The Week 3 Wrap

  • By Neil Reynolds NFL International
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I'm not normally one for in-studio hyperbole or the kind of shouting that can often be seen on American television. It's not terribly British, you know!

But I did get a bit carried away late on Sunday night as rookie first-rounder Daniel Jones sprinted into the end zone to give the New York Giants a 32-31 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A scoreline that would hold up after Bucs kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal as time ran out.

As Jones darted up the middle for the decisive score, I yelled live on air: "A legend is born." Okay, so I may have gone a tad early on the proclamation of legendary status for young Mr Jones. But I couldn't help it. I was beyond impressed at the way he dragged his team to victory.

This may be leaning towards recency bias but I think Daniel Jones is the new Gardner Minshew II ! That Jags quarterback is so 'last Thursday.'

The Giants were down 28-10 on the road and had lost star running back Saquon Barkley to a high ankle sprain. While Barkley hobbled up and down the sidelines in a walking boot, Jones went to work in his first NFL start and showed off a strong arm, some very impressive accuracy and athleticism that was simply missing with Eli Manning under center.

Jones threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a pair of scores but don't just take my word for how good he was on Sunday night. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner knows a thing or two about the position and said on Twitter: "I thought his was one of the cleanest games of any QB starting this year."

That is high praise indeed from a legend of the sport. Jones may only just be getting started but what he offered on Sunday evening was an explanation as to why the Giants felt compelled to move on from Eli after just two games this season.

There has been none of the outrage that surrounded Eli's benching towards the end of the 2017 season. It is clear that there is more of a feeling now that it was time to move on. This team - this franchise - was merely treading water with Eli under center. Plus, it's easier to swallow a benching for Daniel Jones as opposed to Geno Smith.

It was just one game, but what a debut it was and Jones now offers hope for the future in the Big Apple. At least for one week in this 'what have you done for me lately?' league. I cannot wait to see what he does next.

Who's Hot...

Patrick Mahomes...The best in the business is getting even better. Reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes might actually be even more dangerous and even more accomplished than he was in his 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown 2018 campaign. Mahomes often defies logic with some of his throws. He will throw across his body, take chances and often throw off his back foot: instead of stepping into throws. And the result is so often the same - the ball is on the money, delivered with undefendable velocity and quite often ends up with six points being placed on the scoreboard. Mahomes was sensational in Kansas City's 33-28 win and we even saw his impact on the game when Baltimore had the football. The Ravens felt a sense of urgency to keep pace with Mahomes and the Chiefs and rolled the dice accordingly - with very mixed results. With Mahomes in this kind of form, he's going to run away with the MVP prize yet again.

Jacoby Brissett...We heard plenty of good stuff from within the Colts locker room when Andrew Luck retired on the eve of the 2019 season. We heard that Jacoby Brissett was a more advanced quarterback than when he subbed for Luck in 2017 and we heard that he was a very special person and leader. But could he really recreate that Andrew Luck magic that number 12 became so renowned for? The answer through three games is a resounding yes! Brissett has produced big fourth quarter performances in all three games this season, with the latest effort coming in Sunday's 27-24 win over Atlanta. Brissett looked in total command of the offense while throwing for 310 yards and two scores against the Falcons. This team appears to be in very safe hands and remains on course for serious AFC playoff consideration.

Shaquil Barrett...It's hard to imagine a better two-week run from a defensive player in recent NFL history than Tampa Bay's linebacker, Shaq Barrett, who has recorded seven sacks in the past two weeks. After notching three takedowns of Cam Newton in Week 2, Barrett followed that up with a four-sack display against the New York Giants. With eight sacks in three games this year, the former Denver Bronco is proving himself to be a very nice addition in Tampa. Now might be a good time for him to demand a raise in Florida.

Who's Not...

Denver's defense...Oh how the Broncos would love to have those sack numbers put forward by Shaq Barrett. If I had asked you in the preseason what you get if you add Vic Fangio with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, you probably would have answered: "A boat-load of sacks." It seemed to be a match made in heaven but it has proven to be a nightmare so far for the 0-3 Broncos. Through three games, the Broncos have yet to record a sack or force a turnover on defense. You can tell me all you like that it can take time for a new coach to make his mark on a team, but isn't that what training camp is for? It has been a shocking return from the Denver defense so far this season.

New York Jets...The opening three weeks of the 2019 campaign could not have gone any worse for the Jets, who dropped to 0-3 with Sunday's thrashing at the hands of the New England Patriots. Sam Darnold has been sidelined with glandular fever and the Jets are down to third-string quarterback Luke Falk. They are already way off the pace in the AFC playoff race and it feels like a lost season before the calendar has even flipped to October. As the Jets attempt to regroup during their upcoming bye week, the pressure is going to build on head coach Adam Gase if this particular rot cannot be stopped. Could he be one and done?

Pittsburgh Steelers...The Steelers don't really do losing seasons and have gone 15 straight years since they last finished below .500 in 2003. The year after that miserable season, the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger and have enjoyed a lot of success since. But now they are in an 0-3 hole and they seem all at sea. Big Ben is out for the year and the promising but green-around-the-gills Mason Rudolph needs help. They need more in the passing game than just JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner must break out of his slump because the running back sensation from a year ago is averaging 32.3 per game on the ground in 2019. The Steelers don't make rash decisions when it comes to their head coaches but you have to wonder if Mike Tomlin's seat is warming.

The Fast Five...

  • The New Orleans Saints produced a total team performance in Sunday's 33-27 road win at Seattle. With Drew Brees on the sidelines, New Orleans could only muster 265 yards of total offense but they did score touchdowns with that unit and through their defense and special teams. It was a complete performance and more like that will be needed with number nine out for a while.

  • The Lions appear to be buying into Matt Patricia's way of doing things in Detroit and their 2-0-1 start has been one of the more surprising aspects of the 2019 season so far. Matthew Stafford can still sling it, Kerryon Johnson is an emerging star at running back and the defense is stout.

  • Philip Rivers throws for more than 300 yards, the Los Angeles Chargers look in total control for long periods of time and then things start to unravel and, before you know it, a glance at the scoreboard shows a frustrating loss. Injuries and the Chargers finding ways to lose games have become two worrying trends with this team in recent years.

  • So it turns out the Green Bay defense is not a one-game fluke. We're only three games into the season but this unit looks legit and is a big reason the Packers are 3-0. I love what young defensive backs Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage bring to the secondary but how about the pass rush? Preston Smith had another three sacks against Denver on Sunday and Za'Darius Smith added two. And through three games, the Packers have eight takeaways.

  • Dalvin Cook was breaking ankles as he routinely made defenders miss during the Minnesota Vikings' 34-14 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. If he can stay healthy for a lengthy period of time, Cook can stake a claim as the league's best running back. He is that good and he proved as such against Oakland with another 110 rushing yards - his third straight 100-yard rushing game on the season.

Fact of the Week

The Dallas Cowboys are 3-0 for the first time since 2008 after their 31-6 shellacking of the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. Jason Garrett's side have scored 30+ points in every game this season. That is only the third time they have achieved that feat in team history to start a season (1986 and 2007).

Finish That Sentence

Each week in this spot I ask readers - via Twitter - to randomly send me the start of a sentence and, as we do on our NFL UK Live stage show tours, I will finish the sentence with the first thought that comes into my head. Here we go...

    • From Pete (@Pedrillo12)... If only Tom Brady had...not cosied up to Antonio Brown in the week leading up to the Miami game, posing for selfies and offering for the receiver to sleep at his house. Then we could all feel a lot better about Tom Terrific still being amazing at the age of 42. Brady is playing better now than he did all of last season and the Patriots are Super Bowl front-runners at 3-0. But did this team really need to take a black eye by offering a home to Brown, who has proven himself to be a royal pain in the posterior? That was not a good look for Brady, Bill Belichick or the Patriots.

  • From Andrew Campbell... The Tennessee Titans have to...recognise they are nothing more than a middle-of-the-pack team, at best. And they have been that way for a few years now. They will have their moments, but they will also disappoint. They could not have opened in more emphatic fashion with a 43-13 hammering of the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. That has been followed up with annoying losses to Indianapolis and Jacksonville. There will be rumblings about Ryan Tannehill replacing Marcus Mariota, but how about a little bit of protection? Sure, Mariota holds onto the ball too long but he has been sacked 17 times in three games - the most for any QB to open a season since 1982 when sacks became an official statistic.

  • From Kevin Thomson... The San Francisco 49ers will...need to take much better care of the football if they are to maintain their strong start to the year. The 49ers will also continue to play very strong defensive football - I think they are the real deal on that side of the ball and a pass rush led by DeForest Buckner and Dee Ford is creating pressure that is resulting in turnovers on the back end. But they must produce a tidier offensive display if they are to be a playoff team.

Final Thought

The Cleveland Browns dropped to 1-2 on the season after losing at home to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football. But there should be no panic just yet in Ohio. It is going to be an up and down year in Cleveland as the Browns work their way to playoff status. They may be off that pace for now but this was always going to be a tough start and they need to stick together and battle through the first half of the season. The Browns were missing their entire secondary on Sunday night and only lost by seven to the reigning NFC champion Rams. They can turn this around. They remain a team we will be talking about come December.



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