Nothing the Philadelphia Eagles are doing is working early this season.
Even when things momentarily looked good on Sunday, they turned bad. Malcolm Jenkins seemed like he might save the Eagles with a blocked field goal in the final two minutes, but Carson Wentz couldn’t move the offense after that and Philadelphia lost, 27-24, to the Detroit Lions. Darren Sproles looked like he had a great 25-yard catch on fourth-and-5 to get into field-goal range, but it was called back due to offensive pass interference.
The Eagles were supposed to be one of the NFL’s better teams. Not the type of team that loses to the Lions at home.
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Philly is starting this season very slow, and it’s not going to be easy to rally. The Eagles are banged up. They’re 1-2, with the only win coming on a comeback at home in Week 1 over the Washington Redskins.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys are 3-0 In the NFC East. They haven’t played anyone, but they still look better than the Eagles this season.
The injuries have been a problem. Instead of DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery being on the field to help bail the Eagles out at the end, Wentz’s final desperation pass went to rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. It fell incomplete. The Eagles had to rely on a lot of lesser receivers with Jeffery and Jackson out, and drops were a big problem.
All three phases let down. The special teams allowed the first kickoff return touchdown of the NFL season in the first half. The defense couldn’t stop receiver Marvin Jones from putting up up a 100-yard day. The offense had too many drops and two lost fumbles.
The Eagles haven’t been good yet this season. Wentz tried to lead them back at the Falcons last week, but the defense allowed Julio Jones to break a long touchdown on a fourth down to turn that game into a loss. Then on Sunday, the Lions played well enough to win. It’s a loss that the Eagles will have a tough time making up in what, at best, will be a tight race in the NFC East with the Cowboys.
This isn’t what the Eagles expected this season. Nobody can predict injuries, and they have affected Philly. But nobody will feel sorry for the Eagles, and with a Thursday night game at 3-0 Green Bay on deck, Philadelphia is in danger of digging a big hole.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Sunday’s action in Week 3 of the NFL season:
Daniel Jones and the New York Giants: A new day is upon one of the NFL’s most storied franchises.
The Giants moved on from Eli Manning as their starter this week, and Jones looked very good, just like he did in the preseason. His fourth-down touchdown run inside the final two minutes gave the Giants a 32-31 lead. Jones had 336 passing yards and two touchdowns and ran for two scores. The Buccaneers had a shot at a game-winning field goal at the end after Jameis Winston’s clutch pass to Mike Evans, but kicker Matt Gay missed.
The result of the game barely mattered though. What the Giants will take away from Sunday, aside from their first win, is this is the day they saw their future at quarterback.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills still need to prove some things before it looks like they can seriously challenge the Patriots for the AFC East, but the start is pretty good.
The Bills got a challenge on Sunday from the Bengals. Cincinnati came back to take a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter. But Josh Allen led a late drive, ageless Frank Gore scored a go-ahead touchdown and then the Bills’ defense sealed the win with a tipped interception in the final seconds.
The Bills are 3-0 and looking like a playoff contender early on. They face the Patriots at home next week. We’ll find out quickly if they can compete for the division this season.
Matt Patricia: His first season as Lions head coach didn’t go well and his second started with the Lions blowing a huge lead and settling for a tie at the Arizona Cardinals. He came into the season with some questions about his job, but those should quiet down.
The Lions beat a talented Chargers team at home in Week 2 and then had a nice upset win at the Eagles on Sunday. The Lions didn’t make a lot happen on offense, but they made a few plays and the special teams added a huge 100-yard kickoff return touchdown from Jamal Agnew. The defense held when it had to, after a blocked field goal by the Eagles late in the game. Just imagine had the Lions not blown that big Week 1 lead at Arizona. Patricia’s second season would be looking even better.
Sean Payton and the resilient Saints: Payton and Drew Brees will be connected forever. There aren’t many quarterback-coach combinations that have had more success.
It’s not familiar ground for Payton to be going without Brees for a stretch. Before Sunday, Brees had only missed one Saints game due to injury. But Payton did pretty well in a tough spot.
With Brees sidelined with a thumb injury, the Saints put together an impressive 33-27 win at the Seattle Seahawks. The defense played very well, the special teams had a return touchdown and the offense did enough.
The Saints still have a good chance to win the NFC South. They need to stay afloat for the six or so weeks Brees will be out. This is where Payton earns his money.
Frank Reich: It’s clear the Colts hit the jackpot when Josh McDaniels left them hanging.
When McDaniels backed out of an agreement to become Colts head coach, Indianapolis instead hired Reich. He might already be one of the NFL’s best coaches.
Indianapolis, which lost Andrew Luck to retirement before the season started, improved to 2-1 with a strong 27-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Colts were without All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard. They lost receiver T.Y. Hilton to a quad injury during the game. It didn’t matter.
If the Colts can continue to play like they have the rest of the season, Reich might win an NFL Coach of the Year award.
Dan Quinn: On the flip side of Reich, Quinn can’t feel too great after three weeks.
The Falcons lost by only three points on Sunday but it never felt like they were going to win. Matt Ryan started slow, and his hot second half couldn’t save the Falcons. The Colts had a 20-3 lead at halftime and never trailed.
Quinn might top the list for first coach fired this season. He fired his offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators after last season. The Falcons are 1-2, and the only win was a narrow one at home last week against an Eagles team dealing with a lot of injuries. If Atlanta falls too far behind this season, Quinn could be in trouble.
Cam Newton: Cam Newton didn’t look right through two weeks. Maybe he was playing through injuries the whole time.
But here’s where the Carolina Panthers sit after three weeks: Their best quarterback this season has been Kyle Allen, not the former MVP.
Allen had a remarkable start replacing the injured Newton in a 38-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals, which saved the Panthers from an 0-3 start. He had 261 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
It doesn’t seem like the Panthers have a controversy. Newton has been the face of the franchise for practically the entire decade. But it’s a little more complicated than it was a few weeks ago.
This isn’t the first time Allen has played well. He was pressed into duty last season in Week 17 and had 228 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints.
Allen won the backup job over rookie Will Grier, and that looked like the right decision on Sunday. Allen was sharp, hitting Curtis Samuel for an early touchdown, then a nice throw on a crossing route that sprung D.J. Moore for a 52-yard score. Allen threw two touchdowns to Greg Olsen after that.
The Panthers offense came alive with Allen under center. What do the Panthers do if he has a few more starts like that?
Jon Gruden: How bad were the Denver Broncos in Week 1?
That Monday night, it looked like the Raiders had a chance to be good. They moved on from the Antonio Brown nightmare and dominated the Broncos. Nobody was mistaking them for a playoff contender after one win, but they look much improved.
Are they improved at all? The past two weeks have been two major steps back. Gruden’s offense hasn’t done much since. It scored 10 points in a loss to the Chiefs last week. The Raiders had a lot of trouble in a 34-14 loss to the Vikings on Sunday, as they needed a meaningless touchdown in the final two minutes to get into double digits. That game was never competitive.
Gruden started his second Raiders season looking good. But at 1-2, it isn’t so promising anymore.
Chicago Bears: The Bears were in Washington waiting to play on Monday night, but Sunday wasn’t a good day for them.
Defending the NFC North title will not be easy. The only loss among the other three teams in the division is Minnesota losing at Green Bay. The Packers are 3-0 after beating the Denver Broncos at home. The Vikings have looked dominant in both wins, and are 2-1. The Lions had a big win at Philadelphia and are 2-0-1.
The NFC North looks like the best division in football. The Bears better win on Monday to keep pace.
Los Angeles Chargers: It’s the same old Chargers.
The Chargers are talented and it never seems to matter. All they have to show for it is a 1-2 record.
The Chargers lost 27-20 at home to the Houston Texans, squandering a pair of 10-point leads. Philip Rivers needed a touchdown at the end and couldn’t get it done, as the Chargers’ final drive died in Texans territory.
The Chargers have been hit with some big injuries and the holdout by running back Melvin Gordon, but it’s still a very disappointing start. The Chiefs are 3-0 and looking like a Super Bowl contender, and it doesn’t seem the Chargers will be much of a threat in the AFC West.
The Steelers and their 0-3 hole: The Steelers are in big trouble. Their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, is out for the season. They battled hard in their first game without him, but it wasn’t good enough.
Pittsburgh was on the bad end of a killer penalty. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw incomplete on third-and-11 at the two-minute warning. The 49ers were going to have to settle for a field goal and a potential tie. But Mark Barron was called for holding, the drive stayed alive and the 49ers scored a touchdown to take the lead. The Steelers couldn’t answer and lost 24-20. Brutal.
Even if the Steelers continue to improve and play well around Mason Rudolph, 0-3 is a tough place to be in the NFL. It’s not even October yet and the Steelers seem finished.
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