NFL Week 3 RecapPosted: September 29, 2015
A wild and crazy Week 3 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the Seahawks finally winning, the state of the Browns, Big Ben’s injury, a surprising NFC contender, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.
Will: A shutout win for the Seahawks at home! Would it be erroneous to give too much credit to Kam Chancellor’s return? Are the Bears just booty?
Derek: Well, the Bears punted on every possession. Like, every single one. No interceptions, no fumbles, no turnovers on downs, no missed field goals … just punts. I’m sure Chancellor’s presence helped, but that sort of statistical oddity (first time in 35 years!) is the product of more than just a strong safety. As you’ve implied, the Bears were partially responsible.
Yes, Jimmy Clausen was overwhelmed without his top target. All of his passes were safe and short. As the final score indicates, it didn’t work out too well. Then the Bears opened the second half by allowing Tyler Lockett to score an incredibly easy-looking return touchdown.
All in all, it felt good. It’s been a long time since I saw the Seahawks win a game that mattered.
Will: It looks like Jimmy Graham’s rumblings about wanting the ball more paid off, as he caught 7 balls for 83 yards and a TD. How did it feel seeing him have a good game?
Derek: Good, but it will feel better if they start using him in a close game, when they really need him. The touchdown and usage was nice, but the way this game was going they didn’t even need Graham to win it. So, it did seem like a “here’s the ball, are you happy?” situation. That’s great and all, but I’d rather him be a target in the red zone in a close game. Like, you know, last week.
When I was doing fantasy football research in the offseason, I learned that while Russell Wilson was the third highest scoring fantasy quarterback last year, he was among the least successful quarterbacks in the red zone. Having watched all of their games, that didn’t surprise me. But you can’t ask for a much better red zone weapon than Jimmy Graham. With Wilson, Graham, and Lynch, this team should be damn near unstoppable in the red zone, yet it’s still been a struggle this year. There’s no good reason for that to continue. When Steven Hauschka stops trotting out for three points at the end of every red zone trip, I’ll start celebrating Jimmy a little more. Until then, I’ll remain terrified that they’ll ignore him when the game is on the line and appease him when it’s not.
Will: Who the fuck is Thomas Rawls?
Derek: That performance came out of nowhere, didn’t it? I, like many others, assumed Fred Jackson would get the majority of the work if Lynch was out. Rawls looked good in the preseason and apparently in practice, since the Seahawks were comfortable shipping Robert Turbin and Christine Michael out of town.
All I really know about him is what I read about him during the preseason and after he made the team, which isn’t much. He’s an undrafted rookie who started out at Michigan and transferred to Central Michigan. He’s now the first Seahawks running back other than Lynch to run for 100 yards since Turbin did it in that beautiful 58-0 demolition of the Cardinals in 2012. He looked good! The Seahawks must think highly of him to give him the roster spot over Michael, a physically talented former second round pick. Maybe Rawls could be Lynch’s heir? It’ just one game, but he showed he could play.
Let’s head over to Ohio. The Browns lost at home to the Raiders. What’s your review of the Browns’ performance? Do you think the Raiders’ much ballyhooed offensive weapons are for real?
Will: I’m naturally hesitant to give Oakland too much credit, both because they’re the Raiders and they played against the Browns, but Amari Cooper looked like the real deal Sunday. Joe Haden got the wind knocked out of him/picked up a rib injury on the game’s first play, which surely hindered him a bit, but Cooper really had his way with the Pro Bowl corner.
As for Latavius Murray and Derek Carr, it’s tough to tell because the Browns did such a poor job of making their lives difficult. Carr wasn’t sacked en route to his second consecutive 300-yard day and Murray ran for 139 yards. The quarterbacks have and will continue to attract most of the attention, but the defense is what really sucked Sunday.
You’re an outsider; how do the Browns look? Did you see the TMZ-reported rumblings of unrest? The goddamn plane has crashed into the mountain already.
Derek: Well, players leaking stuff to TMZ is not a good thing. Manziel just brings a firestorm with him wherever he goes. It’s not even his fault! From what I’ve heard, he’s matured into Jonathan Football and has been a model citizen. Yet, people still manage to kick up a storm on his account.
I agree that he should be starting, though. I think it’s fair to say that the Browns don’t have a ton of offensive weapons. Manziel might count. And even if he doesn’t, it would be nice to know. Does anybody in Cleveland really enjoy this Manziel vs. QBX debate? We all know who and what Josh McCown is at this point. Manziel has the potential for a crushing floor and high ceiling. What say we find out, eh? Then the fine folks of Cleveland can either celebrate the arrival of the Manziel era or brace for another potential quarterback in the draft. It reminds me of the early 2000’s Seahawks, when Trent Dilfer and Matt Hasselbeck were competing for the starting job. Everyone knew who and what Dilfer was, while Mike Holmgren swore Hasselbeck was something special. Lo and behold, when Hasselbeck matured a bit, he won some playoff games and went to a few Pro Bowls.
I guess it boils down to this: you’re not winning a Super Bowl with McCown, but you might with Johnny. See if he’s good, for crying out loud.
How about some silver linings. What’s going on with the Browns that you like?
Will: You just summed up what a great many people in town feel — there’s really no reason to stick with McCown. Unless, that is, you’re among those who believe that Mike Pettine is already coaching for his job, and that he feels more comfortable putting the ball in the hands of a so-called game manager — nevermind that that game manager threw a game-deciding pick on the Browns’ final drive last week.
Honestly, I’m not sure where to look for something good. I suppose rookie nose tackle Danny Shelton has been solid, but he hasn’t been super impactful. Both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson have been mild disappointments, in large part because the ballyhooed offensive line has yet to dominate an opposing front. Donte Whitner moves with all the urgency of an incumbent Congressman. Frankly, I was just psyched to see one decent game out of Johnny.
There is one true silver lining, and his name is Travis Benjamin. He scored again this week, catching four passes for 45 yards. He’s a skinny little thing at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, but it looks like the kid can play. He made highlights with the long ball before, and this week he did well on some shorter routes. That said, he also muffed a punt with four minutes to go. It’s been a rough few weeks, I’m afraid.
How about the franchises doing good things? What teams look to be in the top tier after three weeks? Any big surprises among them?
Derek: The Falcons are 3-0! And their schedule is pretty favorable. They could be 9-0 heading into a home game with the Colts, giving them this years title of “team with a really good record but no one’s sure if they’re actually good.”
As for the top tier, I think it remains unchanged. The Seahawks and Colts are 1-2, but I have to think they’ll both turn it around. Some atrocious offensive line play from those teams so far. I typically go in woe-is-me mode when I talk about the Seahawks’ offensive line, but the Colts might be even more brutal. No wonder Andrew Luck already has already thrown seven interceptions.
Let’s talk about your AFC North brethren, the Steelers. How will Ben Roethlisberger’s injury affect the division and the conference? Are the Bengals the favorites now?
Will: Somehow, Roethlisberger is only expected to miss about a month when it looked like his entire leg was snapped in half. The Steelers are 2-1, Baltimore is in the cellar without a win, and the Bengals are sitting pretty at 3-0. In terms of winning the division Cincinnati has to be considered the favorite, especially since this team has made the playoffs four years straight. And yet, even if it’s a touch lazy and/or cliche to say so, until Andy Dalton comes through in a playoff game, I’m not taking them too seriously. If I’m looking for a Super Bowl contender in the AFC North, I’m still thinking Pittsburgh.
Derek: Alright, let’s reveal our Gentlemen of the Week. I’m going with Joseph Randle, who had 85 yards on his first three carries and scored three touchdowns before halftime, but finished with 14 carries for 87 yards. The NFL doesn’t have a mercy rule, but that doesn’t matter to a gentleman like Joseph Randle. He was happy to give the Falcons a chance to catch up. Maybe should have waited a little longer, though.
Who’s your guy?
Will: I should have no love in my heart for Steve Smith — pardon me, Steve Smith, Senior — since he’s a Raven, but I find it awful tough not to like that guy. He’s tiny, he’s old, he’s surly, and he can go Bo Jackson on a defense at any given moment. He went for 13 catches, 186 yards, and 2 touchdowns this week! He caught 10 balls for 150 last week! He’s 36! That’s old enough to actually be referred to as a gentleman, and so Mr. Smith gets my vote.
Derek: Okay, time for the Most Hungover Fan Bases. Since I don’t want to pick the Bears two weeks in a row, I’m going with the Ravens. They were really close to putting down the Patriots in the playoffs last year, and now they’re 0-3. Like the Seahawks, I thought perhaps the Ravens would turn it around after finally getting a home game. But they allowed A.J. Green to torch them (again) and prolonged the appearance of the Dalton Game we all know is coming.
It’s tough to come back from 0-3. I’m not looking it up, but I feel like they’ve barely held a lead in any of their games. Not much to be happy about. Plenty to drink about, though!
Who’ve you got?
Will: Despite my glowing review of Smith just moments ago, I’m thrilled to see the Ravens winless. Fuck them dudes. The Bears may have a regular stool at the Most Hungover Fan Base Bar all season long, but I agree that we can’t go back to them right away, nor can I pick the Browns again, even if they’ve tried hard to earn it.
You know what? I’m going with the Raiders. It was a 10 a.m. game for those watching on the west coast, which means that they were up early drinking their way to victory. Who says that the hangover has to be for sad reasons? Oakland just won its first game played in the Eastern time zone since 2009, and their first road game since 2011. That’s reason to celebrate. Drink up, Oakland. You’ve earned it.