This season for NC State alumni in the NFL is a particularly exciting one, with a fresh blend of new rookies entering the league, and a new starting quarterback to boast from “QBU” in Jacoby Brissett for the Colts. The first week of the NFL season saw plenty of former NC State players suit up for new squads. Also included in week one was a stellar matchup between two former NC State quarterbacks, Brissett and Phillip Rivers. Let’s take a look at how some players performed in the limelight.
Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson had a solid showing in the first game of the season, throwing for 196 yards on 14-20 passing and two touchdowns despite being sacked four times by the Bengals. Wilson also established a strong connection with rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf from Ole Miss, as Metcalf finished the game with 89 yards on four catches, with six total targets.
Wilson, uncharacteristically, did not rush many times in the game, totaling eight yards on just four carries, but the immense pressure from the Bengals defense is likely the culprit.
Phillip Rivers, Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers
In the duel between NC State quarterbacks, Rivers and the Chargers prevailed over Jacoby Brissett and the Colts in a tightly contested 30-24 overtime win. In the win, Rivers finished with 333 passing yards on 73.5% completion, with three touchdowns and one interception. Rivers' interception is less of a dig at him as it is a testament to Malik Hooker’s insane one-handed interception in the endzone.
Unfortunately for Rivers, the defense had a field day with him, tallying four sacks, three pass deflections and nine QB hits. The offensive line of the Chargers will have to be better moving forward for Rivers’ sake.
Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
While Brissett was dealt a losing hand in the loss to Rivers and the Chargers, he still posted a solid game. Brissett finished the game with 190 yards on nearly 80% completion and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Unlike Rivers, Brissett has the strong offensive line of the Colts guarding him, but following the trend of the week for Pack pro quarterbacks, Brissett was still sacked twice in the game.
A particularly entertaining moment for fans of NC State football came when Brissett dropped off a short pass to running back Nyheim Hines who was then tackled by defensive tackle Justin Jones for a loss of seven yards. While Jones and Hines both had relatively quiet weeks, it is quite entertaining that Pack alum Jones’ tackle for loss came on a play in which a former Wolfpack quarterback threw to a former Wolfpack running back.
Bradley Chubb, Linebacker, Denver Broncos
The entirety of the Denver pass rush looked mediocre and was completely shut down in the 16-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Chubb finished with three tackles, two of which were solo and one pass deflection in the loss. The entire defense finished with no sacks, compared to Oakland’s three sacks in the game, an area that the Raiders struggled in last season, and that Denver excelled in.
Will Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Jacksonville Jaguars
Richardson earned his first playing time in the Jaguars’ 40-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only did he see his first game action after missing year one with injury, but he started, replacing the injured Cam Robinson. Richardson and the Jaguars offensive line only gave up one sack to an impressive Chiefs front four led by Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Alex Okafor and Derrick Nnadi.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone gave praise to Richardson, who had extremely limited experience at left tackle under his belt before this game and will likely start as many games as it takes until Robinson returns.
Garrett Bradbury, Center, Minnesota Vikings
Bradbury, the 18th-overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, helped lead the Vikings to a sound 28-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Vikings offensive line, led by Bradbury, only allowed Kirk Cousins to be sacked one time in the contest. Further impressive is what the group did for the run game. Cousins only had to pass a total of ten times in the contest, completing eight passes. Instead, the Vikings ran the ball 38 times, 21 times through Dalvin Cook who finished with 111 yards and two touchdowns.
The fact that the Vikings’ line was able to block on the interior for the shifty Cook is almost equally impressive as Cook’s 111 rushing yards. While the line overall played well, Bradbury will need to improve, as his surrounding members all graded out higher, and he only got a 51.5 Pro Football Focus grade in run blocking, a below-average mark.
Also alarming is his zero pass protection grade compared to his matchup defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who posted an excellent 92.4 grade. Thankfully this grade is a byproduct of a bad sample size, but Bradbury will need to improve at this spot if the Vikings want to remain consistent.
A.J. Cole III, Punter, Oakland Raiders
Cole saw his first NFL action after joining the Raiders as an undrafted free agent over the offseason. In the 24-16 win over the Broncos, Cole punted three times, good for 134 yards, an average of 44.7 yards and a long of 52 yards. While these numbers rank in the middle of the pack for punters, Cole is off to a solid footing for his pro career.
J.R. Sweezy, Offensive Guard, Arizona Cardinals
Sweezy saw his first action of the season on the rebuilding Cardinals, who signed him away from NFC West rival Seattle, over the spring. In the game, Sweezy posted a 75.6 grade, with zero sacks allowed and one penalty. This seems characteristic enough, but solid performance aside, Sweezy’s sack on his own quarterback, Kyler Murray, was too hilarious not to include.