By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
Three weeks into the “biggest season ever” and there seem to be more questions than answers regarding our NFL Field Generals. However, it’s not really a surprise considering the circumstances. My BASN colleague Michael-Louis Ingram always talks about how the first 4-5 weeks of the regular season are almost like an extension of the preseason.
When you factor in the “shortest preseason ever” with most teams only playing three games, it makes even more sense. This is not to discount teams that have gotten off to fast starts (i.e., Broncos, Rams, Cards, Bengals, Panthers, Raiders), but we may need to see more of a sample size to get a feel for these squads.
For another week, we saw the grand spectrum of play amongst the Generals. From the aforementioned opening act of Teddy Ballgame in Denver to Justin Field’s “education” against the Dawg Pounders in Cleveland,
Let’s take a look back
Week Three results: 5-5 (Overall: 18-12)
Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos (Win vs. Jets)
It was another efficient Sunday for the Mile High’s newest favorite No. 5. He completed 76% of his passes — 19 of 25 — for 235 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in his home debut. It’s Denver’s first 3-0 start since 2016. However, the haters will quickly jump on the fact that the Broncos’ opponents are a combined 0-9. That being said, it’s also important to note that Bridgewater leads the league in completion percentage (76.8%), is seventh in average length of completion and fifth in passer rating. The Broncos led the NFL in interceptions and giveaways overall in 2020, but Bridgewater has not thrown an interception. Also, 11 different players have caught at least one pass from Bridgewater, and five different players have a reception of at least 25 yards. In the Broncos’ three games, Bridgewater has completed passes to nine, nine and eight different players.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (Loss vs. Chargers)
While Chicken Little has yet to rent an apartment outside of Arrowhead Stadium, there is a cause for some concern in Chiefsland. To say Sunday’s loss made Coach Reid (left the stadium after the game) and the K.C. faithful feeling sick with is an understatement. While Mahomes finished with 260 yards passing and three touchdowns, it was a pair of interceptions (part of K.C.’s 4 turnovers) that was part of the Chiefs’ undoing. The Chargers (2-1) won for the third time in four trips to Kansas City while sending the two-time defending conference champions (1-2) to the division cellar. While the defense still needs some tweaking, another offensive weapon has been added as K.C. signed former All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon submitted his reinstatement letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in July, and the NFLPA recommended that he be reinstated. His application for reinstatement was approved by Goodell on Monday.
Kyler Murray, Cardinals (Win at Jaguars)
The Cardinals improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2015. Including Thursday’s loss to Cincinnati, the Jaguars (0-4) have lost 19 straight games, leaving them seven shy of the NFL record for futility. Jacksonville led 19-10 after James Robinson’s 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter before things unraveled. The key play was made by defensive back Byron Murphy, who intercepted two passes, including one he returned for a touchdown following a botched flea flicker. As for Mr. Murray, he completed 28 of 34 passes for 316 yards for Arizona, with an interception. He also ran for a touchdown in the first quarter and turned in another meditation pose afterward. It now sets up a key battle of the unbeatens when Arizona hosts their NFC West rivals from L.A. The Cardinals have lost eight straight in the series and given up at least 30 points in seven of those.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (Loss at Vikings)
Speaking of the NFC West, Seattle (1-2) sits at last place in the stacked division as they fell on the road at Minnesota. It was an all too familiar story for the Seahawks as Wilson played well, but the defense continued to struggle. The Vikings (1-2) hit their stride in the second quarter by taking the lead with 16 seconds left in the half and never lost control with 23 straight points. Wilson went 23 for 32 for 298 yards, but the offense only had 81 total yards after halftime. Minnesota beat Seattle for the first time with Pete Carroll as coach and Wilson as the quarterback, having lost on the road in each of the last three years.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (Win at Lions)
Needless to say, the lasting image of this game was Justin Tucker’s NFL record 66-yard field goal, bouncing it through off the crossbar as time expired for the win. However, it was another brilliant play by Mr. Jackson that led to the heroics. On fourth-and-19 from the Baltimore 16, he threw a 36-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to get the Ravens across midfield with 7 seconds left. LJ then spiked the ball to stop the clock, and on the next snap, he threw it away after TV footage suggested the play clock expired. Jackson was 16 of 31 for a season-high 287 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His teammates dropped at least four passes that could have potentially turned the closely contested game into a rout. The Ravens also ran for 116 yards, surpassing 100 yards for the 42nd straight game to pull within one of the NFL record set by Pittsburgh from 1974-77.
Jacoby Brissett, Dolphins (Loss at Raiders)
After their opening win at Foxboro, the Fish have dropped two straight in including Sunday’s overtime loss at Vegas. There were several lowlights and highlights from Brissett who finished 32 of 49 for 215 yards. The lowlight? A truly bizarre screen pass in their own end zone to Jaylen Waddle that produced a safety for the Raiders. The highlight? Leading a rally that saw Miami overcome a 25-14 deficit and force the game into overtime. The teams exchanged field goals in overtime before Daniel Carlson’s winner as time expired in overtime. It marked the second time in the Raiders’ first three games — both at home — they overcame a two-touchdown deficit to win in overtime. They also did so against Baltimore in Week 1 on a Monday night. Las Vegas is also the first team to open 3-0 against teams that all won 10 or more games the previous season.
Jameis Winston, Saints (Win at Patriots)
A week after a career-low passer rating, Winston showed better command of the offense, completing 13 of 21 passes for 128 yards in the road win at Foxboro. “Famous Jameis” also got support from a defense that made Patriots rookie quarterback Matt Jones’ life miserable. New Orleans sacked Jones three times and hit him 11 times. After going three-and-out on their opening drive, the Saints got efficient, sweeping down the field mixing runs and passes, and a long third-down conversion to get inside the red zone. Winston then put a bow on the 11-play, 69-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kamara. New England is 0-2 at home for the first time since 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season as coach.
Justin Fields, Bears (Loss at Browns)
Call it a “Welcome to The NFL” moment or a solid case for suing one’s offensive line. Somewhere in the middle of that sums up Mr. Fields’ first NFL start. Myles Garrett and his friends spent as much time in Chicago’s backfield as an unwanted guest taking the last ribs at the cookout. Garrett made a franchise record 4 1/2 sacks and the Browns brought Fields down nine times while holding Chicago to just 1 net yard passing. Fields was under pressure from the start. The former Ohio State star completed just 6 of 20 passes for 68 yards and got X-rays on his throwing hand afterward. The Bears’ biggest offensive play came on a pass interference that wiped out an interception and gained 48 yards. Cleveland thoroughly dominated, outgaining Chicago 418-47.
Jalen Hurts, Eagles (Loss at Cowboys)
After answering Dallas’ opening score with a defensive touchdown, it all went crashing down for Philly and Hurts. The Cowboys (2-1) had a 19-1 edge in first downs late in the first half, as the Eagles were down 20-7 at the break. Hurts finished 25 of 39 for 326 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Plenty of the Texas native’s passing yards, and the second TD, came with the game out of reach. Up next: Philly hosts the Chiefs who are coming off consecutive losses for the first time since October 2019.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (Win vs. Eagles)
The numbers keep getting better for No. 4 in this early season. Playing at home since the gruesome ankle injury that ended his season, Prescott was efficient, going 21 of 26 for 238 yards without an interception in the first NFC East game for both teams. Dak’s first game at AT&T Stadium since the season-ending compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in Week 5 last year against the Giants was also the return to full capacity after the pandemic-imposed limits last season. There were 93,267 fans inside with the retractable roof open at the $1.2 billion facility.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Despite the loss to the Chargers, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes reached the 15,000-yard plateau. He has has 15,092 career passing yards and became the first quarterback in league annals to reach 15,000 passing yards in 50-or-fewer games.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.