The first week of the NFL season featured a high percentage of completions and plenty of incompletions.
Quarterbacks completed 64.3 percent of their passes in Week 1, an NFL record. That percentage has trended upward in each of the past five years. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said the new standard for quarterback success could be 75 percent.
That may be a little high, but he's spotting the trend. Part of the high percentage in Week 1 was that quarterbacks threw shorter passes. The average completion was for 11.1 yards. That was the lowest Week 1 average since 2010.
The incompletions are coming in the form of off-the-field issues. The season opened with numerous distractions. There are some calling for the firing of commissioner Roger Goodell for not knowing more about the Ray Rice elevator video, but he's not getting fired. You can't find 24 owners willing to vote him out, no matter how wrong he was with the initial decision of a two-game suspension for Rice. Monday's release of the elevator video forced Goodell to make the rare move of changing a suspension, banning Rice indefinitely. While that was the right decision, it puts the commissioner in a position for criticism.
The other incompletion is the drug policy and the possible passing of HGH testing. To accept HGH testing, the NFLPA wants the league to review all suspensions since March 11. But knowing Goodell said in May that 21 of the 104 drug suspensions up to that point would not have happened under the proposed new drug policy, you wonder if making that type of deal would create all kinds of chaos. Those who were suspended in 2011 or later might challenge those rulings or try to collect the money they lost from suspensions that might not have happened had the NFLPA accepted HGH testing in 2011. Understand, the commissioner or a designee made those rulings on old policy. Figuring that one of five would not have happened, should the league and the union go back in history to fix that?
The final incompletion is the masses of injuries in Week 1. From Achilles tendon tears to high ankle sprains to MCL sprains, the list of injuries is scary. Offensive linemen, linebackers and cornerbacks suffered the most, and shortages are already filtering into the rosters as teams scramble for replacements -- either temporary or long term.
From the inbox
Q: As a Patriots fan, I tend not to panic at every loss, but the offensive line really did prove its shakiness vs. the Dolphins. Since the Pats traded Logan Mankins, the interior offensive line has been missing the "enforcer" type, and I was wondering if you could see them looking into picking up Richie Incognito. Maybe not the best PR move, but certainly a move that should bolster the interior line.
Chris in Boston
A: I can't see Bill Belichick bringing in Incognito. That would be too strong a personality in the locker room. Plus, Incognito hasn't seen game action since Week 9 of 2013, so it's hard to say how he'd perform. Normally, it's hard to judge changes in an offensive line in the first two or three weeks of the regular season. Give the Pats a little time to see if they have enough on the interior of the offensive line.
Q: It doesn't make sense to me that people complain about Richard Sherman defending one side of the field. First, you make the team adjust to your game plan and eliminate a third of the field. Second, by defending one side of the field, the CBs become better at knowing how to defend that side. To put it another way, in the U.S. we drive on the right side of the road. If we had to learn to drive on both sides, we probably are less comfortable doing so overall. But we become very comfortable driving only on the right side because that's all we ever do. Same with Sherman and Byron Maxwell -- let them master their side of the field and be dominant on that side. I think Pete Carroll knows how to get the best out of players by putting them in positions to best use their individual skills.
Matt in Rochester, Minnesota
A: You are 100 percent correct. If you go back to the numbers, bad things often happened when quarterbacks threw to Sherman's side. He had 30 passes completed on him last year. Of the other 29 thrown to his side, he intercepted eight and defensed 16. Sherman has an incredible ability to get in position to either catch the ball or take away a completion. Why change that?
Q: The worst part of the NFL viewing experience is the sequence of commercial breaks following a scoring play. After a field goal or extra point, the broadcast cuts to commercials. We get to see one play on the ensuing kickoff, and then we have to sit through another long commercial break before the offense takes the field. How infuriating and unnecessary! What do you think about the NFL removing the second commercial break and recouping the lost advertisement revenue through logo patches on game jerseys (like the ones teams wear on their practice jerseys)? This would vastly improve the viewing experience, without stooping to the level of ads that appear in NASCAR.
Tim in Bainbridge Island, Washington
A: Networks have to make money by ads to justify the high cost of the rights fees. They are allotted a certain number of commercials during the course of the game. To keep the games on free television, the abundance of commercials won't change, although I don't see it increasing much over the next several years because television contracts are locked up past 2020. The NFL isn't giving away its product, and the networks aren't going to go in debt by running parts of games commercial free.
Q: I was wondering why so many people still consider Larry Fitzgerald to be an elite wideout in the NFL. I would argue that he is not even the best on his own team anymore, and it has been years since he even reached 1,000 yards. I understand that he is a good guy and a good interview, and that has bought him good faith with a lot of journalists, but I see the labels All-Pro and elite being applied to him, and it just isn't true anymore.
Max in Auburn, Alabama
A: I still think he's elite, but it is a question that is going around the league. He caught only one pass in the opener. As you probably know, he's running more plays out of the slot, an adjustment made by a lot of receivers once they turn 30. Let's see how he does for the entire season. He has a $21.25 million cap number next year. If he doesn't have 1,000 yards, the team might not deem him elite and let him go. You raise a great question. Bruce Arians said Tuesday that Carson Palmer is ordered to throw to where there isn't coverage. Fitzgerald was covered Monday night, so that's why he only caught one pass.
Q: There has been so much noise regarding Jim Irsay's suspension and how it is not equal to a player's punishment. Why can't the NFL decide to suspend management/owners in terms of months and have it in effect in the offseason? The biggest impact on an NFL organization would be during those offseason talks of whom to draft, sign as a free agent, etc. This would give the same punishment of both player and owner/management and have it be equal.
James in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
A: That might not be considered a penalty. The potentially suspended owner could set up a budget and let the general manager and the CEO work the offseason. There has to be a statement made in a suspension. Six games in the regular season might not satisfy some of the players who are critics, but if Goodell would have done a suspension in the offseason, they would have really raised a bigger protest. Owners designate decisions.
Q: Many of my fellow Broncos fans have talked recently about our concern for Wes Welker's health regarding many concussions and the fact that he would surely rush to get back on the field ASAP. In light of this, might his suspension in fact be great timing? Without it, he would have been back too soon and possibly risked another concussion early in the season. Now, with the Week 4 bye, he is going to get nearly two months to recover. Could this be a blessing in disguise?
Jordan in Boulder, Colorado
A: Had he not been suspended, Welker might have been able to play in the first week. You noticed he was on a plane for the final preseason game. He could have done some things on the field during the first week of practice. Concussions are bad, but to get back on the field, you have to follow the protocol. This concussion wasn't going to end Welker's career.