7 Up, 7 Down: So Nice, Do it Thrice

Week 3 of the NFL season has been done and dusted. Who stood out in a positive manner? Who has some work to do as we move forward to Week 4? How will week three be perceived in the long run of the gauntlet? Will it be nice that everyone will look at it thrice?

In case you missed the previous weekly editions, they can be found below

Week 1: Opening Overreactions

Week 2: A Perceptive Repeat

Up

1. Herbert is legit top ten, if not top five QB 

– The precocious young gun from Oregon went into rowdy Arrowhead Stadium and outdueled the superstar Patrick Mahomes. Which is to put him in rarified air as few signal callers can claim legitimate victories over the league’s most electrifying passer. Herbert can make every improbable throw look perfectly natural as a simple pitch and catch. He has been blessed with physical gifts that few quarterbacks in history have possessed. Much will be anticipated when these two quarterbacks meet up and with good reason. Herbert has a bright future in this league. 

2. Special Teams are FUNdamental

– What a fun week for special teams histrionics. The most overlooked phase of the game got its time in the sun on Sunday with several epic standout plays as seen below. 

First up, Dustin Hopkins kicks a deep shot and then recovers his OWN kick. How? 

Not to be outdone, Younghoe Koo led off the walk-off kick bonanza with a 40 yard bomb for the Falcons

Mason Crosby called Koo’s kick and raised it with his own bomb

Not to be outdone, the evergreen Justin Tucker called Crosby’s shot, re-raised with a record-breaking Giancarlo Stanton level nuclear strike

Earlier in the day, the previous record-holder Matt Prater had an insane 68 yard try returned for a KICK SIX remix

3. All the King’s…posters?

– Derrick Henry paced the Titans offense once again with several impact runs including another posterization of a poor, hapless defender who accepted the challenge. The latest victim: star linebacker Darius Leonard. The King also low key destroyed Julian Blackmon who thought himself worthy of taking him on. At this point, the pantheon of defenders who bravely went at the king is too numerous to count. He’s just built differently than any other running back in the league today. How many times does it need to happen before defenders realize that challenging Henry in one on one situations is just foolhardy? Quandre Diggs (censored) around and found out last week as well. 

4. Josh Allen is pretty, pretty good

– Allen had yet another standout performance on Sunday against a really good Washington front who never really got in his face. The fourth-year pro is looking very well primed for another MVP run with five total touchdowns this past weekend. OC Brian Daboll has definitely unlocked the star potential from the young man. With Allen at the helm, the Bills can legitimately go blow for blow with the suddenly vulnerable Chiefs now. The league is in good hands with the young guns as more and more old star passers age out. Allen might be tops among them pretty soon if he keeps this up. 

5. Ja’Marr Chase might be good after all 

– Chase’s young career is off to a similar start to his speed. Flying. He had a breakout performance on Sunday against the hated Steelers, scoring on multiple big plays. The mysterious vanishing act during the preseason is a thing of the past as he’s proven to be an astute pick as long the Bengals’ offensive line can hold up. The Burrow to Chase connection is off and running again, much to the chagrin of everyone on the Bengals’ schedule. He has a pretty good case for offensive rookie of the year thus far into the season. 

6. Gus Johnson in the NFL 

– Two weeks, two instantly iconoclast Gus Johnson calls. Need I say more? Like many football fans, I’m glad he’s returned to announcing NFL duties after spending time exclusively in the hinterlands of amazing college football broadcasts. He simply belongs at the pro level, expressing his high-intensity emotive moods in an NFL broadcasting world often devoid of such brilliant missives, much like Marv Albert did for the NBA.  

7. R-E-L-A-X and enjoy “The Last Dance”

– We don’t know how the story of the 2021 Green Bay Packers will end but Aaron Rodgers might have a few self-authored chapters to write just yet. Speaking of stories, Kyle Shanahan and late-game mismanagement are one as old as time immemorial. Turns out even 37 seconds is too much time left for the future Jeopardy host to launch remarkable comebacks. If it is indeed the last hoorah for Rodgers in a Packers uniform, I hope for Jordan Love’s sake that he soaks up a lot of institutional knowledge learning at the feet of AR. GM Brian Gutenkunst must be feeling some type of way though. His offseason was a story unto itself. A story of what not to do in terms of managing a relationship with your ultra superstar quarterback. 

Down

1. Injuries

– The 2021 season is turning out to be quite Darwinian as the litany of injuries continues to pile up across the league to key players. Week 3 saw the likes of Quenton Nelson, AJ Brown, Josh Norman, K.J. Hamler, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Terron Armstead, James White, and Dalton Risner leave and do not return. Khalil Mack and Rob Gronkowski were injured but returned, fortunately. The Colts (Kwity Paye and Rock Ya-Sin) and Giants (Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton) were particularly hard hit with two key guys each ruled out. May the injured return to full health as quickly as possible. 

2. Hollywood turning into Marquise

– Lost in all the hoopla of Justin Tucker’s utter destruction of the longest field goal record is Marquise Brown. He dropped three critical passes including an easy touchdown that would’ve likely rendered the field goal attempt moot in the first place. Maybe it was just a bad game as he was on fire the week prior against the Chiefs. Still, the potential game-breaking option is there. Next up for Brown and the Ravens: The Broncos tough secondary. We will see if this is a worrying trend or just a blip on the radar. 

3. Seattle’s defense in a tailspin 

– The Vikings just ran roughshod all over the struggling Seahawks’ defense with a backup running back, no less. Letting Derrick Henry run wild is one thing, letting Alexander Mattison do it is entirely another. Kirk Cousins went off on Sunday as well. The secondary has been torched repeatedly with horrifically substandard play. The next two weeks are likely not going to help either with the high-powered 49ers and Rams on the docket. They can’t keep on relying on Russ cooking to save the defense over and over, right? Pete Carroll needs to try everything possible underneath the sun to try to fix the hemorrhaging defense, otherwise, they will be also-rans in the wild and wacky NFC West. 

4. The end has emphatically arrived for Big Ben 

– As remarkable as Ben Roethlisberger’s return to play after a devastating elbow injury was, the fall has been just as stunning. The Steelers’ offensive line was expected to be below average entering the season and it has been, save for flashes of improvement. Roethlisberger is notorious for stringing out the play but his body isn’t responding as it once did. The receivers in the game against Cincy last week did not help by getting hurt but he should’ve been better. It’s time for the Steelers to see what they have in backup Dwayne Haskins. The end for the future Hall of Fame quarterback was none more glaring than checking down to the back in a must-have, do-or-die play. 

5. Jonnu Smith’s nightmare fuel game

– The $50 million tight end has had a rough start to his career in Foxboro, no play is more evidence of his struggles than a tip drill pick-six that Malcolm Jenkins snagged. He’s had multiple drops and has failed to make the expected impact for the Patriots offense led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones. To be fair to Smith, his start in Tennessee wasn’t the most illustrious either. Fellow big money tight end signing Hunter Henry has also failed to live up to his high-priced contract so Smith isn’t alone. It’s going to be a long year for Jones if his two tight ends can’t get it going. Let’s hope that they do. 

6. Justin Fields’ mental and physical health

– Well, that was a demolition job by the Browns on poor Justin Fields making his first start in lieu of Andy Dalton’s injury. The young passer had zero chance from the minute he was announced as the starter and subsequently was sacked NINE times by Cleveland. If you’ve ever seen a blatantly egregious example of horrendously illogical cancerous coaching malpractice, that was it. Coach Matt Nagy refused to adjust his gameplan to account for his franchise passer getting destroyed in the pocket. Then he had the utterly dumbfounding unrepentant arrogant malevolence to say what he said after the festivities. The arrogance of this man is limitless. If Justin Fields were to succeed, he needs to get Windy City Adam Gase terminated with immediate effect for at least his mental health. GM Ryan Pace does not escape scrutiny either as he built the floundering offensive line. Asking a washed-up almost 40 years old Jason Peters to protect Fields is tantamount to a hostile work environment. Drafting a giant medical risk in Teven Jenkins who, to no one’s surprise, got injured is another. Matt Nagy is done in Chicago, there’s no going back.

7. LeBron’s High School Quarterback

– On more of a funny note, LeBron was a guest on the ManningCast on MNF and the legendary hoops superstar delivered a gem. He also noted that both the Seahawks and Cowboys offered him a roster spot during the 2011 NBA lockout. The current Laker star joked that if he had a better QB in high school, he’d have a pro football career. Imagine being some random dude in Ohio sitting down with his family watching Monday Night Football and catching a stray from the top rope from one of the best basketball players of all time. Poor guy. He most likely has been roasted by EVERYONE in his circle, not to mention social media. 

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