Five things we learned from NFL Week 2

Jay Asser 20/09/2016

From Stefon Diggs’ stunning start to the season to Jacksonville Jaguars’ poor form, there was no shortage of talking points as the new season completed its second week.

What did you make of the game play?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

DIGGS IS AN EMERGING STAR

The NFL’s leader in receiving yards through two weeks isn’t a big name, but rather Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs.

The second-year wideout has 16 receptions for 285 yards and a touchdown, while averaging a league-leading 4.25 yards per route run. He’s breaking out as an elite receiver in front of our eyes.

PACKERS ATTACK ISN’T BACK YET

Most assumed that with the return of a healthy Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s offence would return to their elite 2014 levels.

That’s been far from the case however, as the Packers are averaging just 278.5 yards per game (29th in the NFL), while Rodgers has the 22nd-best passer rating with 82.6. R-E-L-A-X?

GIANTS’ OFF-SEASON ADDITIONS PAYING OFF 

Yes, New Orleans were on the road, but the Giants defence was impressive nonetheless. New York managed to win without even scoring a touchdown as their defence did the heavy lifting.

The retooled unit has had good early returns, ranking top 10 in the league in yards allowed, rush yards allowed and points allowed

JAGUARS ARE STILL BAD

With the money they spent this summer and the assumed progression of their young core players, Jacksonville seemed like a bit of a dark horse. Yet so far, they’ve looked as bad, if not worse, than last year.

The air attack, which was supposed to be a strength, has yet to click despite Blake Bortles tied for NFL lead in pass attempts.

RYAN HAS BEEN STELLAR

Matt Ryan has consistently been a good, but not great quarterback, yet so far this season he’s been fantastic.

He leads the league with 10.0 yards per attempt and a 121.4 passer rating, while ranking second with a 72.6 completion percentage, 730 yards and five touchdowns. It could be a career year.

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#360USA: Russia fancy the start of a sporting cold war

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Caught in the crossfire: Serena Williams and Simone Biles.

The tit-for-tat war is upon us. When Russian track and field athletes were banned from the Olympic games following startling revelations of a state sponsored doping programme, it was a given repercussions from the East would soon follow. And so it proved.

Last week’s announcement that cyber terrorist group Fancy Bears had hacked the database of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) and obtained medical records, were greeted with anger, shock and dismay. Naturally, considering the political landscape, American athletes were in the crosshairs.

Simone Biles and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, were the stand-out victims. It was revealed they had successfully applied for therapeutic use exemption (TUEs), which allows athletes with particular medical conditions to take substances otherwise on WADA’s banned list.

Hundreds of sportsmen and women are granted them every year.

Between January 2015 and March 2016 over 150 British athletes were given the green light, but not before going through a rigorous interview process and consultations with three sports science experts.

US authorities stressed both Williams sisters and Biles did everything by the book. American basketball player Elena Delle Donne also had her details hacked.

“I’d like to thank the hackers for making the world aware that I legally take a prescription for a condition I’ve been diagnosed with, which WADA granted me an exemption for. Thanks, guys!” she tweeted.

But any affront to American security will always be taken with the upmost seriousness and this was no different.

The New York Times, the most respected newspaper in the United States, devoted extensive coverage as did TV news channel CNN, while the Washington Post didn’t hold back.

“The recent spate of embarrassing emails and other records stolen by Russian hackers is President Vladimir Putin’s splashy response to years of what he sees as U.S. efforts to weaken and shame him on the world stage and with his own people, according to Russia experts here and in the U.S. intelligence world and academia,” the paper wrote.

Fancy Bears’ findings haven’t created a Lance Armstrong kind of seismic shock. The use of TUEs, however, is a largely grey area which WADA need to look at.

Critics of the system maintain some athletes are given TUEs despite not needing them, therefore giving them the ability to use various drugs or medications to help boost performance.

For example, corticosteroids are widely used and can help people breathe better yet also enhance their endurance and overall performance. It’s interesting how many are claimed to suffer from asthma.

Others have urged the governing bodies to abolish the presentation of TUEs all together. There have been questions asked as to why Serena needed to take powerful drugs like prednisolone and methylprednisolone.

The International Tennis Federation’s insistence that such medications are for ‘therapeutic use’ understandably doesn’t wash with everyone even if the drugs are used to treat regular muscle problems.

Russians, clearly stung by their Olympic and Paralympic ejections, have needed little encouragement to keep the pot boiling. There have been denials from within the Kremlin that this was indeed work ordered by Putin, who described the revelations as “interesting”.

State news agency, RIA Novosti, reverted to type. Their headline grossly missed the point and was inflammatory to the extreme.

TUE history released: Bradley Wiggins.

TUE history released: Bradley Wiggins.

Accompanied by a disgraceful cartoon of a USA shirt-wearing, black tennis player holding a trophy full of pills, they insisted ‘WADA allowed the Williams sisters and Biles to take doping’.

The United States Anti-Doping agency reacted strongly and defended the likes of Biles.

“They want to smear athletes to make it look as if they have done something wrong,” said USADA chief Travis T. Tygart.

“The athletes haven’t. In fact, in each of the situations, the athlete has done everything right in adhering to the global rules for obtaining permission to use a needed medication. The cyber bullying of innocent athletes being engaged in by these hackers is cowardly and despicable.”

A sporting cold war has begun.

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Top five: NFL quarter-back debuts

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Simply amazing: Debutants Newton, Griffin, Kelly, Frye and Bouman.

From Jimmy Garoppolo to Carson Wentz, Week 1 of the NFL season included some fine performances by quarterbacks making their first career start.

That got us thinking of the five best performances in history for first-time signal callers who dazzled in their debut.

Robert Griffin III

As a rookie with Washington, he showed his dual-threat abilities by tossing 320 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 42 yards in a victory over the Saints.

Cam Newton

The only first overall draft pick on the list, the Panthers QB torched Arizona for a rookie-record 422 yards and two touchdowns in a loss.

Jim Kelly

After spending two years in the USFL, Kelly joined Buffalo and was instantly amazing, throwing for 292 yards and three scores to beat the New York Jets.

Explosive start: Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly.

Explosive start: Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly.

Charlie Frye

Cleveland actually had some reason for hope when their ‘quarterback of the future’ attacked downfield for 226 yards and two scores in a loss to Jacksonville.

Oakland Raiders v Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Brown hero: Charlie Frye.

Todd Bouman

When filling in for Daunte Culpepper, the undrafted free agent was terrific with 348 yards to go with four scores and an interception in a loss to the Titans.

Titanic debut: Todd Bouman.

Titanic debut: Todd Bouman.

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