NFL Week 2 takeaways: McDaniel’s Dolphins explode, Lance-less 49ers won’t implode, Pickett looms in PIT

All Brian Daboll does is win. Meanwhile, the ultimate winner, Tom Brady, is being carried by his defense. And last season’s Super Bowl winners, the Los Angeles Rams, got back on the positive side of the W-L ledger, as the Atlanta Falcons’ frantic fourth-quarter rally fell short

Sunday did feature a series of successful — and utterly scintillating — comeback bids, underscoring the unpredictable nature of this loveable league.

Here are my biggest NFL Week 2 takeaways, Schein Nine style.

Related Links

  • 2022 NFL season, Week 2: What We Learned from Sunday's games
  • Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins put rest of NFL on notice with epic comeback win over Ravens
  • Bucs overcome injuries to snap seven-game losing streak to Saints

1) These Dolphins are pure fire

Back in March, I predicted Miami would be the NFL’s Cinderella team in 2022. Earlier this month, I predicted Miami would make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. And last week, I predicted Miami would spoil Baltimore’s home opener because the Dolphins are simply better than the Ravens.

And yet, even with all of that, I, captain of the 2022 Dolphins bandwagon, left Miami for dead in the third quarter on Sunday. When Lamar Jackson scampered 79 yards to paydirt to put the Ravens up 35-14, the game was OVER. Entering Week 2, teams trailing by 21-plus points in the fourth quarter were 0-710 since 2011, per NFL Research. But then Miami (2-0) hit a gear the franchise has lacked for years.

How about my guy Tua Tagovailoa?! Four fourth-quarter touchdown passes?!?! This is Tua! For the game, the third-year pro set career highs in touchdown throws (six), completions (36), passing yards (469) and quarterback rating (124.1). Tagovailoa’s always had the talent; now he has the coaching and play-calling of Mike McDaniel, who has instilled the 24-year-old with confidence. And of course, he also has that dreamy duo out wide.

Jaylen Waddle (11 catches, 171 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Tyreek Hill (11/190/2) are the second tandem in NFL history to each log 170-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns in the same game. The only other time this occurred? Back in 1942, when Don Hutson and Andy Uram torched the Chicago Cardinals. Yeah, it’s been a while.

The Dolphins outscored the well-coached, buttoned-up Ravens 28-3 in the final quarter! Miami has world-class speed and playmakers that put pressure on the defense — and brilliantly support Tua. Baltimore (1-1) lost despite a transcendent game from Jackson.

This wasn’t a fluke. This is the new normal in South Beach. McDaniel’s offense is fantastic. Miami’s defense oozes talent. What a win. Get used to it, Fin fans.

2) These Cardinals won’t expire

Another game that I — along with every other viewer — prematurely put on ice. Las Vegas took a 20-0 lead into the break. Some good context from the fine folks at NFL Research: When leading by 20-plus points at halftime, the Raiders owned an all-time record of 39-0; when trailing by 20-plus points at halftime, the Cardinals owned an all-time record of 0-90-1. Welp, there’s a first time for everything.

Call it an epic Raiders choke. It was, after all, the largest blown lead in team history. I was very disappointed in Las Vegas (0-2), a team I picked to make the playoffs. But credit Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals (1-1). And Kyler Murray, who darted and scampered and willed his team to a 29-23 overtime win. In the second half and OT, Murray piled up 224 passing yards, a touchdown throwing and running, and even converted a two-point conversation that took an astonishing 20.8 seconds from snap to paydirt. According to Next Gen Stats, Murray ran 84.9 yards on the play!

This was a real [email protected] ran 84.9 yards on a 2-point conversion 😳

(via @NextGenStats) pic.twitter.com/lEBmmmvNQL

Lastly, let’s give a little love to Isaiah Simmons. As one of the most hyped prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft class, the No. 8 overall pick hasn’t exactly lived up to the billing. But with the Raiders approaching field goal range in overtime, the linebacker absolutely crushed Hunter Renfrow, spawning Byron Murphy’s game-ending scoop-and-score. Big play in a big spot.

3) The 49ers are going to be fine

I feel sick for Trey Lance, whose season ended with a fractured ankle on Sunday. This will be his third straight year of barely playing football. Ugh. Hard to get better at the game’s most important — and most challenging — position with such limited game experience. Just brutal.

As for the 2022 49ers (1-1), though? Well, fortunately, Jimmy Garoppolo surprisingly ended this past offseason right where he began it: in San Francisco. It’s Jimmy G’s team once again. What does that mean? The Niners’ offense ran pretty smoothly with No. 10 back under center, exorcising recent demons against the rival Seahawks (1-1) with a 27-7 win. With the experienced signal-caller flanked by an excellent coaching staff and what could be the NFL’s best defense, I foresee double-digit wins and a return to the playoffs. This is a deep and talented roster. The 49ers exercised the “ultimate insurance policy” and away they go!

4) The Packers are going to be fine

Green Bay’s no-show in Minnesota was one of the biggest surprises in Week 1. Even so, I told Packers fans to R-E-L-A-X. Lo and behold, all the team needed to get back on track was a prime-time date with the Bears. Aaron Rodgers owns them. Just ask him. Rodgers rocked Chicago (1-1) once again on Sunday night, completing 19 of 25 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns — good enough for a 131.1 passer rating. The 27-10 win improved Rodgers’ career record against the rival Bears to 24-5. He’s won each of his last seven starts vs. Chicago, racking up an 18:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the process.

But credit is due to Green Bay’s other Aaron — Mr. Jones, who accumulated 170 total yards and two touchdowns on 18 touches. The stud running back remains one of the most underrated playmakers in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Packers’ defense looked more like we all anticipated entering the season. One week after getting cooked by Justin Jefferson, Joe Barry’s D did what it’s supposed to do against Chicago’s Justin Fields-led offense, holding the Bears to 228 total yards of offense.

So the sky didn’t fall and now the Pack are back to .500 at 1-1.

5) NOT the same old Jets

I know Robert Saleh is keeping receipts, so I guess I don’t have to remind him I forecasted the Jets to start 0-7. And in the wake of Zach Wilson’s injury, I ridiculed the team for having Joe Flacco as Plan B.

Who’s laughing now? Flacco threw four touchdown passes in New York’s 31-30 comeback win at Cleveland.

Now, the Browns (1-1) deserve plenty of grief after blowing a 13-point lead with 1:55 to go. Cleveland’s mind-numbing play and game management were bush league. But the Jets (1-1) still had to execute a 66-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis, an onside kick and a 15-yard touchdown pass to rookie Garrett Wilson. Gang Green deserves credit, even though Cleveland blowing this game was insane. Consider this: Per CBS, NFL teams had lost 2,331 straight games when trailing by 13-plus points in the final 2:00. Until Sunday’s result in Cleveland.

6) NOT the same old Lions

This goes well beyond the Hard Knocks hype. Dan Campbell and his brilliant coaching staff have established a culture — and true accountability — in Detroit. This is something we haven’t seen from the Lions (1-1) in quite some time. They fight — and on Sunday, they won! I was impressed with how they went about getting the W, too. After Detroit took a 22-0 lead into the half, Washington (1-1) responded with the first 15 points of the third quarter. This is where the old Lions — the Lions we’ve become accustomed to over the decades — would’ve collapsed. But no! Detroit kept answering back and ultimately prevailed, 36-27.

Amon-Ra St. Brown was sensational with nine catches 116 yards and two scores, also adding 68 rushing yards for good measure. Rookie edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson had three first-half sacks. And Jared Goff threw four touchdown passes against zero interceptions.

You’re seeing it, right? These are not the laughingstock Lions.

7) The Jaguars have a pulse

It’s easy and accurate to criticize Indianapolis. The Colts were hapless and pathetic again. Flat as a pancake. Indy followed a brutal tie in Houston with an inexplicable 24-0 defeat in Jacksonville. The Colts have now lost eight straight in Duval County. That’s unimaginable, given that the Jaguars have posted one winning record in the past 15 seasons. But with that consistent ineptitude in Jacksonville as the backdrop, we can’t overlooked the Jaguars’ winning effort in Doug Pederson’s second game at the helm.

Trevor Lawrence was a model of efficiency, completing 25 of 30 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, the second-year passer didn’t turn the ball over. His rapport with Christian Kirk (6/78/2) is terrific. Who’s scoffing at that signing now? The Jags (1-1) provided an inspired effort on the defensive side of the ball, too, flustering Matt Ryan into three picks. This was incredibly impressive.

The AFC South is weak. Indy’s start has been startling. So, yes, Jags fans, I’m saying there’s a chance …

8) The Cowboys have heart

In the wake of Dak Prescott’s Week 1 injury, I said in this space that Dallas’ season felt doomed. I thought the Bengals, fresh off a brutal season-opening loss, would pounce on the Cowboys.

Instead, Cooper Rush — COOPER RUSH! — led the ‘Boys to a 17-3 halftime lead. Then he made some clutch throws to set up Brett Maher’s game-winning kick as time expired.

Rush was inspiring. He looked the part. And how about the Micah Parsons-led defense flying around and making plays everywhere against Joe Burrow and the high-powered Bengals (0-2)? I haven’t seen Mike McCarthy smile like he did after Maher’s deciding field goal in quite some time — 1-1 never felt so good!

9) Kenny Pickett is on deck

It was all there for Mitch Trubisky. The Steelers had a fine opportunity to finish day alone in first place at 2-0, with a two-game edge over the reigning AFC North champion Bengals. But the former No. 2 overall pick spit the bit. Again.

Now, I’m not demanding Pittsburgh benches Trubisky right now. But it seems like we’re just delaying the inevitable. The Steelers’ offense was flat-out offensive in the home opener, leading to a 17-14 loss to the Patriots (1-1).

From the outside looking in, the quarterback battle seemed pretty even in August, with the first-round pick (Pickett) showing advanced processing skills during the preseason. In a results-oriented business, Trubisky’s effort on Sunday — 21 of 33 for 168 yards with one touchdown and one pick — just doesn’t cut it. Not with the weapons he has at his disposal. Mitch is averaging just 5.1 yards per attempt this season. On passes of 10-plus air yards, per Next Gen Stats, Trubisky owns a completion rate of 39.1 percent and a passer rating of 46.5. Amateur hour.

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