NFL WEEK 3 COLUMN: Three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

Week 3 of the NFL season carried on some of the same dramatic flair seen in Week 2 (no, this is not just the Falcons blowing two 15-point leads in the fourth quarter). 

Ranging from last-second touchdowns to unfortunate mistakes, Sunday’s slew of games highlighted the success of a few great players, but also boiled the frustrations of the fanbases watching their teams continue to struggle, including the Vikings, Texans and Jets, just to name a few.

Week 3 also had a significant decrease in major injuries, which is a major plus after the notable amount of injuries sustained by big name players in Week 2. Here are three good things, three bad things and one thing to keep an eye on heading into Week 4.  


Josh Allen Circles the Wagons 

This take may not be new to the fans in western New York, but after Sunday’s outing against the Rams, it is time for the rest of the league to take the Bills, and specifically quarterback Josh Allen, more seriously.

Give credit to the Rams for finding their way back from a 28-3 deficit to retake the lead, but this game was about Allen. In a marquee game, he delivered big time for the Bills, throwing for 311 yards and 4 TD, and running for one more. 

After the Rams took the lead with 4:30 left in the game, Allen marched down the field with a couple of huge throws to wide receiver Cole Beasley and capped off the 75-yard drive with a toss to tight end Tyler Kroft to seal the game.

Last week, the Bills found themselves down against the Miami Dolphins and Allen delivered. The Rams are a much better team than the Dolphins, but Allen’s poise has been mostly consistent against all opponents this year. If he can keep up this level of play, the Bills (3-0) can become real contenders in a loaded AFC.  

Russell Wilson is leading the MVP discussion 

There is not much else to say about Russell Wilson this season except that he has been stellar. Once again, Wilson showed he is operating on a different level, as he dissected and depleted a talent-lacking Cowboys defense to the tune of 315 yards, 5 TD and a passer rating of 130.7 in a 38-31 victory for the Seahawks.

Seattle’s offense has been electric this season with Wilson at the helm, posting over 30 points in each game. Somehow, Wilson has not received the MVP award in the past, despite his role in carrying the franchise successfully for many years, but that could change this season.

Wilson will need to keep posting similar numbers and playing at this level for the Seahawks to stay atop a daunting NFC West.  

49ers Complete Big Apple Sweep 

The 49ers arguably have been plagued the most by injuries early this season.

On Sunday, San Francisco took the field without Raheem Mostert, George Kittle or Jimmy Garoppolo, and still managed to hang 36 points on the New York Giants. The 49ers win on Sunday was an impressive response after an adverse week where several key players went down, including defensive end Joey Bosa, who may be gone for the rest of the season.

Squashing two of the worst teams back to back seems like a minor headline, but San Francisco will be glad to gather up wins like these to keep pace in the best division in pro football.  


Turn Up the Heat on the ATL Hot Seat 

If the NFL played three quarters, the Falcons would be sitting at 2-1 and tied for the lead in the NFC South. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and head coach Dan Quinn’s team has struggled mightily the last two weeks to finish football games.

After their debacle in Dallas, the Falcons headed home for what most thought would be a game for them to get back on track. Taking a 26-10 lead into the fourth quarter, it seemed like they were in a good spot.

Then, Nick Foles came in at quarterback for Mitchell Trubisky (which may be a permanent change). Foles rallied the Bears with three scores in the fourth, sending Twitter into another frenzy and the Falcons to a record of 0-3.

Granted, the team was without Pro Bowl wideout Julio Jones, but the defense struggled down the stretch and the offense could not make any winning plays to put the game out of reach. 

To make matters worse, Atlanta travels to Green Bay next Monday night to play a team averaging over 40 points per game. If Quinn fails to have his team ready, Aaron Rodgers and a potent Packers offense will not hesitate to send them to 0-4. 


Once again, the NFC East is the worst division in football.

Starting at the top (surprisingly), the Washington Football Team is a young group not expected to do much, but quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the offense turned the ball over five times against the Browns. Defensive lineman Chase Young also went down with a groin injury, but it should not keep him out of action for a significant amount of time. 

Dallas has shown some good in the early stages of the Mike McCarthy era, but a lot more disappointment. Kellen Moore’s play calling has come into question on offense, but the defense has been nothing short of atrocious. Byron Jones’ departure has hurt the secondary, which has a myriad of injuries and inconsistent play from young players has resulted in Mike Nolan’s bunch giving up an average of 277 pass yards per game and 32.3 points per game.

Dak Prescott has played well for the most part, but a banged-up offensive line has underperformed expectations. There is time for the Cowboys to try and fix some of these issues, but this team has disappointed in the early stages of the season.

The Eagles disappointed once again, unable to beat Joe Burrow and the Bengals at home. Carson Wentz continued to struggle and turn the ball over, adding two more interceptions to his season total, but managed to run for a touchdown that ended up being the last score in a 23-23 tie.

The Eagles are a bad football team, but the Giants look even worse, sitting at 0-3. Losing running back Saquon Barkley has not helped, but their offense is extremely lacking so far, ranking near the bottom of the league in team offense and only averaging 272.3 yards on offense.

Despite this horrendous start for the division, Dallas still looks like the best team and should win the division, but whoever wins may not finish with a record over .500.  

Cooldown for Kyler 

The Lions shocking victory fell a little under the radar Sunday afternoon, as Matt Prater booted Detroit to its first win of the season.

More than anything, this game showed second-year quarterback Kyler Murray still has lots of room to grow. Murray threw for 270 and two touchdowns, but his three interceptions proved costly for the Cardinals.

Murray has been electric this season, and his touchdown run exemplified this explosiveness, but Sunday showed some flaws he has as a young quarterback.

Murray rushed some throws and made some poor reads, but these mistakes take very little away from him as a player. If anything, he will use this game as a lesson to grow. 

The Cardinals are still a very talented group, and Murray’s connection with newly aquired wideout Deandre Hopkins continues to demonstrate the incompetence of Texans coach Bill O’Brien (who infamously traded Hopkins away).

Regardless, Kliff Kingsbury’s team is an exciting storyline early in the season and should play a role in shaping the NFC playoff picture. Sitting at 2-1, the Cardinals now head out of the desert for a three-game road trip against teams all with losing records.  

Keep an Eye On: Status of Michael Thomas 

The New Orleans Saints sit at 1-2 after falling to the Packers on Sunday night. While a single WR should not be the deciding factor for a Drew Brees-led offense, Thomas’ presence has certainly been missed. 

Thomas, the NFL’s leading receiver a year ago, has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain.

Thomas presents a downfield threat for the Saints that other wideouts on the roster just can’t provide. The offense was better against Green Bay than it was against Vegas a week ago, but if the Saints are going to win the NFC South and an aging Drew Brees can be the best version of himself, Thomas needs to be on the field. 

The Saints have other issues besides the missing Thomas-Brees connection, but having him back will elevate Brees’ game and take the pressure off of running back Alvin Kamara to provide in the passing game. The Saints head to Detroit next week and will try to get back to .500 as Thomas’ injury status remains in question. 

NFL WEEK 2 COLUMN: League experiences unusually high number of injuries

photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

By Ryan Surmay

Week 2 of the National Football League season was one of the league’s weirdest in recent memory.

It seemed as though in every game, a key starter went down with a significant injury.

These injuries will have a severe impact on this season, as many teams lost key players and are forced to adjust game plans for the rest of the year.  

The most notable injured players included Saquon Barkley, the running back for the New York Giants, and Nick Bosa, the San Francisco 49ers’ reigning NFC Rookie of the year.

Both suffered from season-ending ACL tears.

Christian McCaffrey, who amassed nearly 2400 yards from scrimmage last year for the Carolina Panthers, suffered a high ankle sprain and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

The list goes on, with other notable players such as Jimmy Garoppolo, Drew Lock, Bruce Irvin, and Courtland Sutton all expected to miss significant time.  

The 49ers seemed to be hit the worst with the injury bug in their game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

In the first half, San Francisco lost Bosa and Soloman Thomas, the team’s two starting defensive ends, on back-to-back plays.

They both were carted off the field with knee injuries. It was later revealed that they both tore their ACL.

Then, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, which kept him out of the game after halftime.

Running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman also suffered knee sprains. The 49ers lost five starters on Sunday, while already being without others such as starters George Kittle, Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett.  

After the game, the NFL launched an investigation on the turf at MetLife Stadium after members of the 49ers claimed that the turf was “sticky,” which would explain all the lower-body injuries because of the abnormal movements in their legs.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan backed his players, saying, “I know that’s as many knee injuries and ankle stuff and people getting caught on the turf as I have ever been a part of.”

“From what I saw, the other team did, too,” Shanahan said. “I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was. It was something our guys we’re concerned about right away and the results definitely made that a lot stronger.” 

The NFL said that it performed all the required testing on the turf, and found that it was up to code and safe to play on.  

These injuries were not just a factor in this game, but a trend around the league.

Some may attribute injuries to the fact that the league had no preseason games for the first time since 1977, and while that can be a factor, it is not the only possible explanation.   

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL was forced to make changes to its offseason plans in order to be ready for the season to start on time.

One of the biggest adjustments to this was the shortening of training camps. Players reported to camp this year on July 28, while during the 2019 season, they had to report by July 17.

While it may only be roughly a two-week difference, there was no optional, team-led practices in the offseason like there normally is.  

The combination of a shortened camp and no preseason games forced all the players to speed up the process of getting ready for the season.

Their bodies were not acclimated to all of the hits and abnormal movements they were taking, which may have caused them to suffer more soft tissue injuries. 

Football Hall of Fame Series: Charles Haley

By Josh Svetz

The game of football has had many polarizing figures in its history. However, sometimes the off-field reputation of a player can outweigh his greatness on the field, and former San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys great Charles Haley is the epitome of that

For thirteen seasons, Haley was a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. He was a five-time Super Bowl champion (the only player ever to win five) and a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He finished his career with over 100 sacks and 26 forced fumbles.

However, Haley’s on field achievements have been severely outweighed by stories of his locker room and off field behavior during his career.

Just a few highlights of Haley’s alleged bizarre behavior are the time he urinated on a teammates’ BMW, attempted to punch 49ers coach George Seifert and made lewd gestures during team meetings.

Of course, his past behavior can be explained by his diagnosis of bipolar disorder among other mental issues. Despite his challenges, through therapy and medication, Haley has been able to manage his mental state, becoming a genuinely changed man in the process.

Haley understands his past mistakes and hasn’t been shy about owning up to his baggage when asked about the occurrences, especially with the 49ers, who traded him to the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 as a result of his behavior.

“There was a ton of bad blood from my stand point,” said Haley. “When I left (the 49ers) I didn’t talk to anybody there. I was just mad at the world and (at the time) I never looked at my side of the fence. I just pointed the finger at everyone who I felt like betrayed me.”

Since then, however, Haley has made amends with the 49ers, repairing his relationship with the organization enough to be able to work with players like Aldon Smith and be invited to talk to rookies during rookie minicamp.

Even with the relationship repaired, Haley couldn’t figure out why the 49ers were able to forgive him.

“(The organization) has opened their arms up to me, and I know some of my (past) actions and behavior would seem like it would close a lot of doors. I stopped asking myself why, I just started saying ‘thank you god for having all these people around me that care about me’,” said Haley.

“I tell kids that when I went to the NFL as a twenty-two year old athlete I had an eleven year old kid crying inside of me for help, but I refused to ask for it. I think the people that reached out to me were the people that saw me hurting and knew that I needed help, but knew I was too dumb or weak to ask for it.

“Regardless of why they did it, I’m very appreciative. I realize at this stage in my life that it’s better to mend bridges than burn them down, and all those people that helped me in my career, all I can tell them is thank you and I love you.”

Despite the people that helped Haley and the bridges he’s mended, he still recognizes that some of his former teammates and coaches have not forgiven him for his past indiscretions.

“I just let people watch the way I am now and try to be a friend”, said Haley.

“How many times can you tell someone that you’re sorry? The thing that people want to know is that you have changed and that’s what’s more important is that I have changed.”

Haley began to get a little emotional as he continued to explain his thoughts.

“I tell my (former) teammates, I tell everyone that ‘you know what, I’m not going to have one foot in the grave and one foot out,” he said. “I’m moving forward. (If) you want to move with me that’s fine; I’m just not going to turn around and let my mistakes get behind me and come back up.

“I’ve moved past that, when my teammates or whoever come around they know that I’ll go out of my way to be supportive in all the things that they do. If they don’t know they should know, (because) actions speak louder than words.”

Haley has indeed let those actions speak, as he has been involved with numerous charities and become a mentor to aspiring football players as well as current players like the aforementioned Smith. Haley reached out to Smith when the 25-year-old linebacker entered rehab, and has since helped him with his off field struggles.

In the end, despite the hurtful behavior Haley displayed during his early years in the NFL, he has made amends and moved forward. His story shows us that people can change for the better even if they make the bad decisions he did.

While Haley’s past reputation will always be mentioned, his present actions show that those shouldn’t represent him. His enshrinement into Canton will allow his legacy to be defined by his impact on the football field and the man he is today.