It sure was an unpredictable Week 1 of the new National Football League season.
The next big thing turned out to be the same old Cleveland Browns, a star wide receiver changed teams for the second time in six months (Antonio Brown, now a New England Patriot) and a franchise quarterback (Andrew Luck) decided to hang up his cleats just one week before the season officially started.
In the game I was most interested in, two key offensive players both left with shoulder injuries just minutes apart – Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles and Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Even with a sprained ankle, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed no signs of slowing down after a 50 touchdown season in 2018. He tossed the pigskin for more than 300 yards and three scores Sunday in a 40-26 Chiefs win.
The Chiefs-Jaguars game, which doesn’t happen every year, but has taken place each of the last two years, holds some special significance for me since I’ve been a Chiefs fan ever since I was old enough to take an interest and listen to the games every Sunday afternoon on the radio.
My brother, however, would always root for the Brett Favre led Green Bay Packers until he was drawn to the new franchise expansion Jaguars in the mid-1990s.
We attended the game together last season in Kansas City during Week 5, which also ended in a Chiefs win over his Jaguars.
So, I was delighted to start the smack-talking (via text) early when the Chiefs scored on the opening drive in less than two minutes Sunday.
That turned out to be the first of three Sammy Watkins touchdown catches on the day.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars were relegated to their second-string quarterback, Gardner Minshew II, which I rubbed salt in for my brother by referring to as the Chiefs defense’s “Mint Chew.”
Not so fast, though. Minshew ended up with a strong showing, completing 22-25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. It wasn’t good enough to keep up with Mahomes and the Chiefs though.
For those not familiar, Minshew was a top collegiate passer last season for Washington State, throwing for 4,776 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was then drafted last April in the sixth round (No. 178 overall) by the Jaguars.
The unpredictability didn’t stop there, however. If you were watching the game on CBS, you didn’t get to see the final six minutes or so of the fourth quarter because of reported power difficulties to the production truck.
Thus, those of us watching that game instead got to watch a portion of the game between the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans.
The Browns, dubbed playoff contenders after seeing quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb impress in the second half of last season and adding star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in a trade with the New York Giants during the offseason.
Not so fast. The Browns had a lackluster showing against a middling Tennessee team that has finished in the middle of the pack each of the past three seasons with three consecutive 9-7 records. Cleveland ultimately lost in a laugher, 43-13.
While he wasn’t eligible to suit up for Week 1, Antonio Brown has gone from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders to the New England Patriots in less than a year. He was granted his release on Saturday morning and offered a new deal with the Patriots that afternoon. He wasn’t able to officially sign his new contract until Monday when the Patriots released safety Obi Melifonwu and tight end Lance Kendricks, a second round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2011, to make room for Brown on the roster.
Brown’s addition, if he can fly right for his new no-nonsense head coach, Bill Belichick, makes the Patriots once again one of the most prolific offenses in the league. But flying right is a big ask for Brown, considering that in just the last two months since the start of training camp Brown has made news for showing up to camp with frostbite on his feet, filing a grievance with the NFL for not allowing him to wear his old helmet, picking a fight with Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock, going public with private discussions with Head Coach Jon Gruden on his YouTube channel and posting fine notices he received from the Raiders for unexcused absences from training camp on his Instagram account.
If Week 1 is any indication, it’s going to be another wild ride for the NFL in 2019.