NFL Aftermath: What We Learned in the Wake of Week Three

With another week of exciting NFL action in the books, let’s take a look at some of the more important talking points emerging out of Week Three.


Say what you want about the Cleveland Browns’ decision to trade Trent Richardson, but Norv Turner’s vertical passing scheme was on full display in a 31-27 road win at Minnesota. Jordan Cameron scored three touchdowns to go along with 66 receiving yards and Josh Gordon, fresh off of his two-game suspension went off for ten catches, 146 receiving yards and a touchdown to go along with 22 receiving yards. While it’s tough for Cleveland fans to see T-Rich go, young studs like Cameron and Gordon ease the pain. That is of course, unless the Browns follow through with their reported attempts to trade Gordon.


It hasn’t always been pretty, but the New England Patriots are 3-0. Tom Brady’s bunch has experienced some growing pains through the first three weeks of the season, but look to be finding their rhythm heading into a Week Four match up with the struggling Atlanta Falcons. While his numbers may not be as sparkling as they usually are, it’s never a good idea to bet against Tom Terrific. The schedule is about to get tougher, but with Rob Gronkowski nearing a return, and Danny Amendola making progress in his recovery, the Patriots are getting healthier at the right time.


Speaking of the Falcons, how many traditionally good football teams have gotten off to slow starts this year? Teams like he Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Giants, and 2012 playoff teams like Minnesota and Washington sit at 0-3, while the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers, and the aforementioned Falcons are all off to 1-2 starts. It would be ridiculous to assume that none of these teams finds their way into the playoffs, but the task just became that much more difficult. The ‘9ers, Packers, and Falcons all figure to rebound, but the immediate prospects of the 0-3 teams are not promising.


How good is Peyton Manning? Seriously, when Peyton was on the comeback trail after multiple neck surgeries, the main question on everyone’s mind was how his body would hold up after he was exposed to some in-game action. People hoped for a healthy Peyton Manning, but expected a bit of a drop off in his play. No one thought he would be so dominant so quickly. After an MVP candidate season in 2012, Manning is the overwhelming early favourite to win the award this year. It seems almost incomprehensible to suggest this, but in the wake of the Broncos’ 37-21 drubbing of the Oakland Raiders that saw him set the NFL record for most touchdown passes in the first three weeks of a season (Twelve touchdowns, no interceptions), Manning looks to be playing at a higher level than ever before, and that’s downright scary.


The Seattle Seahawks may be the only team in the NFL right now that could be a worthy challenger to Manning’s Broncos. After blowing out the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-17 on Sunday, the ‘Hawks sit at 3-0 and firmly atop the NFC West. The “twelfth man” may be the most significant home-field advantage and professional sports, and Russell Wilson’s poise and leadership will benefit this team for years to come. Simply put, the Seahawks are a tough team to play in any location, but at home, they are nearly unbeatable. GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have done an amazing job with this team.


Do you think DeMarco Murray wishes he could play the St. Louis Rams every week? St. Louis has a good defense to be sure, but there’s no denying that the best work of Murray’s career has come in his match ups with the Rams. In these two games he has totaled an insane 428 rushing yards. At this pace, if Murray played an entire 16 game season against the Rams he would rush for 3,424 yards. Look out Eric Dickerson! In all seriousness, Murray is a very talented back, and if he can avoid injuries this season, the Cowboys will be a much better team for it. His 402 total yards through three weeks rank second at the running back position, behind only LeSean “Shady” McCoy’s eye-popping 514. Look for America’s Team to ride their stud rusher in an excellent match up at San Diego next week.


For all of the off-season talk about the read-option, we’ve seen very little of it through the first three weeks of the schedule. Sure, it can be argued that Washington is employing it much less often as a means of protecting Robert Griffin III’s knee, but the fact is it has been used sparingly in all corners of the league thus far. Many of the rushing yards gained from scrimmage by quarterbacks this year have been the result of broken plays, and/or designed runs. The reasons for this are likely two-fold: defensive coordinators have had an entire off-season to game-plan for this attack, and as we’ve seen in the past, it only takes so much time for defenses to make schematic adjustments to new offensive trends. Additionally, limiting the usage of the read-option protects a quarterback from injury. I’ve already mentioned RGIII, but even bigger, more sturdily built quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick are susceptible to injuries when you expose them in this manner. While read-option plays certainly haven’t been phased out entirely, it would seem that teams with dual-threat quarterbacks are trying to find other ways to take advantage of their unique talents.


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