Jimmy Garoppolo was off to a very good start on Sunday against the Dolphins. His handsomeness threw three touchdowns on the Patriots’ first three possessions. But before the guys in pleated khakis could hash out their hot takes calling for the Patriots to replace Tom Brady, down he went with a shoulder injury.
It looked much worse than it turned out to be, at least according to early reports. Garoppolo has a sprained AC joint. He’ll miss next week’s game, a Thursday night affair against the Texans. It might take him a full six weeks to fully recover, but now there’s optimism that he’ll be able to play again in Week 4 against the Bills.
And after Week 4, he can resume life as Brady’s backup, flashing his glistening white teeth over the clipboard and enticing some team like the Browns to send over all their first-round picks to make Garoppolo theirs.
The Patriots didn’t need Garoppolo to finish off the Dolphins. LeGarrette Blount took care of that. Rookie Jacoby Brissett did his part going 6 of 9 and not turning the ball over.
Brissett faces a tougher challenge next week against the visiting Texans. On paper, it looks like a tall order for the Patriots.
We’re used to seeing the Patriots finish off opponents when they get a big lead going into the locker room, but the Dolphins found life in the second half. They scored 21 points to close the gap to just seven points. Ultimately, the defense couldn’t stop Blount though.
So just how concerned should the Patriots and their fans be over the next two weeks?
Everyone had the same questions about the first four weeks of the season without Brady, and New England is 2-0.
There’s hope for young Brissett next week. Maybe Gronk comes back, making his job that much easier. The defense can probably create problems for Brock Osweiler (Houston was only able to muster 19 points against the Chiefs this week).
Even if the Patriots don’t win, it probably doesn’t matter over the course of the full season. Getting through this month 2-2 was kind of the worst case scenario. If they lose next week — Houston is opening as a two-point favorite — they should still beat the Bills at Foxboro in Week 4.
If the Patriots are winning games without Brady, once he comes back, they may not have anything to worry about until January.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears, Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Who needs a quarterback when you have Von Miller?
Trevor Siemian failed to throw a touchdown pass against a pretty bad Colts defense. Hell, the entire Broncos offense contributed just one C.J. Anderson rushing touchdown to Denver’s 34-20 win. It didn’t matter. The defense was the real story, scoring twice and making Andrew Luck look like Blaine Gabbert.
It’s a group effort, but it all revolves around Miller. He had three sacks on the day, giving him four for the season. One of those was a strip sack to snuff out whatever chance the Colts had at a comeback.
That puts him on pace for 32, though he’s probably not going to finish the year with 32 sacks. Eventually, offensive coordinators will get smart enough to send an extra blocker to help whatever inferior blocker they send out there to deal with Miller ... and every blocker is inferior to Miller right now.
The Broncos have to go on the road for two games now: to Cincinnati and then to Tampa Bay. Next week’s game should be a little more difficult, but I don’t know. Someone is going to wise up and do whatever they have to do to keep Miller out of their backfield. And with DeMarcus Ware injured (broken forearm, likely to keep him out next week), it’s not going to come quite this easy for Denver’s defense.
Or maybe it is.
Your offseason hype was misplaced
The Raiders and Jaguars shared the offseason championship this year. I bought into the hype. We all did. Both teams, after an impressive run through free agency and into the draft, looked so good on paper.
Following Sunday’s 35-28 loss to the Falcons, Oakland’s defense has allowed 69 points (nice) and 1,035 yards in two games. Things got so bad that head coach Jack Del Rio took over calling plays for the defense at the end of the game.
It’d be easy to blame the secondary for Matt Ryan finishing the game with 396 yards and three touchdowns, but the real problem, strangely enough, is the pass rush. Khalil Mack still doesn’t have a sack. Bruce Irvin, one of those free agent additions we all applauded, has just one on the season.
But at least the Raiders are 1-1. At least you can find something to be positive about here without straining your eyes. I’m not sure what there is nice to say about the Jaguars, who were embarrassed by the Chargers. Blake Bortles didn’t even put up the impressive stats fantasy GMs have come to rely on when the Jaguars are losing a game.
The defense, which is supposed to be Gus Bradley’s specialty, is even worse. They’re still using middle linebacker Paul Posluszny to cover receivers deep in the middle of the field.
Jacksonville was supposed to be so much better this season. On paper, that roster looks rebuilt. Jaguars Twitter has been ruthless in criticizing Gus Bradley, but they’ve got a point that’s getting harder to ignore.
The Browns are still sad
Cleveland might be better off with Josh McCown at quarterback than they were with RG3. Right off the bat, he took the Browns to McCown town with 20 points in the first quarter.
But that was it. Nobody in McCown town wore anything but a frown on Sunday. The Ravens scored 23 points over the next three quarters while shutting down the Browns offense.
Oh, and Josh McCown is injured, his shoulder, and the Browns may lose their second starting quarterback in two weeks.
The referees kicked some dirt in their face while they were down, too. McCown completed a 20-yard pass to Terrelle Pryor with less than 30 seconds to go, Cleveland trailing by five points. That throw put the Browns on the Ravens’ 10-yard line. Pryor harmlessly tossed the ball back to the ref, and the ref gave him a taunting penalty.
McCown threw an interception on the next play, and that was it for the Browns.
But there are some positives here. Corey Coleman and Isaiah Crowell should at least provide a few highlights through the rest of the season, provided they can stay healthy and the Browns can find a competent enough quarterback to get them the ball ... so, yeah, sorry. Two first-round picks next spring though!
Washington is self-destructing ... again
The day started with Washington revealing their intentions to leave Josh Norman on the left side of the field and letting Bashaud Breeland deal with Dez Bryant. They did too, kind of. Norman covered Bryant a few times, and was successful when he did. Washington didn’t feel compelled to give Breeland any safety help covering Bryant though, and he finished the game with seven catches for 102 yards in a 27-23 win for the Cowboys.
Was Jim Haslett phoning in plays for the defense, just for old time’s sake? It seemed like it.
And just like we’re used to Washington’s defense being a mess, the locker room is apparently back to anonymously complaining about the team’s quarterback.
Cousins’ accuracy was way off all day. He missed a couple of easy touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson and carries all the blame for a devastating third-and-goal interception in the second half.
After the game, Cousins’ teammates were reportedly complaining about the starter — remember when they were doing that about RG3 too? — according to PFT.
Washington’s 0-2 and the locker room is already a mess. Everything seems normal to me.
Still no picks for Prescott
Dak Prescott has now thrown 75 pass attempts without an interception. That’s the most passing attempts without an pick in a rookie’s first two games since Warren Moon in 1984.
You really can’t ask much more from a backup quarterback than not throwing away games, but Prescott is giving the Cowboys some bonus production. He was 22 of 30 with 292 yards and a rushing touchdown. The Cowboys are still calling a pretty conservative game for their rookie, but he looks poised in the pocket, knows how to avoid pass rushers and doesn’t turn the ball over.
What happened to the Packers?
Getting Jordy Nelson back was going to solve everything. It didn’t. Two of their best deep passing plays were a pair of pass interference calls. Aaron Rodgers got picked off once and fumbled three times, with help from the Vikings defense, losing one of those.
Head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t have too much say about it after the game. "Our rhythm in the passing game was not what we would have liked it been tonight," he said.
Credit the Vikings defense, too. They sacked Rodgers four times and picked up two turnovers that they created (they caused four fumbles all night). Sam Bradford was better than Shaun Hill. Adrian Peterson is hurt. But the Vikings are built to win with their defense.
Green Bay is 1-1, so their season isn’t exactly over. It’s probably not too soon, however, to say that the NFC North is the Vikings’ division to lose now.
Blaine Gabbert, Case Keenum and Alex Smith all started games on Sunday. Hopefully you found better games than the three they were playing in.
Gabbert was 17-for-36 passing with 243 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Keenum completed 18 of 30 passes for 239 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions. Smith was 20 for 37 with 186 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions and two fumbles (he lost them both).
The difference is that Keenum and Gabbert are just placeholders. Smith is a franchise quarterback making more than $17 million this season. Sure, it’s probably just one really, really bad game, but what exactly is a big game from Alex Smith?
The Ravens got on the board against the Browns when they scored on one of the rarest scoring plays in the NFL.
Move over, Dan Marino. Drew Brees is now third on the all-time passing yards list.
Matthew Stafford absolutely trucked the Titans' Perrish Cox.
The Dolphins are having radio problems in New England. *thinking face emoji*
Kids went all Hunger Games on each other over a Cam Newton football.
Lions tight end Eric Ebron got penalized for faking a defender out of his cleats.
Kelvin Benjamin made a nifty one-handed grab, and the Panthers really enjoy having him back.
LeGarrette Blount is BFFs with a few Revolutionary War soldiers.
Melvin Gordon's mom can finally wear his jersey now that he's scoring touchdowns.
Mark Barron tried to pick off a Russell Wilson pass with his helmet.
Falcons scored a go-ahead TD thanks to an absurd ricocheted pass.
The Jaguars got blown out by the Chargers and Jared Odrick was NOT having it.
The Vikings' new stadium paid homage -- intentional and not -- to Prince.
Jimmy Garoppolo, filling in for Tom Brady during his four-game suspension, left the game against the Dolphins with a shoulder injury and did not return. Rookie Jacoby Brissett took over for Garoppolo under center. Garoppolo may be ready to play in Week 4, but he will likely miss the Patriots' game against the Texans on Thursday Night Football.
Dolphins running back Arian Foster also exited with a groin injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
In a scary moment, Saints CB P.J. Williams was carted off after taking two hits to the head. He briefly lost consciousness and was transported to the hospital, but he has movement in his extremities.
Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart did not return to the 49ers game after injuring his hamstring.
Josh McCown reportedly separated his left shoulder against the Ravens in the first quarter but came back into the game. Browns center Cameron Erving went to the hospital after the game due to cramps and is in stable condition.
Lions running back Ameer Abdullah injured his foot against the Titans and did not return.
Doug Martin suffered a hamstring injury early against the Cardinals and didn't return.
Danny Woodhead was carted off the field after taking a hit to his right leg.
The already banged up Colts added WR Donte Moncrief (head and neck), CB Antonio Cromartie (shoulder) and Darius Butler (hamstring) to their list of injured players. Cromartie returned to the game, but Moncrief and Butler did not.
Broncos right tackle Donald Stephenson was ruled out with calf injury, while DeMarcus Ware left the game and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with an ulna fracture.
Jaguars OT Kelvin Beachum was carted off the field after apparent head injury.
Adrian Peterson hurt his right knee in the third quarter of the Vikings' Sunday night game against the Packers. He had to be helped to the locker room and did not return.