NFL Week 3 Review: Backups Make Good

By Louis Addeo-Weiss

Three weeks into the 2019 NFL season, and we’ve already been presented with a bevy of storylines.

From the ongoing saga that is Antonio Brown, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots looking primed for another Super Bowl run, and Patrick Mahomes proving to us that 2018 was no fluke for him and the Kansas City Chiefs, the season has been nothing short of exciting.

The wee-hours of 2019 have also seen a slew of established star quarterbacks going down with major injuries. 

Two-time Super Bowl champion and longtime Pittsburgh Steelers general Ben Rothelisberger, who agreed to a two-year/$68M extension this April, injured his right elbow in week two’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, ultimately resulting in Tommy John Surgery for what turned out to be a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm.

Backup Mason Rudolph, who replaced Rothelisberger in that week two contest, started Sunday against Jimmy Garopollo and the ‘49ers, and kept it close, though ultimately falling 24-20.

As we’ve already noted, Gardner Minshew, who came in week one in the wake of $88M-man Nick Foles broken left clavicle, has exceeded expectations, picking up the club’s first victory on last week’s edition of Thursday Night Football. Through his first 88 pass attempts, the sixth round draft pick out of Washington State has completed 65 of them (73.9%).

Getty Images

Minshew and the aptly named “Sacksonville” defense will meet the 0-3 Joe Flacco-led Denver Broncos on Sunday in their week four matchup.

Week three also saw the Saints play their first game in the wake of Drew Brees’ broken right thumb, with backup Teddy Bridgewater facing off against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.

For Bridgewater, once seen as a future solution to the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback problem before injuries took its toll on him, has been relegated to a backup role, but has assumed duties in the wake of Brees’ injury.

While only throwing for 177 yards compared to Wilson’s 406, Bridgewater threw key touchdown passes to Alvin Kamara in the second quarter, and Michael Thomas in the third, in what wound up being a 33-27 Saints victory.

Bridgewater will face another challenge this Sunday as the Saints will play the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys at home.

The Carolina Panthers, who were without Cam Newton for their week three meeting against the Arizona Cardinals, turned to Kyle Allen, who came out and produced in a 38-20 win over Arizona and no.1 overall pick Kyler Murray. 

The win marked Ron Rivera and co. first of the 2019 season, after two lackluster performances by Newton, who failed to throw a touchdown pass in either of his two starts this season.  Allen’s day was highlighted by four passing touchdowns while completing 19 of 26 passes.

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

With Newton expected to miss extended time due to what doctors are calling a lisfranc injury in his left foot, which has hindered the generally mobile quarterback that Newton is. Across five carries thus far, Newton, who is one of just four QBs with 4,000 or more rushing yards, has amassed -2 total yards on the ground.

Given that Newton may ultimately require surgery, Allen is expected to remain the starter going forward. Week four will see Allen, known more for his reliance on passing than his mobility, will face DeShaun Watson, a quarterback known for his dual-threat abilities, and the 2-1 Houston Texans.

But of all the backups thrust into starting roles, the performance of the week belongs to that of Daniel Jones, or as he has quickly affectionately become known as, Danny Dimes.

Image courtesy of CBS Sports

Replacing the aging Eli Manning, Jones, who the team took sixth overall out of Duke, lead the Giants in spectacle that may have just ushered in a new era of New York Giants football.

Trailing 28-25 entering the fourth quarter, Jones, who already had a rushing touchdown earlier in the game, scrambled for seven yards, scoring with 1:21 left on the play clock, tying the game at 31, before eventually winning on a Aldrick Rosas extra-point.

The significance of Jones’ effort can be seen in his 336 passing yards, and four total touchdowns. 

Week four will see Jones and the Giants take on the struggling Washington Redskins, who, too, have a rookie quarterback waiting for his chance in Ohio State-product Dwayne Haskins. 

Week three showed us the sheer eagerness of these above-named backups, as they went a combined 4-1, but time will only tell if they can repeat their performance in the ensuing weeks.

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