By Tim Monk, Lawrence Vos and Shaun Blundell
The division standings are starting to take shape. We’re starting to see which teams and players are destined for the post season and which teams are already back at the drawing board.
Here are our main takeaways from week 3 in the NFL.
Fly (Low) Eagles Fly (Low)
You can have everything in place; A forward thinking, risk taking GM. An analytical playcalling coaching staff and head coach coupled with all of the necessary talent in the locker room to boot.
However, results are determined on the pitch and if there talent isn’t out there, the playcalling cannot be executed to it’s maximum effectiveness.
Prior to this game, WR Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson were ruled out of this game and Dallas Goedert “gave it a go”. Include on to that list Jason Peters and 1st round pick Andrew Dillard leaving the game due to injury. Other stalwarts including Malik Jackson are done for the year too.
You can quickly see why this season is turning in to a bit of a nightmare for Philadelphia and their fans. A loss to Detroit in a game where they were behind for all of the game, still had chances to win it is a testament to their ethos and how good they are. But now staring down the barrel after falling to 1-2, travel to Lambeau on Thursday Night football and could after Sunday’s results, be 3 games back.
Yay or Gay
In another parallel universe, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never had kicker problems.
Since Connor Barth had his troubles, it’s fair to say it’s been a big mess at the kicking position. Roberto Aguayo, Chandler Catanzaro, Nick Folk, Cairo Santos, Patrick Murray, Kyle Brindza, Rian Lindell are all names that have come in and then gone back out the door of Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs have had a new place kicker each of the last 8 seasons and whilst they all haven’t had the investment of former 2nd round pick Roberto Aguayo, they’ve all brought home the same amount of bacon (Peppa, you’re safe for now).
Matt Gay up until his last kick in the game actually has been spot on the money in this game and was 7/8 on the season.
Daniel Jones drove his New York Giants into a late lead with 1:21 left in the 4th quarter only for Jameis Winston to emphatically reply. A 44yard toss down to Mike Evans (who, as predicted on the podcast had himself A DAY!) who caught the ball at the Giants’ 9yd line. After a bit of shenanigans, the ball was placed dead center at the NYG 16yd line. 34 yards was the distance for Matt Gay to have himself a five star performance.
Unfortunately, just like many times before, it squeezed past the upright and the Buccaneers lost the game. Ultimately, I think Gay will get a bit more time as he has been fairly solid thus far, but in a world where there aren’t many highlights for kickers, this one will be in a few recap reels to add to the long notorious list in west Florida.
San Francisco Phoney9ers
Of all the 3-0 teams, surely the 49ers are by far the most fortunate.
Easy defences beaten, backup quarterbacks and less than potent offences faced.
Yes, the 49ers have a talented HC in Shanahan, which was there for all to see last week vs Cincinnati and yes, they beefed up their defensive front to be one of the most piercing in the league to the tune of 9 combined sacks and 5 interceptions.
But I am sorry, I cannot buy the 49ers. I still think they’ll miss the playoffs.
Their schedule isn’t as accommodating as the first 3 weeks (although Pittsburgh wasn’t going to be an easy game coming in to the season) and face the Browns and the Rams in weeks 5 and 6. They also have Green Bay, Atlanta and probably a Saints team welcoming back Drew Brees still to play as well as all of their divisional games ( went 1-5 last year). I think the 49ers despite being top 5 in points for and top 10 in points against will continue to struggle and the main reason is their handsome QB, Jimmy G. Yes he’s 58/84 (69%) but that’s all primarily going to the running backs Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson due to the genius of Kyle Shanahan. Garoppolo has an adjusted Net air yards per attempt of 7.47 which is brutal combined with just 5TDs and 4INT.
In their game against the Steelers (notorious poor west coast travellers), they turned the ball over 5 times and still won. There aren’t many teams on that list, that’s for sure. Garoppolo was the culprit for 3 of those (2 INT, 1 Fumble lost) turnovers and it’s fortunate the Mason Rudolph was feeling just as generous and got absolutely nothing going.
They are on a week 4 bye and will be feeling pretty good about themselves and quite right too. After the turmoil over the past few years with Shanahan leading the team, it must be a breath of fresh air for those in the Bay area.
Of all the 3-0 teams though, the 49ers are by the least likely to make the playoffs. Yes you heard me, The Buffalo Bills will have a better chance at making the playoffs than the 49ers. Bank on it.
Not 3-0, But Still Undefeated
Did you know there is a team yet to taste defeat but without a perfect record? I ask the rhetorical question in jest as a way of illustrating just how little noise is following the currently undefeated Detroit Lions.
An opening night draw with the Arizona Cardinals has been followed up with wins against 2 teams with playoff ambitions in the Chargers and Eagles. I’m not buying into them just yet though. If you actually take a look into the game you will see that the Lions were there to capitalise on the Eagles beating themselves.
Winning in the NFL is hard, and that becomes almost impossible anytime you have to try and overcome 3 fumbles and 7 dropped passes. Fair play to the Lions for being in position to strike and I must say it was refreshing to see a kick off returned for a touchdown in todays NFL.
A win is a win however you get it and the Lions have yet to taste defeat so maybe they are better than we think. Chiefs up next though, good luck!
Can I Just Pop You On Hold?
Let’s all hail Tom Brady! I know it’s not an easy thing for us all to do but he possibly made the NFL much more watchable this week.
After a flag infested Thursday Night Football between the Titans and Jags, Brady tweeted his displeasure at the amount of times yellow laundry was thrown onto the field by officials. Fast forward to Sunday and the difference in the officiating was huge. Including the Thursday Night Football game there had been 188 flags thrown for offensive holding in the opening 33 contests.
On the Sunday games there were only 41 offensive holding flags thrown, or to put it another way – half as many on average. Yes the rules already favour offences but seeing every other play called back by a flag had become incredibly frustrating and following a conference call between officials on Friday we saw big changes this weekend.
Lets hope this continues moving forwards as a flowing game is a better game.
Cooking Up A Storm
I called out in last weeks look ahead that the Vikings needed to get back to pounding the rock and limiting what they ask Kirk Cousins to do.
Well they did just that this weekend and let me throw it out there now, Dalvin Cook is in the conversation as the league’s best running back.
Averaging nearly 7 yards per carry for his 110 rushing yards and adding a team leading 4 receptions for 33 yards he found the endzone for the 4th time this year. Before you think I’m jumping onto a bandwagon early, bear in mind Adrian Peterson spent 10 years with Vikings, yet Dalvin Cook is the first ever Viking to rush for 100 yards in 3 straight games to open the season. He is doing things nobody has done before him and with the Vikings gameplan (36 rushes/21 passes) favouring the run he has a chance to be the leagues leading rusher.
He has immense power but also great speed with the ability to hit a home run every time he gets the carry, Vikings fans should be excited.
Filling up your Kupp
If you stayed awake throughout this year’s Super Bowl snooze fest you came away with one abiding memory, that of Julian Edelman catching everything that came near him.
Possession receivers can have a huge impact on a game’s outcome, keeping the chains moving and helping drain the clock. Perhaps the personification of a powerful possession receiver was on display Sunday night as the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cleveland Browns.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp, who was injured in the 2018 regular season and unable to perform post-season plays, was pretty perfect in Week 3. His two touchdowns were the difference in the game, and his exquisite route-running made Jared Goff look like a Montana/Brady-esque clone. It’s absolutely no coincidence that with a fit Kupp performing wonders as a slot machine the Rams are now 3-0.
Todd Gurley may still not be right but Kupp has come back from a season ago stronger, faster and determined to prove he can be a difference maker.
Hey mr D.J. can you play that tune every week please?
When draft aficionados collectively sent their thumbs in a southerly direction when the New York Giants drafted QB Daniel Jones in the first round of the draft, I don’t think they were expecting him to be starting Week 3 as a rookie.
The agony for Big Blue fans was finally buried when they pulled Eli Manning from the starting line-up last week, opting for the Duke gunslinger. OK Jones’s win in his debut was delivered courtesy of his opponents missing a last-gasp field goal but putting up over 30 points, 353 passing yards, two scores by air and by ground and no picks in your debut is a pretty positive experience. Jones, the 2019 Senior Bowl MVP was given such bad treatment by the media that it’s a surprise he wasn’t psychologically scarred for life.
Thing is, wins have a funny habit of erasing pigskin prognostication, and by the look of the glowing pro-Jones headlines in the New York daily newspaper he has already won over some of his harshest critics.
Here’s a stat attack for you: Daniel Jones was the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era with 300+ pass yards, 2+ pass TDs and 2+ rush TDs in a game. At 18 points in the hole, he led the Giants to their biggest comeback since 1970 whilst being under pressure on 47% of his dropbacks (3rd highest of Week 3). Eli Manning was 0-44 in games where he trailed by 18 points. Maybe Gettleman DID have a plan afterall….?
With Saquon Barkley injured for around a month, October will be a tough test for the 1-0 rookie.
Hey Cam, take ALL(EN) the time you need
If you are an ‘All or Nothing’ fan you would have seen how tough Cam Newton was, playing hurt for the vast majority of the campaign, before finally succumbing to a pine ride in Week 17. The quarterback who filled in for the Carolina Panthers was Kyle Allen, who looked solid if not spectacular.
Fast forward to 2019 Week 3 and Allen made his second start, this time producing a stat-line and a victory that will be hard to forget. Four touchdowns was impressive, but this has to be put into context this was against a poor Cardinals pass defense without the presence of All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson. Allen did complete 73% of his passes on Sunday and was not intercepted, but he faces a tougher test against the J.J. Watt led Texans in Week 4.
With the news this week that Cam Newton may have a Lisfranc injury and is definitely out this weekend Allen will be hoping to build on his impressive season debut. The ageless Panthers TE Greg Olsen, who is probably held together by frog-tape and bits of soldering iron, will be relishing catching balls from someone who is younger, more accurate and less crocked than Cam.
Burger me – I’ll take a Big Mack and a Terry Mc
Monday Night Football may have witnessed a stunning second quarter from Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel, who became the first player in MNF history to catch three touchdowns in a single quarter of play, but his performance was shadowed by his Tottenham bound colleague Khalil Mack who dominated from start to finish. Mack recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles as Case Keenum handed out turnovers like Thomas Cook did P45’s this week.
Elsewhere there was a small crumb of comfort for Redskins fans as rookie 3rd round selection Terry McLaurin became the first player in NFL history to record five catches and a touchdown in his first three NFL regular season games. If Mitch Trubisky continues to take what he is given, through intermediate routes to Allen Robinson, Gabriel and Anthony Miller (who has not yet shone this year) then this is a playoff bound team.
The defense is scary, and whilst the Washington offensive line was not the toughest test, this is a team that is a decent kicking game from an NFC Championship.