Hey, New York City-area football teams — let’s go already. Get your acts together. This Boston-New York rivalry thing isn’t as fun when one side becomes a proverbial punching bag.
The Jets and Giants are struggling like never before. The two teams have just one playoff appearance between them over the past eight seasons, and 2020 is shaping up to be the worst season yet.
They are a combined 0-6 after suffering another round of humiliating losses Sunday. They are the two lowest-scoring teams in the league. Their two quarterbacks are ranked 31st and 32nd in passer rating.
The Big Apple has bottomed out, to the detriment of Patriots fans. The NFL is more fun when the Jets and Giants are competitive.
The woes of New York/New Jersey are where we begin the Week 3 review:
▪ No one expected new coach Joe Judge to turn the Giants around overnight. And the Giants did at least play tough and competitively in their first two losses of the season to the Steelers and Bears.
But Sunday’s 36-9 loss at home to the 49ers was an embarrassment, to put it mildly. The Niners played with their JV team, with Nick Mullens subbing for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Tight end George Kittle, pass rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, cornerback Richard Sherman, their top two running backs, and their top two receivers were all sitting out.
But Daniel Jones was a mess, throwing for just 179 yards with an interception and lost fumble, and the Giants' defense let Mullens throw for 343 yards and a touchdown. Jones, in his second year, is not meshing well with new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, and seems to be going backward.
▪ And the Jets' 36-7 loss to the Colts was sadly predictable. Sam Darnold threw two pick-sixes, and the Colts scored the game’s final 29 points as the Jets barely showed up. The Jets are the only team in the NFL not to hold a lead yet the entire season.
The Jets have been so bad in 2020 that it makes you wonder what exactly Adam Gase and his coaches did for six weeks of training camp. Gase may be done unless his team can pull off a win over the Broncos at home on Thursday night.
▪ In Sunday’s notes column, I wrote about 10 coaches, GMs, and quarterbacks who badly needed a big game to get the critics off their back. Several responded to the challenge.
Detroit coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn earned a desperately-needed win in Arizona, emerging with a 26-23 victory over a pesky Cardinals team that had been 2-0.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan wasn’t on the hot seat with his owner, but he certainly quieted his critics in thrashing the Giants, on the road, with most of his key players out of the lineup.
And our man Tom Brady had a big bounce-back game in the Bucs' 28-10 dismantling of the Broncos. Brady threw for 297 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions, and got everyone involved as the Bucs improved to 2-1. Chris Godwin had 64 yards and a touchdown, Mike Evans caught two 1-yard touchdown passes, and Rob Gronkowski finally made his mark, catching six passes for 48 yards. The feel-good vibes should continue next week when the Bucs host the Chargers.
▪ But several other coaches and quarterbacks decidedly flopped. The Falcons blew it again at home Sunday, losing a 16-point lead in the final frame and allowing the Bears to come all the way back for a 30-26 victory. The Falcons are now 0-3 and staring at 0-4 with a trip to Green Bay this Sunday. Coach Dan Quinn should probably start cleaning out his office.
Eagles fans are starting to call for Carson Wentz’s job following a 23-23 tie with the lowly Bengals. Wentz threw for just 225 yards on 47 attempts, and after throwing two more interceptions, his 63.9 passer rating is dead last among 33 starters. The 0-2-1 Eagles now have tough games at Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
And Bill O’Brien’s Houston Texans came up short again, falling to 0-3 with a 28-21 loss at Pittsburgh. The Texans' early schedule was brutal — at Chiefs, vs. Ravens, at Steelers — but you have to win some of those games if you want to be an elite team.
▪ Another mea culpa from me to Josh Allen. He’s better than terrible, and he’s better than spectacularly mediocre. He’s the second coming of Steve Young, as Allen is the first player in NFL history with 1,000 yards, 10 passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns through three games. Sunday, he threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another in the Bills' 35-32, come-from-ahead win over a good Rams team.
In all seriousness, Allen’s outstanding play this year is a testament to having consistency between the quarterback and coaching staff. Allen is now in his third year with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and the two have developed a terrific chemistry.
▪ The final answer: Week 3. Thanks for playing, “When will Mitch Trubisky get benched?” Bears coach Matt Nagy decided he had seen enough on Sunday when Trubisky threw an interception with 11:02 left in the third quarter. Nick Foles threw a pick on his first drive, but threw three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead the dramatic comeback. That’s probably the last we’ve seen of Trubisky as a starter: Nagy said Monday that Foles would start Week 4 against the Colts.
Tracking former Patriots players
▪ Titans K Stephen Gostkowski: Went 6 for 6 on field goals Sunday, including three makes from 50-plus yards. And he kicked his third straight game-winning field goal, nailing a 55-yarder inside the two-minute warning to propel the Titans to a 31-30 win over the Vikings. Meanwhile, Nick Folk’s struggles continued, as he missed an extra point in the Patriots' win. Bill Belichick may want a mulligan on cutting Gostkowski.
▪ Dolphins LB Kyle Van Noy: Had three tackles and a “triple play” — sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery — in 31-13 win over the Jaguars.
▪ Dolphins C Ted Karras: Has played all 198 snaps this season.
▪ 49ers WR Mohamed Sanu: Caught one pass for 9 yards and played 20 of 77 snaps in win over the Giants.
▪ Texans WR Brandin Cooks: Had three catches for 23 yards in loss to the Steelers.
▪ Jets WR Braxton Berrios: Had four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in loss to the Colts.
▪ Lions LB Jamie Collins: Had six tackles and an interception in win over Cardinals.
Tracking former Patriots coaches
▪ Texans' Bill O’Brien: Needs to win his next two games to have any chance this season — Vikings and Jaguars at home.
▪ Lions' Matt Patricia: Sunday’s home game against the Saints suddenly looks winnable.
▪ Giants' Joe Judge: Next two games at LA Rams and at Dallas. Hello, 0-5.
▪ Dolphins' Brian Flores: Great first win, but huge test with Seattle this week.
▪ Titans' Mike Vrabel: His team can pull out the close games —three wins by a combined 6 points.
Stats of the week
▪ Seahawks QB Russell Wilson joined Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Daunte Culpepper, and Tom Flores as the only quarterbacks to throw five touchdowns in consecutive games.
▪ Cowboys DE Aldon Smith, who hadn’t played an NFL game since 2015, leads the league with four sacks.
▪ At 43 years and 55 days, Brady became the oldest quarterback in NFL history to throw three TDs, besting George Blanda by 17 days.
▪ The Bears are the first team in NFL history to win multiple games in a season after trailing by 16 or more points in the fourth quarter.
▪ Per NFL Next Gen Stats, the Chargers had a 70.4 percent chance of scoring a touchdown on the game-ending hook-and-lateral play had they not fumbled the lateral.
▪ The Bills have started 3-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991-92.