NFL viewership was strong in Week 1. Now Aaron Rodgers is out for the year.

The NFL made the New York Jets a staple on the league’s prime-time television schedule this season, figuring quarterback Aaron Rodgers’s arrival would make the team attractive to viewers.

And there was an immediate reward. The Jets’ overtime triumph Monday night over the Buffalo Bills drew an average of more than 22.6 million viewers across ESPN, ABC and other platforms, ESPN said Tuesday. It was the most-watched “Monday Night Football” game since ESPN started carrying the package in 2006.

But Rodgers took just four offensive snaps before suffering a season-ending torn Achilles’ tendon in his left leg. So now the NFL and its broadcast partners are left with a would-be marquee team featuring Zach Wilson at quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon

The league must hope for the best. This already was the first NFL season this century without Tom Brady on a roster. Now, one week in, Rodgers will not be on the field, either.

“Obviously, last night was sad as a fan to see any of our players see something happen where they’re going to miss a season,” Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s executive vice president of media distribution, said Tuesday. “… But also, the game itself was an incredible win for the Jets. … We’ve seen in this league a long history of players stepping up, new players emerging. It happens every year. You saw what happened with [Brock] Purdy last year in San Francisco, what happened 20-plus years ago with Brady in New England when [Drew] Bledsoe got hurt. So we’re going to do what we always do, which is prepare and look ahead in the schedule.”

The league had a strong Week 1 for viewership. The Lions-Chiefs season-opening game Thursday night drew an average of 27.5 million viewers on NBC, Peacock and digital platforms, up 27 percent from last season’s opener between the Los Angeles Rams and Bills. The Cowboys-Giants game Sunday night averaged 21.8 million viewers across NBC and other platforms. Viewership peaked early in the game at 25.9 million viewers before trailing off as the Cowboys won in a blowout, 40-0.

Brewer: The Jets dreamed big. Reality quickly intervened.

The NFL could use its flexible-scheduling options to remove the Jets from a few prime-time games later in the season if needed. But the league was not jumping to any conclusions Tuesday.

“We only flex a little over one-and-a-half times a year, if you look on average of what we’ve done over the last close to 20 years of flex,” Schroeder said. “So we’re going to always monitor who’s playing their way on, what stories are emerging. You saw some great ones last year with the Jaguars as an example, what Detroit did in the second half of the year. … But the Jets are 1-0 right now. There’s a lot of football ahead across the entire league.”

Brock Purdy and the 49ers picked up right where they left off last season, pre-elbow injury. That was a dominant performance in Pittsburgh against a team that was very good in the second half of last season.

The Eagles nearly squandered a 16-0 lead against the Patriots. They allowed New England to stay in the game and gave it every opportunity to pull off the upset. The game was short on style points, but it was a win.

Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the opening victory over the Chargers. Tyreek Hill had 11 catches for 215 yards and two scores.

The opening-night loss to the Lions was somewhat of an aberration, given the absences of Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. But the issues at wide receiver were real. Now comes a difficult game at Jacksonville.

Micah Parsons declared following a shutout of the Giants that the Cowboys have the NFL’s best defense. Daniel Jones probably was not about to argue that point.

It’s early and extremely premature to begin thinking about the next hiring cycle for NFL head coaches. But Deion Sanders’s 2-0 start at Colorado has made him and his program the talk of college football. And that almost certainly will lead to his name being included in speculation about NFL coaching vacancies following this season, whether he’s interested in coaching in the league or not.

Brewer: Authentically himself, Deion Sanders reflects a truer image of college football

Sanders was an all-time great as an NFL player who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. He worked for NFL Network as an analyst following his playing career. He knows the NFL game, and he knows the business of the NFL. He quickly has proved his mettle as a college coach. And he has star quality that would interest any NFL team owner and excite any NFL fan base.

“Let me put it this way: If you need to hire a head coach, you’re going to have to at least give it a thought,” a high-ranking official with one NFL team said over the weekend. “I have no idea if he’d take your call. I have no idea if he’d leave there. He’s coaching his [sons], for one thing. But it’s definitely going to have to be part of your thought process. He’ll have to be on the radar.”

The Chiefs gambled on the greatness of quarterback Patrick Mahomes — and, to a lesser extent, that of tight end Travis Kelce — when they traded star wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins before last season. It paid off. Thanks to Mahomes’s brilliance and Kelce’s ability to be a pass-catching centerpiece, the Chiefs won a Super Bowl without a true No. 1 wideout.

So no one should jump to conclusions about the Chiefs’ season-opening defeat to the Lions. Kelce was on the game-day inactive list because of the knee injury he suffered in practice two days earlier. He could return to the lineup as soon as Sunday in Jacksonville. And maybe Mahomes and Kelce can cover up the shortcomings of the wide receiver corps again.

But the struggles of the wideouts in the opener were alarming. Kadarius Toney had at least three drops, including a tipped ball that led to an interception returned for a touchdown. Toney had one catch for one yard. Skyy Moore had no catches. Only Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson, who combined for four catches for 93 yards, were even somewhat productive.

It’s an issue that’s worth monitoring this weekend and beyond.

Sean Payton began with an onside kick. Russell Wilson looked more like his old self. But the Payton era began with a narrow loss to the Raiders, and Nathaniel Hackett could be forgiven if he enjoyed that.

Anthony Richardson had some good moments, but a second-half lead against the Jaguars dissipated in an opening defeat.

C.J. Stroud wasn’t terrible in his debut, but the Texans were mostly non-competitive in a loss to the Ravens.

Bryce Young’s two-interception unveiling in a defeat to the Falcons showed there’s a long way to go.

The Cardinals made it interesting at FedEx Field. But they still served as a homecoming-like opponent, allowing the Commanders to win the first game of owner Josh Harris’s tenure.

Last week, Joe Burrow became the NFL’s highest-paid player with his five-year, $275 million contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals. He became the fourth prominent NFL quarterback to reach a record-setting megadeal since April. First it was Jalen Hurts’s five-year, $255 million extension with the Philadelphia Eagles; then Lamar Jackson’s five-year, $260 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens; then Justin Herbert’s five-year, $262.5 million extension with the Los Angeles Chargers. Now it’s Burrow’s turn.

What to know from NFL Week 1

Who’s next? It’s not as clear-cut as it was when Burrow was on deck. Trevor Lawrence becomes eligible to sign an extension with the Jaguars after this season. Tua Tagovailoa has not signed a long-term extension with the Dolphins. Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins is eligible for free agency next spring. If they fail to push the salary bar higher, there are always new contracts that must be negotiated with Mahomes, Buffalo’s Josh Allen or even Rodgers eventually.

Counting Amazon’s viewers

Amazon’s Prime Video has an attractive matchup — Vikings-Eagles — for its first game of the season Thursday night. NFL officials have said they expect to see growth in Amazon’s viewership in its second season of carrying the Thursday night package. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

But Nielsen has backed off a plan, at least for now, to incorporate data from Amazon into its ratings of the Thursday night games. Television networks had opposed the plan. Amazon has said it believes it drew an average of 11.3 million viewers for its NFL games last season; Nielsen credited it with an average of 9.6 million.

NFL reporter Jim Trotter sues league for racial discrimination

“The Nielsen efforts, it’s interesting to watch a lot of the conversation about this publicly,” Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer, said recently, before the pause in implementing the new policy was announced. “We have for a very long time, certainly pre-Amazon, felt that our games were a bit underrepresented in total viewership. That was certainly a theme in the out-of-home conversation. And we’ve always pressed anyone who would listen, including Nielsen: ‘How do we get better? How do we measure better? We think this is undercounted.’

“And so I think what you’re seeing now is Nielsen’s effort to try to be the best measurement metric that they can be. And we’re certainly supportive of all that innovation and will continue to lean into that.”

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button