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#pounditTuesday, May 11, 2021

10 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 3

Freddie Kitchens Browns

Week 3 of the NFL season is nearly in the books. With injury problems galore for numerous teams, several squads, most notably New Orleans and Pittsburgh, had to improvise with backup quarterbacks for the week. There were some weird coaching decisions and some heartbreaking moments as well, and those are among the places we find our disappointments.

Here are 10 of the biggest letdowns from Week 3.

Freddie Kitchens, head coach, Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns entered the season full of hype and has flopped so far. They laid an egg in Week 1 against a mediocre Titans team, failed to take advantage of many opportunities in their win over the Jets, and they fell at home to the Rams on Sunday night 20-13. Kitchens’ play-calling left a lot to be desired. He called a draw play on a 4th-and-9 in the fourth quarter that only generated two yards. And when the team got down to the four in the final minute, Kitchens called four straight pass plays. After the game, the first-year head coach expressed regret, admitting he should have tried at least one running play.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks

The Seahawks have a real issue with Carson, whose fumble problems carried over to Week 3. He has now lost three fumbles in three games, with Sunday’s returned for a touchdown. Seattle’s dissatisfaction with their running back showed, as C.J. Prosise’s role grew in response. Carson has to be in serious danger of losing carries to Rashaad Penny as long as the latter is healthy. The turnover tally is simply intolerable.

Denver Broncos’ defense

Perhaps it isn’t simply the offense that is the issue in Denver. The Broncos gave up 312 yards of total offense to Green Bay in Sunday’s loss. That alone isn’t a remarkably bad number. To get to the issue, you have to look under the hood. The Broncos are not getting pressure, they are not forcing losses of yardage, and they are not causing turnovers. They set an unwelcome record with Sunday’s performance, and things don’t seem to be getting much better.

Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers

Ekeler has set high expectations for himself, having comfortably surpassed 100 total yards of offense in his first two games of the season. That did not come on Sunday, as the Houston Texans did a good job on him. His 36 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards were both season lows, and he failed to find the end zone for the first time. Justin Jackson did better work on the ground this week, unfortunately for Ekeler.

Matt Gay, K, Buccaneers

It looked like Tampa Bay had done just enough to overcome the Daniel Jones show and set themselves up for a late win. Rookie kicker Gay lined up for a 34-yarder that any NFL kicker should be able to make, and he pushed it wide right. That came on top of two missed extra points. It’s another chapter in a long history of kicking issues for the Buccaneers, and will raise questions about the position going forward. That said, it sounds like coach Bruce Arians certainly deserves some blame for the fiasco as well.

Pete Carroll, head coach, Seahawks

Carroll had a bizarre day. He will widely be blamed for the clock management that could have cost Seattle points at the end of the first half, and deservedly so — the Seahawks’ timeout misuse was baffling. He also seemed to make the wrong tactical decision in the second half. After scoring to make it 33-21 with 2:48 left, Carroll simply kicked the extra point. That was a bit strange, when a successful two-point conversion would have meant that Seattle could have tied the game with a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a field goal. None of it was likely to happen, but the math did not add up.

Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles

Goedert was targeted just once on Sunday, but it was enough to disappoint. Carson Wentz lined the tight end up perfectly for a touchdown, and Goedert wasn’t tightly covered as the ball came to him. He simply dropped it.

Goedert didn’t cost Philadelphia the game — they scored later in the drive — but it may not be coincidental that Goedert didn’t get any more looks during this one.

Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals

To be clear, Murray tried his best, and he’s not getting any help from his offensive line. However, his numbers are the very definition of quantity over quality. He completed 40 passes, but for only 173 yards, and his two touchdowns were matched by two interceptions. If you’re counting, that’s an average of four yards per attempt. The usual caveats apply: in addition to the offensive line, the talent around Murray is limited. His decision-making still needs work, however, and he desperately needs to figure out how to cope with defensive pressure. What he’s doing now isn’t working.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Steelers

The Steelers tried to game manage this one with Rudolph, but they were pretty comprehensively outplayed. Rudolph completed barely half of his passes, picking up just 174 yards through the air. 76 of them came on one touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. The 49er defense played well, but if the Steelers have any hope of competence while Ben Roethlisberger is sidelined, they will need more out of Rudolph.

Earl Thomas, S, Ravens

Thomas made a pretty bold claim during the week ahead of the Ravens’ matchup with the high-powered Kansas City offense. Thomas said he planned on “eliminating all the big plays,” laying down a marker for the contest between two playoff contenders. Thomas and the Ravens did not do that. The Chiefs piled up 33 points and 503 total yards on offense, with Patrick Mahomes posting his usual outstanding stat line. Thomas was definitely annoyed after the game, and suggested that he already had revenge in his head.

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