Columnists, Sports

First and Goal: Minshew Mania, Danny Dimes, and the new guard of NFL quarterbacks

On Thursday night, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans played a half of football that was so inundated with penalties that even Tom Brady tweeted that he couldn’t watch the game anymore. 

The second half was suspiciously devoid of penalty flags — it’s completely obvious that the NFL told the referees at half time to cool it with the penalties because it is affecting the product on the field. Brady’s tweet shot up red flags in the NFL offices because not only was the second half officiated differently, the league also announced this week that referees were informed to decrease the number of holding penalties they call.

Despite the disastrous start, week three of the season ushered in the new age of signal callers in the NFL. The star quarterbacks of the past 20 years are either in the twilight of their careers or have already retired and that left people wondering if there would be any way to follow up the golden era of QBs. 

The reigning MVP, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, continues to dominate defenses around the league as he already looks like this season’s MVP. At just 24 , Mahomes looks like someone playing Madden on rookie difficulty. In three games this season he has thrown for 1,195 yards, 10 touchdowns,and has not thrown a pick. At this point, the first-ever 6,000 yard season does not seem out of the question.

Lamar Jackson didn’t look great for the majority of the Ravens’ game versus the Chiefs, but he still threw for 267 yards and added 46 yards plus a touchdown on the ground. Jackson’s evolution continues to be the biggest story of the young season. Last season Jackson threw for 1,201 yards in his seven starts, this season he already has thrown for 863 yards, putting him far past his pace from last season. 

New York Giants QB Daniel Jones got the first start of his career against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he impressed on all levels. Throughout the game Jones made great throws and the occasional mistake, but the most impressive thing was that Jones calmly led the Giants down the field in the final minutes before scrambling up the middle for the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute left to play. 

Eli Manning is most definitely out of a job after Jones’ debut performance. Jones threw for 336 yards, two touchdowns and also ran in two more touchdowns, including the game-winner, in his stellar performance.

Gardner Minshew of the Jaguars is now the ‘people’s QB’. The fans’ infatuation started with his glorious mustache, then a photo of him getting off the team’s plane in a 70s style suit. The cherry on top was the report that Minshew stretches in the locker room in just his jockstrap.

Minshew might have only thrown for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the Jaguars’ victory on Thursday night, but fans in Jacksonville and across the country have been infected with Minshew Mania as shown by his jersey being the top-seller on the Jaguars’ team store.

DeShaun Watson continues to make a name for himself down in Houston as well. He threw for over 4,000 yards last season and has electrifying speed on the ground as well. This week, Watson led the Houston Texans to a tough road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. He threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns but he continues to take beatings every game as his offensive line just cannot block for him.

Josh Allen has something going on in Buffalo too, the second year QB has the Buffalo Bills at 3-0 for the first time since 2011. Allen threw for 243 yards and a touchdown while also chipping in 46 hard earned rushing yards where he took some whacks. 

For every good performance by a young QB in week three, there was a terrible one to match it.

Luke Falk started for the New York Jets this week and the offense under his lead looked downright incompetent. Falk threw for a measly 98 yards and an interception as the Jets offense only earned six first downs on the day, with two coming from penalties.

Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns have not come close to reaching the expectations that they set before the season started. Mayfield ran for his life behind a makeshift offensive line during Sunday night’s loss to the LA Rams and the playcalling did the offense no favors either. 

In one of the worst play calls in recent memory, head coach Freddie Kitchens called a draw from the shotgun formation on fourth and nine in the fourth quarter that was promptly snuffed out by the Rams’ stellar defense.

Mayfield threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, but he continues to underperform because of awful play calls, non-existent blocking, and his own inability to stay strong in the pocket and make accurate throws to Pro Bowl receivers.

Games to Watch Next Week

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills 

This game could be a close one but  raucous one. Both teams are 3-0 and the game is in Buffalo where the Bills Mafia, the Bills’ crazy fans, will surely be frothing at the mouth for a chance to beat Brady and take the division lead for the first time in ages. 

The Patriots have rolled through their first three games but this Bills defense will be much better than anything they’ve seen thus far. Expect a Patriots win, but it should be close because the Patriots offense is really banged up.

Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions 

There seems to be some magic brewing in Detroit, the Lions looked terrible to start the season but they’ve now shocked two teams in a row. First they knocked off the Chargers and Phillip Rivers and then they narrowly edged the Eagles in Philadelphia. 

The Chiefs look more likely to win because Mahomes seems to be unstoppable, but don’t be surprised if the Lions squeeze out another shocker because Matt Stafford seems to have a knack for fourth quarter comebacks with 34 career game-winning drives.

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints 

The Cowboys dismantled the Dolphins in the second half of this week’s game and are a solid team overall sitting at 3-0. Teddy Bridgewater took over for the injured Drew Brees and shocked Seattle in a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard indicates. Keep an eye on Dallas QB Dak Prescott as he continues his breakout year.

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