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The NFL’s opening week represented the long-anticipated returns to action for some leading teams and individuals as well as the highly publicized debuts of new faces.
While some produced impressive performances, others fell far short of expectations and suffered embarrassments of epic proportions.
But Week 2 offers opportunity for redemption. Strong responses to those struggles will help ease pressure and put players, coaches and organizations back on course.
Here’s a look at some of the figures around the NFL most desperately needing rebound performances this week.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers — After all the offseason drama, Rodgers had been described by many close to the team as locked in and highly motivated, and Packers players and coaches entered the season with the belief that they could again contend. But Rodgers and Co. kicked off the season with a lopsided defeat by the New Orleans Saints, who haven’t even been able to sleep in their own beds in weeks as they practice in Fort Worth, Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Rodgers delivered one of the worst single game performances of his career with two interceptions, no touchdowns and a 36.8 passer rating. It was only the second time in Rodgers’ career that he opened the season with multiple picks. And last year, Rodgers threw only five interceptions all season.
The Packers worked to ensure that Rodgers’ receiving unit is filled with players he trusts. Yet, the QB put up a stinker, and with the game out of hand, likely starting successor Jordan Love took over.
Next up: Home opener on "Monday Night Football" against the Detroit Lions, a setting that should serve conducive to a much-needed rebound. If Rodgers can find his rhythm early, hook up with his favorite targets and torch the long-suffering Lions, order will return to Green Bay.
NFL POWER RANKINGS: Packers stumble, Cardinals rumble in Week 1
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer — The long-time college coach’s team didn’t have a strong preseason, but Sunday’s debut with the Jaguars went even worse. Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in recent college football history, got thoroughly outcoached by Houston Texans counterpart David Culley, a long-time position coach whose name most NFL fans had never heard until this year.
Meyer’s squad looked ill-prepared on every front. On more than one occasion, they couldn’t get lined up properly and had to burn timeouts. Multiple times they had too many men in the huddle. The defense got shellacked by a Texans offense led by journeyman quarterback Tyrod Taylor. This certainly wasn’t the kind of performance Meyer envisioned when he ended retirement to jump to the pro ranks and coach Trevor Lawrence.
Next up: Home opener against the Denver Broncos, whose defense just feasted on the New York Giants. Meyer must design the perfect game plan to keep Von Miller and the Broncos' pass rush from teeing off on Lawrence, while also better positioning Jacksonville as a whole for a competitive outing.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson — After following up his 2019 MVP campaign by leading Baltimore to its first playoff victory since 2014, the quarterback entered this season with great expectations. Jackson’s team even upgraded the wide receiver position in both free agency and the draft to aid his development as a passer. But three fumbles (two lost) loomed large following Monday night’s overtime defeat by the Las Vegas Raiders. Jackson had a chance to lead his team into scoring position and the victory, but on third down, he got hit and lost the ball. The Raiders recovered and won the game three plays later. The Ravens certainly need better outings from their defense and offensive line, but Jackson must do a better job of taking care of the ball while putting this injury-riddled team on his back.
Next up: A showdown against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs and nemesis Patrick Mahomes, who have won the teams' last two meetings. An 0-2 start only intensifies the pressure on Jackson. But to have a shot at topping the Chiefs, he’ll have to be at his best both through the air and on the ground.
Tennessee Titans OC Todd Downing — The Titans offensive coordinator has big shoes to fill with predecessor Arthur Smith now the head coach in Atlanta. But Downing, heralded as a bright offensive mind, also has a robust collection of weapons to work with. You would have never known that based on the final score and stat line from Sunday's 38-13 blowout by the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
Top wideouts A.J. Brown and Julio Jones combined for just 78 yards and one touchdown on seven catches. Workhorse back Derrick Henry managed just 58 rushing yards on 17 carries. And quarterback Ryan Tannehill lost two fumbles and threw an interception. Downing can’t account for the continued struggles of the Titans’ defense. But he certainly should have gotten more out of this unit that ranked among the most potent in the league under Smith.
Next up: What should be a challenging road trip to Seattle. Downing would do well to stick with the tried and true approach: Feed Henry and then build the passing attack off that punishing run game.
Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith — Speaking of Smith, the rookie head coach was charged with elevating the Falcons' offense. Instead, Sunday’s performance felt a lot like last season’s lowest points. The Falcons mustered just two field goals in a 32-6 beatdown by the Philadelphia Eagles. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for just 164 yards, and no pass-catcher recorded more than 52 receiving yards. Smith blamed himself for not having his team better prepared and vowed to do better going forward. But the challenges only intensify from here.
Next up: A visit to the defending Super Bowl-champion and division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. An upset seems unlikely, but at the very least, Smith has to be able to get his guys to at least challenge Tampa Bay.
New England RBs Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris — Bill Belichick traded away Sony Michel because of his confidence in the depth he had accumulated at running back. But if there’s one thing that Belichick has no patience for, it’s a lack of ball security. Stevenson, a fourth-round rookie from Oklahoma, fumbled on his second touch of the day and never got a chance to redeem himself. Harris fumbled in the fourth quarter on a drive where New England had a chance to take the lead in an eventual 17-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Stevenson’s blunder could land him in the doghouse, and Harris’ fumble overshadowed a 100-yard day. The Patriots need more dependability from their backs, particularly as they try to ease pressure on rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
Next up: A trip to take on the AFC East-rival New York Jets, who surrendered an average of six yards per offensive play in a loss to the Carolina Panthers last week.
New York Giants QB Daniel Jones — After two turbulent years, the Giants need Jones to have a breakout campaign. But Sunday certainly looked like more of the same in the 27-13 loss to the Broncos. Jones did throw for a touchdown and run for another. But overall, the Giants struggled to move the ball under Jones’ direction, and his challenges with ball security continued as he lost yet another fumble, bringing his turnover total to 40 in 28 games. In what could be a make-or-break campaign for the former sixth overall pick, Jones needs a positive showing as bad as just about anybody in the league.
Next up: Thursday's date with NFC East-rival Washington and a fierce defense led by Chase Young. This just might be the get-right matchup Jones needs. For his career, he’s 8-20. Four of those wins have come against Washington.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen — With his recently signed six-year, $258-million contract extension in hand, the 2020 MVP runner-up led a feeble charge in front of Bills Mafia, and Buffalo fell 23-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Allen threw a whopping 51 passes (completing 30 of them), posted a paltry 79.7 passer rating and was responsible for an offense that went 1-for-4 in the red zone. It took no time for his critics to begin asking whether the Bills had overpaid their star signal-caller. As a team with Super Bowl aspirations, Buffalo could have used a strong showing against Pittsburgh, a group trying to rebound from a disappointing collapse after an 11-0 start in 2020.
Next up: A road trip to face Miami, where an AFC East win and strong showing against a talented defense could put Allen back on track.
Indianapolis Colts O-line — Carson Wentz’s fresh start must’ve felt a lot like his old surroundings as a poorly performing offensive line made for a long day marked by steady harassment. The Seattle Seahawks defense sacked the Colts quarterback three times and hit him 10 times. The Colts converted only five of 13 third-down attempts and struggled on the ground as well, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. After reaching the playoffs last year with an aging Philip Rivers, the Colts are banking on Frank Reich’s tutelage to salvage the career of the talented yet underperforming Wentz. But they’ll need better from their line to contend.
Next up: A daunting date with Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams. If the Colts can’t slow this Rams pass rush, Wentz, who already has struggled to stay on the field, could be in trouble.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aaron Rodgers, Urban Meyer among NFL figures needing Week 2 rebound