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Winners, Losers & Wannabes – NFL Week 3

Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins are 3-0 after another Falcons collapse, the Panthers win and the Redskins don’t.   (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Winners

Dolphins
Miami went to Indianapolis and defeated a Colts team that just beat the 49ers in San Francisco. Then the Dolphins came home to rally back against the Atlanta Falcons. I was impressed. Watch the Dolphins and you’ll come away thinking, “they don’t do anything great.” And you’d be right. But as all the good up-and-coming teams do, Miami finds a way to win. They’re gritty. They get solid play from Ryan Tannehill, they scrap together a ground game, and most importantly, their defense closes ranks in the red zone, allowing opponents only five touchdowns in 11 visits.

J A Adande
He’s a basketball writer for ESPN but his Twitter feed on Sundays is possibly my favorite. Here’s a gem from yesterday: “No, Jaguars RB, you don’t get to make the “shhh” sign on the road after a TD when you’re down 38-16. YOU be quiet.”

Panthers
The Giants aren’t the Giants of yesteryear but it was still a much-needed statement win for the Carolina Panthers and especially, Ron Rivera. Did it save Rivera’s job? We may never know, but I’d argue yes. Even better, the Panther offense finally found some rhythm, something that’s been missing for what feels like the last 20 games.

Cam Newton
Without a doubt Cam Newton’s best day as a pro. Is it a coincidence it came on the same day he started running for 1st downs and terrorizing the defense with his legs like he’s Randall Cunningham? Nope, I don’t think so. Sitting Newton in the pocket and telling him to stay there is equivalent to asking Tony Parker to shoot jumpers. When Newton is playing backyard football the offense is better and the opposing defense is on its heels. Newton didn’t even have to run all afternoon. On Carolina’s first scoring drive, Newton ran for nearly 40 yards and three 1st downs. He finished with 45 rushing yards. He doesn’t have to run to win, but it must be an option in order for the offense to function properly. Hopefully the Panthers and Mike Shula don’t put Newton back in a cage.

Cowboys
Though Dallas is flawed and still poorly coached, yesterday proved they’re the class of the NFC East. In addition to crushing the Rams, Dallas enjoyed a clean sweep of the rest of their division in Week 3. Best quarterback. Best receiver. Best defense. The Cowboys would need an epic collapse not to win the division.

Losers

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is human. He’s had bad games before. But Sunday? Sunday was the worst I’ve ever seen him play. He missed deep, he missed short, he missed far, and he missed wide. It was so bad that late in the 4th quarter, when the Packers needed a 1st down, they’d throw the same four yard out and use a pick to allow the receiver to race for the 1st down. Due to Cincinnati’s foolishness, it worked, but it proved how far Rodgers was off. Either he didn’t trust himself or the coaches didn’t trust him. Either way, whoever made the call, was right. Rodgers hit rock bottom with his punter-esque tackle attempt on the decisive fumble return.

Matt Schaub
Perhaps this is the year the Texans finally realize they can’t win anything more than a division title with Schaub under center.

Texans
It’s not looking good in Houston. Arian Foster has yet to surpass 80 yards in a game. His touches are down. He’s making news about getting paid in college. I imagine it’s getting tense in those offensive meetings. Even at 2-1, Houston looks like the third best team in their division right now. After flaming out in the Divisional round of the playoffs two years in a row, I would assume Gary Kubiak needs an AFC title or close to it to keep the natives off his front lawn.

Me
I thought the Falcons, Packers, Redskins, and 49ers were all locks. In my defense, the first three charitably snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m worse than the Jaguars right now. Feel free to email me and I’ll refund your 4thanddone membership fee.

Showtime – Ray Donovan and Dexter
DirecTV game me Showtime for three months. Throughout the summer I watched every episode of Ray Donovan and Dexter with the exception of their respective finales. When DirecTV asked if I wanted a discount to see the final episodes I didn’t hesitate to say no. Dexter was good once upon time but has been close to awful as of late. I’m still waiting for something interesting to happen on Ray Donovan.

Redskins
The Redskins loss to the Lions on Sunday was a comedy of errors, but three stood above the rest: 1. Robert Griffin III’s lazy attempt to throw the football away in the red zone. Griffin was under pressure but throwing a football out of bounds is like throwing a stone in the ocean. You can’t miss unless you underthrow it. Griffin underthrew it and was intercepted. 2. Griffin scampered for 21 yards inside the Detroit 30. To avoid getting hit, Griffin dove headfirst. Untouched, the ball popped out and Detroit recovered. It was the ultimate Eli Manning boneheaded self-inflicted wound. 3. Griffin threw a BEAUTIFUL ball 50 yards downfield to Aldrick Robinson. Robinson appeared to catch it for a touchdown until replay indicated he lost control. That’s at least 13 points the Redskins left on the field in a game they lost by 7.

Giants
I can’t remember the Giants playing this poorly. Three games into the season and the Giants have twice as many turnovers as touchdowns (6 to 13). It’s a shame it’s not December or we’d be treated to a whole new level of Tom Coughlin’s red hot cheeks.

Falcons
I sincerely pity Falcons fans right now. It’s maddening to watch your team blow leads and collapse late in games. It was a late 3rd quarter punt return fumble that swung the tide Sunday. Matt Ryan had another lousy 4th quarter. And repeat.

Von Miller
In addition to being suspended for substance abuse, the NFL should suspend Von Miller the rest of the 2013 season for trying to cheat the system. Come on, Roger, lay down the law.

Wannabes

Robert Griffin III
Last I checked, a knee injury doesn’t equate to lack of intelligence. I’m giving RG3 the benefit of the doubt on any physical shortcomings he displays this season. Other than Adrian Peterson, football players don’t come back from knee surgery after one year. Regardless of what Griffin says, it’s clear he can’t run. Furthermore, he has no burst and he doesn’t trust his recovering knee. I accept those shortcomings for the 2013 season. Mental mistakes have nothing to do with physical shortcomings though. To argue otherwise is making excuses. Griffin made two critical mistakes that cost the Redskins at least six points. Griffin’s poor performance didn’t stop after the game ended. In a postgame interview Griffin called the fumble rule “stupid.” As Sean Connery said in The Rock, “Losers make excuses. Winners go home and (love) the prom queen.”

Colin Kaepernick
The wheels have fallen off for Colin Kaepernick. Since I surrendered my skepticism about Kaepernick two weeks ago, his line reads like this: 0-2, 25/55, 45%, 277 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT, 2 FL (fumbles lost).  Do you hear that? Is someone laughing? Yep, it’s coming from Alex Smith’s house.

CJ Spiller
I avoided drafting CJ Spiller in every fantasy league because he smelt like a fraud. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to draft him in my keeper league because I had him in the 10th round and that would have been foolish to pass him up. Or maybe not. Spiller is horrendous. He bounces everything outside. Running backs that bounce everything outside end up on the bench and out of the league soon after. You make a living between the tackles. What’s worse, he fumbles like he’s David Wilson. In three games, Spiller has three fumbles to go along with his 153 yards on 43 carries. Three weeks ago Spiller was a steal in the 10th round. Now he looks like a bust.

Eagles
You can’t revolutionize the game if you can’t hold on to the football. Michael Vick’s interceptions were especially awful and his late game fumble was especially careless.

Packers
I don’t even know what happened Sunday. One minute Green Bay had reeled off 30 straight points to take a 30-14 lead. Then everything went pear-shaped. Aaron Rodgers lost his mind, Johnathan Franklin lost the football, and the Packers lost a win. I thought the Packers were different this year after an impressive first two weeks. It’s only the 53rd thing I’ve been wrong about thus far.

Modern Family
I hate this show. It rarely made me laugh so I stopped watching last season. Phil and his wife (don’t know her name) are the most annoying characters on TV. It’s predictable, lazy, and needs to give the two young boys more time because they’re the only interesting characters. The show won an Emmy last night for best comedy for the fourth straight year. Parks and Rec and New Girl weren’t even nominated. Huh?

NFC West?
Is it possible we were too giddy over the NFC West? Absolutely, the Seattle Seahawks are every bit as good and probably better than we expected, but the rest of the division? Ehhh. The 49ers are a mess and Colin Kaepernick looks more like Akili Smith than Steve Young. To my surprise, the Rams defense is horrible. In Arizona, the Cardinals are getting exactly what you’d expect out of Carson Palmer; a little bit of good, a lot of bad. So yes, three weeks in, it’s fair to say the NFC West isn’t as good as we may have thought.

Young QB Rankings

(Let’s face it, the biggest story/stories driving the league right now is the play of young quarterbacks. Since it’s such a big deal, I’ll be sure to rank the top seven after each week starting right now. There are no real criteria other than they must be within their first five years in the league.)

1. Russel Wilson – Go ahead and take Andrew Luck. I want Russel Wilson. He’s started 21 NFL games and I have yet to see him flinch.
2. Andrew Luck – To be fair, I haven’t seen Luck rattled either.
3. Colin Kaepernick – Hanging by a thread.
4. Cam Newton – Surging after a brilliant outing.  I love watching Newton when he’s not pretending to be a pocket passer.
5. Ryan Tannehill – Undefeated but takes more sacks than any other quarterback.
6. Robert Griffin III – Remember, I’m not building a franchise with these rankings. They’re solely based on current production. Griffin isn’t healthy right now. And he’s a crybaby.
7. Andy Dalton – Unlike the rest of this list, Dalton is throwing to an all-pro receiver.

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