Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season is underway. The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers kicked things off Thursday night, but the league's other 30 teams are still making adjustments from their opening games.
Week 1 didn't go as expected for several franchises. Russell Wilson's Denver Broncos lost in his return to Seattle. The Tennessee Titans, the AFC's top seed last year, were upset by the New York Giants, and we saw a tie between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.
No matter how teams fared in Week 1, each has an adjustment to make. It could be as simple as eliminating a repeated miscue or as dramatic as shaking up the depth chart.
All aspects of a franchise—starting lineup, depth, coaching focus, strategy, etc.—are on the table, and teams are listed in alphabetical order.
Arizona Cardinals: Sprinkle More Eno Benjamin into the Game Plan
The Arizona Cardinals came out flat against the Chiefs, and that got them into a huge hole early. Kansas City scored on seven of its first nine possessions, and with a sluggish offense, the Cards had no hope of keeping up.
Obviously, Arizona needs to improve defensively, but the new-look Chiefs offense will be a problem for plenty of teams. Offensively, the Cardinals need to do a better job of establishing the run and taking pressure off quarterback Kyler Murray.
The Cardinals had just 44 rushing yards in the opening half and Arizona failed to find a first down on four of its eight possessions. For the game, Murray was under pressure on a ridiculous 64.9 percent of his dropbacks. The Chiefs took a 23-7 lead into halftime, and the game was essentially over then.
With DeAndre Hopkins suspended and little offensive line help to be found on the free-agent market, the best way to make things easier for Murray is to field a stronger rushing attack. To do that, Arizona should utilize Eno Benjamin more frequently.
The third-year back led Arizona with a 7.0 yards-per-carry average, but he only logged four runs. Starter James Conner, meanwhile, averaged just 2.6 yards per rush on 10 attempts. This is where we point out that while Conner was a Pro Bowler in 2021, he averaged a modest 3.7 yards per rush.
Benjamin, who also caught three passes for 33 yards, played just 34 percent of the snaps. That's not enough when Connor is struggling.
Atlanta Falcons: Execute Better in the Red Zone
The Atlanta Falcons have likely spent much of this week working on red-zone drills—and they should. Better execution in scoring range has to be a goal heading into Week 2.
The Falcons had an opportunity to blow out the rival New Orleans Saints last Sunday, and for a while, it appeared they would. Atlanta took a 23-10 lead into the fourth quarter and then collapsed.
The Saints found new life in the final period by utilizing a more uptempo offense. Atlanta, meanwhile, stalled far too often. New Orleans went on a 17-3 run to snatch a one-point victory. However, the Falcons' lead might have been insurmountable with more efficient play in and just outside the red zone.
In the first half, Atlanta settled for field goals from the New Orleans 35-, 32- and 22-yard lines. In the third quarter, quarterback Marcus Mariota fumbled at the Saints' 5-yard line. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta marched to the New Orleans 9-yard line but settled for a Younghoe Koo 27-yard field goal.
Had any one of these five possessions ended in a touchdown, there's a good chance Atlanta would be sitting at 1-0. If the Falcons don't do a better job of playing efficiently in opposing territory this week against the Los Angeles Rams, they'll be sitting at 0-2.
Baltimore Ravens: Find a Way to Start Faster
Plenty of teams struggled with slow starts in Week 1, which is likely a product of resting starters in the preseason. The Baltimore Ravens were no different, though they did go on to dominate the New York Jets 24-9.
However, the offense was not clicking early, as the Ravens mustered a mere 10 points in six first-half possessions—they had a seventh but took over with 24 seconds and ran a single play.
Despite outscoring New York 10-3, Baltimore was outgained 172 yards to 92 in the first half. While the Jets managed 10 first downs, the Ravens had only five. Against a better team, the Ravens could easily have found themselves in a big halftime hole.
Baltimore will have to figure out a way to start faster against the Miami Dolphins and beyond. That could mean getting more out of the ground game, which produced a mere 63 yards last Sunday—and getting J.K. Dobbins back in practice this week after he missed last year with a knee injury is a tremendous first step.
It could mean making an earlier deep connection between Lamar Jackson and wideout wideout Rashod Bateman. While Bateman had just one catch for four yards in the first half, he burned the Jets defense with a 55-yard touchdown reception in the second.
It could mean more designed runs for Jackson, who only rushed six times against New York.
One way or another, though, offensive coordinator Greg Roman must find a way to get his unit off to a better start. Holding opponents to fewer than 10 points won't be a weekly occurrence.
Buffalo Bills: Find More Balance on Offense
The Buffalo Bills dominated the defending-champion Rams to open the 2021 season. Almost everything clicked for Buffalo en route to a 31-10 victory, and to be fair, we're nitpicking a bit.
However, it would be wise for the Bills to find a little more balance on offense. Quarterback Josh Allen is an elite signal-caller, and the attack should run through him. However, if Buffalo wants to keep opponents guessing, it shouldn't be quite as pass-heavy as it was in Week 1.
Allen attempted 31 passes against Los Angeles and carried the ball 10 times. Buffalo's trio of running backs—Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and James Cook—logged a mere 15 carries combined.
And it's not as if the running game, specifically with Singletary, was ineffective. The fourth-year back averaged six yards per carry. Moss and Cook were less effective and each lost a fumble.
Singletary deserves to be Buffalo's lead back, and it would behoove offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey to lean on him a little bit more to help ensure that Allen doesn't always have to carry the offense alone.
Carolina Panthers: Get Christian McCaffrey Even More Involved
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is one of the NFL's best when healthy. Despite appearing in only seven games last season because of hamstring and ankle injuries, he logged 442 rushing yards, 343 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
In Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, though, McCaffrey wasn't the centerpiece of the Panthers offense. He had 10 carries for a mere 33 yards and caught four passes for 24. He did have a touchdown run and turned a botched snap into a heads-up 28-yard gain. However, he wasn't heavily utilized.
This wasn't entirely surprising. McCaffrey was making his return after back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, and this was his first game with new quarterback Baker Mayfield. Moving forward, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo must ensure that McCaffrey is the focal point of the offense.
Mayfield is an upgrade over Sam Darnold. However, he proved against his former team that he's still learning the offense and building chemistry. Mayfield did enough in the second half to give Carolina a late lead, but he got off to a rocky start (10-of-19 for 101 yards and an interception in the first half).
Allowing the offense to run through McCaffrey with Mayfield serving as a high-end game manager will give the Panthers a better chance to succeed as the quarterback continues adjusting to his new home.