Week 3 has wrapped up, and TRO is reflecting on all that transpired, breaking down major headlines, and handing out its weekly superlatives. Check out our thoughts following an insane second round of games:
via Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Another week gone, another crazy slate of games. TRO is launching its rapid reactions following the conclusion of the games from the Week prior. With Week 3 having concluded, it's time to fire off TRO's immediate reactions following all of the action. We're here, again, to elaborate on the biggest headlines that stuck with us, and to hand out superlatives. Look for TRO to award the Surprise Performance of the Week to the most deserving team, and the Game of the Week to the most exciting matchup, in addition to individual player superlatives. Players whose team won their game will be eligible to be selected in the following categories: Passer of the Week, Pass Catcher of the Week, Tailback of the Week, Defensive Lineman of the Week, Linebacker of the Week, Defensive Back of the Week, and Special Teamer of the Week.
1) RAPID FIRE - WEEK THREE HEADLINES:
via Kevin Jairaj / USA Today Sports
The NFC East Runs Through Dallas :
On Monday night, the Cowboys picked apart the Eagles with another excellent performance from Dak Prescott. Ezekiel Elliott notched his best game of the year, looking more like 2019 Zeke than the guy we saw in 2020 and the first two weeks of this year. Most impressively, this defense efficiently generated a pass rush despite all of the injuries and question marks, and its secondary looks stout. Preseason opinions lead many (including us) to believe that the NFC East would go through Washington, but Dallas has emerged as clear-cut favorites at this point of the season. There are no signs of that changing going forward, as this team looks to be one of the better teams in the NFC, not far behind the Rams and the Buccaneers. Tune in Sunday for Week 4's matchup with the 3-0 Panthers as it should be an electric matchup.
Pivoting on Pittsburgh:
We were fairly low on Pittsburgh this past offseason. We just couldn't see how they would fare better than the Browns and the Ravens. After Week 1's impressive victory over Buffalo, we were convinced Pittsburgh would still be competitive despite the fluctuation on their offensive line and father time knocking on Big Ben's front door.
After back to back losses, most recently coming from being dominated by the Bengals, the Steelers look to be who we (initially) thought they were. We've flip flopped on this team twice now, but Weeks 2 and 3 were a lot more telling than Week 1. The offensive line is and will be a problem. Big Ben cannot hold up behind it for a full season, and most importantly, he appears to be incapable of stretching the field. Combine that with injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and Pittsburgh looks like it will have to pull some magic just to avoid finishing last in the AFC North.
Earth to Matt Nagy:
Sunday, the Bears put up 47 net yards of offense. In his first start, Justin Fields was sacked 9 times, and he only completed 6/20 of his passes. Interestingly enough, the Bears did not commit a single turnover. Their defense was on the field for nearly 40 minutes and it was simply because of a lack of offensive production. Granted, the Browns defense is good, the Bears offensive line isn't, and it was the first career start for a relatively raw quarterback.
HOWEVER, go back and watch the film. This production was entirely on the coaching and game plan. There was zero effort by the coaching staff to call any sort of plays to maximize Justin Fields' strengths: no designed runs, no long play action roll outs, nothing. Most importantly, the Bears made no effort to slow the pass rush. Basically on every passing down, the Bears went with basic 5 man protection. They did not bring in any additional protection, help from running backs, tight ends, etc. They sat there, watched their quarterback get harassed, and continued to call the same plays.
It was so blatant that even Myles Garrett said after the game that he was surprised by the way Justin Fields was used, and stated that the fact that the Bears didn't take advantage of his mobility made it easier for the defensive linemen to get him to the ground.
There Might be No Saving Carson Wentz
There was some hope that Carson Wentz's 2020 season was more of an anomaly, and that a change of scenery, being reunited with Frank Reich, and a much better offensive line would allow Wentz to come back to form.
So far, Wentz has continued to look off. His team is 0-3, he's missed key throws, and he's only averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. It is absolutely admirable that he played after spraining both ankles, and maybe as the season goes on he will get settled and improve, but as of now, he has not looked a whole lot different than he did last year.
Don't Sleep on the Chargers
This Chargers squad is a complete football team. We all know about Justin Herbert and the receivers, but their defense has been very impressive, and they look extremely competitive. The days of them losing a record number of games by 1 score in disaster fashion might be behind them. They walked into Arrowhead, and stormed out with a convincing win to send the Chiefs to 1-2.
This team is for real, and they have the look and feel of a playoff team. Look out for a huge NFC West showdown against the Raiders Monday night.
2) GAME OF THE WEEK: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
via Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
This game was easily the most entertaining matchup of the week. The meeting between these two teams is always hyped up, and Sunday night did not disappoint. The game had a good back and forth feel to it, especially when the 49ers took the lead with 37 seconds to go.
37 seconds proved to be too much time for Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby as they quickly got down the field to nail a game winning field goal, swiping away a victory on the road. Rodgers looked like the 2020 MVP version of himself. He also showed great emotion and seemed extremely invested while on the sideline. After two straight victories the Packers have seemed to put the Rodgers offseason drama that followed the team after their Week 1 beatdown to rest.
3) SURPRISE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: The Minnesota Vikings
via Adam Bettcher / Getty Images
After back to back rather devastating losses to start the season, the Minnesota Vikings had their backs against the wall. Week 3 had them set up to face a Seattle team whose greatest strength (quarterback and wide receivers) looked to outmatch Minnesota's greatest weakness (secondary). Seattle was also coming off of a devastating home loss, and they seemed more poised to bounce back, especially with the absence of the Vikings' best player in Dalvin Cook.
Alexander Mattison filled in for Cook perfectly (like he has done several times in the past), allowing the game plan to stay to the Vikings' liking, and Kirk Cousins continued his quietly remarkable start to the season. The Vikings hit the Seahawks in the mouth, and comfortably won this football game, reminding the League of what they are capable of putting together.
4) PLAYER SUPERLATIVES:
PASSER OF THE WEEK: Josh Allen - Buffalo Bills
via Jeffrey T. Barnes / AP Photo
Josh Allen was a preseason favorite for MVP, but didn't come out of the gates looking the part. After a slow start to the season, he exploded on the scene in Week 3, torching a stout Washington defense for 358 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air. He also added another touchdown on the ground.
PASS CATCHER OF THE WEEK: Mike Williams - Los Angeles Chargers
via the Athletic
A career day for Mike Williams consisted of 7 catches 122 yards 2 touchdowns to catapult his team to an impressive road victory against the former AFC Champions.
TAILBACK OF THE WEEK: Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas Cowboys
via Tom Fox / The Dallas Morning News
Zeke cracks this list edging out a couple of rushers who had more yardage than he did. He posted an impressive 95 yards on just 17 carries (5.6 average yards per carry), and notched 2 touchdowns. It is also worth noting that he pulled in 3 catches for 21 yards.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: Myles Garrett - Cleveland Browns
via Tim Phillis / The News Herald
Myles Garrett pulled off this year's second most impressive performance for a defensive linemen following Chandler Jones's domination of the Titans. Garrett harassed Justin Fields, racking up 4.5 sacks. He also notched 7 tackles on the day.
LINEBACKER OF THE WEEK: Logan Wilson - Cincinnati Bengals
The 2020 third round pick racked up a career day as he was seemingly everywhere fo r the Bengals. He tallied 14 total tackles and 2 interceptions, making his name known in this division rivalry.
DEFENSIVE BACK OF THE WEEK: Byron Murphy - Arizona Cardinals
via the CardsWire / USA Todayy
Like we said last week: anytime you nab 2 interceptions in the same game, you put yourself in the running for Defensive Back of the Week. This week, Byron Murphy picked off Trevor Lawrence twice, returning 1 for a touchdown. He also picked up 4 tackles. He came up clutch in the second half after the Cardinals tried to give away momentum at the end of the half by failing to protect themselves from a missed 68 yard field goal that was returned for a touchdown.
SPECIAL TEAMER OF THE WEEK: Justin Tucker - Baltimore Ravens
via Shawn Hubbard / Baltimore Ravens
Week 3 was a major week for kickers. It's always nice when those guys get their dues. The biggest of all goes to Justin Tucker who SET AN NFL RECORD for the longest field goal ever made at 66 YARDS! Not only was this kick 66 yards, it was hit as time expired, giving the Ravens a road victory over the Lions. Tucker went 4/5 from field goals and made his only extra point. You get a pass for missing a field goal when you account for 13 of your team's 19 points, and win the game on a record-setting kick.