The Philadelphia Eagles looked pretty good when they were up 17-0 on the Washington Football Team in Week 1.
Everything has gone downhill since.
The Eagles are 0-2 after blowing that Week 1 lead to Washington and then being dominated by the Los Angeles Rams, losing 37-19. West Coast teams playing an early game are supposed to start slow, but the Eagles were sleepwalking to start the game, going down 21-3 early in the second quarter.
They battled back to make it interesting, but those dreams ended when Rams tight end Tyler Higbee scored his third touchdown of the game to give the Rams a 31-19 lead. A Carson Wentz incompletion on fourth-and-2 on the following drive ensured another loss for the Eagles.
Since winning a Super Bowl, the Eagles have been lukewarm. They haven’t been terrible but also have not been as good as their roster says they should be. You’d have to say they have underachieved since winning that Super Bowl, though the malaise of the NFC East means they aren’t in a lot of trouble yet at 0-2.
Doug Pederson, who was rightfully praised during that Super Bowl season, hasn’t been great since. On Sunday, when Philadelphia was trailing 24-16 in the fourth quarter, a penalty on a field goal would have given the Eagles fourth-and-3 at the Rams’ 10-yard line. Pederson, who got a reputation for not being afraid to go for it on fourth down, took the field goal instead of trying for the first down and perhaps a touchdown. Higbee’s third touchdown came quickly on the next drive to put the game away.
The Eagles had an injury excuse in Week 1. They had several key players out. Most of those players were back in Week 2. Enough returned that Philadelphia couldn’t point to injuries as a reason for the loss. The Rams were just the better team. The Eagles’ defense couldn’t get a stop after cutting the lead to 24-19 and other than the fast start in Week 1, the offense hasn’t been very good either. There aren’t a lot of positives in Philadelphia right now.
Because the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Washington Football Team all have their issues, the Eagles have time to find themselves. They have had bad starts the past two seasons and rallied to make the playoffs both times. It would probably be better if they didn’t have to rally from a bad start for the third season in a row, but that’s looking to be the case so far for Philadelphia.
Here are the winners and losers from Week 2 of the NFL season:
Harrison Butker: It’s not fair that the NFL’s best offense has perhaps the league’s best kicker too.
On Sunday, the Chiefs offense struggled for three quarters and couldn’t score in overtime, but Butker was there to bail them out. He hit two 58-yard field goals, including the overtime game-winner, to lift Kansas City to a 20-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Butker is yet another weapon for Andy Reid. When the Chiefs faced fourth-and-1 in overtime, Reid sent Butker on for a 53-yard field goal. When there was a false start, Reid kept his kicker on for a 58-yard field goal. Had Butker missed, the Chargers would have had great field position and enough time to win the game. But Reid had confidence.
Butker didn’t let him down. He nailed the kick and the Chiefs are 2-0. It’s not a given that a Super Bowl contender will also have an All-Pro candidate at kicker. But that’s part of what makes the Chiefs so good.
The 2-0 Arizona Cardinals: It’s not often we get to use that header. The Cardinals have only been 2-0 six times since 1991, according to Pro Football Reference. The last time they were 2-0 was 2015.
There’s a new vibe with Arizona. They beat a Washington Football Team that was 1-0, and did so easily. Kyler Murray passed for 287 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the 30-15 win.
The Cardinals are in a tough NFC West, but they don’t look like they’re going anywhere. Murray is playing very well, DeAndre Hopkins gives them another star on offense and the defense has played well. The upcoming schedule isn’t difficult either, so maybe they won’t stop at 2-0.
Green Bay Packers’ decision makers: The Packers were blasted all offseason for their plan, which included not adding anything of note at receiver and trading up to draft quarterback Jordan Love right after making the NFC championship game.
The only way to make the latter decision look good was to win big despite using a first-round pick on a player who wasn’t going to help this season. So far, the Packers are having the last laugh.
Green Bay blew out the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 and got a second decisive NFC North win in Week 2, pounding the Detroit Lions 42-21 after falling behind early. Aaron Jones had a huge game with 236 total yards, Aaron Rodgers was efficient and the defense scored too. The Packers look like they’re going to be a factor in the NFC again, no matter what anyone thought of their offseason moves.
Stephen Gostkowski: Credit Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel for having faith in Gostkowski, even when he probably shouldn’t have.
Gostkowski had a terrible Week 1, missing three field goals and an extra point, though he did hit a short field goal to give the Titans a win at Denver. In Week 2, Gostkowski missed an extra point. So the decision to send him out for a 49-yard field goal in the final two minutes of a tie game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday wasn’t easy.
But Gostkowski was clutch again. His field goal with 1:36 left gave the Titans a 33-30 lead. An interception right after that sealed the win. The Titans are 2-0, and while it hasn’t been pretty for them or their kicker, they’ll take it.
Leonard Fournette: Maybe Fournette just needed to get away from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fournette rushed for 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their first win of the season, beating the Carolina Panthers 31-17. Fournette’s 46-yard touchdown in the final two minutes put the game away.
The Jaguars couldn’t find a trade partner for Fournette, saying nobody would offer them anything for the former top-five pick. The Buccaneers jumped on the opportunity to sign him, and perhaps he can provide some balance for the Tom Brady-led offense. In the process, he might revive his career.
Steelers defense, barely: You’d like to see a little more killer instinct from the Steelers, who led the Denver Broncos and were facing backup quarterback Jeff Driskel because Drew Lock was out with a shoulder injury.
But the Steelers survived. The Broncos were driving for a go-ahead score late, but Terrell Edmunds’ fourth-down sack on a blitz sealed the win. The Steelers won 26-21 and are 2-0.
Ben Roethlisberger continues to look fully healed, and the Steelers defense has had some impressive moments through two games. The Baltimore Ravens-Steelers games this season should be some of the best in the NFL this season.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills are going to be really good this season.
Josh Allen is breaking out, as he threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns as the Bills held on to win 31-28 against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins scored late to cut the lead to three points, but the Bills recovered the ensuing onside kick.
The Bills defense should be just fine, and the offense looks a lot better with Allen playing like he has through two games. The New England Patriots better be very good this season to win their 12th straight AFC East title.
Deshaun Watson: Watson must have looked across the field and felt some envy.
The Baltimore Ravens have built a great roster around their star quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Watson doesn’t have nearly as much to work with. Watson tried his best, but the Texans were overmatched in the 33-16 loss. The Texans had a tough start to begin the season, getting the Chiefs and Ravens on back-to-back weeks, but it’s still an 0-2 start.
Watson didn’t play great, and he has to be about perfect for the Texans to beat a team like Baltimore. Of course, Houston didn’t help itself with the much-maligned DeAndre Hopkins trade. The Texans still have a chance, but it’s all on Watson’s shoulders to turn the season around.
Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons: You can sum up the Falcons the past few years with one image: players watching a Dallas Cowboys onside kick slowly rolling to make it 10 yards, then Dallas jumping on it as Atlanta stood dumbfounded.
The Falcons blew a game they had no business blowing. It won’t be as infamous as 28-3, but it’s still brutal. At some point, Quinn can’t have that much job security. He won’t get fired at 0-2, but he better win fast. This 40-39 loss to the Cowboys, in which the Falcons blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead, will linger for a long time. The Cowboys drove after that onside kick for the game-winning field goal in an unbelievable finish.
You have to feel for Ryan. He threw for 450 yards in Week 1. He tossed four touchdowns in Week 2. His offense put up 39 points. And the Falcons are winless. He deserves better.
The Falcons have to figure some things out and soon. Or else a new coach will be figuring it out for them.
Saquon Barkley: There were many injuries in Week 2, but none as crushing as Barkley injuring his knee.
Barkley, the New York Giants’ star back, grabbed his knee after being tackled by Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson. He was helped off, putting no pressure on his right leg. He was ruled out shortly after and the team reportedly fears he has a torn ACL.
It’s unfortunate for many reasons, one of which is his contract. He is on his rookie deal and his next extension has been a big topic in New York. Barkley was eligible to sign an extension after this year, three seasons into his rookie contract. He was likely to surpass Christian McCaffrey’s record for running backs of $16 million per season, though the injury could complicate that.
“I'm a big believer in taking care of the little things first,” Barkley said this past offseason about his contract, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. “For now, that means getting to meetings on time and trying to be the best player and leader I can be. I feel if I take care of that, the rest will take care of itself.”
That’s the life of an NFL running back, or any player in general. They’re one play away from everything changing.
Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings lost a lot this offseason, and it’s showing.
Minnesota looked bad in a 28-11 loss to the Indianapolis Colts which was never that close. The Vikings offense was stuck on three points until garbage time. The defense, which was torched by Aaron Rodgers a week ago, was a little better this week but it didn’t really matter.
That’s because Cousins was awful. You won’t find a much worse line for a quarterback: 11 of 26, 113 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and a 15.9 rating. He also took a sack for a safety. The Vikings went big on Cousins in free agency and he did have a good season in 2019. But without as much around him this season, it might be a struggle. Hopefully for him, Sunday was rock bottom.
San Francisco 49ers: One reason the Super Bowl hangover exists is it’s hard to catch good injury luck two seasons in a row.
The 49ers weren’t extraordinarily lucky on the injury front last season, but they’ve had a season’s worth of bad injury luck already this year.
Jimmy Garoppolo left Sunday’s game at halftime and Kyle Shanahan told reporters after the game that he has a high ankle sprain and Nick Mullens will probably start next week. That’s only one of the 49ers’ injury issues.
It started when their receivers started going down, specifically Deebo Samuel with a foot injury. Then it was cornerback Richard Sherman to IR. George Kittle missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Defensive lineman Dee Ford was inactive too. Then defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas suffered knee injuries against the Jets. Running back Raheem Mostert left Sunday’s game with a knee injury as well.
The 49ers beat the Jets 31-13, but that’s not saying much. In the big picture, the 49ers are already in survival mode when it comes to injuries.
Trevor Lawrence: The Clemson quarterback might have to go play for the New York Jets. That is enough to ruin anyone’s weekend.
The Jets are awful and are the favorite to get the first pick of next year’s draft. They gave up an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game. They allowed a 55-yard run on a third-and-31, which is absolutely mind-blowing. Almost as mind-blowing was Adam Gase deciding to kick a field goal inside the 10-yard line late in the third quarter when the Jets were trailing 24-3. They look like the worst team in the NFL and it might not be close.
For Lawrence’s sake, hopefully New York has fired Gase by then.
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