AROUND THE LEAGUE

NFL Week 3 observations

The Browns may have something in Baker Mayfield. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Week 3 of the NFL season was all over the map. We saw results and performances we expected, and some we couldn’t have predicted. It was sort of like that crazy ex everyone has had: never know which side you’re going to get. Here’s my version of the observations I saw:

The Good

-The Browns’ Tyrod Taylor got Wally Pipp-ed by Baker Mayfield. Taylor went down with a concussion in the first half down 14-0. Mayfield led the team to a 21-17 victory going 17 of 23 for 201 yards and caught a two-point conversion. This was their first win in 635 days. Bud Light had fridges placed around the city which would be unlocked via satellite if they had won. Mayfield gave them the biggest “Dilly dilly” with his performance.

-Bills’ rookie quarterback Josh Allen had his coming out party against the Vikings. The Bills were widely considered the worst team in football and were 16.5 point underdogs on the road against one of the best teams in football. Allen threw for one touchdown and ran for two more. His signature highlight was hurdling a defender on a scramble. Known for his arm strength, seeing Allen hurdle a guy on a scramble was akin to witnessing fat NBA guys dunk.

- The Miami freaking Dolphins are 3-0. Let that sink in. The play they used to take the lead for good was a reverse wide receiver pass that went for a 52-yard touchdown. Dolphins’ fans should rejoice now while they’re leading the AFC East, because when the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella will lose her slipper.

The Bad

-The Titans and Jags decided to set football back 100 years with a 9-6 finish. Neither team averaged more than four yards per pass, each averaged right at four yards per play, and the lone turnover was a Jags fumble. It was a game not even their families would want to watch.

-The Patriots are 1-2 after losing to the Lions 26-10 on Sunday Night Football. The Lions held the Pats to just 209 total yards. It appears as if Lions coach Matt Patricia got the best of his mentor, Pats coach Bill Belichek. If the Lions keep this up, Patricia may turn out to be the exception to the rule on Belichek’s coaching tree.

-It only took the first half for Bucs’ quarterback Ryan Fitz-magic to turn back into Fitzpatrick. He threw three first half interceptions and “helped” his team to a 30-10 deficit. With them wanting to ride the hot hand even when Jameis Winston comes back, this type of performance (which the smarts saw coming eventually) will have the Bucs rethinking their strategy.

The Ugly

-49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL with less than six minutes left in their game against the Chiefs. Garoppolo scrambled down the sideline and failed to get out of bounds. As he took another step bracing for a hit, he crumbled holding his left knee. Now San Francisco’s $137.5 million dollar man is done until next year and all hope lies within C.J. Beathard.

-Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews was flagged with another roughing the passer penalty! He’s gotten one in every game this year. The fact that two he got in previous games could have cost them those games is debatable. When former players on both sides of the ball as well as former officials come to his defense, that speaks volumes. The rule was originally created because of a hit Troy Aikman took and reemphasized when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last year. The Competition Committee has to do something about this.

-The Cowboys are in trouble and it’s not all Dak Prescott’s fault. Their offensive line isn’t what it used to be which is hurting the run game and pass protection. When Dak has time to throw, he’s throwing to a subpar receiving corp. I am not a Cowboys fan at all, but all this Dak hate by that fan base is getting ridiculous.

Weeks like this bring about the type a parity the league has been looking for. Contenders are emerging. Pretenders are showing their hands. But most of all, nothing is truly settled. Anything can still happen as this week has shown us.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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