Week 3 is the last week with 16 games on the schedule until mid-November, as the byes kick in over the next seven weeks.
It was an interesting full slate of games in which a number of things jumped out at me as I sat and watched them all with Bill Cowher, Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason and Shannon Sharpe. Here are six observations I took away from Sunday:
1. Next man up
Keep your eye on Arizona, San Francisco and maybe even Seattle over the next few weeks for possibly more changes. Coaches and front office executives seem to be so much more ready to pull a quarterback early than ever before, and the numbers bear it out: Seven teams have changed starting quarterbacks this season, tied for the most through the first three weeks of a non-strike season since 1970.
2. Special teams not so special
I said two weeks ago that special teams could get worse before they get better. There are way too many inexperienced players on coverage units and all aspects of special teams are, at best, a work in progress.
Make no mistake about it, teams are losing games because of problems on special teams. Just ask the Chargers, who have allowed three long touchdown returns in their two losses, including two on kickoffs to Seattle on Sunday.
But the Chargers aren't alone. In total, there were four kickoff return scores on Sunday, nine missed field goals (two directly leading to losses), five muffed punts, a blocked kick and punt, and a number of punt returns of more than 40 yards.
There are wins to be had for the teams that can improve quickly in the special teams area.
3. Calamitous 0-3, confident 3-0
There are five teams without a victory: Buffalo, Cleveland, San Francisco, San Francisco, Detroit and Carolina. The cold reality for those teams is this: Since 1990, only three percent of teams in that situation have dug their way out and made the playoffs.
It's not that other teams are so far away from them in the standings but rather the emotional stress and pressure is becoming hard to manage. We've already seen that stress play out in San Francisco, where Mike Singletaryfired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye on Monday, a day after his team just mustered 251 yards of offense (43 rushing) in a 31-10 loss at Kansas City.
The 3-0 teams, on the other hand, have a good foothold on a much brighter future. Since 1990, 75 percent of the teams that started 3-0 made the playoffs. As Cowher said, "Confidence and momentum can make a football team feel like it is better than it really is." Kansas City officially became a dangerous team this weekend.
4. Vick's real tests upcoming
5. Hail the Redskins: Rookie QBs do
If Bradford can keep up the production he has delivered to date, he could wind up with 3,500 yards and 21 touchdowns by season's end. It was just a few months ago when many Rams fans were criticizing the selection of Bradford in the draft. I suspect I will not hear from any disgruntled fans on my Sirius radio show this week.
Meanwhile, keep a close eye on Jackson's injury status this week and the possibility of the Rams signing Larry Johnson, who was recently released by Washington.
6. Recognizing the good coaching jobs
Here are four coaches that put a great plan together last week, taught it to the players and got great execution on game day:
Charlie Weis, offensive coordinator, Chiefs: Weis has done a good job of developing Matt Cassel, who had a three-touchdown passing game on Sunday, and the running game produced 207 yards against a 49ers defense that came into the season with a reputation of being one of the better units in the league.
Wade Phillips, head coach, Cowboys: Phillips serves as defensive coordinator of the Cowboys, who went on the road to confront an in-state rival and high-powered offense in the Houston Texans. When the game was over, Houston had 13 offensive points, Matt Schaub was sacked four times, picked off twice and lost the time-of-possession battle. Phillips came into the game with rumors swirling that he could be fired if the Cowboys lost to the Texans and started 0-3. I would be surprised if Jerry Jones wants to fire his head coach and his defensive coordinator in one shot.