By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
Once again, we got another mixed bag of happenings for the Field Generals this week. We saw some folks (Russell Wilson, Justin Fields) fall to the injury bug. We saw others (Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray) maintain their early consistency. And it all culminated with another epic Monday Night performance from one of Baltimore’s favorite sons.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the shenanigans that led to America’s favorite e-mailing uncle from Sin City losing his head coaching job. If you really think Mr. Gruden’s thoughts just reside with him, please un-insert your head from your ass and let the light of reality come into focus.
One of the many reasons why we do the Field Generals’ report each week is to give a fair and unbiased look at the plight of the Black quarterbacks in the NFL. Through stats, information, and some video essays, we try to give “the other side” of the story that you won’t get from mainstream media.
The Gruden “revelations” are really no surprise to myself and others of my fellow media brethren. You can plaster “Black Lives Matter” and “We’re All In This Together” on every stadium in the league, but until there’s an attitude adjustment within and outside of the NFL society, these things will keep cropping up.
Now, let’s get back to the field and look back at Week Five.
Last week: 6-5 (Overall: 30-21)
Russell Wilson/Geno Smith, Seattle (Loss to L.A. Rams)
Wilson missed significant game time due to injury for the first time after injuring the middle finger on his throwing hand. Wilson was hurt by contact on a follow-through midway through the third quarter. He attempted to direct one more drive before turning the game over to backup Smith. Wilson never took another snap and finished 11 of 16 for 152 yards, one touchdown, and his first interception of the season. As for Geno, he had his moments going 10 of 17 for 131 yards in the fourth quarter. On his first drive, Smith was perfect. He was 5 of 5 for 72 yards, the last a 23-yard strike to DK Metcalf for his second touchdown of the game with 9:23 remaining to pull Seattle to 16-14. He had a chance to pull out the win, but a late pick as Tyler Lockett sealed the win for L.A.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (Win at Carolina)
No. 1 was relatively quiet in the run game for the better part of three quarters, often handing off on zone-read options instead of keeping the ball. That all changed with the game on the line. Hurts took matters into his own hands, running for two second-half touchdowns as the Eagles battled back from a 12-point deficit to defeat the Panthers 21-18 and snap a three-game losing streak. Hurts finished with 198 yards on 22 of 37 passing and ran for 30 yards on nine carries, while DeVonta Smith continues to evolve with seven catches for 77 yards and a 2-point conversion for the Eagles (2-3).
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver (Loss at Pittsburgh)
Facing an 18-point deficit in the fourth, Teddy Ballgame nearly pulled off a comeback with a pair of TD passes. However, an interception in the final seconds handed the Broncos their second straight loss. Bridgewater completed 24 of 38 passes for 288 yards with a pair of scores: a 2-yard dart to Kendall Hinton and a 39-yard rainbow to Courtland Sutton with 5:46 to go that drew Denver within 24-19. Bridgwater then drove Denver to the Pittsburgh 3 in the final seconds before James Pierre’s first career interception ended the threat. Denver now begins AFC West play Sunday hosting the Raiders. Las Vegas swept the season series last year.
Jacoby Brissett, Miami (Loss at Tampa)
Following another setback, the Dolphins (1-4) have now lost four straight following a season-opening victory over New England. While Tom Brady and Antonio Brown continued to have their own private pitch-and-catch session with the Miami defense, the offense was struggling to say the least. Brissett completed 27 of 39 passes for 275 yards, two TDs, and an interception in his third consecutive start filling in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins were only down 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter before the roof caved in. Tagovailoa is expected to return under center on Sunday as they meet the cross-state rivals from Jacksonville in London. If the UK declares war on the U.S. after this game, I can’t say I blame them.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans (Win at Washington)
At least you can’t say “Famous Jameis” is boring. Winston threw four touchdown passes as he overcame two turnovers to help the Saints beat Washington for a bounce-back victory. His Hail Mary touchdown on the final play of the first half to Marquez Calloway highlighted his overall performance. Winston completed 15 of 30 passes for 279 yards and made up for an inexplicable interception on the first possession and a fumble on Chase Young’s first sack of the season. Winston also took every snap at quarterback for the first time this season as Taysom Hill suffered a concussion while trying to catch a pass in the second quarter. The Saints finished with 369 yards and had scoring drives of 75, 60, and 75 yards to go along with the one-play Hail Mary possession.
Justin Fields, Chicago (Win at Las Vegas)
The irony that a Black quarterback defeated Jon Gruden in his last game for the Raiders lets you know that karma is never late and has one helluva sense of humor. Fields threw his first career touchdown pass, and the Chicago defense largely shut down the Raiders’ high-powered offense in the win. On the flip side, No. 1 hyperextended his left leg and got the wind knocked out of him on a tackle in the second quarter. Although Chicago’s rookie quarterback was seriously shaken up, he walked to the sideline and only stayed there for two plays before barging back onto the field. Fields went 12 of 20 for 111 yards in the touted Ohio State product’s third career start — his first since being named the Bears’ No. 1 quarterback by coach Matt Nagy. The Bears’ 32nd-ranked offense managed just 252 yards, but Chicago’s defense allowed three points from Vegas’ first seven drives. No truth to the rumor that Khalil Mack and Coach Gruden exchanged e-mail addresses after the game.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Win vs. N.Y. Giants)
Prescott threw for three touchdowns the day before the one-year anniversary of his severe ankle injury in the same stadium against the same opponent, and the Cowboys beat the Giants. He walked off the field after bouncing back from two early mistakes that led to turnovers a year after he was driven away in tears with the pandemic-limited crowd knowing his season was over because of the gruesome compound fracture of his right ankle. Showing more consistency, Prescott finished 22 of 32 for 302 yards to boost his passer rating to 116.9 as the Cowboys had 515 yards total offense, including 201 on the ground — exactly the average from the previous three weeks after getting just 60 against the Buccaneers.
Trey Lance, San Francisco (Loss at Arizona)
First exams are never easy, especially when it’s played out in broad daylight. Lance had an up-and-down first start, making some impressive plays with his arm and feet. But San Francisco struggled in many of the biggest moments, converting 1 of 5 chances on fourth down. The rookie finished 15 of 29 for 192 yards and one interception. He also led the team with 89 yards rushing. San Francisco also outgained Arizona 338 yards to 304. There were definitely some bright signs that Dodge has the talent to do some things for Frisco, but they didn’t matter in the Valley of the Sun.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Win vs. San Francisco)
On the other side, the Cardinals improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1974, riding a stellar defensive performance against the Niners. Arizona came in averaging 35 points per game, which led the NFL. This time, it was the defense that delivered, stopping Frisco and the aforementioned rookie quarterback four times on fourth down. Mr. Murray completed 22 of 31 passes for 239 yards. DeAndre Hopkins caught six passes for 87 yards — including a 30-yard catch that set up his big touchdown reception — but said the major credit goes to the defense with the fourth-down stops. Lance had an up-and-down first start, making some impressive plays with his arm and feet. But San Francisco struggled in many of the biggest moments, converting 1 of 5 chances on fourth down.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Loss vs. Buffalo)
The overall sloppiness that’s plagued K.C. all season came to a head in their AFC title game rematch against the Bills. Mahomes finished with 272 yards passing and two touchdowns to go with two interceptions and a lost fumble — three of his team’s four turnovers in all. Mahomes also wound up being the leading rusher for the Chiefs (2-3) with 61 yards as they struggled to get going offensively against a brutally difficult Buffalo defense. The game had been hotly anticipated since January, when the Chiefs romped past Buffalo on their way to the Super Bowl, largely because it promised to once again showcase two of the AFC’s best offenses in prime time. The problem for Kansas City? It also has one of the worst defenses.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Win vs. Indianapolis)
While many folks were immersed in the MLB playoffs or the Gruden affair on Monday Night, leave it to LJ to put on a vintage performance. The Baltimore quarterback threw for a career-high 442 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair of short TD passes to Mark Andrews in the fourth quarter as the Ravens rallied from a 25-9 deficit. Here’s his night in a nutshell: Jackson went 37 of 43 without an interception. He also ran for 62 yards. If you subtract the 5 yards Jackson lost when sacked, he accounted for 499 of Baltimore’s 523 net yards on the night. The Ravens had their record-tying streak of 43 straight 100-yard rushing games snapped, but they got the W and saw No. 8 save their bacon once again in the most demonstrative way.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Arizona’s Kyler Murray completed 22 of 31 pass attempts (71 percent) for 239 yards with one touchdown pass in the Cardinals’ Week 5 victory. Murray has completed 124 of 165 pass attempts (75.2 percent) and has 1,512 passing yards this season and joined Drew Brees (2018) and Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (2013) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 1,500 passing yards and a completion percentage of 75-or-higher through his team’s first five games of a season.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.