SportsPulse: Lorenzo Reyes went 3-for-3 last week with his picks and he’s feeling lucky again. Here’s his lock, upset and over/under pick for Week 2. Go get the bag.
USA TODAYWe’ve turned the page on Week 1 of the NFL regular season, and now it’s all about Week 2.But in a league that features a 16-game schedule, every matchup matters, and the carryover effect of the previous contest can have lasting impacts on the outcome of a season.That’s why for a handful of teams that got off to disappointing – or even embarrassing – starts to the season, coming back with a strong performance in Week 2 is crucial.Here’s a look at five figures in the NFL who most desperately need to bounce back this weekend.► Baker Mayfield – The Browns entered this season with arguably more hype than any team in the league after another aggressive offseason of roster upgrades. But in Week 1, they sorely disappointed. Sloppy and undisciplined play led to an embarrassing 43-13 loss to the Titans at home. The problems were widespread, but all eyes are on Mayfield after the second-year quarterback’s three-interception outing.This week, Mayfield and Company take the national stage against the Jets. Mayfield might not have woken up feeling dangerous last week, but he certainly needs to on Monday. He’s armed with an explosive arsenal of wide receivers, but he would benefit from better protection from his offensive line after he was sacked five times. Still, he must make better decisions under pressure.The Jets’ defense certainly will be in attack mode. Coordinator Gregg Williams is thinking about payback after the Browns passed over him for the top job this offseason even though he directed Cleveland’s late-season surge as interim head coach in 2018.The AFC North is wide open this year, but Mayfield can’t give too much ground up to draft classmate Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, who orchestrated an authoritative victory in Week 1.PICKS: Will Browns rebound against Jets on Monday night?► Jay Gruden – Washington’s coach subjected himself to scrutiny in a 32-27 loss to the Eagles as he sat out future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson in favor of Derrius Guice, who missed all of his rookie season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.Guice wound up rushing for only 18 yards on 10 carries and sustained another serious knee injury, with multiple reports indicating he will be out indefinitely. Peterson, meanwhile, stood on the sideline in street clothes. What’s worse, Washington held a 20-7 halftime lead over Philadelphia, came out in the third quarter and produced just 6 yards while watching its lead evaporate. Gruden’s own former player, DeSean Jackson (who had two touchdown catches for Philly on Sunday), accused the Redskins of quitting. Both after the game and the following day, current Washington players publicly questioned and disagreed with the benching of Peterson, a locker room leader.Now Gruden has no choice but to go back to Peterson. In this week’s home opener against the rival Cowboys, the coach must quiet any locker room dissent and compose a quality game plan. If there’s any game that owner Dan Snyder and the fan base care about, it’s a faceoff with Dallas. Gruden, already on the hot seat and in the final year of his contract, needs to bounce back.► Adam Gase – The Jets’ new head coach didn’t hold back when it came to assessing Sunday’s 17-16 collapse against the Bills. New York held a 16-0 lead in the second half, but the visiting Bills went on a 17-0 run to secure the victory. Afterward, Gase blamed the loss on just about everyone except himself. He didn’t name names specifically, but he called out just about every position group for their transgressions – receivers for not running the right routes or reading coverages properly, defenders for not making plays on ball and offensive linemen for not protecting better. But most importantly, he didn’t criticize himself for failing to make adjustments in the second half or for not doing a better job of utilizing dynamic weapon Le’Veon Bell.If you’re trying to promote accountability, it’s best to point the finger at yourself first. When players see that, they follow suit.Gase indeed needs to do a better job this week. He’s an offensive-minded coach, but his unit produced only eight points and 66 rushing yards.Stiffening the challenge against the Browns, Gase will not have quarterback Sam Darnold, who will miss Monday’s game with mononucleosis. Bell also could miss this game with a shoulder injury. If ever the Jets needed their coach at his best, it’s this week. Gase has to display the right kind of leadership and his best creativity to coax better production out of his squad.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide► Donte Moncrief – The Steelers’ wide receiver acknowledged he had an awful Week 1 outing. Signed this offseason to fill the spot opposite JuJu Smith Schuster after the departure of Antonio Brown, Moncrief found himself in prime position to make plays Sunday night against the Patriots but repeatedly came up short.Targeted 10 times, he managed just three catches for 7 yards. He had several drops at crucial points of the 33-3 drubbing. Moncrief called it his “worst game ever” and “sickening” to rewatch.The Steelers badly need a bounce-back performance from Moncrief. Smith-Schuster is talented, but a feeble effort on the other side of the field will make it easy for defenders to take him out of the game. Pittsburgh faces another stingy defense this week as the Seahawks come to town.The entire team must rebound, but Moncrief can help fix some of the offensive ills by simply catching the ball.► Brian Flores – No one expected greatness out of the Dolphins this season, but no one expected them to look as bad as they did in Sunday’s opener. Jackson and the Ravens thrashed the Dolphins 59-10 in Miami.The defeat only further fueled scrutiny after a recent string of personnel moves raised the question as to whether the Dolphins are tanking this year to enhance their rebuilding efforts in the coming offseason. Rumblings of player dissatisfaction with their coaching staff began swirling almost immediately after the game.Obviously, Flores wants no parts of such accusations. The former Patriots defensive coordinator understands this roster is far from ready to contend, but that doesn’t mean he and his coaches and players aren’t giving maximum effort to win games.This week, Flores gears up for a reunion with the Patriots in a meeting that could be ugly.Flores, however, has pride. He wants to win and certainly doesn’t want to be embarrassed by his former boss. But more important, he wants to maintain the respect of his players.This week, the first-year head coach needs to direct a competitive effort. The Dolphins don’t necessarily need to win. But they need to at least look like they belong in the NFL. Flores has integral knowledge of the Patriots’ organization, personnel and schemes. He must use that to his advantage.Follow Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide