This week on the Panic Meter we find teams crippled by injury, others lacking any sense of energy, and others who no one thought would appear on the list this season.
New England Patriots: Panic
Lets just get to it, the Patriots are bad. Not only are they bad, but they haven’t been this bad since pre-Bledsoe era. Thats right, all the way back to before Brady was even in college. The Patriots have prided themselves on the “Patriot Way”, but the team’s motto has disappeared to begin the 2018 season.
The Pats lost 26-10 to the 0-2 Lions on Sunday and never had a chance to win the game. The Patriots completely stalled on offense and the defense was bullied the whole night.
Yes, the Patriots have turned it around more often than not in the last 19 seasons of Tom Brady’s career, but the lack of talent on offense has never been worse with key players out or on other teams. The defense, which is already subpar, is failing to stay healthy and only worsening the odds for the team.
With Miami off to a surprising 3-0 start, the Patriots are already playing catch up, and this time it might be too little too late.
San Francisco 49ers: Panic
The 49ers watched their season disappear before their eyes as rising star quarterback Jimmy Garappolo went down in the 4th quarter this week, suffering a torn ACL and ending his season. Garappolo was running towards the sideline before adjusting at the last moment to lower his shoulder into a defender.
The contact did not tear his ACL, in the video below you can see the quarterback’s knee buckle while trying to stop himself from running out of bounds before getting hit.
49ers fans can cringe as they realize if the young quarterback had just stepped out of bounds, perhaps he wouldn’t have suffered any injury at all.
A non-contact injury has derailed the 49ers season, and the team will now turn to backup C.J. Beathard to captain the ship for the rest of the season. Will the 49ers front office to consider tanking their season on purpose in hopes of surrounding Garappolo with more talent through the draft once he returns next year?
Houston Texans: Panic
The Texans have no doubt had a disappointing start to their season as they are winless through three games. Houston has struggled tremendously in the first half, trailing by at least 14 in each of their first three games.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson’s attempted late game heroics have fallen short, helping the final score look a little closer, but a loss is still a loss. The addition of a healthy Will Fuller is one bright spot for the team, and if he can continue to take the pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins opposite him, this offense has a chance.
But the run game has to stay consistent. The combined efforts of Watson, Miller, and Alfred Blue managed to eclipse 100 yards in their first two games before dipping in week 3. The Texan offense needs to figure out how to control the ball on the ground while making big plays down field in the passing game.
The turnover bug along with a slew of injuries continues to plague the team, and a game against the 1-2 Colts next week will really show where the team stands among the winless teams.
Green Bay Packers: Panic
The Packers have been fortunate to start their season by beating a young Chicago Bears team in a comeback win, tying a questionable Minnesota Vikings team in week 2, and earning their first loss week three against the Washington Redskins.
Each of these games have been winnable, and probably games that fans circled on the calendar as easy victories. But Green Bay is currently 1-1-1, and lucky to be — they could easily be 0-3.
This Packer team is still talented on both sides of the ball, but an unhealthy Aaron Rodgers has shown just how much his team relies on him. Rodgers has continued to throw the ball well in the first three weeks, but the run game has been non existent and opposing teams are aware.
The other issue is the Packers defense falling victim to the NFL’s adjusted roughing the passer rules. Clay Matthews has been penalized in each game the team has played this season, one of which allowed the Vikings to tie the game and send it in to overtime, resulting in a tie.
Whether you agree with the rules or not, the Packer defense will need to adapt to them. As for the offense, Aaron Rodgers on one knee will not be able to continue to save the Packers. If the team isn’t cautious, they could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff season.
Buffalo Bills: Rejoice
Against all odds, facing a probable 0-16 season, the Bills made the decision to roll the dice on quarterback Josh Allen early, and he did not disappoint.
Josh Allen took the field full speed and never looked back. The quarterback completed 68% of his passes, one for a touchdown, and ran in another two on the ground to lead his team to a 27-6 victory over the Vikings, who were a heavy favorite. Allen’s ball security in the air and surprising agility in the run game should have Bills fans very excited.
The Bills coaching staff used Allen exactly as they should, a game manager. 22 pass attempts in the NFL today is on the lower side, but for a rookie quarterback its the sweet spot. Minimize opportunities for mistakes and drive down the field, and that’s exactly what the Bills offense did Sunday.
If the stat line doesn’t impress you enough, Allen’s athletic ability was showcased in all areas against the Vikings.
The Bills may have found their quarterback of the future, even with a small sample size. At the very least the Bills avoided the fate of the Browns last season by winning a game, so take a deep breath Buffalo fans…for now.
Dallas Cowboys: Panic
Dallas had a brief taste of success in the post-Tony Romo era as Dak Prescott shined in his rookie season. But to start the 2018 campaign, the Cowboys offense has been stagnant to say the least. The team has yet to eclipse 20 points this season and have started 1-2, with their only victory against the equally unsuccessful division rival N.Y. Giants.
The Dallas offense converted less than 50% of their third down attempts on Sunday, forcing their limping defense on to the field again and again. Prescott has struggled to find any chemistry with his receivers since veteran Dez Bryant left the team. His absence has depleted the Cowboy passing game.
The run game has been average this season, but at least Ezekiel Elliot has managed not to get suspended so far this season. Still, a costly fumble and an unnecessary penalty in Sunday’s matchup by the running back continues to hold his team back.
Prescott can still be an elite quarterback in this league, but not on his own. He needs a talented supporting cast that Dallas simply does not have right now. Whether tanking their season and looking toward the draft is the answer, or trading for key positional players, something surely has to change for America’s team.
Philadelphia Eagles: Rejoice
Wentz is back! The prodigal son Carson Wentz Returns!
Eagles fans have reason to celebrate as their franchise quarterback is back and while a little rusty, showed signs that his knee injury won’t bother him long term.
Wentz and the Eagles defeated the Indianapolis Colts 20-16 on Sunday, and although beating the Colts is nothing to brag about, the Eagles were as unhealthy as you can be offensively and still managed to pull out a win. The team were missing running backs Jay Ajayi, Darren Proles, and running back Corey Clement played, although he was listed on the injury report.
Also Wentz played his first game back since obliterating his knee last season, and it didn’t seem to be an issue on a wet and rainy field.
The second year quarterback completed 67% of his throws, managed to go even with one touchdown and one interception, and even found a way to pick up 10 yards in the run game. A safe game for Wentz, but nonetheless promising for the rest of his season.
With a full running back core retuning next week, and a game under his belt, the Eagle offense looks primed and ready to make a run for the NFC East division which is up for grabs as of right now.
And one last thought: 173 teams have started a season 0-3 since 1980, and only five of them have made the playoffs.
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