Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars
Ravens 7 – 44 Jaguars
I guess I might as well start with the game I went to see at Wembley and the one that made me over-do things somewhat. I can’t actually see that much more needs to be said other than that the Ravens were awful and wasted everybody’s time by turning up. I actually left the game with 8:30 left on the clock so that I could get to the Hippodrome and get a seat ready for the 6pm kickoffs. What bloody time do you have to get there, because it was rammed even though we’d left so early!
It’s good to see the Jaguars have found a way to make good use of Bortles with their short passing game combined with a good running game. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 244 yards and 4TD’s – a very good day at the office.
I, along with everybody else I’m sure, had Leonard Fournette down as being a major player in this one for the Jaguars and he did play well but so did his supporting cast. Plays on the ground were split between him, Corey Grant and Chris Ivory which I like to see as I don’t want Fournette having a shortened career due to the smashmouth style the Jags seem to be using him for right now. It was good to see Fournette get a TD for the third week in a row.
Although people say Bortles can’t throw, he did some nice ones in this game. Particularly the 13-yarder to Keelan Cole the play before the first TD was a cracker and the three beautifully floated passes to Marcedes Lewis for his TD’s make me pleased I didn’t jump on the Bortles hate-train like everybody else.
The Jaguars defense was fantastic and stuffed the Ravens all day long. They only managed a couple of sacks but they came at the perfect time on Baltimore 3rd downs, and those two interceptions by cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey were superb! Not surprising really when you see just how difficult it is to pass on them as the PFF graphic below shows.
So, on to the Ravens……….they were shite and I’m glad, nuff said!
Browns 28 – 31 Colts
Talking of shite, let’s move on to my Cleveland Browns. At the beginning of the season, I had three teams pegged as challenging for the worst in the league, of which two were playing in this game. I’ve now conceded that we’ll have the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft as I just can’t see where a win is coming from.
This offense looks awful yet again. DeShone Kizer has to keep playing so that the franchise can work out if he’s the future or not (I can’t imagine they’ll pass on taking the best QB in the 2018 draft if I’m honest) but I just want to see him progress quicker. I’m no expert and just do this blogging lark as a means of sprouting on about what I see as a fan, but he doesn’t seem to have progressed much through the preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season. I get the impression he’s going to have to gain confidence in his abilities and start throwing the ball into tighter windows as I imagine the windows of opportunity to complete a pass in the NFL are smaller.
It doesn’t help that the wide receivers on this team are absolute shite and would have a hard time catching a cold in the Arctic. I mean, come on FFS, grabbing a bunch of WR’s in the lower rounds a few drafts ago and expecting them to suddenly become good with a rookie throwing to them, really? Even when they do pick one in the first round they still manage to ‘F’ it up because he’s injury-prone – a wide receiver suffering from a broken hand in both of his first two seasons? Sheesh!
It says a lot about the quality of your WR’s when your best receiver is a second-year tight end – Seth DeValve, admittedly he was listed as a WR in college.
I also want to see a lot more of Duke Johnson out of the backfield as he’s much more of a playmaker than Isaiah Crowell has ever been. I’m well aware of the fact that it’s best to have different types of running backs to allow for the “change of pace”, but I’ll not be sorry to see the back of Crowell after this season as this is the stage of his career where he’ll be after a big payday and, in my opinion, he isn’t worth one. I’d rather see more of Johnson with Matt Dayes in Isaiah Crowell’s current role.
TE David Njoku looked good in the redzone again, so I’m happy that he’s progressing and he helped himself to another TD this week.
Another bad sign, and one that shows the Browns are a young team came in the form of the 10 penalties for 113-yards. You might as well just give the opposition a TD headstart if they’re going to carry on like that.
Rams 41 – 39 49ers
WOW! Who the hell is this team? They lead the league with 107 total points and a 35.7 pts per game average through the first three weeks of the NFL regular season.
I was concerned about their offensive line but it appears to finally be operating ok and seems capable of opening running lanes and protecting the QB.
This game looked to me like it was all about Todd Gurley, Jared Goff and Sammy Watkins.
Goff only missed on 6 of his 28 pass attempts for 292-yards and 3TD’s with no interceptions – we ready to call him the real deal just yet?
The two main recipients of his good play were the two new arrivals to the team, Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods who both recently swapped Buffalo for LA. They both had 6 receptions for just over 100-yards each but Watkins helped himself to a couple of TD’s as well.
On the ground, it looks like we’ve got the good Gurley back from a couple seasons ago. In this game, he went for 113-yards on 28 carries which continues his steady, if not exciting, 4.0-yards average. He also got on the scoreboard an impressive 3 times, twice on the ground and once via a pass. I’m really liking the look of this offense and am now looking forward to the game they play against the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham on October 22nd as opposed to not being bothered for it.
A problem area for them to sort is the special teams kick return unit. There seemed to be a little too many fumbles or nearly fumbles for my liking and I’d want that sorting asap.
Cowboys 28 – 17 Cardinals
What a beautiful first TD throw from Carson Palmer to Jaron Brown to put the Cardinals up early. Other than that, the only thing I saw that was impressive was the performance of veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald. Probably the best performance I’ve seen from him for a while. He caught 13 of his 15 targets for 149-yards and a TD. He battled well for the ball and yards and he’s the one player on the Cardinals team that I can’t wait to see at Twickenham so that I can say I saw him play before he retires.
As the commentators said, it appeared the Cardinals were playing well to start but a missed field goal changed the flow of things. It just seemed like the switch that the Cowboys needed to turn them on and get them playing. After this point, it was a one-sided game for a neutral like myself to watch as the Cowboys outplayed them on both sides of the ball.
New Orleans Saints
Saints 34 – 13 Panthers
I can’t imagine many people thought this would be the final score in this one. It blatantly helped the Saints’ defense to have an obviously still not 100% Cam Newton at QB for the Panthers this week with his misfiring in the passing game (or is it the new system they have?) – his rating of 43.8 will attest to that. I personally won’t be reading too much into this game as far as that Saints D goes as they still looked to struggle against the run somewhat.
Drew Brees has probably got to be my favourite QB to watch as he’s just brilliant and makes things look effortless. 22 of 29 for 220-yards and 3TD’s and a 131.4 rating is nothing other than the kind of performance I’d expect from this future Hall of Famer.
We get to see him and his fun offense at Wembley this week and although I’ll be wearing my Dolphins jersey in support of my daughter’s favourite team, I’ll be enjoying watching this Saints exciting offense with all their Screen plays and passes into the flats before unleashing a long pass or two downfield.
I never did understand why they signed Adrian Peterson and as the season rolls on, I understand it even less. They really don’t need him for anything other than injury depth as Ingram and rookie Kamara are more than capable. I’d be looking to ship him and his ego out of New Orleans…but not until I’ve had the chance to see him play at Wembley this Sunday.
Buccaneers 17 – 34 Vikings
A career day for QB Case Keenan who’s had to step in for the luckless Vikings when it comes to QB’s. 25 or 33 for 369-yards and 3TD’s is a great showing from the backup QB.
This is another team that is proving me wrong as I imagined they’d struggle a bit due to their offensive line. They are actually playing well and the team is looking hot for a playoff run this year – going to be a one-sided affair at Twickenham against the Browns on October 29th.
Dalvin Cook looked brilliant again in the run and passing game going for 97-yards on the ground and 72-yards on passing plays and 1TD. I knew this guy was a steal in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.
I would say that I think WR Stephon Diggs needs to keep his ego in check a little bit but I guess it’s all about your brand these days. I’d rather have someone like Adam Thielen on my team as he’s always been a safe pair of hands and looks to be on course for a great year. Add those two together along with Cook in the backfield and a decent offensive line and this team are going places if they can keep a QB in place that can perform. It helped Keenum a lot that he had all day to pass due to great OL play.
Their defense is great to watch as well as they pressure the pocket, cover well and hit hard. Oh dear, I fear the worst on October 29th.
Dolphins 6 – 20 Jets
A couple of weeks ago I was adamant that the Dolphins were going to win at Wembley this weekend but after this week I’m really not sure.
The Saints looked great and the Dolphins looked, well, unorganised. It didn’t help them that Jay Ajayi was incredibly ineffective this week with his 1.5-yards per run average. Jay Cutler was starting to grow on me as a guy that might help to take them back to the playoffs but after his performance this week, I’m not too sure. He wasn’t bad but more like average and with no-one else stepping up the playoffs could be a far-off thing for them.
Ex-Browns kicker Cody Parkey couldn’t even convert the extra point after their garbage-time touchdown, that’s the kind of performance they gave in this game. They need to book their ideas up before visiting Wembley this week.