Column: Washington needs to call Cam Newton

Washington’s revolving door at quarterback takes yet another spin.

Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera confirmed Monday that Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose debut in Burgundy and Gold lasted less than two quarters and included only six passes, is headed to injured reserve with a hip subluxation that will sideline him for multiple weeks. This will kick start the Taylor Heinicke Project — for better or worse.

So with the need for a third quarterback, Rivera’s certainly going to kick the tires on his first draft pick as a head coach, right? Cam Newton is undoubtedly on a flight to Dulles to join his old coach in Ashburn, isn’t he?

Apparently not. Kyle Shurmur? This needs to be on ESPN’s next “C’mon Man” segment.

Backup QB Kyle Allen is one play away from a return to the starting lineup — which would be Washington’s fourth straight season starting at least three different QBs in a season. This almost feels likely because Heinicke, though an instant fan favorite for his unexpectedly good playoff performance against the eventual-Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has yet to start and finish a regular season game for the Burgundy and Gold, let alone actually win one.

Rivera insists he’s happy with the quarterbacks he has, but I’m not sure why he thinks any of them is better than Newton, a former NFL MVP and Super Bowl starter. Cam doesn’t require Washington to part with draft picks or pony up for a gaudy contract. He’s just a cheap, available three-time Pro Bowler with direct experience playing for Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Though my stumping for Cam has become a bit of a tongue-in-cheek gag on the DC Sports Huddle, I seriously believe he represents an upgrade over what Washington currently has (as I’ve been saying in this space for a year). There’s far too many people ready to call Cam washed up even though he’s only 32 years old in a league that’s made the game so cushy for quarterbacks that they last into their 40s. It’s not a stretch to believe he can hold down the QB1 spot in Washington for the next five or more years — plenty long enough for Rivera to find his QB of the future.

Yes, injuries led to Newton’s release in Carolina but there’s evidence to suggest he’s on the cusp of a return to form — maybe even better than he was before his shoulder and foot failed him. Hell, there’s even a case that he could be the second coming of John Elway in the right situation. Considering Newton’s season-plus in Turner’s offense yielded numbers comparable to his 2015 MVP performance, Washington is the best — and perhaps only — chance for that scenario to play out.

Newton is on the street right now because of politics, not because he can’t play anymore. New England is all in on first round pick Mac Jones and Bill Belichick decided a career backup like Brian Hoyer serving as the second-string QB is less a threat to Jones’ development than having a former MVP over his shoulder.

Newton’s preseason reps were largely against other teams’ starting lineup and he completed 14 of 21 passes for 162 yards, a touchdown and an interception in three games — one of which was a near-perfect performance against the Eagles. Dude can still play.

And, frankly, Cam’s absence from an NFL roster is yet another example of the plight of the Black quarterback in the NFL. Those who don’t reach stardom at the level of Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson or Cam in his prime are generally not on a roster at all. Look around the NFL and, aside from rookie backups drafted to be the QB of the future, there’s only three Black veteran backups: Jacoby Brissett in Miami, Geno Smith in Seattle and P.J. Walker in Carolina.

He doesn’t get the benefit of becoming a reliable placeholder/backup like Alex Smith — a fellow former No. 1 overall pick who didn’t accomplish nearly as much as Newton did.

Don’t talk to me about his hair or his clothes. Top pick Trevor Lawrence has long hair. Fitzpatrick and his trademark beard have as much swagger and flair as Cam, and people seem enamored with him even though he’s on his ninth team in 17 years. Ask yourself if Newton would last that long if he caused the kind of distraction Aaron Rodgers (who also has long hair, by the way) has in Green Bay the last few months — and then played the way Rodgers did in Week 1.

I’m not saying Newton will be elite or that he comes without risk. Cam’s last Funky Friday entry did him no favors for a variety of reasons and his vaccination status all but ensures he won’t be on an NFL roster in 2021. That’s certainly worrisome, but if anyone can navigate that big personality and/or talk Cam into getting the vaccine, it’s his first NFL coach, Riverboat Ron.

It’s clear that Rivera doesn’t want to try. Maybe there’s a behind-the-scenes issue between Newton and Rivera that never went public. Perhaps the veteran coach wants to show he can win without his former franchise quarterback.

Whatever the reason, if/when Washington inserts a third quarterback into a lineup many believe to be playoff-worthy, consider whether that option is better than a former MVP with a confluence of factors that make him perfect for D.C.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is a versatile broadcaster with a broad range of experience. He can be heard in in WTOP's traffic center and on the Sports Desk and his byline is on WTOP.com as a web writer/editor and sports columnist.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

<p><b><i>Ravens 27<br />
Raiders 33 (OT)</i></b></p>
<p>Derek Carr had 24 game-winning drives in the 4th quarter or OT. John Harbaugh&#8217;s Ravens were 81-0 when leading by 14 or more points. Something had to give in a memorable Monday nighter in Las Vegas &#8212; and it was <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1437495098284068866?s=20">Baltimore&#8217;s dominance in season openers</a>.</p>
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones (7) celebrates after scoring a game winning touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during overtime in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

<p><em><strong>Bears 14</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Rams 34</strong></em></p>
<p>If only for one night, all is rosy for Matthew Stafford in his new digs &#8212; the longtime (or long-suffering, depending who you ask) Detroit Lion became the first player in 59 years to throw a pair of 50-yard touchdowns in his team debut and looked right at home in a Sean McVay offense that had just as many 50-yard TDs in 2020. This move might work out after all.</p>
<p>Also, I&#8217;m curious to see how long Matt Nagy stubbornly holds on to this belief that Andy Dalton gives him the best chance to win. Chances are if it&#8217;s much longer, he won&#8217;t be there long enough to find out what Justin Fields has.</p>
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 12: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams looks to pass during the first half against the Chicago Bears at SoFi Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>Broncos 27<br />
Giants 7</i></b></p>
<p>Look, I know this wasn&#8217;t exactly the 2007 Giants defense &#8230; but I don&#8217;t get why people sleep so hard on Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina might regret giving away a QB better than the one they got.</p>
<p>And Washington fans &#8212; don&#8217;t laugh too hard at this. However bad Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones look against anyone else, <a href="https://www.statmuse.com/nfl/ask/daniel-jones-stats-vs-washington">the sight of Burgundy and Gold brings out the best in them</a>.</p>
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws a pass to running back Melvin Gordon (25) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

<p><b><i>Packers 3<br />
Saints 38</i></b></p>
<p>Jameis Winston did more than just represent New Orleans to the fullest in Jacksonville &#8212; dude threw five touchdowns on only 20 throws in his Saints debut, while the NO defense said no to Aaron Rodgers in the rudest way possible, notching as many takeaways as points allowed and dealing A-Rod his worst loss as a pro (no, seriously &#8230; <i><a href="https://twitter.com/PFF/status/1437181383428947971?s=20">the reigning MVP played worse than he would have if he weren&#8217;t trying at all</a></i>). This may just be the most stunning result of Week 1 and probably not the last &#8220;<a href="https://www.packers.com/news/kick-in-the-you-know-where-comes-early-for-packers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">kick in the you know where</a>&#8221; for the Packers this year.</p>
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass over New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

<p><b><i>Dolphins 17<br />
Patriots 16</i></b></p>
<p>I came here prepared to go off about how telling it is that Tua Tagovailoa wasn&#8217;t voted a Dolphins team captain and how vastly he was outplayed by fellow Alabama alum Mac Jones in his Pats debut. But the reality is, Miami is 3-2 against New England since Brian Flores took over, besting his mentor Bill Belichick in Foxborough twice. If the Fins really do find a way to get better QB play &#8212; be it an improved Tua, Deshaun Watson or some other option &#8212; the AFC East is going to be really interesting for years to come.</p>
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 12: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins scores a three yard rushing touchdown against the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>Browns 29<br />
Chiefs 33</i></b></p>
<p>Once again, Patrick Mahomes leads the Chiefs to a KC masterpiece comeback, carving up Cleveland&#8217;s D for 23 points in the second half and scoring all four offensive touchdowns. There truly isn&#8217;t a better show in the NFL.</p>
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, scrambles away from Cleveland Browns defensive end Takkarist McKinley (55) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

<p><b><i>Chargers 20<br />
Washington 16</i></b></p>
<p>First of all, look at that picture! Terry McLaurin actually caught that! I&#8217;ve seen <a href="https://twitter.com/espn/status/1437127880400461825?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the video</a> three times and still don&#8217;t believe it!</p>
<p>But like I said in <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-nfc-east-preview/">last week&#8217;s NFL preview</a>: Things rarely turn out as well for the Burgundy and Gold as they look on paper.</p>
<p>Ryan Fitzpatrick didn&#8217;t even make it to halftime of his Washington debut and didn&#8217;t look particularly good for an underachieving offense even before his hip injury. The &#8220;vaunted&#8221; defense was carved up early and often, giving up a mindboggling 14 of 19 third down conversion rate. I know it&#8217;s only the first week of the season but a home loss to the Giants on a short turnaround could spell the beginning of a lost season in D.C.</p>
LANDOVER, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: Terry McLaurin #17 of the Washington Football Team makes a catch against the Los Angeles Chargers during the fourth quarter at FedExField on September 12, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>Eagles 32<br />
Falcons 6</i></b></p>
<p>Don&#8217;t look now but Philly was the only NFC East team to win in Week 1 and surprisingly have the early edge in the division. Jalen Hurts looked legit in his Week 1 debut and the Eagles defense looked the best it has probably since the Super Bowl season four years ago. If they even stay close to the 49ers next week, I&#8217;ll be impressed.</p>
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throws the ball as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

<p><b><i>Steelers 23<br />
Bills 16</i></b></p>
<p>The Pittsburgh Steelers have been around for a really long time (88 years, to be exact). And this was their first time erasing a double-digit halftime deficit to win in Week 1. It&#8217;s rare that a defense leads such a comeback but T.J. Watt played like a boss after <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1436090740187222022?s=20">getting paid like a boss</a>, leading the Steeler D to a stellar road win few thought possible. With Baltimore riddled with injuries, Pittsburgh&#8217;s division reign may not be over just yet.</p>
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 12: T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers forces Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills to fumble during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>Vikings 24<br />
Bengals 27 (OT)</i></b></p>
<p>How bad a loss was this for Minnesota, you ask? <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/09/09/jamarr-chase-nfl-ball-is-harder-to-catch-than-ncaa-ball-harder-to-see-without-white-stripes/">A rookie who couldn&#8217;t catch a pro ball in the preseason</a> scored a long touchdown to help Cincinnati to its first September victory under Zac Taylor and first Week 1 home win since 2007. Based on the way the Cardinals played Sunday, the Vikings look destined for a season-altering 0-2 start.</p>
CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 12: Ja’Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals scores after a 50-yard touchdown reception from Joe Burrow #9 during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>49ers 41<br />
Lions 33</i></b></p>
<p>San Fran is back and Detroit still stinks, no matter who&#8217;s being overrated at QB. Nothing to see here, folks.</p>
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 12: Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with teammates after a 39-yard interception return from a pass from Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at Ford Field on September 12, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>Seahawks 28<br />
Colts 16</i></b></p>
<p>Let. Russ. Cook.</p>
<p>Russell Wilson torched a Colts defense widely considered to be among the league&#8217;s best, and made our own Dave Preston look silly for insisting a West Coast team playing a 1 o&#8217;clock kick out east is a disadvantage &#8212; Seattle has now won 12 of their last 13 such games. The Seahawks look <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-nfc-west-preview/">every bit as good as I thought</a> &#8212; and <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-afc-south-preview/">Indy looked as overrated as I thought</a>.</p>
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) throws against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

<p><b><i>Jets 14<br />
Panthers 19</i></b></p>
<p><a href="https://www.espn.com/blog/carolina-panthers/post/_/id/35284/sam-darnold-focused-on-second-chance-with-panthers-not-week-1-revenge-versus-jets">A focused Sam Darnold</a> looked good in his Carolina debut against his former team, while his replacement, Zach Wilson, <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1437126374137937920?s=20">had a miserable first half</a> before showing why the Jets made him the second overall pick.</p>
<p>But the real history made on the field wasn&#8217;t by any player &#8212; <a href="https://twitter.com/theundefeated/status/1437103568666996751?s=21">Maia Chaka is the first Black woman to officiate a NFL game</a> and I&#8217;m so here for the increased diversity we&#8217;re seeing on NFL fields and sidelines.</p>
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – SEPTEMBER 12: Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers runs for a five-yard touchdown during the second quarter against the New York Jets at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>Cardinals 38<br />
Titans 14</i></b></p>
<p>I sure didn&#8217;t see this coming &#8212; Arizona dominated Tennessee in their own building, shutting down Derrick Henry, getting five sacks from Chandler Jones and scoring five Kyler Murray touchdowns. The Titans defense might hold them back from reaching <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-afc-south-preview/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">my lofty expectations</a>.</p>
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) sacks Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) and forces a fumble that the Cardinals recovered in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

<p><b><i>Jaguars 20<br />
Texans 37</i></b></p>
<p>Look, I get that one game does not a career make &#8230; but if Trevor Lawrence is indeed a generational talent, he shouldn&#8217;t throw three picks and get thoroughly outplayed by a journeyman QB against a bad Houston defense, no matter how bad the Jags&#8217; supporting cast is. This could be a much longer season than expected in Jacksonville.</p>
HOUSTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 12: Ross Blacklock #90 of the Houston Texans tackles Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at NRG Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

<p><b><i>Cowboys 29<br />
Buccaneers 31</i></b></p>
<p>I mean, what can we say about Tom Brady that hasn&#8217;t already been said for decades? He just had his 100th 300-yard game in what was his 300th career start, he joined Vinny Testaverde as the only starting QBs, age-44 or older, to win a game in NFL history and Tom Terrific connected with his homey Rob Gronkowski for the 86th time, surprassing Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the third-most regular season touchdown hook ups in NFL history.</p>
<p>But neither team even pretended to run the ball in this one, as Brady and Dak&#8217;s comeback combined for <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/09/10/cowboys-buccaneers-both-threw-50-passes-only-fourth-such-game-in-nfl-history/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/09/10/cowboys-buccaneers-both-threw-50-passes-only-fourth-such-game-in-nfl-history/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1631564054772000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG-AflipIdwHoRruZp3DyNxCGU-ZQ">a rare pass-heavy game</a> that was Dak Prescott&#8217;s first loss when a 7+ point underdog. Even in defeat, Dallas looked much improved from 2020.</p>
TAMPA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 09: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on September 09, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

(1/16)
<p><b><i>Ravens 27<br />
Raiders 33 (OT)</i></b></p>
<p>Derek Carr had 24 game-winning drives in the 4th quarter or OT. John Harbaugh&#8217;s Ravens were 81-0 when leading by 14 or more points. Something had to give in a memorable Monday nighter in Las Vegas &#8212; and it was <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1437495098284068866?s=20">Baltimore&#8217;s dominance in season openers</a>.</p>
<p><em><strong>Bears 14</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Rams 34</strong></em></p>
<p>If only for one night, all is rosy for Matthew Stafford in his new digs &#8212; the longtime (or long-suffering, depending who you ask) Detroit Lion became the first player in 59 years to throw a pair of 50-yard touchdowns in his team debut and looked right at home in a Sean McVay offense that had just as many 50-yard TDs in 2020. This move might work out after all.</p>
<p>Also, I&#8217;m curious to see how long Matt Nagy stubbornly holds on to this belief that Andy Dalton gives him the best chance to win. Chances are if it&#8217;s much longer, he won&#8217;t be there long enough to find out what Justin Fields has.</p>
<p><b><i>Broncos 27<br />
Giants 7</i></b></p>
<p>Look, I know this wasn&#8217;t exactly the 2007 Giants defense &#8230; but I don&#8217;t get why people sleep so hard on Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina might regret giving away a QB better than the one they got.</p>
<p>And Washington fans &#8212; don&#8217;t laugh too hard at this. However bad Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones look against anyone else, <a href="https://www.statmuse.com/nfl/ask/daniel-jones-stats-vs-washington">the sight of Burgundy and Gold brings out the best in them</a>.</p>
<p><b><i>Packers 3<br />
Saints 38</i></b></p>
<p>Jameis Winston did more than just represent New Orleans to the fullest in Jacksonville &#8212; dude threw five touchdowns on only 20 throws in his Saints debut, while the NO defense said no to Aaron Rodgers in the rudest way possible, notching as many takeaways as points allowed and dealing A-Rod his worst loss as a pro (no, seriously &#8230; <i><a href="https://twitter.com/PFF/status/1437181383428947971?s=20">the reigning MVP played worse than he would have if he weren&#8217;t trying at all</a></i>). This may just be the most stunning result of Week 1 and probably not the last &#8220;<a href="https://www.packers.com/news/kick-in-the-you-know-where-comes-early-for-packers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">kick in the you know where</a>&#8221; for the Packers this year.</p>
<p><b><i>Dolphins 17<br />
Patriots 16</i></b></p>
<p>I came here prepared to go off about how telling it is that Tua Tagovailoa wasn&#8217;t voted a Dolphins team captain and how vastly he was outplayed by fellow Alabama alum Mac Jones in his Pats debut. But the reality is, Miami is 3-2 against New England since Brian Flores took over, besting his mentor Bill Belichick in Foxborough twice. If the Fins really do find a way to get better QB play &#8212; be it an improved Tua, Deshaun Watson or some other option &#8212; the AFC East is going to be really interesting for years to come.</p>
<p><b><i>Browns 29<br />
Chiefs 33</i></b></p>
<p>Once again, Patrick Mahomes leads the Chiefs to a KC masterpiece comeback, carving up Cleveland&#8217;s D for 23 points in the second half and scoring all four offensive touchdowns. There truly isn&#8217;t a better show in the NFL.</p>
<p><b><i>Chargers 20<br />
Washington 16</i></b></p>
<p>First of all, look at that picture! Terry McLaurin actually caught that! I&#8217;ve seen <a href="https://twitter.com/espn/status/1437127880400461825?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the video</a> three times and still don&#8217;t believe it!</p>
<p>But like I said in <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-nfc-east-preview/">last week&#8217;s NFL preview</a>: Things rarely turn out as well for the Burgundy and Gold as they look on paper.</p>
<p>Ryan Fitzpatrick didn&#8217;t even make it to halftime of his Washington debut and didn&#8217;t look particularly good for an underachieving offense even before his hip injury. The &#8220;vaunted&#8221; defense was carved up early and often, giving up a mindboggling 14 of 19 third down conversion rate. I know it&#8217;s only the first week of the season but a home loss to the Giants on a short turnaround could spell the beginning of a lost season in D.C.</p>
<p><b><i>Eagles 32<br />
Falcons 6</i></b></p>
<p>Don&#8217;t look now but Philly was the only NFC East team to win in Week 1 and surprisingly have the early edge in the division. Jalen Hurts looked legit in his Week 1 debut and the Eagles defense looked the best it has probably since the Super Bowl season four years ago. If they even stay close to the 49ers next week, I&#8217;ll be impressed.</p>
<p><b><i>Steelers 23<br />
Bills 16</i></b></p>
<p>The Pittsburgh Steelers have been around for a really long time (88 years, to be exact). And this was their first time erasing a double-digit halftime deficit to win in Week 1. It&#8217;s rare that a defense leads such a comeback but T.J. Watt played like a boss after <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1436090740187222022?s=20">getting paid like a boss</a>, leading the Steeler D to a stellar road win few thought possible. With Baltimore riddled with injuries, Pittsburgh&#8217;s division reign may not be over just yet.</p>
<p><b><i>Vikings 24<br />
Bengals 27 (OT)</i></b></p>
<p>How bad a loss was this for Minnesota, you ask? <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/09/09/jamarr-chase-nfl-ball-is-harder-to-catch-than-ncaa-ball-harder-to-see-without-white-stripes/">A rookie who couldn&#8217;t catch a pro ball in the preseason</a> scored a long touchdown to help Cincinnati to its first September victory under Zac Taylor and first Week 1 home win since 2007. Based on the way the Cardinals played Sunday, the Vikings look destined for a season-altering 0-2 start.</p>
<p><b><i>49ers 41<br />
Lions 33</i></b></p>
<p>San Fran is back and Detroit still stinks, no matter who&#8217;s being overrated at QB. Nothing to see here, folks.</p>
<p><b><i>Seahawks 28<br />
Colts 16</i></b></p>
<p>Let. Russ. Cook.</p>
<p>Russell Wilson torched a Colts defense widely considered to be among the league&#8217;s best, and made our own Dave Preston look silly for insisting a West Coast team playing a 1 o&#8217;clock kick out east is a disadvantage &#8212; Seattle has now won 12 of their last 13 such games. The Seahawks look <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-nfc-west-preview/">every bit as good as I thought</a> &#8212; and <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-afc-south-preview/">Indy looked as overrated as I thought</a>.</p>
<p><b><i>Jets 14<br />
Panthers 19</i></b></p>
<p><a href="https://www.espn.com/blog/carolina-panthers/post/_/id/35284/sam-darnold-focused-on-second-chance-with-panthers-not-week-1-revenge-versus-jets">A focused Sam Darnold</a> looked good in his Carolina debut against his former team, while his replacement, Zach Wilson, <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1437126374137937920?s=20">had a miserable first half</a> before showing why the Jets made him the second overall pick.</p>
<p>But the real history made on the field wasn&#8217;t by any player &#8212; <a href="https://twitter.com/theundefeated/status/1437103568666996751?s=21">Maia Chaka is the first Black woman to officiate a NFL game</a> and I&#8217;m so here for the increased diversity we&#8217;re seeing on NFL fields and sidelines.</p>
<p><b><i>Cardinals 38<br />
Titans 14</i></b></p>
<p>I sure didn&#8217;t see this coming &#8212; Arizona dominated Tennessee in their own building, shutting down Derrick Henry, getting five sacks from Chandler Jones and scoring five Kyler Murray touchdowns. The Titans defense might hold them back from reaching <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2021/09/2021-afc-south-preview/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">my lofty expectations</a>.</p>
<p><b><i>Jaguars 20<br />
Texans 37</i></b></p>
<p>Look, I get that one game does not a career make &#8230; but if Trevor Lawrence is indeed a generational talent, he shouldn&#8217;t throw three picks and get thoroughly outplayed by a journeyman QB against a bad Houston defense, no matter how bad the Jags&#8217; supporting cast is. This could be a much longer season than expected in Jacksonville.</p>
<p><b><i>Cowboys 29<br />
Buccaneers 31</i></b></p>
<p>I mean, what can we say about Tom Brady that hasn&#8217;t already been said for decades? He just had his 100th 300-yard game in what was his 300th career start, he joined Vinny Testaverde as the only starting QBs, age-44 or older, to win a game in NFL history and Tom Terrific connected with his homey Rob Gronkowski for the 86th time, surprassing Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the third-most regular season touchdown hook ups in NFL history.</p>
<p>But neither team even pretended to run the ball in this one, as Brady and Dak&#8217;s comeback combined for <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/09/10/cowboys-buccaneers-both-threw-50-passes-only-fourth-such-game-in-nfl-history/" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/09/10/cowboys-buccaneers-both-threw-50-passes-only-fourth-such-game-in-nfl-history/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1631564054772000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG-AflipIdwHoRruZp3DyNxCGU-ZQ">a rare pass-heavy game</a> that was Dak Prescott&#8217;s first loss when a 7+ point underdog. Even in defeat, Dallas looked much improved from 2020.</p>

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up