I came away from the Saints’ 34-23 thumping of Tom Brady’s Buccaneers thinking, “Yeah, that’s about right.”

Sorry, no hot take here. There will be no “Brady should have stayed in New England.” Or “Bill Belichick drove the dynasty and click to the next page to find out more.” The Bucs lost to the league’s most consistent team of the past three years, and that’s how it should be.

I do not believe Brady is washed up. I think the Bucs will win at least 10 games this year and earn the fifth or sixth seed in the NFC playoffs, and come January all bets will be off. But for now, frankly, they should be losing to the Saints.

Tom Brady’s first interception in a non-Patriots jersey came on a miscommunication with Mike Evans in the second quarter. Evans was limited all week in practice with a hamstring injury, but beyond that, this was the first time these two ever played in a real game together. What more did you expect from Brady after doing all he could to get reps at a private high school all summer?

Donovan Smith had as bad a game as I can remember, and as recently as a month ago we were wondering if he’d even play this season due to his (extremely legitimate) concerns about COVID-19.

The Bucs made a bone-headed special teams mistake that put the final nail in the coffin in the fourth quarter. But I heard from coaches across the league all training camp about how the lack of preseason games would lead to 1. miscues on special teams, and 2. an inability to properly evaluate talent on special teams in particular.

When the schedule came out in the spring, I put an “L” in Sharpie for the Bucs in Week 1. The Saints are the three-time defending NFC South champions, and I believe they’ll get four straight this year for the first time in division history. If the home-and-home series were slated for, say, Weeks 13 and 15, I’d say Merry Christmas. Instead, we got Week 1 in an empty Superdome between a Saints team that has more continuity than just about anyone this side of the Chiefs and a Buccaneers squad learning what national relevancy is for the first time in a generation.

The Saints are humming — as they should be. The Buccaneers are getting it together in September — as they should be. I’ll save my hot takes for their Week 9 Sunday night matchup.

2021 Jets QB: Trevor Lawrence?

Yeah, yeah it’s one game, but the Jets are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 pick. And the No. 1 pick this year will, without question, be Trevor Lawrence. The organization has wasted Sam Darnold’s rookie contract by putting together a team that has no chance of competing for the playoffs.

It is entirely unfair to attribute all of New York’s woes to Darnold, and if this season goes the way I think it will, I can’t imagine Adam Gase will have a job in 2021. But if the Jets get the No. 1 pick, they absolutely should pull the plug on Darnold, get a franchise-changing quarterback on a rookie deal and avoid entering into a long-term deal with Darnold by trading the former No. 3 pick for whatever they can get leading into the draft. It’s not totally dissimilar to what the Cardinals did with Josh Rosen: admit you can get better with a new guy and cut your losses.

Darnold isn’t a bum, and I’m not saying he is, but I’ll take my chances with Lawrence the next three years over paying Darnold and hoping it eventually works out.

More notes from Week 1

  • The Browns got outclassed to start the season once again … and that’s a problem. Cleveland has some ballers on it, but unfortunately those players have reputations as being front-runners. The Browns are faced with an 0-1 record following a brutal loss to the Ravens and have to turn around and face an inspiring Bengals team Thursday. If the Browns are favored in it, I’m not sure I’m taking them.
  • I had a source text me this morning that Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater absolutely loves offensive coordinator Joe Brady and that Carolina would light up the scoreboard. Thirty points with a brand-new offense with no preseason would seem to indicate that. I think Carolina’s defense will be among the worst in the NFL this year, but this offense will put up points.
  • What an embarrassing display by the Colts. I don’t know why anyone wanted to crown this team. I appreciate how Chris Ballard has built the squad and how Frank Reich leads it, but we all watched Philip Rivers play last year. He can win you games just as well as he can lose you games. So can Jameis Winston. The Colts decided he was good enough for a one-year, $25 million deal while Winston got pennies in New Orleans. There’s some early-season soul-searching in Indy.
  • Howie Roseman should be on the phone with every available free-agent offensive lineman. Carson Wentz spent the offseason bulking up and he got absolutely abused for eight sacks Sunday. I won’t be surprised if they dust off an otherwise retired O-lineman in the coming weeks.

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