Jacksonville is back
This was supposed to be the game where we ripped off the fake mustaches and bandanas and gazed longingly at the Nick Foles injury reports, waiting for that left clavicle to heal and waving off Jalen Ramsey. But the Jaguars rolled the Titans over 20-7. This kicked off the weekend with a brutal defensive display which gave Minshew the space to continue his rapid rise from sixth round in the draft - from high school to the frontman in his handlebar mustache-wearing Minshew-Mania inducing band of merry men.
Three weeks into the season, there are now numerous questions facing the Jaguars. Can they keep star cornerback Ramsey or do they trade? Numerous suitors are lining up to throw draft picks at the Jaguars. After Thursday night - watching his defense take quarterback Marcus Mariota down 9 times - perhaps there is an upturn in faith in what the Jags could do this year.
If Minshew keeps doing what he has been doing, many will wonder what will happen to Nick Foles once healthy? After coming to the Jags in order to step out from the Eagles’ Carson Wentz shadow, will the new Nick Foles become the old Nick Foles? What would this mean for the Jags going forward?
Giants at the box office
Two scripts were written for the Giants and Buccaneers game. The first script included a rookie quarterback and heir apparent to Eli Manning falling flat on his face and the Giants living in regret of picking Daniel Jones as 6th in the last draft. The script was titled, “I Told You So”. The second script, with a working title of, “We Were Right” was written by Jones himself, co-written by the Giants front-office, saw a glorious victory snatched from the jaws of defeat with a classic Hollywood ending.
The first half seemed to follow the familiar script - Jones fumbling, the Giants gifting the Bucs a touchdown, the Giants losing star man Saquon Barkley barely into the second quarter and then entering half time down 28-10. The nay-sayers were having their day.
The best movies however always have a twist. With just 1.16 left on the clock and facing a fourth down, it was Jones who took the ball into the endzone to put the Giants up 32-31. Tampa fans would probably want to hide behind their hands as the final scene turned into a horror show. With a 34-yard field goal drifting wide of the uprights, Jones’ mobility, agility, and ability contributed to an entertaining afternoon. The sequels remain to be seen.
Something's got to give
Heading into their game, the Steelers faced two options: 1-2 for the season or a 0-3 losing record. For San Francisco, they had the chance to go into their bye week with a perfect 3-0 record. After a 24-20 win in the sunshine, that is exactly what happened.
Much has been made of Mason Rudolph becoming the new Steelers quarterback for the season. Despite the mixed day, the takeaway from this game is the 49ers defense limiting Pittsburgh to 239 offensive yards - just 11 first downs yet an average of 4.7 yards per play and of course, those 20 points.
The Steelers are not suddenly a bad team and the 49ers are not suddenly a championship-winning team. Both sides made mistakes and any one of them could have forced the game in either direction. Both teams played well at times and terrible at times. Now both teams have records which leave them looking at the season in very different ways.
The Steelers have a lot to do in order to get themselves an AFC Wild Card spot during their 13 remaining games with the Bills, Colts, and Browns. Even the Jaguars are casting their nets in that direction. On their way back to the Play-Offs with the Rams, the 49ers can look down on the faltering Eagles and divisional rivals, Seattle as their prey - likely to beat them to the NFC West division crown.
Time (and rest) waits for no man
Three weeks into a new season - and inevitably straight into a new Cam Newton injury - will see Newton on the sidelines for at least a couple of weeks. The Panthers are in an enviable position among those other teams. Newton’s understudy quarterback, Kyle Allen is advancing enough to hold the fort while Newton is given the “time and rest” head coach Ron Rivera insists he needs, beyond this latest foot strain.
While losing your main man is usually the kind of headache that keeps coaches up at night, Rivera is comfortable with Allen completing 19 of 26 for 261 yards and throwing for 4 touchdowns in the 38-20 win over Arizona. The Texans are next up for Carolina which will be a much tougher test. However, if Allen is able to keep the Panthers ticking over in Newton’s absence, the Panthers may see a fit Cam Newton in time for the league next season.
He may not reach the levels of the 2015 vintage again but a 2017-era Newton, ready to go for 2020, will be something the Panthers can really sink their teeth into. However, if Kyle Long keeps doing what he did on Sunday, then 2019 may not be the blowout it could have been. The ball is in Allen’s hands.
There are very few people within the football world who would be happy to see Vic Fangio fail in what is his first head coaching role after a 40-year career in the game. This is the defensive guru who rebuilt the Chicago Bears Monsters of the Medway ethos which is tearing towards quarterbacks each week. Fangio now has his toughest task ahead of him - steering the Broncos towards winning again.
While there are coaches under pressure to start winning immediately - such as Jay Gruden at Washington who went down 31-15 to the Bears - Fangio’s task is rather to turn the team around. This team has made a habit out of losing since Peyton Manning hung up his cleats after winning the Super Bowl in 2016. In the last 48 regular-season games, Denver has made a record of 17 wins against 31 losses. The fact that they are staring at a 0-3 record after three weeks doesn't surprise anybody.
Fangio admits, “I do see a lot of good out there.” - which can be true at times. The Broncos are not as bad as other 0-3 teams, however, they should have beaten the Bears in week two. Most teams will lose to the Packers this year but the defensive mastermind also concedes, “We’re not playing good enough defense.” - despite having what looks to be a pretty good defensive roster.
Broncos fans will need to be patient and remember that this is just the beginning of a new adventure with Fangio. Next up for Denver is a visit to Jacksonville before hosting the Chargers along with a visit to the misfiring Titans. Better days are ahead for the Broncos but a couple of wins over the next three weeks would help Fangio grasp this long journey back to winning ways for his team.
Contributing Author - Rees Dale