American Football Expert & Columnist
The Final Word: Carson Wentz in trouble, Russell Wilson early MVP pace-setter
Sky Sports' Neil Reynolds has the final word on another wild weekend in the NFL, picking out his five major takeaways, his player of the week and what is on his radar rolling into Week Four...
Last Updated: 29/09/20 12:11pm
My regular pick six column has evolved into The Final Word and this offering will now go live every Tuesday, wrapping up the weekend and Monday Night Football action in the NFL.
And it is from Monday night, and Patrick Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs' win over Lamar Jackson's Baltimore Ravens that I start this new column...
Five Major Takeaways from Week Three
1) Mahomes is still the main man
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs did a number on Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, recording a 34-20 win that laid down a serious marker in the AFC playoff race.
Mahomes was in his usual breathtaking form as he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another score. On a night when Mahomes became the fastest player in NFL history to 10,000 career passing yards (reaching that mark in 34 games to break the record of 36 held by Hall of Famer Kurt Warner), Lamar Jackson had no answer on the other side of the ball.
I'm not about to go all Rob Ryan on you and give the full defensive breakdown, but wherever the ball was on Monday, you would find three or four Chiefs defenders. They were outstanding in holding Jackson to just 97 passing yards.
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2) There is no saving Dan Quinn
I know a few people in Atlanta's building and they all tell me that Dan Quinn is a great man and a heck of a football coach. That doesn't make this any easier to write, but surely he is out of time in Atlanta?
The Falcons became the first team in NFL history to blow fourth quarter leads of 15 points or more in back to back weeks. In Week 2, Atlanta led Dallas 20-0, 29-10 and 39-24 before conceding 16 in the final five minutes to lose 40-39. On Sunday, Atlanta jumped out to a 26-10 lead that they still held midway through the fourth period. Yet they conspired to lose 30-26.
I think the way the Falcons have crumbled under pressure damages Quinn's credibility as a head coach and when he described the defeat to Chicago as "crushing" I get the sense he knows he is running out of time. And it's not just the porous defense - when the going gets tough at the end, the offense goes into a shell.
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3) Foles to the rescue in Chicago
The Bears made the news that all of us were expecting official on Monday - Nick Foles is their new starting quarterback, sending Mitchell Trubisky to the bench.
The training camp battle between the pair was the sports story of the summer in Chicago. Trubisky won the job but did nowhere near enough to keep it. He didn't even give the Bears something to think about for seven or eight games. He lasted two and a half contests and I know this is harping on about old news, but it is still ridiculous he was chosen ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 Draft.
Foles was red hot off the bench, throwing for 188 yards and three touchdowns while having another two scoring throws overturned on review. But can he be the long-term answer? Longevity has never been his strongest point. Maybe he only needs to be a reliable bridge to put some distance between Trubisky and the Bears moving on.
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4) Wilson the early season MVP pace-setter
I know we only have three weeks in the books and talk of the 2020 NFL MVP is premature to say the least, but that's what we do in the media so just give me a few lines here on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
He has been so good this season that I am actually running out of different ways to describe him. His deep ball is an absolute thing of beauty and Sunday night saw him stand strong in the face of a resurgent Dallas pass rush to throw for 315 yards and five touchdowns. It would have been six had D.K. Metcalf not selfishly tried to loaf into the endzone in a 'look at me' moment he cannot wait for us all to forget.
Metcalf made amends with the game-winning catch from Wilson, who became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for four touchdown passes in each of his first three games to start a season. Wilson will need to maintain his form because wild games beckon for a Seahawks team struggling on defense.
5) Wentz is in trouble
At the back end of the 2019 season, Carson Wentz looked like a true franchise quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles as he dragged a receiver-less team to the playoffs.
That seems a long time ago now because Wentz is really struggling behind an injury-decimated offensive line and he has thrown at least two interceptions in all three games this season. Oh, and his Eagles are still winless after Sunday's 23-23 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Wentz is harried by pressure, missing easy throws and taking off running all too often. Given the state of the blocking in front of him, would the Eagles even consider a move to second-round draft pick Jalen Hurts, who is a much more athletic proposition?
Players of the Week: Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes
I've already mentioned Mahomes so let me focus on Josh Allen here as he was sensational in leading the Buffalo Bills to a 3-0 record with a 35-32 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Big, strong and never short on confidence, Allen is all grown up in his third NFL season. He threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner to Tyler Kroft with 15 seconds remaining. That 75-yard drive was Allen's seventh game-winning march since the start of 2019 - the most in the NFL. He has the odd hair-raising moment but he is a playmaker and the Bills players clearly rally around him. A star has been born.
Play of the Week
Too many to chose from in reality. This could easily go to the Chiefs for dialling up Mahomes' touchdown pass to offensive tackle Eric Fisher. But go back and watch Foles' winning touchdown pass for the Bears in Atlanta. Talk about paying the price and taking one for the team. Foles delivers a lofted beauty downfield to Anthony Miller just a split second before being smashed in the face and driven to the turf by a blitzing defender. It was a job-winning thing of beauty.
Coach of the Week
Bill Belichick should get a nod for holding Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller to two catches for nine yards, but Andy Reid has to get my vote after a Monday night masterclass. The Ravens were on the back foot defensively for the whole game and it was not just down to Mahomes and his greatness. Reid dialled up all sorts of offensive goodness, including touchdowns to surprising targets in the aforementioned Fisher and fullback Anthony Sherman.
On my Radar
This segment will feature a player or theme that is on my mind. We're not talking full-blown panic mode just yet, but I'm keeping an eye on things. Drew Brees seems unable - and unwilling - to stretch the field for a New Orleans Saints team that has now lost back to back games against the Raiders and Green Bay Packers. At 41, Brees is going to continue to hear questions about declining arm strength if he keeps dumping passes to Alvin Kamara. The Saints and their quarterback desperately miss injured wide receiver Michael Thomas, but even then he catches most of his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
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