I felt like the Bears’ coach Matt Nagy reacted too much on Sunday when he pulled starting quarterback Mitchell Trubiski out of the game and scored Nick Falls. Of course, Trubiski wasn’t great against the Falcons. And he had just thrown an intercept, a deadly drive. But we have certainly seen it look worse, and besides, the Bears started 2-0 with Trubiski under the center.
By the time Falls entered the game, I had begun to think about the weekly overreaction column, and all I could think about was that Nagy was trying to straighten me out. Here he reacted too much before I even opened my Word document!
But then I looked again, figured out who the Bears were playing, and decided it had a chance to look really good for Nagy. Which eventually happened.
The Bears must be the strangest team in the league right now. They are 3-0 and have no idea who their quarterback is. They came back from a 23-6 deficit in the fourth quarter against the Lions in week 1. They almost made a 17-0 lead over the terrifying-looking Giants team in week 2. And then that.
So where better to start the overreactions this week than in Chicago, where Nagy looked like he was trying to make us jump, but was actually just making the right call at the right time:
Mitchell Trubiski started his last game for the Bears
If Trubyski’s performance was the reason for Sunday’s bench, it’s hard to see how the next one would change Nagy’s mind. After the interception, Falls looked like his old Eagles Super Bowl MVP. He finished 16-for-29, passing for 188 yards and three touchdowns. He figured out how to find Alan Robinson, his best successor, almost every time he had to. For a brilliant quarter, he was all the Bears wanted and needed their quarterback if they were to fight for a place in the NFC playoffs. If you were sick with Trubyski in the third quarter, you were all-in on Foles in the fourth.
Sentence: OVERREACTION. For sure, Falls will start next week against the Colts. But he is a reserve career player who has not always been in the picture of health and has lost his starting quarterback competitions in four different teams – including his current team less than a month ago. The Bears’ coaching staff thought enough about Trubiski’s progress until the end of August to give him work on Falls.
And here’s the biggest thing: Falls didn’t do anything on Sunday that Trubiski didn’t do against the Lions in week 1! Who’s to say that a full-game Foles will look like the Foles from the fourth quarter on Sunday. Yes, the Bears will try it. But his story shows that at some point they will have to at least consider returning to number 2 in the 2017 draft.
I stand by my pre-season prediction that each of these boys will start at least six games for the Bears this season. Trubiski is halfway there. How close will the Foles get before they return? And a better question: If they continue to win all their games, does it matter?
NFC East is worse than ever
When all the divisions are on the playground, NFC East is the one everyone else makes fun of. “Your division is so bad that the team that had the best day on Sunday equalized the Bengalis!” Sick burns, other divisions, but the truth hurts.
The Eagles shouted and played in the last moments of the overtime against the Bengalis without trying to win – content to bind one of the worst teams in the league, even after a last-minute return from their regulated quarterback – and still won half a game from any other team in the division. Washington and Dallas are tied for first place at 1-2. The only two wins NFC East has in three weeks are (1) against another NFC East team and (2) against the Falcons, who basically use only nine boys in defense in the fourth quarter.
NFC East is combined 2-9-1 to three weeks. That’s a percentage of 208 wins – the second worst of all divisions in three weeks since the league moved to eight divisions in 2002. AFC North 2002 was 2-8 in three weeks.
Sentence: NO TERMINATION. I’m not ready to say that the NFC East champion will not have a winning record – 2002 AFC North finished with two teams over .500, and one of them was the Browns – but this is not impossible.
The Cowboys have conceded 78 points in the last two weeks and their only victory was a historic miracle. The Washington Fumble team returned to beat the Eagles in Week 1, but has since turned the ball seven times in both games. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has three touchdowns, six interceptions and has not scored 50.0 in Total QBR in any of his three games. And the Giants have just lost 36-9 to a team made up almost entirely of 49ers backups. I’m not sure if math works that way, but it does possible that if you can’t beat a team’s backups, you can’t be considered one of the top 32 teams in the league.
It’s ugly on these NFC East Streets here, and none of these teams have even had to play Ravens yet. (And everyone will.)
Adam Gaze will be fired if the planes lose to Denver on Thursday night
Again, the Giants lost by four touchdowns to a team that lacked at least nine starters, and there is a legitimate debate in New York about which team is worse. Gaze made the playoffs in 2016, his first year as coach of the Dolphins, but since then he has been 20-31 years old and it is safe to say that his reputation as an insulting brain has taken some hits.
No team has won fewer yards last season than the Jets, and only Washington has scored fewer points. The Jets entered the yards last Sunday and added just 260 in a Colt loss. Their 37 points in three games so far are the lowest in the league – one point behind the aforementioned giants. And perhaps the most reprehensible case against Gaze is the way boys like Ryan Tanehill, Kenyan Drake, DeVante Parker and Robbie Anderson have played since they broke up with him.
Sentence: NO TERMINATION. The Broncos team, which the Jets play on Thursday, are also 0-3 and have scored only 40 points. But Denver had to play on Sunday without their injured starting quarterback and their best wide receiver. Yes, the jets hit the receiver hard, but Sam Darnold’s third year was supposed to be one in which he showed real progress. He was 17-for-29 on Sunday, passing for 168 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, two of which were returned for the Colts’ touchdowns.
Kalen Balaj tries to jump over a Colts defender, but instead takes two big hits and is stopped.
The Jets swapped and took Darnold No. 3 overall in the 2018 draft and they have to decide on a fifth year for him this spring. He needs to show growth if they commit to it after 2021 and if they eventually have the first choice in the project, their fans will want to take Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and start again in the position. This is not a good place to hire a coach.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said Sunday morning that property was becoming uneasy and Gaze’s place was getting hotter. If the Jets are 0-4 after Thursday night, they have 10 days before their next game and time to make a change if they want. Aircraft Coordinator Greg Williams became a 5-3 interim coach for the Browns after firing Hugh Jackson two years ago. just saying’.
Deschawn Watson’s crew played a game against him on Sunday, but could not hold out against Pittsburgh, and the Texans are 0-3 for the second time in three years. Tennessee leads AFC south 3-0, followed closely by 2-1 in Indianapolis and both look like legitimate contenders. After an off-season in which coach / general manager Bill O’Brien caught a lot of heat to trade away with wide-ranging successor DeAndre Hopkins over a contract dispute, the slow start doesn’t help anyone benefit from the doubt.
Sentence: OVERREACTION. Remember a few seconds ago when I said Texas was 0-3 for the second time in three years? Yes, well, they recovered and won the division in 2018. And they have won it four of the last five years. You can hit O’Brien’s decisions for CEO if you want, but as a coach he has shown his ability to make the playoffs.
The Texans still have the best quarterback in the division, despite Ryan Tanehill’s screaming start. And it’s entirely possible that the three teams that have played so far – Kansas City, Baltimore and Pittsburgh – are the top three teams in the league. What did they do to make schedule creators so angry with them? Swear, when I checked their schedule as I wrote this, I expected half of their next two games to be against Buffalo and Seattle. They are not.
However, the Texans have undoubtedly gone through the most difficult part of their schedule. They have two direct matches against each of their opponents in the division. There are seven playoff seats in each conference this season. And they have been here before. It’s too early to panic in Houston.
Drew Bryce is part of the problem in New Orleans
The Saints lost to the Packers on Sunday night to fall to 1-2, six days after losing to the Raiders in Las Vegas. Their 41-year-old quarterback looked sharper than in week 2, but he still seemed reluctant to shoot down, and Alvin Camara did most of his work for him after the catch. The Chamber had 57 yards after catching its 52-yard touchdown. Think about it. Brees came into play an average of 4.81 air yards of experience, and on Sunday night he averaged 4.61. These are really low numbers and they are moving in the wrong direction.
Sentence: OVERREACTION. It was close, but I give the future Hall of Fame the advantage of doubt. Brace will not win handball matches at this time. No shame in that. But if he can be accurate and smart and manage the offense in rhythm, he has enough brilliant players around him to make him work. Michael Thomas, who set a record in the NFL with 149 catches for a season a year ago, missed the last two games due to injury and must return soon. Narrow Jared Cook left the game on Sunday in the first half with an injury.
25 penalties for the Saints for 336 yards this season. feel like a bigger reason for their current difficulty. Once the rest of the Saints’ offense is over, we need to see better and more consistently sharp Brees and a team from New Orleans recovering from their 1-2 start and fighting for the NFC South title, as we all expected. I may be wrong, but I think that given the circumstances, it is too early to give up Brees in 2020.