The Huddle: NFL Week Three

It’s time for Week Three of the 2016 NFL season, which means we’re going back inside The Huddle, Place to Be Nation!

This week, our panel checks in with the best and worst of Week Two, followed by talk of this week’s upcoming gridiron action.

So, once again, toss your jersey on and get inside the huddle!

The boys are back to share their thoughts on the NFL.
The boys are back to share their thoughts on the NFL.

Kickoff Questions:

Question 1: What trends are starting to develop with two weeks under wraps?

Question 2: Best performances of Week Two?

Question 3: Worst performances of Week Two?                                                                                                       
Chad Campbell:

1. Minnesota looks to have made a smart move to trade to win now. The Vikings’ defense created a ton of turnover opportunities against Green Bay and they sacked Aaron Rodgers five times. In addition, Stefon Diggs is looking like a reliable #1 target for Bradford.

2. Arizona Cardinals. After a tough loss vs the Pats, they needed a bounceback and they succeeded in demolishing Tampa Bay.

3. Detroit Lions. The NFC North looks crowded (and) losing to the Titans is a missed opportunity.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

1. “Any Given Sunday” will be the theme all year as there looks to be no dominant team and 80% of the games so far have swung on one or two key plays.

2. Pittsburgh shutting down A.J. Green.

3. Kirk Cousins with a brutal end zone pick with Washington up 23-20. (Dallas topped Washington 27-20 on Sunday.)

JT Rozzero:

1. The Pats were looking 4-0 in the face before Jimmy went down. I still think 3-1 is doable. I can’t see Brissett beating Houston on a short week, but Buffalo is terrible, and the Pats should win that easily. Pole position with Denver for the byes until proven otherwise.

2. Pittsburgh for sure. We heard a lot about their lack of D, but they stepped up Sunday and won a big division game and are now 2-0 with a game in hand on the Bengals.

3. The Giants took care of business against the Saints and their overhauled D looks legit as of now.

Detroit blew a golden chance to move to 2-0 and keep pace with Minnesota, but blew a winnable game that could haunt them. Also, Buffalo is a mess. (Starting) 0-4 and a loss to Brissett could seal Rex’s fate. They were three lucky plays away from being blown out at home.

Also, Chiefs/Jets (this Sunday) is a big game for wild card purposes. That could be a key swing game down the road.

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the NY Jets have a big challenge ahead in Week Three.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the NY Jets have a big challenge ahead in Week Three.

Roger Morrissette:

For me the best performance of the week was the Denver D. Their offense looked average at best against a putrid Colts defense but, as per usual, the D bailed them out. Von Miller is on another level and has been there for a while. With that said, losing Ware for a significant length of time will hurt them.

Worst performance of the week, hands down, was the Jacksonville Jaguars. The preseason narrative had them making a big leap on the basis of an improved defense. Uhhh… maybe not.  The Chargers without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead absolutely shredded the Jags. They made Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams look like Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Total dumpster fire in Jacksonville. Maybe getting Ivory back this week will give the offense another dimension but, as of right now, this is a bottom-five team.

Second worst performance of the week was Jay Gruden throwing Cousins under the bus in the post game presser.  Nothing like hitting the panic button early, Skins.

JT Rozzero:

Cousins is one-and-done now in Washington. I doubt they franchise him again and I can’t see him sticking around.

Brian Cullinane:

1. Once again, there seems to be a lot of flawed teams in the league, so I expect a lot of “parity” this season too. And, a lot of bad quarterback play across the board, even for teams that might make the playoffs.

2. I thought Sam Bradford showed why the Vikings gave up a first-round pick for him (Sunday) night. He also had help from Stefon Diggs, who seems primed for a breakout season.

3. Seattle’s offense looked putrid against a team the 49ers destroyed last week. That offense lost a lot when Lynch retired and Jimmy Graham seems that he will ever get back to the player he once was. They need to get it together quickly if they want to have a playoff run.

What will Seattle get out of Russell Wilson this week?
What will Seattle get out of Russell Wilson this week?

Roger Morrissette:

Brian, do you think some of Seattle’s struggles were related to Wilson not being 100% and the Rams just having their number?

I agree, JR, that the Jets/Chiefs game this week is huge. Arrowhead is a tough place to play, but I think the Jets match up pretty well with them. If you can force the Chiefs to be one-dimensional by shutting down the run, they are very average. The Jets have the front four to do that.  What do you guys think?

Jason Greenhouse:

1. A new stadium, a new quarterback, and a sharp-looking defense for the Vikings. The feel good story around the league, for sure.

2. The Steelers did what the Jets couldn’t do Week One: cover AJ Green. A big early season win for Pittsburgh.

3. The Seahawks in big trouble if they can’t get something going on offense. For their sake, let’s hope Russell Wilson can get past being banged up. If not, the Cards will run away with the NFC West before the halfway point of the season.

JT Rozzero:

I feel better about this game than I did two weeks ago as a Jets fan. KC needed a massive miracle comeback and a Keenan Allen injury to beat San Diego and didn’t show much against Houston, a team built similarly to the Jets on D.

The one thing that has plagued the Jets on D this year has been the deep ball and Alex Smith is not very threatening in that regard.

That KC/Seattle two-game gauntlet looked real bad for the Jets two weeks ago, but suddenly doesn’t feel as daunting.

They have a chance to be tied with the Pats through four weeks if things break right.

Brian Cullinane:

Partly. I think Graham is washed up. I also think Michael once again proved why he is a preseason warrior and that Rawls’ injury is still hindering him.

JT Rozzero:

Seattle has some legit flaws… I debated quite a bit over who my surprise “miss the playoffs” team would be between them and Arizona. Both have big red flags waving over them.

Roger Morrissette:
I hear you – Graham is coming back from the same injury that knocked out Cruz for two full seasons, so give him some time. More concerning is that Baldwin is banged up… they really need him. I just can’t get past the fact that Seattle played this same type of ball the first half of last season and then turned it on. Their defense, which has been very good, is so dominant that if the offense is just average, they are a Super Bowl contender.

Thursday night will be interesting. It really isn’t a bad matchup for the Pats with Jacoby in there.  Houston is kind of a grind-it-out type team, so it is possible 20 points wins the game. In a close game, you have to like the Pats.

We should talk about the Raiders… the other preseason darling. Terrible, terrible home loss to the Falcons. Like the Jags, the Raiders’ D was supposed to be much improved. Also, like the Jags, they have been a sieve.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

The Raiders are a very young team that hasn’t won anything. They got too cocky coming off a big week one upset. (A 35-34 win at New Orleans.)

Brian Cullinane:

Regarding the Pats, a rookie QB who looked uncomfortable with pressure on a short week against a team with a defense like Houston is cause for concern. The Pats will likely run multiple TE sets to help block the edge and keep the play-calling simple. I think Houston takes it in a close one.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Seattle chose to pay Russell Wilson and their big dogs on defense after their consecutive Super Bowls at the expense of their offensive line. Jimmy Graham is a glorified wide receiver who only blocks people on Twitter.

Philly QB Carson Wentz had another solid week, but our guys remain on the fence.
Philly QB Carson Wentz had another solid week, but our guys remain on the fence.

Roger Morrissette:

How about Carson Wentz! He looks like the real deal. Are you guys buying Philly as a dark horse for the division title? That schedule is very nice.

Brian Cullinane:

Regarding Wentz, he’s started off well but has also faced two bad teams. Let’s see how he does against a decent opponent.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

It’s tough to judge against two bottom-five teams, but impressive nevertheless.

Roger Morrissette:

Agree that we should take that into account, but, from an eye test perspective, he really looks the part. Very rare that you get rookie QB’s like Wentz and Prescott who don’t turn the ball over. That’s what impresses me most.

Thursday's Houston at New England matchup is a must-see game for Week Three.
Thursday’s Houston at New England matchup is a must-see game for Week Three.

JT Rozzero:

What’s everyone’s key game of the week?

And one thing to look for too is that team that banks some early wins by picking on a soft schedule.

This year’s team: Baltimore. (The Ravens) beat Buffalo and Cleveland and now gets Jacksonville. Could be sitting 3-0 atop the division.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Right out of the gate, Houston vs. N.E. will be one of those September games that may decide who has home field in a January rematch.

Brian Cullinane:

Houston/New Engalnd and Denver/Cincinnati are two games you could see in the playoffs. It’s also (Troy) Siemian’s first game on the road.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

John Harbaugh is a top-five coach. It wouldn’t be surprising if Baltimore hangs in there as a contender.

Roger Morrissette:

Pats vs Texans and Vikings vs Panthers are the two games I’m looking forward to. Because of who is playing QB for the Pats, this is a golden opportunity for the Texans to take full command of their division and even start thinking about a bye. The Vikings have looked great, but going to Carolina is a tall order. Very interested to see how they respond.

Philly fits that definition (of a soft-schedule team) so far but has a chance to step up in a big way this week against the Steelers.

Dak Prescott is a pick to continue to put up solid numbers this week.
Dak Prescott is a pick to continue to put up solid numbers this week.

Brian Cullinane:

Here are a few other questions:

1. What player do you expect to have a huge game this week?

2. What player do you expect to drop off this week?

3. Upset pick for the week?

J Arsenio D’Amato:

1. Dak Prescott will continue to improve versus a putrid Chicago defense and hook up with Dez Bryant for 2 touchdowns.

2. Carson Wentz will hit a little reality wall in Pittsburgh.

3. The Jets will win in one of the toughest buildings to play.

Roger Morrissette:

1. I think Antonio Brown bounces back and torches the Eagles.

2. Isaiah Crowell and Corey Coleman will do nothing after breaking out last week.

3. I think the Broncos win in Cincy. Also, I think the Bills surprise everyone and play the Cardinals very tough and may win the game.

JT Rozzero:

1. The Seahawks get off the deck and thump the Niners. Wilson doesn’t come all the way back, but they don’t eek this one out either.

2. It wouldn’t shock me if Baltimore laid an egg and lost to Jacksonville. I’m not sold on them, but a win there has them in a good position.

3. I will take the Chargers to win in Indy. They have looked good and only being shell shocked by Allen’s injury and a miracle comeback (Week One in a 33-27 loss to KC) kept them from starting out 2-0.

Brian Cullinane:

1. Aaron Rodgers will have a huge game against Detroit.

2. Ezekiel Elliott breaking the 100-yard rushing mark at home against a sorry Bears team.

3. I think the Jets can head into Kansas City and beat an underwhelming Chiefs team with an anemic offense.

The guys take Rex Ryan to task and consider his future.
The guys take Rex Ryan to task and consider his future.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

One more question: Who will be employing Rex Ryan in 2017: A) ESPN, B) FOX, or C) Other?

Brian Cullinane:

ESPN

JT Rozzero:

Chicago Bears as defensive coordinator.

Roger Morrissette:

If he gets whacked, I think he takes a year off and goes to TV. ESPN makes sense.

JT Rozzero:

I thought that last time, but I think (now) he would want to go back out there to prove people wrong. Seems more his style than going to the booth.

I think his ego takes him right back to the field if he gets an offer.

Brian Cullinane:

I don’t see Rex taking a defensive coordinator position.

JT Rozzero:

Well, he is done as a head coach, so do you think he is done altogether? I don’t see it.

Brian Cullinane:

Maybe a team like the Redskins offers him the head coaching job, because they are always a mess and their defense stinks, but I can’t see Rex humbling himself to take a coordinator position.

Roger Morrissette:

He would be really good in the booth.

JT Rozzero:

I said at the time that he was dumb to take the Buffalo job.

Roger Morrissette:

No way anyone gives him a head coaching job right away unless they go 9-7 and he gets canned.

JT Rozzero:

It was a shit gig and he just rebuilt a sad franchise.

He should have waited for a better slot.

He needed to go to a team with a better offense in place or a straight rebuild where he wasn’t under the gun to compete.

He literally took nearly the same job (that he left) only with a team with more baggage.

Roger Morrissette:

I would argue Rex has done a shit job. They lucked into a real QB (with Tyrod Taylor), Watkins took a step forward last year, and they brought in McCoy. The defense has been the problem. They are appreciably worse than when he got there. He has failed miserably.

Brian Cullinane:

He did inherit a good defense that went to shit under his watch. But yeah, that team had garbage on offense

J Arsenio D’Amato:

His ego won’t allow him to improve on his blatant weaknesses. His teams always are amongst the leaders in penalties and he continues to mismanage timeouts and clock management.

JT Rozzero:

Is (Taylor) a real QB? Also, his D was killed by injuries. I don’t think he did a good job, but I also don’t think he has been the whole issue.

JAD nailed it though… He ignores the little things because he embraces a reckless attitude, and it kills him with penalties.

He is good for a 12-men penalty once a game.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Fourth-and-one, late in the game, (Ryan) has the QB try and draw the defense offside and then burns a critical timeout, and when it doesn’t work, they wind up going for it, and coming up short (in Thursday’s 37-31 loss to the Jets).

An egregious, fireable sequence of horrible coaching.

Roger Morrissette:

He’s better than Matt Cassel, the incumbent starter. It is the NFL, so there are going to be injuries. They still have plenty of talent out there on D and they can’t stop anybody. At best, Rex is stubborn and won’t adjust when the personnel dictates. At worst, he’s a cheerleader dressed up as a coach.

Also, good one, JAD. That was awful.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Taylor is impressive on the long throws, but there were plenty of little 3rd-and-3, 2nd-and-4 plays that could have moved the chains where he horribly misfired to wide open receivers.

JT Rozzero:

I think Buffalo was dumb for hiring him and he was dumb for going to Buffalo.

Taylor has no mid-range game at all.

Roger Morrissette:

With that said, I think they make their last stand on Sunday (at home against the Cardinals).

JT Rozzero:

Buffalo watched Rex for six years up close (with the Jets). And they bring him in to run the same exact team he just got fired from.

Roger Morrissette:

I don’t blame Taylor for that; the offense calls for 90% runs or bombs. Has Taylor looked bad throwing intermediate routes to you guys?

I think he’s fine, but not really given the chance.

JT Rozzero:

Yes, he misfired on more than one big one Thursday.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Now the clueless husband-and-wife owners are having meetings with the offensive players without the head coach (Ryan)? What a horrible mess!

JT Rozzero:

Loser culture, no structure in place. Never bank on the Bills to do anything well.

Next year will bring another retread coach and rebuild.

Twenty-two years of futility, except for when they let Doug Flutie chuck it around.

And even then they gave up the biggest miracle play in NFL history. 

And, with that, another week is ready to go. Thanks for checking us out again this week, and now sit back and enjoy Week Three of the NFL!

Author: Joel Barnhart

A big-time baseball nerd, Joel is currently teaching English as a Second Language in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to his MLB passion, he enjoys good whiskey, good music, good movies, and good friends. He is currently engaged in an ongoing 12-year online debate over the merits of bubble wrap.