Patriots’ Receivers Aren’t Only Ones With Drop Problems, Ben Tate Is Better Than Arian Foster and Other NFL Thoughts

Wes WelkerTwo weeks of the regular season are now in the books, and there hasn’t been a shortage of storylines so far.

Peyton Manning has been nothing short of incredible. Weird weather — don’t they play in snow? — has delayed the start of two games. The Philadelphia Eagles offense has been mesmerizing. The Jaguars have been gag-worthy. And the Kansas City Chiefs have already won as many games in two weeks as they did all of last season.

Yup, this is the NFL.

Through two games, exactly eight teams are still left winless, including two of last season’s playoff teams (Washington and Minnesota), and eight are undefeated, which includes three who didn’t make the playoffs (Kansas City, Miami and New Orleans). All this parity is making my head spin.

Well, with so much happening around the league, let’s dive in and see what observations are left lingering after Week 2.

**Editor’s Note: Each week, I’ll break down 10 thoughts from around the NFL in the “First and 10.” That being said, here are 10 more thoughts from around the NFL after another week of football.

1. Patriots receivers aren’t the only problem — The Patriots’ young receivers haven’t done Tom Brady any favors so far this season, but be hasn’t exactly been Tom Terrific either. Brady is completing just 52.7 percent of his passes this season, which isn’t aided any by seven drops from his receivers but they also aren’t the only issue. Brady has struggled with accuracy on deep throws, which was evident on Thursday on an overthrow to a wide-open Julian Edelman and about a 10-yard underthrow to an open Kenbrell Thompkins. The receivers definitely have some work to do to develop their chemistry with Brady, but he needs to figure some mechanical things out on his own as well.

2.  Too close to call — (-3: 5) (-7: 12) (-3:6) (-7:10) Three games were decided by one point in Week 2, which is the most games decided by so few points in a week since the 1994 season. On the whole, this season has produced more nail-biters to start the season than I can remember in recent history. Through two weeks, 22 games have been decided by seven points or fewer and 11 games by three points or less. The amount of close games is a great show of the incredible parity around the league right now, which should make for a very entertaining season all the way through Week 17.

3. Philip Rivers is fixed — I’m not sure if Philip Rivers was ever really broken, but he definitely wasn’t all good during the past two seasons. Rivers impressed for a second straight week, this time to the tune of 36-for-47 passing, 419 yards and three touchdowns in a close win. The 31-year-old now has seven touchdowns to just one interception on the season and appears to have the Chargers’ offense heading in the right direction.

4. RG3 still isn’t right —His stat line at the end of two weeks — 63 percent completions, 649 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions — looks fine, but there’s still something wrong with Robert Griffin III. Griffin still seems to be favoring his surgically repaired right knee, often planting off his front foot when throwing, which has caused some accuracy issues. The knee brace also seems to be limiting Griffin’s mobility, which is a big hindrance on his potential impact on the game.

5. Julio Jones might be the NFL’s best WRCalvin Johnson still holds the title of NFL’s best receiver, stemming from his record-breaking 2012 season, but Julio Jones is certainly making an early push for that throne. Jones has already caught 18 passes this season, while piling up 258 yards and two touchdowns. His 11-catch, 182-yard performance against the Rams on Sunday definitely asserted his place among the NFL’s elite, and his near flawless chemistry with Matt Ryan could elevate him up to that top spot.

6. Seahawks D is even better without Bradley — Pete Carroll‘s team finished first in the NFL in scoring defense in 2012. With last season’s defensive coordinator Gus Bradley now in Jacksonville, the defense was expected to regress this season. But they’ve actually gotten even better. After two weeks, the Seahawks have given up the fewest yards (230 per game) and points (five per game) in the NFL this season. Seattle hasn’t faced cupcakes either, holding down Cam Newton and the Panthers in Week 1 and Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers on Sunday night.

7. Super Mario is back — Mario Williams didn’t look like a $100 million player during his first season in Buffalo, but he’s starting to this season. Williams has been putting consistent pressure on the quarterback through the Bills’ first two games. He was constantly in Tom Brady‘s face in Week 1, although didn’t record a sack. He continued his dominance, frustrating Cam Newton in Week 2 and getting to the quarterback for an incredible 4.5 sacks. If Super Mario wasn’t right last season, he’s definitely figured things out by now.

8. Ben Tate looks more like Arian Foster than Arian Foster — It’s early, but the Houston Texans might be thinking about a change in the backfield. Ben Tate has outrushed Arian Foster (148 yards to 136) through two games this season, and he’s done so in 19 fewer carries. Foster is both the incumbent and a top-10 back over the last three seasons, but he’s averaging 4.5 less yards per carry (8.2 to 3.7) than Tate and doesn’t appear to be getting the job done consistently. A lingering calf problem might be holding him back, but right now Tate seems like the better option in Houston.

9. Drops City! Brady isn’t alone — Brady’s receivers have gotten the brunt of the criticism for drops this season, mainly because the Patriots’ struggles are drawing the most attention around the league, but Brady isn’t alone. The Redskins actually lead the league, dropping 10 of RG3’s passes on the year. Meanwhile, the Broncos and Lions haven’t done Manning or Matthew Stafford any favors, with each team dropping nine passes through two games. It’s especially amazing to see how successful Manning has been even with the drops, considering he still boasts the NFL’s sixth-highest completion percentage (67.1) and would be the far-and-away leader with better than 75 percent if you erase those nine drops.

10. AFC Beware: The Dolphins are good — The Patriots were put on watch before the season began, as the Dolphins spent more than $100 million this offseason in an effort to come after the AFC East crown. Well, through two games at least, the Dolphins appear to be the real deal. Ryan Tannehill has been efficient, if nothing else, Mike Wallace seems to be meshing well and the new-look defense looks to be well worth all that money. A run through the gauntlet with Atlanta, New Orleans and Baltimore ahead of their bye week should give us an even better perspective on just how good these guys can be.

Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

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