NFL Week 1 stock up, stock down: Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa, 49ers' Brock Purdy are back at it

Almost a full week of the 2023 NFL season is in the books. We’ve already encountered some big surprises, like the Bengals and Chiefs struggling offensively in opening defeats, as well as thrilling shootouts, which the Chargers and Dolphins delivered Sunday. But with many fans already eyeing Week 2 matchups, which teams, players and/or coaches boosted — or hurt — their overall stock?

Here’s our roundup of some of Week 1’s biggest movers:

Odds are, going into 2023, you fell into one of two camps: Tua believer or Tua skeptic. Both sides are understandable, and either one could still prove right. But the Dolphins quarterback was undeniably back to early-2022 form against the Chargers, repeatedly feeding Tyreek Hill on accurate downfield shots while also showcasing short-area touch to outgun Justin Herbert, 36-34.

Stock down: Zac Taylor

The Bengals coach said after Sunday’s 24-3 rain-soaked shellacking at the hands of the Browns that “this isn’t the team that we are going to be.” No? Well, it’s the team he’s trotting out right now. He had all offseason to prep for Cleveland’s defensive front, and yet Joe Burrow and Co. were helpless without a clean pocket or conditions. A rebound is likely, but it’s not a great start for a title bid.

It was fair to be a little concerned about Purdy’s small sample size as the 49ers’ improbably poised starting QB late in 2022. But “Mr. Irrelevant” picked up where he left off against the supposedly stingy Steelers defense, picking apart Pittsburgh in a 30-7 rout. Sure, he plays in a Kyle Shanahan system, but he executes so smoothly, complete with off-script mobility. San Francisco’s in good hands.

Stock down: Steelers

Speaking of the 49ers, the Steelers had basically no answers for them on Sunday, perhaps disproving their own preseason hype. Kenny Pickett had several key weapons go down, but he also never found a rhythm against San Francisco’s energetic “D,” and Mike Tomlin’s own defense was even worse, with T.J. Watt’s pass rush overshadowed by a jarringly overmatched corner group.

They’re 0-1 after falling to the Eagles and started extremely poorly, but by the end of Sunday’s matchup, it felt as if they’d beaten the reigning NFC champions, the way Bill Belichick’s “D” clamped down on Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones really settled in under new coordinator Bill O’Brien. A win is a win, which they didn’t get, but they look as feisty as ever in a tough division.

Stock down: Brandon Staley

The Chargers coach was arguably already on the hot seat coming into 2023, and on paper, a 36-34 shootout loss to the Dolphins isn’t a total failure. But his defense remains a liability, repeatedly offering no answer for Miami’s aerial assault in a matchup that saw Tua Tagovailoa casually top 450 yards through the air, and in-game adjustments continued to pose problems.

In his first start as the Packers’ full-timer post-Aaron Rodgers, Love effortlessly flicked three TDs and no picks, easily guiding Green Bay over the rival Bears. His strong start was even more notable because it came against Justin Fields, a more experienced young QB whose athleticism failed to register passing consistency. Lambeau faithful appear to be in good hands yet again.

A year after going 13-4 atop the NFC North, Kevin O’Connell’s squad played down to the overlooked Buccaneers on their home turf, allowing Baker Mayfield to steal the late-game spotlight with a do-or-die mentality and a couple of well-designed strikes to Mike Evans that sealed the deal. Minnesota’s roster just might be running into the reality of its “competitive rebuild.”

Stock up: Rams

Most people wouldn’t have been too shocked if you told them the Seahawks would take a little step back this year. But who figured Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay’s makeshift supporting cast would roll over Pete Carroll and Co. in Week 1? Even with Cooper Kupp out and young fill-ins doing most of the work, L.A. showed second-half energy in a divisional upset to start the new year.

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