NFL VentZone: Week One

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Oliver OngBlog
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It’s finally here! Week 1 is in the books and we can all now look forward to months of NFL drama, fantasy rivalries and December heartbreak. The off-season was an interesting one. We saw wide receivers become recognised as one of the most valuable positions in the league, with eye-watering new contracts (20m for Kirk!!) and Madden-level trade activity. We saw a fan base divided and the league enraged over the controversial signing of Deshaun Watson, who will now watch from the sidelines for the first 11 games before making his debut against…. The Houston Texans. How convenient!

As we shift focus to what’s ahead of us, there is so much to be excited about. Young, second-year play callers such as Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance look to take steps forward as they try to convince their teams that they made the right call in last year’s draft. The AFC looks as loaded as ever with the likes of Russell Wilson, Davante Adams and Von Miller joining the fray. It’s fair to say that good times are ahead for football fans.

It’s never quite that easy though is it? NFL teams can’t help themselves. Each and every week, we fans see things from our beloved players and coaches that rile us up and have us shouting at our TV. Well, this is why we are here. Welcome into the NFL Vent Zone.

Vent One: Lovie Smith Playing For The Draw

Everyone was shocked to see the Houston Texans leading 20 to 3 heading into the 4th quarter of their opening week clash with AFC South rivals, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colt’s upgraded from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan over the offseason, adding the four-time pro-bowler to an offense that looked prime for a strong 2022 with Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman.

Most people would have looked past the Texans as an easy win. Yet here we are, 20 seconds to go in overtime and scores still tied. Perhaps the biggest damnation of Houston’s true ability was shown to us by head coach Lovie Smith’s next decision. With the ball just inside the Colt’s half and with the game on the line at 4th & 3, Smith opted for the uber-conservative approach of playing for the draw. A decision that waved the white flag of surrender, and one that has been questioned widely across the NFL community. Teams play to win, not to avoid losing. And this isn’t just any game. The Texans, who haven’t had much to cheer for recently, had a rare opportunity to lay down a marker and humiliate one of their division rivals and AFC South favourites.

It begs the question…. Would you, as a fan, rather tie, or lose trying to win?

Vent Two: Kyle Shanahan’s Drafting Record

No one is going to argue that 49er Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan, is a bad coach. I especially, being a 49er fan, appreciate the turnaround in fortunes he has brought to the 49er franchise, helping us forget about years with the likes of Brian Hoyer, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly. I am truly, very happy to have the man in our building…

…but please get him out of our draft room! Every year it seems that Kyle will fall in love with a prospect and ‘pound the table for him’, only for that player to be inactive early in the season and off the team not long after. Shall we look at some of the highlights?

JOE WILLIAMS. Talented running back that ‘retired’ from football for a 4 game stretch during his final season at Utah. The 49ers TRADED UP for him and took him in the 4th round. He never played a snap in the NFL.

DANTE PETTIS. Another player Shanahan ‘fell in love’ with, and traded up to take him in round 2, pick number 44. Pettis’s first season for the 49ers saw him with what would be a career-high 467 yards. Since then, his best season is 109 yards and he is now on his third team.

One other notable pick: Jalen Hurd (also never played a meaningful snap)

You may say that I am being harsh. But when you consider that last year’s 3rd round pick, Trey Sermon, is already on his second team (Eagles) and this year’s third-round RB, Ty Davis-Price, was inactive in week 1, you can’t help but see a trend. Maybe stick to the play calling Kyle…

Vent Three: Underestimating the Chiefs

Shame on anyone who doubted the Chiefs (me by the way)! Any concerns about a Tyreek Hill-less offence were firmly banished as the Chiefs breezed past the Cardinals and reminded everyone they are still very much a contender. We are in major overreaction season at the moment (always the case after week 1), but could it be that Mahomes is just so good that he can make any wide receiver corps look like the best in the league. Juju, MVS, Hardman and, of course, Kelce all chipped in, as well as running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and exciting young rookie, Isaiah Pacheco.

Off-season storylines about how Tyreek Hill is not just any wide receiver and that his presence would be missed have got off to a bad start. People seem to have forgotten just how much of a wizard the half-a-billion dollar man, Patrick Mahomes, really is. Watch out AFC, the Chiefs look primed for another run and provide a massive hurdle for all other AFC contenders.

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Our weekly podcast features vents from fans of all teams, as well as from our hosts. We would love to have you on the show, so please do email your vents to [email protected].

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