After Monday Night Football, we can now see a definitive separation of Winners and Losers in the NFL.
The dreaded 0-3 Club now has six unwilling and surprising teams as members. All of these teams are bewildered, as many were actually in the Top 6 around this time last year, and some even went all the way to the playoffs. It seems the balance of power has shifted dramatically and not for the reasons one would think. Listed below in no particular order are the teams carrying the burden of 0-3 looking forward to Week 4.
Having lost to the Titans (9-16) the Bengals (-20) and the Bears (23-4) the Steelers are not looking like the team they want to be. OR have been in fact. Plagued by key injuries (Heath Miller, TE, knee) and turnovers, this proud franchise is getting the evil eye in the Steel City. The Terrible Towels may end up being used as tissues if the Steelers can’t work their way out of this funk and get back to their winning ways.
New York Giants
Eli Manning sacked seven times. Seven times… in one game. Unbelievable. The younger Manning emerged in recent years as an elite quarterback, though many compared him unfavorably with the elder. Not to say that Eli is not a good quarterback. In fact he has shown in two Super Bowl wins and MVP awards that he can be great. This season however, Eli Manning and his Giants are not walking tall. They are barely walking at all. After five years the Giants were almost assured a win at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, but the Cowboys took a stand and broke the streak on opening day. Since then, it appears to be all downhill, as Eli’s offensive line proves less and less effective when it comes to protecting him. Welcome to the bizarro universe, where Eli Manning can only complete 12 of 23 passes, eats more turf than a herd of longhorns, and the New York Giants get shutout by the Carolina Panthers.
The hype over Robert Griffin III was proven believable after the Redskins won the division last year. Until a knee injury to the dynamic rookie brought his teams march through the playoffs to a screeching halt. It wasn’t just his knee. There were other factors in play of course, but RG3’s mobility and precision created a monster in Washington that was hungry and rolling around the league looking for snacks. Take that away and you’ve got a good-looking young man hobbling around in a knee brace behind a line so worried about defending him they forget to actually play the game. That was the end of last season.
This season, RG3 was kept out of preseason play. Many called this a smart move. Let him come back completely healthy so that his signature moves could once again elevate the team to playoffs heights. Others thought keeping him for the regular season a bad idea (and the author must agree after seeing him in action). Reasons run from lack of practice to lack of confidence. RG3 doesn’t trust his knee. It is obvious in the way he moves and in his offensive line. He may be physically ready to come back full steam but his head may be recalling the painful and frightening buckling of that knee on the goal line last year. That injury ended his season and could have ended his career. He fought back –physically. Now, the Redskins need RG3 to get his head together, and be the quarterback they need. They also need their offensive line to step up and play a full four quarters. Whether it’s the game plan or the players, something is seriously out of sync in Washington.
As is so often the case, blame for a negative showing tends to fall upon two people shoulders: the coach and the quarterback. For the Vikings, it cannot all be laid at Christian Ponder’s feet. But a whole lot of it can and has been. To put it bluntly, Minnesotans have little to no faith in him. Ponder is ranked 30 of 33 in passer ratings this season. Six 3 and outs, an interception, a lost fumble…. And that’s just in this week’s game against the Browns (the Browns!). Ponder’s season seems to have started badly and gotten worse. As mentioned, however, it’s not just his fault. However, games like these don’t help spread the blame around.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The BleacherReport.com reports Bucs coach Greg Schiano once joked he would never coach in the NFL because it was “impossible for coaches in the NFL to control their players.” Control is key to Schiano’s college success and his world. A dismal streak of 7-12 under Schiona have given rise to rumors of conflict in the locker room, including young quarterback Josh Freeman’s desire to be somewhere else (bleacherreport.com).
Control is not the key to winning games, at least not for Schiano. It seems the Buccaneer’s search for the perfect marriage of coach, quarterback, and team will continue.
Rumors are flying about the league that the Jaguars may seek the assistance of deposed quarterback Tim Tebow to attempt to salvage their rapidly dying team and fanbase. Other rumors speak to the possibility of Jaguars owner Shahid Khan completely relocating the franchise to London. Either way, Jacksonville can go nowhere but up. Over three games, the Jaguars have scored a collective 28 points. That’s all three weeks of this season, not in a game. Coach Gus Bradley has spent post-game locker room talks pushing motivation, and teamwork. No one wants this team anymore. Most of us are at a loss as to just how to turn things around. Can it be done?
Written by: Brandi Tasby