into the third week of the season, it is looking more and more likely that Le’Veon Bell has no plans of returning to the team before Week 11. Bell is a far superior player to James Conner, but Conner’s performance in Week 1 proved that the team can make due without the superstar running back. If Conner can continue to provide consistent production, the Steelers will have enough of a reason to look ahead to next season and a future without Bell.

Making matters worse for Pittsburgh, the team has been a wreck so far this season. After a disappointing tie in Cleveland in which Ben Roethlisberger committed five turnovers, the Chiefs came to Heinz Field and subsequently added to the Steelers’ angst. Pouring more fuel on the fire, Antonio Brown followed up his in-game temper tantrum with a no-show on Monday. In the past year, Roethlisberger has contemplated retirement, Bell has willingly skipped out on millions, and Brown has caused multiple problems due to his social media snafus.

At this point, it is becoming clear the once-stable franchise is teetering due in large part to its three biggest stars’ own instability. Perhaps Mike Tomlin has lost the locker room as some have suggested. There is too much talent to write this team off, but they are certainly trending in the wrong direction.

Jameis Winston’s Time In Tampa May Be Over

Jameis Winston has had a long-running history of legal problems dating back to his time at Florida State. With the embattled star due to return to the Buccaneers next week following his three game suspension, attention will turn to Dirk Koetter. Koetter, Tampa Bay’s head coach, will have to decide whether Winston deserves to regain his role as the starting quarterback.

At first glance, the answer appears to be simple: Winston should be the backup. While filling in for the suspended Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken the league by storm. Fitzpatrick has thrown eight touchdown passes en route to upset victories over New Orleans and Philadelphia.

With Fitzpatrick playing this well, it becomes easier to cut bait with Winston. Winston is extremely talented, but at this point, the negatives outweigh the positives. The Bucs are only 18-27 when Winston starts, including 3-10 a year ago. The team has seemingly rallied around Fitzpatrick and is playing their best football in over a year. Winston will likely be given another opportunity elsewhere, but Tampa should move on and avoid future headaches.

The Giants Erred In Taking Saquon Over A QB

This is not a slight against Saquon Barkley, but the Giants messed up by not drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 pick. Barkley has been as advertised thus far, rushing for over 100 yards versus Jacksonville and hauling in 14 passes this past Sunday in Dallas. However, the Giants enter Week 3 at 0-2. The single biggest reason for New York’s poor start is the ineptitude of Eli Manning.

Manning has looked like a quarterback well past his prime since 2016. His failure to get the ball down the field has severely limited the Giants’ offense. Look no further than his 25 attempted checkdowns through the opening two weeks. Sam Darnold has shown that he is arguably better than Eli already — any success Darnold has with the Jets will surely haunt the Giants’ fanbase for years — and would fit well with the Giants’ offense. When your best player is a wide-out, it would be wise to have a quarterback capable of getting him the ball. We’re only an eighth of the way through the season, but the decision to take Barkley over a QB seems to be a mistake.

The Bears Will Go As Far As Mitchell Trubisky Can Take Them

After narrowly losing to the Packers at Lambeau in Week 1, the Bears dominated Seattle for the majority of their game Monday night. Khalil Mack has taken an already-good defense to another level. The entire unit is playing with a sense of urgency, and is clearly capable of winning a few games for the team. Aside from having to play in a division with the Vikings and Packers, there is one major hurdle Chicago must clear if they want to make a run at the postseason.

That hurdle would be the mediocre play of Mitchell Trubisky.

Only in his second year, Trubisky has shown flashes of being a decent quarterback. He has proven to be a good scrambler and possesses above-average speed when out of the pocket. On the flip side, it is clear that Trubisky has a very long way to go. He misses too many easy throws and struggles considerably when taking shots down the sideline. His overall decision making and performance in crunch time are cause for concern at this point.

Trubisky has a habit of forcing throws into double coverage — resulting in careless turnovers. Ball security has plagued him since his debut and has thus far carried over into the new season. In terms of his crunch time performance, Trubisky far too often shrinks under pressure and doesn’t yet seem comfortable in the big moments.

Combining Chicago’s top-grade defense with solid offensive weapons at the skill positions and a creative, offensive-minded head coach, the recipe for success is there. In order to make a serious run at the postseason, Trubisky must improve quickly. The Bears aren’t far off, but in the end, they will only go as far as Trubisky can take them.

Image Sources: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports, Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports, Antonio Brown/Twitter, CBS Sports/Twitter, Bleacher Report/Twitter