17 thoughts on “2018-2019 NFL Week 3”
Some general comments:
The Dolphins looked pretty good, better than I’ve seen in a while I think. What stands out for me is how they run the ball (from the shotgun) and the way they mix the run and pass plays. I don’t think they’re great, but they could be decent team.
What the heck is wrong with the Steelers? First LeVeon and then AB? I’m not following the situation closely, but it doesn’t sound good. They could easily lose to the Bucs, and that would be bad.
Speaking of which, I’m concerned about the Seahawks game against the Cowboys. I’m a little worried that Pete could lose the team or the the spirit of the team could get crushed, and they never recover from it. Carroll has said that in almost every season, there’s a moment or game that’s really decisive. If you don’t get it right, everything goes downhill after that. If you do get it right, you can save the season, turn everything around. I kinda feel like this might be a moment for them. And losing may not be as critical as how they play. If they play a lot better that might be enough.
For whatever reason, Marinelli’s defense matches up well against the Seahawks rushing attack. Their secondary is better, too, so it might be tough for the Seahawks offense, especially if Doug isn’t playing or if he’s not healthy enough to be effective.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks DL is not a strength, and has been struggling to pressure opposing QBs. That’s perfect for the Cowboys.
Lions actually played a lot better last week in my opinion.
Without seeing Seattle play, I think I would lean Cowboys in this game. If Seattle is able to stop Dallas’ run game consistently, then they will have a good chance. It’s not hard to think it could happen after the first two Dallas games, but I have a feeling Carolina and NY just match up well inside against Dallas. If I had to guess, I’m going over a hundred for Zeke this week, unless they fall behind and have to pass a lot.
I think Dallas’ defensive front can make it a long day for Wilson. Teams that can smash Dallas in the mouth will beat them up, because Dallas interior linemen are not big and their linebackers are not big as well (Damien Wilson and Vander Esch are big, but Dallas two main guys Lee and Jaylon aren’t.). I just don’t see Seattle doing it, though. I haven’t seen Seattle and they could surprise me.
But it’s going to probably be another low scoring affair which means anything can happen and a turnover here or there could be the difference.
I’d favor the Cowboys in this. If you compare the two defenses, I think Dallas has a significant edge. If the Cowboys run well, I think the Seahawks will have a hard time winning. The only way I see this is if the Seahawks can run well and extend drives–which they haven’t done yet.
I don’t get this sense from Dallas. Maybe if they’re playing an incredible powerful OL. Man, I love to see Seattle do this. They were missing DJ Fluker for the first two games, and he should be back, but they may be without their starting center. Still, even with their OL intact, it’s a little of a stretch to think this would happen. This is especially true without a healthy Doug Baldwin.
But the Cowboys defenses seems similar to the Seahawks, with regard to the run. They may not stone opposing running games, but I think it can be tough to run against them.
I don’t think this Dallas team plays the run like the old Seattle team, but they definitely have similarities. Dallas is tough to get on the outside of, because their linebackers can fly and their safeties do a great job of containment. That’s how I felt about Seattle. Interior running, Seattle and Dallas does it more with numbers. But Seattle had better tacklers or more stout tacklers inside. Although Dallas did an okay job against Cam, his size sort of overwhelmed Dallas at times (but yes he does that to most teams). Barkley was able to carry Dallas’ linebackers as well. Wilson and maybe Vander Esch (although I haven’t seen it enough) are two guys that maybe that stop guys in their tracks, but the rest of Dallas’ interior will get carried a bit before bringing their guy down, again, unless the guy is trying to get to the outside and moving more horizontal than vertical.
I thought Seattle sort of “stone” opposing running backs, but could get beat long because of how many guys Seattle would crowd around the line of scrimmage. I remember when Murray was playing the Seahawks he would get a lot of 1 and 2 yard gains, and then break one for 20. He never got many 4 to 8 yard runs. Whereas, if you run straight into Dallas interior, I feel a lot of teams will gain 3 to 4 yards.
Yeah, that’s my impression as well. Seattle doesn’t have a fireplug at the DTs, and they can get pushed around in my view. So RBs can get a one or two yards. It’s not really common that they get zero yards or less. I guess this might be true for Dallas as well. The thing is, the Seattle OL and run game has been so inconsistent and dysfunctional that Dallas’s run defense might look even better.
Actually, I thought they struggled a bit to contain Cam. There were only a handful of plays, but I think these plays made a difference (in terms of keeping the chains moving).
Not really–not compared to some other defenses I’ve seen. It’s been a point of concern for me. (When the Lions had Suh, Whitehair and Levy, they were tough to run against. The Cardinals in ’13, with Dockette and Campbell at the DTs, they seemed almost impossible to run against as well.)
This is frustrating:
I’m not surprised Doug’s not playing, but Pocic not playing surprised me. Every team has injuries, but as I’ve been saying, there are too many dang injuries.
It’s hard to say for sure, but these two teams seems solid–good, but not great. The game reminded me of the Steelers-Bengals game, where you had two evenly-matched, good-but-not-great teams.
Mayfield looked solid, definitely way better than Tyrod Taylor in my view. However, the pass protection seemed a lot better with Mayfield. I don’t know if this is due to the coaches adjusting or Mayfield is just better at calling protections than Taylor. (The latter seems a little hard to believe, given that Mayfield is a rookie, but who knows.) I’ve heard some compare Mayfield to Drew Brees, and I can see that. Both are relatively short, and I’ve heard Mayfield’s accuracy is really good. What I saw is consistent with that. Based on the what I saw, Mayfield should start. And if he continues to play like this, the Browns could make some noise come December. Oh, and I thought Mayfield looked better than Darnold (and it’s not just because of Darnold’s INTs. Mayfield also threw one that probably should have been picked.)
One other thing. Both teams stuck with the run, even if they didn’t have great success early on. (They actually did have some decent runs, but they weren’t a lot, and there really wasn’t any big plays.) I think this helped the offenses.
This feels a little like the Vikings took the Bills for granted; or they just laid an egg. The Bills scored 10 points from causing Cousins to fumble near the Vikings end zone. However, the Bills drove down the field and scored a TD on their first drive, and I wouldn’t say they struggled to do this, and they also had another nice drive for a score. In other words, those two turnovers weren’t the only reason for the lopsided score.
The Vikings OL looked overwhelmed. The Vikings could not run the ball, and their LT had trouble containing the Bills edge rusher. (Cousins took some hits.) The Bills defense looked ferocious and physical.
I wonder if they had a lot of injuries. (I don’t think Dalvin Cook played at all.)
Chiefs offense was close to unstoppable, at least in the first half. (I didn’t really watch the second half).
The Chiefs defense did a pretty good job against the Niner offense, too.
The blocked punt that lead to a Rams TD, which made the score 21-6. That seemed like a big deal. Later a Charger fumble lead to a quick Rams score. These two plays were huge. I think the game could have been a lot closer if not for these two mishaps.
Rivers played well. I love watching him play from a collapsing pocket. Not only is he super poised, but he is excellent at moving in these situations.
Is the Redskins offense that good? I hope so because they made the Packers defense look kinda bad. (I’m not sure if the Packers had key injuries.)
Something doesn’t seem right with the Packer offense. Besides Rodgers injury, my guess is that they’re pass catchers are struggling to get open consistently. Watching Williams and Jones run, I feel like they should have gotten more carries.
Oh, and AP showed that he has still has something left in the tank.
This was a close game. Wentz’s two turnovers is probably a big reason for that. On the other hand, the Colts look like a solid team; or they’re better than I thought. They’re front four got decent pressure on Wentz.
This was a solid game. Dalton’s 3 turnovers were critical, especially the last one.
This might have been McFaffery’s best game, especially running the ball.
Patriots didn’t look good on both sides of the ball. I’m tempted to say the Lions dominated the Patriots. In terms of the running the ball, this might have been the best I’ve seen the Lions run in a long, long time.
Also, I feel like the Lions have found a third receiver in Kenny Gollyday. (Their OL seems to have taken a step back, though–but not today, not in the run game, in my opinion.)
The way the Cowboys struggled on offense was the way I expected the Seahawks offense to struggle. To me, the key was the Seahawks ability to get first downs and keep the chains moving. And that involved avoiding long-yardage situations and getting positive yards on running plays. I think if the Seahawks offense can do this, they can stay competitive, but I don’t see them being a really good team.
Forgot to comment on some other games:
Giants pass pro still seemed a little shaky. But the Giants passing attack seemed pretty good in spite of that. Also, what stood out was how much the Giants ran the ball, and while it may not have been great, I think it helped them.
If you just watched the first half of Raiders games, you’d think Gruden and his team are doing well. But then they fall a part in the second half. It’s kinda weird. They are not playing as well as they should be. (The coaching seems solid on the defensive side of the ball, for what that’s worth.)
It’s hard to know what to make of the Dolphins, but they look solid so far–solid as they could be a sneaky team. I’m still not a big believer in Tannehill. The comp I would give is Andy Dalton.
I’ve heard some say the Ravens have a really good defense. I don’t really see this. The defense isn’t bad, but they’re not outstanding. Speaking of which, the Broncos looked good, early on, running the ball. I want to almost use the word “gash” to describe their running against the Ravens D. But at some point, they seemed to get away from this for some reason, leaving my scratching my head.
That’s a good segue to the Ravens, specifically their offense. They seem fully committed to building a pass-based offense around Flacco. I don’t get it. I don’t think Flacco is that good, and if you wanted to go that route, then he needs more receiving weapons. In any event, I think he’s being misused.
More Observations about the Rams and the NFL in general
I went back to watch a little of the non-densed version of the Rams-Chargers game. The Rams are running a lot of no-huddle, but to be more specific they’re varying the rate at which they snap the ball quite a bit. Sometimes they’ll go hurry-up, sometimes they’ll no huddle, but let the clock run down, sometimes they’ll huddle. I get the sense that they’re really keeping the defense off balance, and I also suspect this is helping with the pass protection.
Here’s the other interesting thing I noticed: They Rams are doing this from more of a pro-style offense, not a spread. If I recall correctly, Goff is under center quite a bit. The offense doesn’t seem like a spread offense to me. They’re also don’t seem like a team that is pounding the defense, but the rushing lanes against the Chargers seemed consistently large.
I’ve heard that the drawback to no huddle/hurry up is that this limits the amount of plays on the call sheet. I noticed that, too. There seemed to be a limited number of formations, and not a lot of different plays. What’s good is they seem to be able to run and pass from these formations. (I think Chip Kelly strove for this as well, but he liked using 11 personnel, shotgun with the read-option.)
My theory is that even if you run a bleed the clock down from a no-huddle, you end up tiring out your defense. Maybe it’s because the offense is so good that they score too quickly? In any event, I got the same impression from the Rams defense. They have not looked dominant (but they haven’t looked awful either). It would be interesting to see how many snaps they’re playing per game. If they’re playing a lot, that’s not a good thing, and it can come to bit them in the butt at the end of the season.
One last thing. This feels like a year where a team with a strong defense and run game can have some upsets in the playoffs and even go all the way–assuming a team like this has a really good defense, run game, and can protect the ball. Some potential candidates are the Jaguars, Panthers, and Seahawks. The thing about the Jags is that they seem to be shifting to a more pass-based offense, and I don’t trust Bortles to make the handful of key plays, while protecting the football. With the Panthers, I’m not confident that they’re defense is good enough against the spread, passing teams. Finally, with the Seahawks, I don’t have much faith that they can consistently run the ball. They’re defense may not be good enough, too, as they have too many young/new players. If Carroll can mold them into a very good defense by seasons end, and the run game is good, that’ll be a very good coaching job on his part.
On one last team. Even though I dislike the Cowboys, my preference for run-based offenses is a little stronger, and a part of me regrets that they’re banged up on the OL. If this weren’t the case, I think they would be able to run the ball effectively, and this could help the passing game. If they had this, I think they could envision them beating these more pass-based offense and going all the way. There’s a part of me that would take pleasure in that (if Seattle couldn’t do it. I know the Raiders won’t be able to do it, so I’m not mentioning them).
My guess with the Rams defense is that they will get better as time goes on barring injuries. With so many new pieces and Donald just coming back, you would have to think that they will. I will add that possibly the defense’s intensity is not 100% based on opponents and score. But soon enough the test will be if they can make stops in close games.
I wasn’t high on Goff last year despite his success, and we seem to be in agreement on this. But last year was his first as a starter. You don’t see any improvements this year? The assumption has to be that he has to be getting better.
That’s a possibility (although now Peters and Talib have ankle injuries). I just expected seeing a little better pass rush from Donald, even with his holdout. Also, i would think Suh’s presence would make them better in the run game–at least from what I’ve seen. I wonder if he’s not that motivated.
His primary problem, last year, was that his passes would utterly malfunction when he faced pressure. It’s the type of throw that you feel like has zero chance of being completed. From what I’ve seen, he faced very few situations like this, so it’s hard to really assess if he’s made improvements in this regard. (I think the use of no-huddle is helping a lot with this.
I only watched a little bit of this game. Mahomes was crazy good again. What the heck? The Niners lose Garoppolo for the season, so we will never know if Reid would have been right picking the Niners after Week 1 as a top tier team. I’m not sure about KC’s defense, but they might not need one if their offense can be this explosive. They are like a college team out there.
The Hawks seem to have control of most of this game. I didn’t think Dak played that badly nor was Dallas’ D as bad as the score. The first Seahawk TD was a huge breakdown and looked very much like Engram’s TD in the Giants game. That sort of set a terrible tone for the rest of the day. I think Dallas out-yardaged the Hawks. The difference was Dallas kicking field goals versus allowing those TDs and of course the turnovers.
I didn’t watch this entire game either, but the Pats are terrible. It’s not surprising that they offense could struggle without Edelman and Cooks, but their defense is horrible. I know they have some injuries, but they are not good. I cannot imagine they miss Patricia at DC, but who knows. Josh McDaniel could regret not leaving this sinking ship. Not to kick a team when it’s down, but if New England could truly morph and be a good running team, now would be a great time.
Re: The Chiefs
To me, the true test will come when there is pressure on Mahomes–e.g., when the stakes are high, when the pass rush is fierce, or when things aren’t working well overall. In the past few seasons, the Chiefs have shown they can be a really good regular season, although, to be fair, the offense hasn’t looked this explosive. If Mahomes can perform in these situations, they can go all the way.
I don’t think you can pin all the problems on Dak, but the Cowboy offense, overall, looked bad. I have this impression not in small part because the Seahawk defense is not great–especially up front. I was surprised with the level of pressure they got on Dak. The Cowboys looked like how the Seahawks have looked in a lot of games.
Similarly, I thought the Cowboys defense would perform much better than they did. The Seahawks run the ball better than I expected (and I’m not saying they ran the ball great).
There were some boneheaded plays, too–e.g., Randy Gregory’s penalty, which seemed really dumb. Also, Zeke stepping out of bound was really huge. (I do think the roughing call on Wilson was a bad call, though–or a bad rule.)
If they get a lot better, especially one defense (and it’s not due to any returning/additional players), this will be only further evidence, in my mind, that Belichick and his coaching/scheming is the key to their success. I’ve seen this story before (including last year), and I wouldn’t bet on them getting better. (Note: The defense last year looked really, really bad early on. They improved, but I would say even at the end of the season they weren’t a really good defense. Belichick’s using smoke and mirrors.)
On another note, Sony Michel is not looking like a great pick so far, although he did have knee procedure in August, so that might be a factor. (Still, he had like two easy and somewhat important dropped passes.) I must say that using a first rounder on him was really odd, since the Patriots have been able to have great success with RBs on the cheap. For the pick to be vindicated, Michel would have to an Alvin Kamara-like impact on the team, if not better.
If this is accurate–if Earl is just sitting out of practice, whenever he wants, or repeatedly coming late–primarily in defiance or disgruntlement–Carroll’s gotta do something. He can’t just let this kind of thing slide or smooth it over. Earl had two big turnovers yesterday, but it really sounds like he’s crossing a line. (Same as Sherm.) If Carroll’s not careful, he’s going to damage the culture and team.
Power Rankings after Week 3 (not counting Steelers-Buccaneers)
As I was thinking about this, initially I thought this might be the first time, i say that there are no first tier teams. But I did find one or two that I would put in there. Here are the two:
Right now, I would say these two look like the strongest teams. However, if we’re judging this primarily from their ability to win the Super Bowl, I might knock them to the top of the second tier–especially the Rams. The reason is that I don’t know how either QB will perform when they’re faced with pressure–either in terms of a pass rush or the stakes in the game. I also have good reason to doubt that Goff will handle this well (because he didn’t handle it well last season, and so far he’s had great pass protection).
The thing is, during the playoffs, a QB will almost definitely face pressure and adversity. The stakes are high in those situations, so there is an added psychological pressure.
There’s also another concern about the Rams. They look more like an offense based teams. Against the Raiders they employed hurry-up approach, and I’m not sure they’ve been doing that in week 2 and 3. In week 3, the defense didn’t look bad, but they didn’t look like a great one, either–not the type you’d expect from their roster. If the Rams were utilizing a lot of uptempo on offense, this could explain that. If the Rams are running a lot of uptempo, this is a serious vulnerability in my view.
Buccaneers, Vikings, Eagles, Panthers, Saints, Falcons, Jaguars,
Packers, Lions, Browns, Chargers, Bengals, Dolphins, Steelers
There is a very thin line between tier 2 and tier 3 teams. All the teams seemed flawed or for whatever reason fail to be really great.
Redskins, Colts, Bears, Seahawks
Cowboys, Giants, Ravens,
Tier 4 (teams that have no chance)
Cardinals (I haven’t watched them, but my sense is that they belong here.)
49ers (with Garoppolo’s injury)
Bucs committed way too many turnovers. Fitz had some bad passes for sure, but a part of me feels like the blame goes to the play calling. One of the big reasons for the Bucs success has been their OL play, including their run-blocking to some degree. The commentator said that Mike Tomlin’s goal was to really pressure and hit Fitz, preventing him from getting comfortable. You could definitely see that. Running the ball, especially from under center, is a way to counter this. But the Bucs didn’t even try to do this; they didn’t utilize formations that would leave some doubt as to whether they would run or pass. For many plays, you could tell it was going to be a pass or you really didn’t have to take the running seriously. (Steelers were like this, too–basically, both teams care less if the defense knows they’re going to pass.)
On another note, Buc’s defense seem solid, and they look formidable at times, but then they also look vulnerable to big plays–too vulnerable for my taste.
(Side note: I’m getting the impression that there are a lot of teams that have really good offenses, but vulnerable defenses. If this is accurate, this is a ripe situation for a physical team with a strong defense and run-based offense to take them down.)
One thing I forgot. The game looked like two June Jones or Mike Leach teams playing against each other.