Minnesota’s stout defence was expected to tear rookie Josh Allen to shreds, but it was the other way around as the quarterback’s mobility and arm talent was on display all game.
Allen finished with 196 yards and a touchdown through the air for a passer rating of 111.2, but his legs were arguably more impressive as he picked up 39 yards on 10 rushes, often leaving the pocket to create something out of nothing. He even had a head-turning hurdle that was more befitting for a running back.
Overall, it was a head-scratching performance by a Vikings side that looked like one of the very best teams in the league through the first two weeks. While this may have been a one-off game by the defence, there are real concerns over how much protection the offensive line can afford Kirk Cousins right now.
With a short turnaround coming as Minnesota now prepare to face the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, another ugly effort could be coming against Aaron Donald and Co. That meeting will tell us a lot more about where the Vikings currently standing in the NFC.
Here’s what else we learned in Week 3.
INJURY TO INSULT
The San Francisco 49ers were torched by the Kansas City Chiefs attack in their 38-27 defeat, but the bigger loss was losing Jimmy Garoppolo for what could be the season.
The quarterback is feared to have torn his ACL after his knee buckled on a fourth-quarter scramble, which would prematurely end what was supposed to be his first full year with the 49ers.
It would be a blow San Francisco aren’t equipped to endure, at least when it comes to their playoff hopes. Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system is capable of still squeezing out points, but back-up quarterback C.J. Beathard is hardly a reliable hand to keep the offence humming.
Last year:— Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) September 23, 2018
Jimmy Garoppolo: 0.34 expected points added per drop back (per @numberFire)
C.J. Beathard: -0.16
Beathard was a half point worse on each drop back than Jimmy G. This offense is dust.
In seven games last year, Beathard completed just 54.9 per cent of his passes, while tossing four touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 69.2.
The 49ers probably weren’t going to challenge for the Super Bowl this year anyways, but they now lose a season of development for Garoppolo with Shanahan. It’s a heartbreaking scenario for a pairing that came into the season with so much anticipation and excitement.
ROSEN ERA BEGINS
After two-plus games of lifeless offence, the Arizona Cardinals finally turned to rookie Josh Rosen to replace starting quarterback Sam Bradford on Sunday.
Rosen came on in relief with 4:31 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ 16-14 loss after Bradford threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Arizona weren’t afraid to throw their young gunslinger straight into the fire, and although Rosen wasn’t able to lead a comeback, it was telling the Cardinals had enough confidence in him to bring him on in less than ideal circumstances.
Afterward, head coach Steve Wilks was noncommittal on who he’ll start next week against the Seattle Seahawks, but it’s fairly clear that Arizona’s ceiling is limited with Bradford under centre.
The franchise may have wanted to be patient with Rosen, but it’s not as if he’s an unpolished product who is major project. Rosen was one of the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year’s draft class and while he’ll undoubtedly go through his ups and downs as a rookie full-time starter, it will also expedite his learning process.
ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER MATTHEWS PENALTY
For the third straight week, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews was flagged for a roughing the passer call, with his sack of Washington’s Alex Smith on Sunday being taken off the board.
This is a foul for roughing the passer - the defender lands “with all or most of the defender’s weight” on the passer. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9(b): https://t.co/s9YKN8NLuT #GBvsWAS pic.twitter.com/ei2QZkvvzx— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) September 23, 2018
Afterward, Matthews said the league is “getting soft” because they’re flagging players “who play the game hard” like he does.
While the penalty on Sunday may have seemed harsh and controversial, it was the right call. Matthews brought down Smith in a way that saw him put most of his weight into the quarterback as he was hitting the ground. That’s not to say it was intentional, but by the letter of the law, the officiating crew got it right.
The hit could be interpreted differently by different people, but Matthews isn’t doing anyone any favours by calling the league “soft” as if he’s Donald Trump.
The NFL have rightly taken criticism for how dangerous the sport is and how little they’ve done to protect players over the years, but one thing that the league has gotten right of late is tweaking rules to improve safety, such as the helmet rule they implemented this offseason.
Yes, it will require defensive players to somewhat alter their approach and mindset, but that will ultimately improve the health of the game in the long run.
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