Columnists, Sports

4th and Inches: Three storylines from NFL Week 2

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | DFP Staff

A Tua Takeover

Miami Dolphins’ third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has the National Football League world buzzing after throwing six touchdown passes in a stunning 42-38 comeback win against the Baltimore Ravens. 

Tagovailoa entered the NFL in the 2020 Draft as the fifth overall pick. Since then, his career has been plagued with injury and disappointment. 

However, Tagovailoa was paired with his former University of Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle after the Dolphins selected him in the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft. They also made a blockbuster trade to acquire Pro Bowl receiver Tyreek Hill.

In addition to the bolstered receiving core, Miami hired offensive-minded Mike McDaniel as the head coach. The new additions were meant to elevate Tagovailoa’s gameplay, and through the first two weeks of the season, those additions have paid off. 

Heading into the fourth quarter of the Week 2 matchup, the Dolphins trailed the Ravens 35-14. Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns in the final quarter to come back and win the game, improving the team’s record to 2-0. 

In the days following his stunning comeback victory, Tagovailoa has received praise from NFL fans and analysts alike. Yet, some still doubt the quarterback and question his ability to consistently play at a high level. 

Tagovailoa’s play against the Ravens earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. However, Tagovailoa faces his toughest challenge of the season in Week 3 against MVP favorite Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

Two games don’t cement Tagovailoa’s status as an elite NFL quarterback, but it shows the potential the 24-year-old came into the league with. If the young quarterback can continue his high level of play, he might finally lead Miami to, not only the postseason, but to a playoff victory and rack up personal accolades along the way. 

Aaron Rodgers is Back from his Trip

After a disappointing 23-7 loss against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, the Green Bay Packers were looking for redemption in Week 2. Star quarterback and reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers struggled with 195 passing yards and an interception.

Rodgers did not try to hide his frustration with a young and depleted offensive. The 38-year-old was sacked four times in Week 1 and endured some gut-wrenching hits in the pocket. When Rodgers did get the ball out of his hands, his receivers failed to make plays.

In Week 2, Rodgers returned home to Lambeau Field to face his longtime rival, the Chicago Bears. Rodgers dominated his opponent in a 27-10 win in which he threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers relieved any doubts they might have garnered from their devastating Week 1 loss. 

Despite winning back-to-back MVPs, Rodgers remains one of the most polarizing figures in the NFL. In 2021, the quarterback received intense media scrutiny after making misleading comments regarding his COVID-19 vaccination status.

This past offseason, Rodgers admitted to using the psychedelic drug Ayahuasca on multiple occasions. He has even claimed that the drug has improved both his mindset and play on the field, saying that it is not a coincidence his performance improved after first using the psychedelic.  

Although the drug likely had no effect on Rodgers’ elite play the past two seasons, the claim has provided the NFL world with a good laugh. After Rodgers’ second touchdown pass against the Bears, the Packers’ offense performed a celebration dance mocking the use of Ayahuasca. 

Rodgers has a different stance on the plant-based psychedelic, refusing to refer to it as a drug. The Packers star also stated his plans to continue experimenting with Ayahuasca in the future. 

Losing star receiver Davante Adams in the offseason drastically diminished the offensive talent in Green Bay. Rodgers is also trailing several younger quarterbacks in the betting odds for this season’s MVP. 

Despite high expectations, the Packers have failed to make a Super Bowl appearance since 2011. A bye-week trip to Rodgers’ go-to destination just might be what the franchise needs to earn its fifth ring.

Hurts, Don’t It? 

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts scored three touchdowns –– two on the ground and one through the air –– in the Eagles 24-7 Monday night victory over the Minnesota Vikings. For the second week in a row, the Eagles’ offense looked dynamic, perhaps one of the most dynamic in the league. 

With the Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffering an injury keeping him sidelined, the Eagles have taken over as the favorites to win the NFC East and notch a home playoff game. 

Hurts and the offense seem to be putting the pieces together, and the addition of wide receiver A.J. Brown on draft night has only helped. In Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, Brown hauled in ten catches for 155 yards. The revamped receiving core in Philadelphia looks dominant and will only help Hurts progress as a passer. 

Hurts has been efficient through the first two weeks, but the defense has been a perfect compliment to this new Eagles offense. In their victory against the Vikings, the Eagles’ defense intercepted Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins three times. Even more impressive, the defense limited Vikings superstar receiver Justin Jefferson to just six catches for 48 total yards. 

Heading into Week 3, the Eagles have earned a top-five spot in the power rankings. If Hurts continues to grow as both a passer and runner, the Eagles can dominate an NFC up for grabs. Come playoffs, the Eagles could be favorites to make a Super Bowl run.

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