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Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots’ big day, Bills’ blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season featured surprise performances and unfortunate injuries across the board. Sam Darnold and the Panthers are now 2-0 after dominating a Saints team that overwhelmed Green Bay in Week 1. The Bills bounced back with a convincing blowout win in Miami, the Rams squeezed out the win in Indianapolis and Derek Carr and the Raiders topped the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

It was a tough week for other quarterbacks around the league, too. Zach Wilson threw four interceptions against New England, the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, Colts’ Carson Wentz, Bears’ Andy Dalton and Texans’ Tyrod Taylor exited with injuries, and Jalen Hurts couldn’t lead the Eagles past the 49ers.

Our NFL Nation reporters react to it all, with the major takeaways and lingering questions from this week’s action — and what it all means going forward. Plus, they each look at the bigger picture with their current team confidence rating — a 0-10 grade of how they feel about the team’s future outlook coming out of the week. Let’s get into it. (Games will be added throughout Sunday and again following Monday Night Football.)

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Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Patriots

What to know: Win the turnover battle, win the game. After a disappointing season-opening loss in which the Patriots fumbled four times (losing two), they were the recipients of some gifts from rookie Jets QB Zach Wilson (four INTs) and ultimately did enough to take advantage of them. At the same time, they cleaned up their ball-security issues (for the most part) and didn’t have a single turnover. The Patriots are 167-18 under Bill Belichick (2000-present) when they have a positive turnover differential. — Mike Reiss

How much is the Patriots’ offense holding things back with rookie QB Mac Jones? Those hoping to see the Patriots open things up in Jones’ second career start were disappointed, as it was mostly a conservative approach. Jones was 22-of-30 for 186 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT. There haven’t been many throws down the field. There are reasons for this, of course, starting with some shaky pass protection — particularly at right tackle (Yasir Durant started and was replaced by Justin Herron). The return of starting right tackle Trent Brown (calf) next week would be a significant boost. — Reiss

Reiss’ confidence rating (0-10): 6.2, down from 6.5. Until they get their struggles in pass protection sorted out, it’s hard to imagine them competing with some of the top teams in the NFL.

Next game: vs. Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Jets

What to know: QB Zach Wilson was brutal. The bally-hooed rookie threw four interceptions, all coming in his first 10 pass attempts — a performance that conjured up scary memories of Sam Darnold‘s “ghost” game against the Patriots in 2019. Wilson was too aggressive, forcing passes downfield instead of taking safe checkdowns. He got away with that at BYU; he’s not in Utah anymore. The most disconcerting thing: Unlike last week, he wasn’t under heavy pressure. No, this was all on Wilson, who delivered one of the all-time clunkers. — Rich Cimini

How will coach Robert Saleh handle his first taste of adversity? The first-year coach is 0-2, and his team has played like garbage in six of eight quarters. And now he has to go on the road to face the Broncos, another tough defensive team. Welcome to the Jets, coach. Before training camp, Saleh said he wouldn’t learn about his team’s character until it faced adversity. He welcomed it. He just got a heavy dose. No one expects the Jets to make the playoffs; they will be measured by progress. This isn’t progress. — Cimini

Cimini’s confidence rating (0-10): 3.0, down from 3.5. Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson got schooled by Bill Belichick & Co., joining a long list of predecessors.

Next game: at Broncos (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Browns

What to know: It wasn’t pretty, but the Browns finally took care of what was left of the Houston Texans, who suffered numerous injuries over the course of the game. Tougher tests for Cleveland await. And the Browns — particularly a defense that struggled to get off the field Sunday — will have to be better if Cleveland is going to make noise in the AFC this season. — Jake Trotter

When will Jarvis Landry return? The Pro Bowl receiver left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury. The Browns already are without their other starting wideout, Odell Beckham Jr., who has yet to make his debut off last year’s knee surgery. Cleveland will need Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookies Anthony Schwartz and Demetric Felton to step up for as long as its big-money wideouts are out to keep the passing game afloat. — Trotter

Trotter’s confidence rating (0-10): 7.5, down from 8.0. With eight new starters, it’s not a surprise to see Cleveland’s defense endure some struggles early on in the season, even against the Texans.

Next game: vs. Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Texans

What to know: Going into halftime, the Texans had to feel confident tied at 14 against a good Cleveland Browns team. But when they ran back out onto the field, it was rookie quarterback Davis Mills under center, as Taylor was ruled out with a hamstring injury. It remains to be seen how long Taylor will miss with this injury, but Mills was inconsistent in his half as a starter, finishing 8-of-18 for 102 yards, a touchdown and an interception. — Sarah Barshop

Can the Texans win with Mills? Mills struggled on his first two series before settling in for a solid third drive, which got the Texans within a field goal. But with a short week, it will be a challenge for the rookie against a 2-0 Panthers team that beat the Saints on Sunday. Mills struggled in the preseason, but this will be the Texans’ chance to give him what might be an extended look to determine if he should be in their future plans at the position. — Barshop

Barshop’s confidence rating (0-10): 2.0, down from 3.5. The Texans showed they can play with a very good team in the loss, but it’s hard to be confident that this team can win consistently without Taylor.

Next game: vs. Panthers (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Broncos

What to know: The fast start against two young quarterbacks, with one more on the horizon. The Broncos, now 2-0 after Sunday’s win Jacksonville, frustrated the Giants’ Daniel Jones in the season opener and proved a difficult puzzle for Jaguars’ rookie Trevor Lawrence on Sunday, too — Lawrence had 99 yards passing at the start of the fourth quarter with an interception. The Broncos have New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson on the docket next for a chance at what could be their first 3-0 start since they started 4-0 in 2016. Before the two wins the past two weeks, the Broncos had been 0-for-September in coach Vic Fangio’s first two seasons. — Jeff Legwold

When will the Broncos get to see Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, at their best, in the defense at the same time? Since Chubb tore his ACL in a Week 4 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the coveted pass rush pairing of Miller and Chubb has been a star-crossed affair. Sunday was the first time Chubb and Miller had played in the same game since 2019 — Miller missed all of the 2020 season after ankle surgery and Chubb missed the season opener last week with an ankle injury — but Chubb left Sunday’s win over the Jaguars and did not play in the second half. He will be evaluated Monday in Denver. The Broncos defense handled its business Sunday after Chubb’s departure, but the number that continues to show what the Broncos hoped to get back to is that in the 21 games the two have played at least some together they have 30.5 combined sacks. — Legwold

Legwold’s confidence rating (0-10): 8.0, up from 7.8. The Broncos didn’t always look smooth on offense, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continues to be the guy who gets them through the rough spots and the defense is better than it’s been at any point since Super Bowl run in 2015.

Next game: vs. Jets (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

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0:24

Noah Fant finishes off a 75-yard scoring drive with a 14-yard TD pass from Teddy Bridgewater.


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Jaguars

What to know: The Jaguars need to get QB Trevor Lawrence a lot more help. At wide receiver, tight end and along the offensive line. Lawrence didn’t play well against Denver, so let’s get that out of the way first. But the Jaguars don’t have a playmaker defenses have to gameplan to stop. Marvin Jones Jr. is a solid receiver but Laviska Shenault Jr. isn’t a game-breaker and DJ Chark Jr. had just one catch. The tight ends don’t help much in the pass game. Upgrading both tackle spots is a major need. These are things the Jaguars can’t address until the offseason, and there are defensive issues to fix, too. But if you’re building around Lawrence, the offense needs to be the priority. — Mike DiRocco

What’s wrong with K Josh Lambo? He’s not dealing with an injury this season but this could be residual effects from a hip injury that cost him much of last season. The player fans nicknamed “Lambomatic” because he rarely missed hasn’t hit at all yet in 2021. He went 0 for 2 against the Broncos and is 0 for 3 this season. Even though two misses were from 50-plus yards, he had made 12 of 13 from 50-plus coming into his fourth season with the Jaguars. When your offense struggles to score points — especially when it’s close early in games — you can’t have inconsistent kicker. Expect the Jaguars to bring in some kickers for workouts this week. — DiRocco

DiRocco’s confidence rating (0-10): 2.6, up from 2.5. The Jaguars at least fixed the procedural issues they had in Week 1 (everybody was able to line up correctly and they didn’t have to burn a couple timeouts in the first quarter) but the offense is still a major work in progress.

Next game: vs. Cardinals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Bears

What to know: Rookie quarterback Justin Fields took every offensive snap after halftime as Andy Dalton (knee injury) watched from the sideline. Fields had modest numbers (6 of 13 for 60 yards and seven rushing attempts for 35 yards), but he brings an element of excitement Dalton does not. Fields is such a threat to run that he often paralyzes defenders. Some of Fields’ best plays against the Bengals occurred when he was running outside the pocket. The first-round pick also had a sure touchdown pass dropped by Allen Robinson in the fourth quarter. The downside, Fields threw a really bad pick late in the game. A finished product he is not — yet. — Jeff Dickerson

Can the offense drastically improve under Fields? The offense still struggles no matter which quarterback is under center. The group is heavily penalized and often sloppy. That being said, Fields is a playmaker, and the Bears desperately need more playmakers on offense. Because of Fields’ dynamic athleticism, it is reasonable to expect the offense to improve, but probably not by leaps and bounds. However, if the Bears’ defense gets after the quarterback and takes the ball away in bunches like in Week 2 — coupled with Fields’ emergence — then the Bears are in much better position to succeed this year. — Dickerson

Dickerson’s confidence rating (0-10): 5.0, up from 2.0. Defense, defense, defense.

Next game: at Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Bengals

What to know: Cincinnati squandered an opportunity to start the season with good momentum. After a dramatic Week 1 overtime win over the Vikings, the Bengals were in position to start 2-0 in a year in which they were expected to turn the corner. Instead, against Bears rookie back-up quarterback Justin Fields, the Bengals had a flat performance that led to a deep hole the team couldn’t dig out of. That puts more pressure on the Bengals and third-year coach Zac Taylor heading into a Week 3 road game at Pittsburgh. — Ben Baby

Was the Bengals’ offensive improvement they displayed in Week 1 for real? Sunday’s game showed all the old flaws the Bengals have displayed the last two seasons – shaky play along the offensive line and a very stagnant offense. The performance shared too many similarities with a Bengals team that has been one of the worst in the league the last two seasons. — Baby

Baby’s confidence rating (0-10): 5.5, down from 7.0. Fluky finish that featured two late TDs aside, Cincinnati looked flustered offensively against a Bears defense that surrendered 34 points in a Week 1 loss to the Rams.

Next game: at Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Rams

What to know: The Rams’ defense is on pace for another dominant season. Despite allowing quarterback Carson Wentz and the Colts to march to the goal line twice in the first half, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and company proved they could come up with two big-time stops, which included an interception by linebacker Troy Reeder and a turnover on downs. To seal the victory, cornerback Jalen Ramsey intercepted backup quarterback Jacob Eason with 2:13 to play. First-year defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has said since his arrival in L.A. that stats are for losers, while imploring his unit to produce “make a difference” plays. They’ve certainly embraced the message. — Lindsey Thiry

What is the status of running back Darrell Henderson Jr.? After the Rams lost running back Cam Akers to a season-ending injury before training camp, coach Sean McVay expressed confidence in Henderson’s ability to take over the starting role, though he voiced concern about Henderson’s durability. Those concerns came to fruition when Henderson was sidelined late in the third quarter after suffering a rib injury. Sony Michel, who was acquired in a late-preseason trade with the New England Patriots, and rookie Jake Funk took over in his absence. — Thiry

Thiry’s confidence rating (0-10): 8.0, even with 8.0. Holding steady at 8.0, given the Rams performed unevenly across all three phases but proved they could grind out a road win in front of a hostile crowd.

Next game: vs. Buccaneers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Colts

What to know: Wentz’s ankle injury is the biggest thing that the Colts have to worry about now and going forward, but they would not be 0-2 for the first time under coach Frank Reich had they been a better red zone team. The Colts had two drives inside the Rams’ 20-yard line only to come away with no points on either possession. The most embarrassing of the two drives was on the opening series when the Colts had the ball first-and-goal from the Rams’ 1-yard line. They attempted to run up the middle three straight times only to get stuffed on each one, and then Wentz was sacked on fourth down instead of taking points with a field goal. There were only three times a team ran four plays from the 1-yard line and failed to score on a drive last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Colts have come away with no points three times when reaching the opponent’s red zone in the first two games of the season. Reich is supposed to be an innovative playcaller, but he continues to struggle in that area inside the red zone for the Colts. — Mike Wells

Can Carson Wentz survive the season taking a constant pounding? To Wentz’s credit, he extended a number of plays by being able to scramble to make things happen for the Colts. But for as much as Wentz scrambled, he also took way too many unnecessary hits, including on a play where he suffered an ankle injury midway through the fourth quarter when his right leg twisted while being taken to the ground by Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Wentz was sacked three times and hit an additional 11 times to bring his season total up to six sacks and 21 hits. That’s not what Wentz and the Colts envisioned when they brought him to Indianapolis during the offseason. — Wells

Wells’ confidence rating (0-10): 5.0, down from 5.8. Their rating drops due to Wentz’s health and the fact the Colts are about to play three straight road games against teams that made the playoffs last season. They could be 0-5 the next time they play a game in Indianapolis.

Next game: at Titans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Raiders

What to know: The Raiders, off to a 2-0 start, are for real. How else to describe a team that came cross-country on a short week to play in the NFL’s early window without injured Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs and with a makeshift offensive line that needed more duct tape at Heinz Field? Derek Carr was extremely sharp, with 382 yards passing in completing 28 of 37 throws for two TDs, including a 61-yarder to Henry Ruggs III in the fourth quarter after he had his surgically-repaired right ankle rolled up on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Foster Moreau in the third. — Paul Gutierrez

How will the Raiders address their offensive line injuries? Well, getting left guard Richie Incognito up and running this week would do wonders for one. But the bigger deal is at right tackle, where first-rounder Alex Leatherwood was lost at halftime with an oblique injury…after having a rough go of it against T.J. Watt with a hold, a false start and a sack allowed. With Brandon Parker acquitting himself well in place of Leatherwood, the Raiders’ O-line had three backups in play — John Simpson at left guard, Jermaine Eluemunor at right guard and Parker. — Gutierrez

Gutierrez’s confidence rating (0-10): 8.2, up from 8.1. Yes, just one-tenth of one point more than last week, but even with so many injuries, things are trending positively for the Raiders, who play host to the Dolphins on regular rest next week.

Next game: vs. Dolphins (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Steelers

What to know: With the offense sputtering for the second week in a row, the Steelers defense, now down four starters due to injury, couldn’t pick up the slack to shut down the Raiders’ passing game. Joe Haden and Devin Bush were inactive prior to kickoff, and T.J. Watt joined them on the sideline late in the first half later with a groin injury of his own. Nose tackle Tyson Alualu went out early with an ankle injury that appeared to be severe. The Steelers accomplished their goal of mostly neutralizing Darren Waller, but Derek Carr, with 382 yards passing, made them pay with a 61-yard touchdown to Henry Ruggs III and a 9-yard score to Foster Moreau. — Brooke Pryor

Where is the new-look offense? The Steelers fired coordinator Randy Fichtner and promoted quarterback coach Matt Canada to offensive coordinator in the offseason, but the hallmarks of a Canada offensive scheme — the misdirection, the pre-snap motion — were largely absent for the second week in a row. Canada’s most obvious influence was on JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s first-ever rushing touchdown, when he scored on a 3-yard run off an inside handoff on an end-around. The offensive line, a known work-in-progress, didn’t look improved from Week 1 and allowed Roethlisberger to be hit 10 times. Trai Turner was also ejected in the fourth quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct after spitting toward a Raiders’ player. Outside of spurts of explosive plays, especially when they went no-huddle, the offense looked disjointed and uninspiring — things that could be fixed in time, but haven’t improved two games into the season. — Pryor

Pryor’s confidence rating (0-10): 5.7, down from 6.8. The Steelers showed they can win with a dominant defense a week ago, but when the defense was battered and not playing lights out against the Raiders, it couldn’t make up for the offensive shortcomings.

Next game: vs. Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

49ers

What to know: It’s early, but the 49ers are already showing they can win games in vastly different ways, usually the sign of a team capable of contending. One week after winning a high-scoring game in Detroit, the 49ers outslugged the Eagles in an ugly fistfight, the type of game that native Philadelphia son Rocky Balboa would truly appreciate. San Francisco’s offense slept through most of the first half, and though the 49ers offense gave up some big plays, it repeatedly found ways to keep the Eagles out of the end zone. The 49ers ultimately go to 2-0 with both wins on the road for just the fifth time in franchise history. — Nick Wagoner

Are the 49ers going to run out of running backs? After losing Raheem Mostert last week, the 49ers turned to rookie Elijah Mitchell as the starter and he got most of the work before a late shoulder injury sent him to the sideline. JaMycal Hasty replaced him and was running well before he departed because of an ankle issue. Rookie Trey Sermon suffered a head injury on his first carry, forcing Mitchell to gut it out to the finish. It’s already been an ugly start on the injury front for this group, which can’t welcome veteran Jeff Wilson Jr. back from his knee injury soon enough. — Wagoner

Wagoner’s confidence rating (0-10): 6.8, up from 6.5. It’s hard to bolster this number too much given the continued injury questions this team is dealing with but to come out of this long East Coast trip 2-0 is worth a little bump before the competition ramps up in coming weeks.

Next game: vs. Packers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)


play

0:17

The Eagles try the famous “Philly Special” play again, but the 49ers sniff it out and get the fourth-down stop.

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Eagles

What to know: The Eagles still have some growing up to do. A very winnable game slipped through their hands. There were technical mistakes, such as Jalen Reagor stepping out of bounds to negate a would-be touchdown. And they failed to capitalize on opportunities, particularly following Quez Watkins‘ 91-yard reception that led to zero points. Meanwhile, some of the young playmakers such as Jalen Hurts (12-of-23, 190 yards) and DeVonta Smith (two catches on seven targets) cooled after strong performances in Week 1. Philadelphia still looks like a better team than expected through two weeks — particularly on defense — but this was a reminder that growing pains are still ahead. — Tim McManus

How will they respond to their first bit of adversity? Not only was it a stinging loss, but a couple key veterans in guard Brandon Brooks (chest) and defensive end Brandon Graham (ankle) suffered worrisome injuries. Rookies Landon Dickerson and Tarron Jackson saw increased roles in their absence, with mixed results. Coach Nick Sirianni likens each week in the NFL to a round in a boxing match. We’ll see how they respond to a series of body blows when they travel to take on the rival Dallas Cowboys next Monday night. — McManus

McManus’ confidence rating (0-10): 5.9, down from 6.3. Two Pro Bowl players got hurt. The Eagles need their key vets to stay healthy and contribute this season. Not a great start towards that objective.

Next game: at Cowboys (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Panthers

What to know: The trade for quarterback Sam Darnold continues to look smart. Surrounded by good coaching and dependable weapons, he’s become consistent and efficient. On one of Darnold’s many big plays Sunday, he showed patience, played it smart and checked down to Christian McCaffrey in stride. Darnold topped 200 yards passing in the first half for the second straight week, something no Carolina quarterback had done. Confidence is building. — David Newton

How much of Carolina’s 2-0 start has to do with playing a bad Jets team and undermanned Saints team? You can’t discount that, and next up is a weak Houston team on Thursday night. But you also can’t discount Darnold’s play combined with running back Christian McCaffrey and a defense that has a lot of young, talented pieces. That gives the Panthers a chance every week. They needed a fast start to the season — so far, so good. — Newton

Newton’s confidence rating (0-10): 6.4, up from 5.1. The defense has come together quickly and has the talent to disrupt any offense. It’s no fluke.

Next game: at Texans (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Saints

What to know: The Saints have now had two stunning results the first two weeks, following a dominant win over Green Bay in Week 1 with a disturbing flop at Carolina. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, considering how much attrition they faced this week (missing nine starters because of injuries/suspension, missing eight assistant coaches because of COVID-19 and being displaced for three weeks by Hurricane Ida). But the depth concerns we had coming into the year are real problems, especially on offense. — Mike Triplett

Was this an anomaly for Jameis Winston and the Saints’ offense? Not entirely. Winston was under relentless pressure all day, leading to his first two interceptions and first four sacks of the season. (“Bad Jameis” came out when he tried to force desperate deep balls at the end of each half.) We expect better from New Orleans’ proven offensive line – despite center Erik McCoy being sidelined by a calf injury. And we know how much better the offense can be after Winston threw five touchdown last week. But there are legitimate concerns about the Saints’ lack of dynamic playmakers at wide receiver and tight end after they’ve struggled to get open consistently. — Triplett

Triplett’s confidence rating (0-10): 6.8, down from 8.1. There is hope if the Saints can stay afloat the next few weeks, with so many key players expected back by Week 7 or 8. But we know now that they can’t overcome every hurdle.

Next game: at Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Bills

What to know: The Bills’ defense showed up against Miami. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was knocked out of the game early with a rib injury and Buffalo made life difficult for backup Jacoby Brissett, holding the Dolphins scoreless. The Bills had six sacks, 11 quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss and three takeaways. An all-around dominant performance. In rookie Greg Rousseau‘s return to his college stadium, the first-round pick put on a show with two sacks, five tackles, two quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. Sunday’s performance was an encouraging sign for Buffalo’s pass rush, with second-year defensive end AJ Epenesa also providing significant pressure with two quarterback hits. — Alaina Getzenberg

Are Josh Allen‘s inconsistencies a concern going forward? The Bills took an early lead in the first quarter with two touchdown drives. After that, the team stumbled to 30 net yards combined on the next four possessions. Some of the issues came from Allen continuing to have trouble connecting with his receivers, especially downfield. In the first half, he completed 1 of 5 for 35 yards and an interception on passes thrown more than 10 yards downfield, per ESPN Stats & Info. Through two games, Allen has completed 6-of-14 passes intended for Emmanuel Sanders, and his combined completion percentage (56%) ranks far below last season’s 69%. — Getzenberg

Getzenberg’s confidence rating (0-10): 7.3, up from 6.3. It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Bills put together a complete game against the Dolphins thanks to strong games from their young pass-rushers and a solid day for the team’s rushing offense (143 yards on 30 carries), after a disappointing opener.

Next game: vs. Washington (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Dolphins

What to know: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was knocked out of the game with a rib injury early in the first quarter and did not return. His departure seemed to suck the life out of Miami’s sideline before it could ever get going. Jacoby Brissett was admirable as his replacement, but the Dolphins’ offense fell flat in their first shutout loss since 2019. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

What went wrong with the Dolphins’ offense? Tagovailoa was pressured on four of his six snaps before his injury — including two sacks on the Dolphins’ opening drive. Things didn’t necessarily improve from there as the Bills finished the game with six sacks and 11 QB hits. Miami’s offensive line is quickly materializing as its weakest unit, which is especially disappointing considering the draft capital spent on it over the past two drafts. If the Dolphins can’t improve up front, the ceiling for their offense is limited moving forward. — Louis-Jacques

Louis-Jacques’ confidence rating (0-10): 5.0, down from 6.5. The sole reason it’s even this high is because of the stellar play of Miami’s defense — and yes, this defense was outstanding considering it held the Bills to six consecutive empty drives to end the first half before the wheels fell off in the second. It’s become a legitimate concern what kind of support the Dolphins’ offense will provide this season.

Next game: at Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the SaintsWeek 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Washington

What to know: Taylor Heinicke doesn’t have a big arm, is small and has durability issues. But what he does have is this: It. And while it might be hard to describe, when players fall in love with a guy’s game and point to his swagger, you know that’s what he has. Whether Heinicke magic continues for a couple games or much more remains to be seen. Those other attributes will impact the long haul. But that doesn’t change that players respond to him and are confident in him — and that he continues to deliver. — John Keim

Is the defense OK? The unit needs to play far more disciplined or it’s going to have issues when it faces better offenses than New York. It’s about staying in gaps, doing its job and playing with more maturity. Washington’s defense — the front in particular — entered the season with high expectations. It supposed to be the reason this team contends in the NFC East. After two games, this group has failed to live up to the hype. — Keim

Keim’s confidence rating (0-10): 5.2, up from 5.0. Heinicke has provided a shot of hope, but the defense’s issues — knowing the remaining quarterbacks on the schedule — must get fixed.

Next game: at Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Week 2 takeaways and big questions: Patriots' big day, Bills' blowout and a shocker for the Saints

Giants

What to know: The Giants just don’t seem to know how to win. This time they let the game slip away on multiple occasions, with the final mistake being when they jumped offsides on a last-second field goal attempt, giving Washington the second chance it needed to win. “Yeah, it was a pretty tough one,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. That’s an understatement. The Giants are 0-2 for the fifth straight year, and need to learn how to win. Or as Joe Judge likes to stress, learn how not to lose. — Jordan Raanan

What is wrong with the Giants’ defense? This group is not pressuring the quarterback and is allowing big plays all over the field. The Giants had just four pressures against Washington and have allowed 57 points in the first two games. The only allowed 27 or more points three times all of last season. — Raanan

Raanan’s confidence rating (0-10): 3.2, down from 4.2. It’s not looking good after two weeks. An 0-2 hole is not something the Giants can’t escape in a 17-game season, but it sure is prohibitive and familiar.

Next game: vs. Falcons (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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