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Thursday, December 12, 2019

15 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 3

Bill Belichick

Week 3 of the NFL was not kind to some favorites, as the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars headlined the list of surprising losers on Sunday. They were hardly the only surprises of the week, however, as there were certainly some surprising moments all throughout the league, from underperforming stars to ongoing troublesome trends to, yes, roughing the passer calls.

Here are 15 big disappointments from Week 3 of the NFL season.

New England Patriots

Woof. The Patriots are looking worse and worse by the week. Many chalked up their loss to the Jags in Week 2 to a lack of motivation and figured they’d come out angry in Week 3. That didn’t happen. The Pats looked totally uninspired against Detroit, opening the game with three straight three-and-outs. They only had three points as of halftime, but looked like they would turn things around in the second half after an interception followed by a touchdown drive to open the third. Then Detroit continued to put up points on them, while the Pats failed to answer. The Patriots were missing a number of defensive starters due to injuries, and it showed. Meanwhile, their former defensive coordinator coached like he knew exactly how to stop his former team. The Lions put the clamps on Gronk in coverage by doubling him often, daring someone else to beat them. The Patriots had nobody else who could. They desperately need Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman in action to provide an offensive boost.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars

The Bortles critics had to keep their mouths shut the last few weeks, especially after an exemplary performance against the New England Patriots a week ago. His outing on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans will give them cover to come out of the woodwork. Bortles threw for just 147 yards and failed to find the end zone, with his passing often inaccurate. It’s unclear whether the lack of a running game was more cause or effect for Bortles’ issues, but whatever the case, it didn’t help either. At least this is the first truly bad game of the season for him.

Sam Bradford, QB, Cardinals

For the good of the Arizona Cardinals, may this be the end of Sam Bradford as an NFL starting quarterback. Sad as it is, Week 3 was actually an improvement as he threw his first two touchdown passes of the season. He paired them with two interceptions for only 157 yards — a rather sad season high — and was ultimately pulled late in the fourth quarter for rookie Josh Rosen. Arizona said they wanted to review tape before deciding who will start in Week 4, but it probably says something about the coaching staff’s confidence in Bradford that they opted to yank him with less than five minutes left and a potential game-winning drive at stake.

The second-half Raiders

It happened again. Oakland entered the fourth quarter at Miami with a 17-14 lead, then were outscored 14-3 in the final frame to lose their third in a row. If there was any good news, it was that Derek Carr did string a drive together in the fourth, but he was intercepted in the end zone. Oakland’s other two fourth quarter drives ended in a punt and field goal, while the Dolphins posted touchdown drives of 70 and 80 yards. That’s three straight weeks of blown fourth quarter leads, and they’ve been outscored 37-3 in the fourth this season. Jon Gruden must figure out what the deal is and fix it.

Colts’ red zone offense

Perhaps this has something to do with the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense, which did similar things to the Atlanta Falcons during the season opener. Still, the Colts could have won this game had they been a bit more ruthless. The Colts entered the red zone five times on Sunday. They scored one touchdown, three field goals, and turned the ball over on downs late in the fourth when trying to punch it in for a go-ahead score. They ended up losing by four, essentially meaning their inability to find the end zone cost them the game.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

The Packers weren’t good Sunday on the whole, but if there was one player who stood out among the rest for all the wrong reasons, it was Cobb. He caught four passes for 23 yards, but that doesn’t begin to cover the whole story. Cobb dropped a third down pass in the first half, dropped another on fourth down in the second, and ensured Green Bay’s defeat by fumbling the ball away late in the fourth quarter. A sharper Cobb could have at least made for a closer game.

Clay Matthews’ continued fight against the refs and rules

Three weeks, three roughing the passer penalties on Clay Matthews that most neutral observers will say shouldn’t be flagged. This one was because of his body weight being put on Washington quarterback Alex Smith. Tackles like this are going to be very hard to get out of the game, and Matthews probably isn’t going to adapt. The NFL can respond to that accordingly, but this has become a weekly talking point, and it’s not likely to go away.

Houston Texans

This should have been the game to get Houston on track. Houston was at home against a Giants team that had been struggling and looked very vulnerable. Instead, Eli Manning completed 25 of his 29 passes, the Texans committed two turnovers without forcing any, and got outrun by Saquon Barkley. They stalled out in the red zone, going 2-of-5. There have to be some serious red flags around the Texans at this point. The playoffs don’t seem to be a realistic possibility for this team.

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