NFL Week Three: Five things we learnt

A round-up of the action from Week Three of the NFL

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The Independent Online

The season is now well underway and we have a better idea of the contenders and those facing a lost season. Zander Swinburne takes us through what happened this week in the National Football League

1. The Blake Bortles era has at last begun in Jacksonville

The Jaguars tried their utmost to be patient, but it appears they have given into temptation and replaced Chad Henne with Blake Bortles as starting quarterback. Henne was in dire need of a good performance on Sunday, but with only four completions by half-time and his team trailing the Colts 30-0, head coach Gus Bradley had no option but to bench Henne. Bortles, a standout pre-season performer, at least provided the Jaguars fans a reason to cheer, throwing for two touchdowns and over 200 yards. This was short lived however as he made typical rookie mistakes, one of which resulted in a touchdown for the opposition, so expectations over exactly what he’s able to achieve this year should remain grounded. The sad thing for Jacksonville is that their quarterback woes are the least of their worries. Bortles will start next week behind an offensive line that has given up 17 sacks in only three games, whilst the teams defence has also allowed nearly five touchdowns a game. Bortles brings hope to a struggling team, but he’s unlikely to be the Jaguars' saviour.


2. The Dolphins are in need of a trip to London

The Dolphins week one victory over the New England Patriots raised hope as to whether this was at last a Dolphins team capable of competing in the AFC East. They have talent on their roster, and their promising young quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been somewhat effective with wide receiver Brian Hartline. However just two weeks later all appears to be imploding in Florida. On Sunday, Miami were beaten comprehensively 34-15 by a Kansas City Chiefs side that has looked a shadow of itself from a year ago. Having now fallen to 1-2, Miami is at risk of losing face as reports have surfaced from the Miami Herald that an unnamed source said Dolphins players are "beyond furious, and irate" at defensive coordinator’s Kevin Coyle’s defensive game plan. Having dealt with a bullying scandal last year, head coach Joe Philbin is once again having to take control of a once again rebellious locker room. As the losses pile up, his seat will begin to get hotter and hotter should the front office lose faith. The Dolphins travel to London to face the Oakland Raiders this week and will need a team bonding trip that has been much heralded by franchises that have made the journey before them. If the Dolphins want to get their season back on track, London might just be the place to achieve that.

3. Poor disclipline is killing the 49ers season

Barely three games into the season, the 49ers have already found themselves wanting. San Francisco were once again subdued in the second half having failed to score any fourth quarter points for the third game in a row and with this they move to 1-2 and two games behind the division leaders. Although Arizona played well, San Francisco will have only themselves to blame having given up over 100 yards through nine penalties. The timing and the manner of some of the penalties showed a lack of discipline from certain players and the blame lies solely with the coaching staff, albeit some calls were questionable at best from the referees. One of their worst penalties was a light but noticeable head butt by Anquan Boldin which set the 49ers back 15 yards from the Cardinals six yard line. This not only had a significant impact on field position, and more than likely the score, but was also a mistake completely of San Francisco’s making. Reports emerged earlier in the season that Jim Harbaugh may have lost the confidence of his locker room, and penalties in games are an example of ill discipline which has so far proven costly. If San Francisco are to get themselves back in the NFC West race they’ll need to stop beating themselves before they can start beating their opposition.

4. Super Bowl XLVIII was no fluke

Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch was the Denver Broncos’ opportunity to prove to the league how far they have come since their 43-8 hammering by the Seattle Seahawks. Denver, in part, were able to do this, forcing overtime with some last minute heroics by Peyton Manning. The 26-20 scoreline however, failed to tell the whole picture and was in many ways a generous depiction of Denver’s performance. Seattle’s defence was prolific, keeping Manning out of the endzone until the 51st minute. For Seattle, their only significant failing came in the last two minutes, giving Manning the opportunity to tie the game up. Despite the momentum change before overtime, Seattle looked calm and collected, efficiently moving the ball closer to Denver’s endzone when Marshawn Lynch bulldozed over the line. The Seahawks once again look like a championship ready team and their victory over the Broncos was a clear show of force. The score may have looked close but Seattle bullied the team they so humiliated in February.

5. The Giants offence has finally clicked

Despite being a double Super Bowl champion, it had become the norm to watch Eli Manning struggle week in and week out last season. Following a change of offensive coordinator in the off season with Ben McAdoo taking over, Manning struggles continued through the pre-season and into the season opener. The Giants did however show on Sunday that their offence is finally coming together after a respectable 30-17 win over the Houston Texans. Manning threw for 21 of 28 as well as 234 yards and two touchdowns. Their running game was also effective with Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams combining for 200 yards. What was widely seen as the weakest part of a Giants team prone to making mistakes, McAdoo’s offence finally gathered itself and produced when it mattered. Manning threw to multiple receivers whilst also giving Victor Cruz his first touchdown in 12 games. If New York can perform when it matters, minimising their mistakes, they just might slip into the playoffs due to their relatively weak division.