NFL Week 3 Re-Watch Review

It’s that time again, it’s the re-watch review. I re-watch every game from this week’s NFL calendar and come up with no more than 3 points that arose from each game. These could be as broad as ‘the defence looked great’ or as in depth as, ‘Alan Ball missed a crucial tackle against Jimmy Graham’, just general information that I find interesting. Let’s start with the Thursday night game, in which we found out a lot about at least one of the teams.

 

Washington 21 – New York Giants 32

  • Washington: It’s pretty broad, but we discovered what this team is. In the games where they’ve gone ahead they’ve been a difficult team to beat. They can run the ball all over teams with both Morris and Jones and their defence can hold their own. However if the team go behind, they become a train wreck that relies on a bad quarterback to move the ball. I still think they get more wins than I originally thought, but this team is average at best.
  • Eli Manning: Much better performance from the 2 time Super bowl winner, in part thanks to a much better offensive line performance than previous weeks. Starting wide receiver duo Reuben Randle and OBJ looked great as deep threats and were able to stretch the field. The biggest deal is that Eli managed to move the ball despite a tepid run game.
  • NFC East: The Giants were showed the 1st spark that this division is still very competitive. After the bomb drop from last week which left Dallas without a QB, Philly without any real offensive production and an up in the air Giants team, the division definitely started to resume business as usual. There is still life in all of these East, teams.

 

Atlanta Falcons 39 – Dallas Cowboys 28

  • Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, a Love Story: The Falcons going into the half were down 28-17, with Matt Ryan seemingly constantly under throwing passes to Julio Jones. In the 2nd half though hit their stride, with Julio Jones going supersonic. Julio finished the game with 2 of 2 Matt Ryan touchdown throws. These 2 are on fire. Matt Ryan has completed 77 passes through the 1st 3 games. Julio has caught 34 of them. Julio is in the form of his life and as a result Matt Ryan is looking every bit as good as we thought he would this season.
  • Falcons Run Game: The Falcons run game was ranked 26th in 2012, 32nd in 2013 and 27th in 2014. After 3 games they’re ranked 10th on the ground. Devonta Freeman this week provided some much needed balance to the team. The Falcons managed to run the ball 30 times for 141 yards and 3 touchdowns, with the biggest key for me being that they never moved away from the game plan, despite being down 2 scores. This Falcons offence is loaded and is frankly a joy to watch.
  • Dallas Cowboys, down but not out: The Cowboys suffered their first loss of the season, but there is a reasonable amount to be happy about. They did take a 28 point lead, proof that even without their 2 top offensive players, they can still score. Weeden was efficient without being flashy against a much improved Falcons pass rush. Joseph Randle went off in this game too, running for 87 yards on 14 carries and picking up 3 TDs. This team will win some games without Romo, it’s just a matter of seeing if they can win the remaining matchups with him, to take them into the playoffs.

 

New Orleans Saints 22 – Carolina Panthers 27

  • Cam Newton: 2015 brings very little change for the Panthers offence, with Cam Newton pretty much being Carolina’s offence. That being said, he’s doing a good job. Cam is managing to make a beaten receiver group look pretty good. Ted Ginn in his prime, was considered a gadget player. As an out and out receiver in this one, he picked up 93 yards, albeit against a poor Saints secondary. Greg Olsen was Cam’s main go to guy though, catching both touchdowns from the pass and gaining an excellent 134 yards. Cam will almost certainly be in my top 10 QBs next year.
  • Luke McCown: The 1st McCown mention of this post. McCown junior managed to get over 300 yards in a truly unremarkable fashion. Unremarkable is better than poor though and with the news that Brees may miss more than 1 game, McCown on a day where he doesn’t throw to one of the most underrated corners in the league, could potentially win them a game. Next week however they play a wounded Dallas team, which could be a reach.
  • Josh Norman: Josh Norman is quietly having a season that should see him talked about in the same breath as Derrelle Revis and Richard Sherman. Norman so far has 2 interceptions and a forced fumble from just his 1st 3 games and on top of which held DeAndre Hopkins to 2 out of 7 receptions. Norman has become a vital piece of this Panthers defence, which still functions despite Luke Kuechly missing a pair of games.

 

Philadelphia Eagles 24 – New York Jets 17

  • Time of Possession: This is big. For the 1st week, the Eagles kept the time of possession even, but it wasn’t through doing anything different. For starters let’s address that the team still has issues. Bradford only completed half his passes for 118 yards. But for the 1st time this year they ran the ball well, in fact more times than they threw, giving them a balanced offence for the 1st time this year. That being said the strangest turnover I’ve seen for a long time, which was amongst a number of turnovers AND a punt returned to the house were instrumental in a mistake strewn performance from the Jets. Regardless a very important win for the Eagles.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick: It just wasn’t working for the Jets. In the blink of an eye they were down 24 points. Being down caused the Jets to panic and as a result the balanced offence went by the wayside. Fitzpatrick threw the ball 58 times and with no Chris Ivory the team couldn’t run the ball for more 47 yards. The Jets will now try and put this behind them against the similar offence of Miami, who are also after their 1st win, when the 2 teams meet in London.
  • Ryan Matthews: This week could be interesting. Ryan Matthews basically came into the Eagles team and showed DeMarco Murray how to run the ball. So how can you bench him after that? If we know Chip (and we really don’t), Murray might have to sit out a few games.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 – Houston Texans 19

  • A Master class… In Bad QB Play: Yet they both moved the ball and they both showed flashes of being a serviceable QB. Alfred Blue was the key for Houston, Blue ran for 139 yards and meant they could use play action in the QB play. Winston just showed that he can connect with his big targets, but stalled getting the ball in the end zone. Tampa only had 1 redzone attempt, but failed to get it into the end zone. Winston also struggled converting 3rd downs, with only 1 out of 12 making it. That being said, there is a definite connection between Mike Evans and Winston, which could be interesting to watch this season and he showed bravery standing strong in a constantly collapsing pocket.
  • Johnathan Joseph: Joseph had the unenviable task of trying to cover the big Bucs receivers and shy of 2 short gains shut them out. Joseph was targeted 12 times, but only allowed 2 receptions for 24 yards, with only 2 yards after catch. Joseph has struggled in the last couple of games, but more than made up for it in this one.
  • Gerald McCoy: With the Dolphins/ Suh struggling, I have to think it’s a straight battle between Gerald McCoy and Aaron Donald for who is the number 1 4/3 defensive tackle in the league. McCoy hasn’t done anything flashy but he is 100% definitely in the conversation.

 

San Diego Chargers 14 – Minnesota Vikings 31

  • Offensive Line Injuries: It feels like there is always one position that just gets decimated for this team and it tends to take them out of contention. Chris Watt, Orlando Franklin and Chris Hairston all left this one with injuries. This failed to give Rivers enough time to make completions under seemingly constant pressure. This saw Rivers make way for backup Kellen Clemens in the end. This is a serious blow to any playoff hopes the Chargers might have had
  • Adrian Peterson: On a day where Bridgewater seemed to struggle, Peterson put the team on his back to seal a win for this team. Whilst it might be a touch premature to say that he is ‘back’, he is definitely an asset for a Vikings team who’s QB seems to have good and bad days.
  • A Lack of Drive: Just a small point, but it felt like no one chased down Chad Greenway on the pick 6. It was like no one got close to him. In general it felt like the Chargers never felt like they could come back from this game and seemed to lack any kind of fight. That is a concern.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers 12 – St. Louis Rams 6

  • Le’Veon Bell: Not his greatest game but still managed to move the ball as a key piece of this offence. Bell was up against a defence that had the Steelers under constant duress. Where Bell shined was in the passing game, being targeted 7 times and catching all of them, racking up 48 of his 70 yards after catch. Bell will leaned on a lot in the next few weeks thanks to…
  • Ben Roethlisberger Injury: Big Ben suffered an MCL injury, which saw him carted off the field. Now it sounds like he’s going to miss 4-6 weeks, which sees Vick lining up under centre. You’d have thought in this time, the team will be leaning heavily on their run game with Bell and Williams. to get them a few wins. Whilst Ben is side-lined, the Steelers play, the Ravens, Chargers, Cardinals and Chiefs.
  • Same Old Rams: It feels like the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Rams, once again, have an exceptional offence and a stagnant defence and are undoubtedly heading to a 7-9 record. This team needs to take a risk in a big bad way otherwise they’ll remain a team that’s just good enough to not totally embarrass themselves.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars 17 – New England Patriots 51

  • Tom Brady (yup I know, it’s tired, but I can’t not mention him): Let’s look at Brady’s stats for the season so far. 72.2 completion percentage with 96 completed passes, of which 9 of them have been touchdown passes. If he kept up his current pace, he’d end the season with 512 completed passes, 5930 yards and 48 touchdown passes. Which aside from the touchdowns, would all be records. I know it doesn’t work out that way, but it’s worth noting that there is a little room for error there. Brady could break a few records this year.
  • The Jaguars Secondary: They did a surprisingly good job despite the score. There were some tense moments in the redzone, where Brady tried connecting with Gronkowski, who struggled against Sergio Brown and Davon House. In the end the run game proved to be the weakness for the Patriots, with Blount racking up 3 touchdowns and Lewis with another. It’s just crazy that the Jags, in general didn’t play that bad, it’s just this team are unstoppable.
  • Exceptional Beyond Expectation: The off-season is crazy and it’s full of people like myself, simply trying to put 2 and 2 together to figure out how good a team is going to be. Let’s remember this before we start to believe reports that the Patriots have taken a step back. This team has earned the right to be expected to win until they prove otherwise. Personally I was always on board, despite losing most of their secondary. I mean, they’re the Patriots. More on “off-season hype” later.

 

Cincinnati Bengals 28 – Baltimore Ravens 24

  • Are They a Legitimate Playoff Contender This Year? We made a point of including a Bengal in nearly all of our top 10 positional lists over the off-season and made a point of saying that the problem is at QB. But Dalton has been pretty good, I mean not Brady/ Rodgers good, but it does seem he’s making the most of his weapons. So are they actually good this year? Or do we fall for this every season? When discussing the Bengals I try my hardest to forget any past results, in particular THAT Browns game last year, but it’s impossible to not take that into account. Hopefully for Bengals fans they break the curse this year.
  • Are They Really an 0-3 Worthy Team? It’s going very wrong in Baltimore, if Steve Smith can gain 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, yet they still lose the game. The fact is on offence he is alone. The run game that was so good last year has stalled and in terms of weapons even an aging Steve Smith is far and away the best option. So what’s changed? Well Gary Kubiak has moved on and been replaced by ex-Bears head coach, Marc Trestman and so far it’s not working. So what happens next? Either it’ll carry on this way and it just turns out Trestman is a bad fit for this team, or, what to me seems more likely, Flacco and co. get used to yet another offensive coordinator (4th in 4 seasons), and they improve. Flacco is a good quarterback, but constantly chopping and changing scheme has to take its toll. It might take some time to see what Flacco’s got. This could of course explain why Flacco is so good in the playoffs…
  • Ravens Secondary: They’ve spent a fortune and they’re not very good. It’s pretty much that simple.

 

Oakland Raiders 27 – Cleveland Browns 20

  • Derek Carr: Opinion was split over how good this QB was going to be this season. Last year he flashed but never seemed dynamic. That’s simply not the case this year. The addition of Amari Cooper has been a game changer that has made the run game more potent and most importantly highlighted that one of the nicest guys in the NFL is also a franchise QB. Carr’s pocket presence was exceptional, although admittedly helped by an offensive line that has gelled fantastically. Carr might not be on anyone’s All-Pro list come the end of the season, but he is definitely an important piece in the building of this Raiders team.
  • Joe Haden: Haden lined up exclusively on Amari Cooper and he got torched. Haden has struggled in the last few weeks, but this was easily his worst performance. Cooper was 6/6 with 45 yards after catch, beating Haden like he wasn’t there. Haden is widely considered one of the top 10 corners in the league, but really we’ve not seen any evidence of it this season. Haden is a perfect representative of the Browns defence, which despite a defensive minded coach and a roster seemingly dripping with talent, just can’t seem to get it done.
  • Khalil Mack: Mack is a player we really liked last season and now he’s lining up as a 4-3 defensive end, he could be heading for a huge season. If Mack isn’t getting to the QB, it’s because he’s drawn the attention of the line and it presents opportunities for other defensive pieces. For all the off season criticism Reggie McKenzie takes, its worth noting he’s been very good recruiting through the draft and that the future of the Raiders could be bright.

 

Indianapolis Colts 35 – Tennessee Titans 33

  • Andrew Luck: Luck is unquestionably one of my favourite QBs in the league. But right now he looks shell-shocked. Luck struggled with pressure and continued to make mistakes as his pocket closed around him. That being said, his 4th quarter comeback was something that only a handful of players could do and hopefully will see him gain some much needed confidence. I struggle to believe that Luck will simply throw interceptions just because he’s Andrew Luck and firmly believe that if they can get the right people in Indy, they can coach this out of him, but right now there is no doubt that this is still an issue.
  • Colts Run Defence: Amongst the constant Luck talk, it goes under the radar that the Colts have improved their run defence, which as any Colts fans will tell you is vital for a playoff run. The Bills and Jets racked up some good numbers, but there is definite improvement. With this, a healthy secondary, an improved Andrew Luck and an effective run game, as well as being in a poor division, this team is by no means out of the running and if they can get hot at the right time, this team could do well… could.
  • Titans be Titans: There is no doubt that this team looks much better with Mariota, but boy do they find ways to lose. With a 27-14 lead going into the 4th, they seem to have thought they had this game wrapped up and then also seemingly took their foot off. In the 4th they allowed a 98 yard drive followed by a touchdown, an interception to Lowery, which resulted in a touchdown and a final Frank Gore run into the end zone. All this happened in 4 minutes, because the Titans took their eye off the prize. As bad as the Colts have been, you simply can’t slow down against Andrew Luck, a valuable lesson that Mariota and co. will have learnt in this one.

 

San Francisco 49ers 7 – Arizona Cardinals 47

  • Colin Kaepernick: We can read stories about how much work someone’s put into their pre-season work out, but until we see it on the field, we should take it with a pinch of salt. After the 1st game, there was definite hope that we were going to see a different Kaepernick, but 3 games in it becomes obvious that very little has changed, except his supporting cast. Kaepernick is the holder of a record he’ll want to bury. He is responsible for the fastest brace of pick – 6’s since, well ever… really. Kaepernick went on to throw 2 more interceptions in a woeful performance. The problem here is he is one of the most physically gifted QBs in the league, but has so many bad habits. His footwork is terrible, he’s only too happy to tuck and run, his decision making is beyond predictable and he throws every ball as if it’s a deep pass. These are traits that have always been there, but have been masked by a fantastic supporting cast and defences not knowing how to deal with the read option. Now they’ve simply got his number. It might be time for the Niners to at least start looking elsewhere, if they can’t coach this out of him.
  • Chris Johnson: I think it’s a credit to the Cardinals that Chris Johnson has become a relevant player after his last 100 yard game was in December last year and was in an oasis amongst disappointing performances. Johnson has added some much needed experience to a running back group that has struggled with the injury issues of Andre Ellington. Johnson is averaging 4.5 yards on 52 carries. Not bad for a player that was really an afterthought for this team.
  • The Cards Secondary Evolved: There are so many great aspects of this team. Larry Fitzgerald had another great game with multiple touchdowns. Carson Palmer looks like a top 5 QB. But the secondary that was so good last year has improved, despite the loss of Antonio Cromartie and Coach Todd Bowles. In the off-season they said there would be very few changes from the unit that Ray Horton/Todd Bowles had put in place, which meant often lining up with 5-7 versatile big defensive backs that could fill in at line-backer. This hasn’t changed at all. The Cards have just got better at what they do and have the best secondary in the league right now. Aside from Matthieu and Peterson, none of these are household names, but by the end of the season they probably will be and will make a name as the ultimate no-huddle stopping defence.

Chicago Bears 0 – Seattle Seahawks 26

  • Seahawks Front 4: It’s the back 4 that steals the headlines, but aside from Bobby Wagner, the undoubted over-performers on this team is the defensive front. With Avril and Bennett on the outside this unit can force serious mistakes and stop an offence in their tracks. Which is what happened in this one. A strong performance from the front forced the Bears to punt the ball 10 times, the Bears offence looked like a hedgehog that had rolled up into a ball for protection.
  • Marshawn Lynch: The play of rookie Thomas Rawls might be vital for this team if Lynch can’t get healthy, which appears to be the case in at least the 1st portion of the year. The problem is that Lynch is very physical runner, which means the more they play him, the worse it’s going to get. It’s possible we might not see a healthy Lynch all season. Thomas Rawls will need to continue to play like this if the Seahawks are to topple the Cards this season.
  • The Bears: You’ll have to excuse a little bit of the Bears fan coming through here. This team seems to have given up already. It is undoubtedly the toughest start to a season the Bears have had in a long time, but the team seem to be cynically just hoping not to lose by too much, rather than putting up a valiant fight. The trading of Bostic and Jared Allen adds to the feeling that the front offices mind is already on next year. I know all of this makes sense. I was prepared for an awful season, but I just want to see some fight. Football season comes and goes so quickly and I’d just like to see some kind of performance. I’d much rather go 49-7 than a lack lustre 26-0. Rant over.

Buffalo Bills 41 – Miami Dolphins 14

  • Dolphins Defence: The Dolphins brought in Suh to basically turn the defensive line into what the Lions had last season. To bring in Suh though they had to get rid of a number of depth players, which were vital in the progression of this defence. As a result what they’ve ended up with, is a number of rotation players that can’t get any penetration. The Dolphins now have 1 sack in 3 games, not what I think any of us were expecting. This game highlighted weakness in the secondary too. Brice McCain went up against 5 different pass catchers in this one and got burned for 100 yards. McCain has struggled in coverage shy of a circus catch in the 1st week. This defence is struggling and forcing Tannehill to take chances that simply aren’t going his way. Not good for a team that has a very specific plan to move the ball, much like Philly.
  • Tyrod Taylor: If the team can stick to the game plan in every game, Taylor will have a good season. Taylor didn’t take chances and simply took what the Dolphins gave him, whilst getting the ball out quickly. Almost certainly Taylor’s best game so far and evidence that they made the right decision.
  • Deja Vu for the Dolphins: Miami, for 2nd year in a row travel to London under a lot of pressure to win a game. Philbin surely won’t be making another trip to London if this carries on and a loss in London might see him making his own way home.

Denver Broncos 24 – Detroit Lions 12

  • Peyton Manning: There is no denying he has lost a step, and that every throw seems to come out of his hands like a baseball pitch. But he looks much better this week than he did last week, thanks in no small part to Kubiak giving him the keys to the offence. Peyton spent most of the game lined up in Pistol, making astute changes at the line. This was a tight game and the running game couldn’t get anything going, meaning Peyton had to throw it 42 times. Despite mistakes, this game was won in no small part to the mind of the future hall of famer. One last point… that touchdown throw to Demaryius Thomas, is only a touchdown thanks to the many talents of his number 1 receiver, coming back and catching the ball. Thomas made an underthrown pass look good.
  • Matt Stafford: If you’re having a rough time behind a poor offensive line, this is definitely not the defence you want to go up against. That being said, Stafford has struggled through his first 3 games. Stafford’s obsession with getting the ball to his number 1 receiver meant that frequently he had to be bailed out by Calvin Johnson, with David Bruton eventually taking advantage of this for a pick. When he does go to other receivers, he can’t help himself from staring them down, telegraphing exactly where he’s going with the ball. This isn’t a rookie QB and you have to think they could be issues he simply can’t shake off.
  • Broncos Defence: The defence is almost certainly the best in the league. On top of having near pro-bowl calibre starters at every position, they’ve got players like David Bruton and Shane Ray that can come in cause serious problems. If the defence can keep up this level of play and the offence can simple capitalise on the chances they give them, this could still very well be a decent playoff team.

Kansas City Chiefs 28 – Green Bay Packers 38

  • Aaron Rodgers: Much like Brady, I thought I’d put into perspective how good Aaron Rodgers has been by showing you what his stats will look like if he continues his form. At the current rate, Rodgers, over 16 games will throw for 4112 yards, with 357 complete passes and 53 touchdowns. So he only beats Brady on touchdowns, but really it doesn’t tell the whole story. Rodgers didn’t have Jordy Nelson, Brian Bulaga, and Davante Adams for this game, yet he looked pretty much perfect. The Chiefs pass rush is one of the best in the league and they just couldn’t get a hand on him. This wasn’t down to the offensive line, but down to insane footwork and pocket presence. I have no idea how you’re supposed to stop him and would be very surprised if we don’t see him square off with Brady in the Super bowl.
  • Mike Daniels/ Packers Defence: Daniels stood out as a defensive end that consistently burned the Chiefs line to create pressure. The unit as a whole doesn’t get the credit it deserves, thanks to the exceptional play of Aaron Rodgers. Clay Matthews has been a player I’ve been very critical of, but in his current hybrid role on both the inside and outside, he’s excelled, in no small part to the defensive front, who look great. The Packers rotate linemen with line-backers to create confusion and its working, meaning Matthews can line up as essentially a 4-3 pass rusher. They are a big reason why this team look unbeatable.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: It’s been an unlucky run that’s seen the Chiefs get to a 1-2 record, but I still have faith that this is a playoff calibre team, they just struggle if they get behind, like any other run first team. So Chiefs fans, don’t be too concerned. This is a good team, that I think will undoubtedly end up with a winning record.
  • Randall Cobb: Bonus point. Can we stop belittling the slot position. Randall Cobb is one of the best receivers in the league. He just happens to play in the slot.

That was my thoughts on week 3. What do you think? I’d love to know if you enjoyed it, so hit me up here.