A lot of poor professional football was played during Week 3 of the NFL season. Going into the first window of games, most of the schedule appeared uninspiring — especially after 4:00 p.m. EST. However, mismatches were not the sole reason for poor play throughout the day.
The Chicago Bears were clearly outmanned by the Kansas City Chiefs even prior to the 4:25 p.m. EST scheduled kickoff. That 12.5 point spread was a gimme, but the Bears performed like a team that had no business in the same league as the Chiefs. If Taylor Swift being in the audience to support a member of the defending Super Bowl champs didn’t make obvious the gulf between these NFL franchises, the Chiefs’ 34-0 halftime lead did.
As overmatched as the Bears were against the Chiefs, they were not the only team that fell victim to that vast divide on Sunday. The Denver Broncos gave up 70 points to the Miami Dolphins — a.k.a. skill-position players who could have been stars for U.S.A. Track and Field if the floor for salaries in that sport was higher than the NFL.
Throw in the Washington Commanders getting throttled at home by the Buffalo Bills behind Sam Howell’s turnover-laden outing, along with the Tennessee Titans getting beaten down by the Cleveland Browns, and enormous blowouts appear to be the story of Week 3.
However, there were other levels of stench.
That nose-burning vinegary smell of sweaty pads emanated from different types of poor performances. The Jacksonville Jaguars were not out-classed by the Houston Texans, they just made a ton of mistakes. The Baltimore Ravens outplayed the Indianapolis Colts, but still lost in overtime because they played like Greg Roman never took his talents elsewhere.
There are many different ways to stink up an NFL field, and the Bears, Jaguars, and Ravens managed to be unpleasant in a variety of ways.
Kevin Warren needs to reshape the Chicago Bears organization into a new image
Warren has led a prominent midwestern institution in his recent past. He navigated the Big Ten through COVID. At firs,t he did not want the conference to play football in fall 2020, but after significant outside pressure, he changed his mind.
Warren was hired by the Bears as the third team president during my lifetime in early January 2023.
The Bears’ new president did not hire Ryan Poles as general manager, Matt Eberflus as head coach, Luke Getsy as offensive coordinator, or trade up to draft Justin Fields at quarterback.
With none of those moves happening on his watch, he needs to move on from them all at the end of this season. Poles’ moves following his teardown year prior to Warren’s arrival, have resulted in a worse team. Yes, the Chiefs are Super Bowl Champions, but the Bears are also an NFL franchise. The Bears offered minimal resistance on offense and defense, due to the fact that they were outmanned and outschemed.
As president, Warren is already making small changes to the Bears’ operation. Media members will always complain about amenities while covering games, but what Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns described as previous Bears’ press box spread was embarrassing. They spoke on The Athletic’s Hoge and Jahns podcast about receiving boxed lunches and muffins for meals. Postgame food, forget about it, but Week 1 they talked about pizza being served after the game.
Obviously that is a small gesture, but for the Bears it is one of the few positives about this year. Their future Arlington Heights stadium is in flux, and the on-field product is worse than a year in which they jettisoned good players at great speed. This season is unsalvageable, so Warren should already be looking to build a new franchise in his vision at every level.
Are the Jacksonville Jaguars trying to finish atop a winnable AFC South, or no?
The Jaguars were supposed to be a team on the rise. They fumigated Urban Meyer from their organization and edged their way into the playoffs last season. Following a huge comeback victory against the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild-card round, and pushing an injured Patrick Mahomes to the limit the next week, they were supposed to be ready to dominate a weak division.
Losing at home to the Chiefs in Week 2 is not worthy of shame. That game was never out of reach. A touch of disappointment was deserved for the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence led offense. It was largely ineffective following a big Week 1 from free-agent addition Calvin Ridley. They lost, 17-9.
Against the 0-2 Texans, Jacksonville’s offense had its moments, but boneheaded mistakes resulted in the Jaguars losing by 20 points to a winless team that was victorious only three times during the 2022 season.
The Jaguars missed a field goal in the first quarter and had another one blocked. The Texans scored touchdowns following both of those special teams errors. Also, Jamal Agnew’s second-quarter fumble resulted in the Texans kicking a field goal, and leading the game 17-0 at halftime.
Coming out of the half, the Jaguars scored a touchdown and made a field goal. However, on the kickoff following the field goal, the Jaguars allowed the Texans to return it for a touchdown. And it wasn’t the return specialist who scored: Fullback Andrew Beck took it 85 yards to the house after initially muffing it. He became the first fullback to return a kickoff for a touchdown since 2005. Ironically, the last person to do so was former Jaguar Derrick Winbush.
The AFC South is wide open for the taking, but it will be snatched from the Jaguars if they don’t begin to play like the team that overcame that massive wild-card game deficit last season.
The Baltimore Ravens were soft in Week 3
Weather was certainly ugly in the northeast on Sunday. Fans from New Jersey to Maryland were wearing ponchos in the stands as they sat through the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia. (Shout out to Trading Places getting a storm named after Jamie Lee Curtis’ character.)
On top of the weather, the Ravens have been bitten by the injury bug that gets them every year. In Week 3 against the Colts, they were attacked again with Gus Edwards and Rashod Bateman going down.
All of that being said, the Ravens were up, 17-16, early in the fourth quarter. During that quarter, backup Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew pulled a Dan Orlovsky by getting called for a safety in his own end zone. After the Ravens received the free kick, they went three and out. They did not call a single pass play during that drive.
The whole point of moving on from Greg Roman as offensive coordinator was to open up the offense. Jackson was largely accurate on the day, but when it was time to salt the game away, the Ravens placed the passing game to the side. They went back to it at the end of the fourth quarter and the result of that drive was a 61-yard field-goal miss in less than desirable weather from Justin Tucker. In overtime, the Colts won on a field-goal. That followed a dropped pass from Ravens wide receiver Isaiah Likely in Colts’ territory.
Offense is supposed to be a whole new world for the Ravens with Todd Monken at the helm. Zay Flowers is supposed to usher in a new era as their top wide receiver, yet in crucial game situations, he is being used for either fakes or actual handoffs in jet sweeps.
The AFC is open for the taking for the Ravens, but not if they play as tight as they played at home against the Minshew-led Colts. Most of Baltimore’s injured players will come back this season. But if their strategy with late leads is to play not-to-lose instead of play-to-win, with the 2019 MVP behind center, there will be no playoff success for the Ravens come the turn of the year.
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