I made the mistake of watching the Thursday night opener in real time on Western European Time last week. Never again. I caught the Giants abomination Monday morning and the second half of the Saints-Vikings and entire Chargers-Broncos this morning.
• Sam Bradford looked awfully sharp, completing his usual high percentage of passes (27-for-32, 84%), but these were not dinks and dunks. Bradford had 10.8 YPA en route to 346 yards and three TDs. Granted a home game against the Saints is as easy as it gets, but Bradford was zipping around the ball with pinpoint accuracy. It didn’t hurt that Dalvin Cook’s running got Bradford in favorable down-and-distance situations, though one could argue Bradford’s passing set up Cook too. Either way both will be better tested in Week 2 at Pittsburgh.
• Speaking of Cook, he had 127 yards on just 22 carries (5.8 YPC), and another 10 yards on three receptions. Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon had five carries combined.
• Adam Thielen caught nine of 10 targets for 157 yards for a whopping 15.7 YPT. It’s hard to tell if he’s just good at getting open or whether the Saints are that bad in coverage, but Thielen was often wide open.
• Stefon Diggs caught 7-of-8 targets for 93 yards and two TDs. He and Thielen are WR1 and 1a for the Vikings, though Thielen tends to run deeper routes.
• Three of the five 100-yard rushers in Week 1 (Cook, Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt) were rookies.
• The Saints running back committee totaled 20 carries, six for Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram, seven for Alvin Kamara, none especially effective.
• The Saints receiver by committee totaled 37 targets, eight for Michael Thomas six for Coby Fleener and Kamara and five for Ted Ginn and Ingram.
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• The Vikings defense is tough, but Michael Thomas (5 catches for 45 yards) didn’t have a reception longer than 14 yards.
• Vikings kicker Kai Forbath made all three of his field-goal attempts in what was quite obviously a revenge game.
• It wasn’t pretty, but Melvin Gordon is a reliable workhorse with 18 carries and six targets. Efficiency is less important than health here.
• Hunter Henry, who I termed a “can’t fail” player if healthy this preseason didn’t get a chance to fail Monday night – he didn’t receive a single target and reportedly ran only six routes. It’s possible Denver’s ferocious pass rush caused the Chargers to have the tight ends block more (Antonio Gates had only three targets), but it’s hard to spin this positively for Hunter.
• Keenan Allen caught five of 10 targets for 35 yards and a score. I’m not an Allen fan because I think he’s Golden Tate without the track record of being healthy, but at Denver is about the worst matchup for a No. 1 WR you can have.
• Trevor Siemian looked competent and just missed a second rushing TD late in the game.
• A.J. Derby looked nimble on his three catches.
• Benny Fowler caught two TDs, but it was on only four targets. Don’t read anything into it. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas should still see the bulk of the work.