The Dolphins dropping a 70-burger against the Broncos as if they were a small college program was astonishing to see. But we already knew the Dolphins had the best offense in the NFL.
What we didn’t know heading into Week 3 was whether the Texans made the right call to draft C.J. Stroud. Houston received reassurances after Stroud delivered another impressive performance in one of the biggest upsets of a wild Sunday.
But that wasn’t the biggest shocker, nor was it the Colts defeating the Ravens on the road in overtime. The Cardinals stunned everyone after they beat the Cowboys to give Jonathan Gannon his first win as a head coach.
Also, the Chiefs attempted to match the Dolphins’ scoring outburst by dropping 34 points in the first half against the Bears. The Chiefs are still very good. What else is new? Oh, wait Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift might be dating after the pop star was a special guest of Kelce’s for Sunday’s 41–10 win. Everyone was happy in Kansas City besides the disappointing Bears.
Here’s what we know now about the Texans, Cowboys, Jets, Colts and Bears after Week 3 of the NFL regular season.
1The Texans have a franchise quarterback in Stroud
With starting rookie quarterbacks, most teams just want to see occasional flashes of being a future franchise quarterback. Something that assures them they made the right draft choice and can stay the course on the development plan even if losses begin to pile up.
After back-to-back sensational performances from Stroud, the Texans already have answers from their 2023 No. 2 pick. Stroud announced himself as the real deal during the Texans’ dominant 37–17 road victory over the Jaguars to give DeMeco Ryans his first win.
Stroud connected with eight different pass catches against the Jaguars, a telling sign that he’s way ahead of schedule. With Stroud getting many players involved, he’s able to take deep shots with top targets Nico Collins, Robert Woods and Tank Dell, another impressive rookie for Houston. Stroud finished 20-of-30 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers—he hasn’t thrown an interception in his first three career stats.
Stroud showcased himself on a day fellow first-round rookie quarterbacks Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson were ruled out with injuries. Many knocked Stroud leading up to the draft for not being a playmaker away from the pocket. Turns out, pocket passers can still get the job done.
2Cowboys fail to stop the run in upset loss to Cardinals
The Cowboys missed Trevon Diggs, but they had bigger issues on the defensive front, as they were gashed on the ground by the Cardinals, who recorded the biggest upset of the young season.
A few days ago, the Cowboys had a special defense that experts were comparing to the 2013 Seahawks. But then Diggs was lost for the season with a torn ACL and the Cowboys’ defense reverted to last season’s issues of being unable to stop the run. The Cardinals recorded 222 rushing yards with 98 coming from running back James Conner.
Dallas could have used Diggs before quarterback Joshua Dobbs found rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson for a 69-yard completion. But the Cowboys’ offense also struggled, as Dak Prescott threw a costly interception in the end zone with his team down 12 points in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys will get most of the spotlight for their disappointing loss, but Gannon and the Cardinals deserve plenty of credit for being competitive in all three games this season after many wrote them off before the season started.
3Jets coach Robert Saleh stubbornly continues to back Wilson
Oddly, Saleh said Zach Wilson will remain the starting quarterback because he gives his team the best chance to win. That comment made many shake their heads and maybe drew a few eye rolls from players in the Jets’ locker room.
At this point, the Jets (1–2) can certainly do better than Wilson, who again failed to ignite the offense during New York’s 15–10 loss to the Patriots. The Jets only managed 171 total yards, as Wilson averaged 4.4 yards per completion.
Wilson didn’t have a turnover, but he also played as if he was afraid to make mistakes. Perhaps that could stem from his teammates and coaches constantly telling the No. 2 2021 pick not to turn the ball over and allow them opportunities to make plays. But the reality is the Jets need an experienced veteran who limits mistakes, generates enough plays downfield and won’t overthink on the field.
Yes, there aren’t any star quarterbacks available to sign or trade, but there has to be some effort to add another quarterback who can push Wilson for the job.
The Jets gave themselves time not to rush into a decision with the surprising win against the Bills after Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 1. After a two-game losing streak, the Jets need to improve offensively, starting with the quarterback position.
4Colts coach Shane Steichen deserve credit for 2–1 start
Steichen is already proving he’s a lot more than just a quarterback guru after his team defeated the Ravens in overtime.
Steichen was hired by Indianapolis earlier this year partly because of his track record of developing quarterbacks, in particular Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts during his coaching stints with the Chargers and Eagles, respectively. He also gained the respect of Philip Rivers before becoming the Chargers’ offensive coordinator.
Adding Steichen allowed the Colts to draft Richardson with confidence—the No. 4 pick who entered the league as a raw prospect with accuracy issues. Richardson hasn’t had trouble throwing the football early in his career, which is a testament to Steichen and his coaching staff.
But Steichen deserves more credit for guiding the Colts to an upset win in Baltimore with backup Gardner Minshew, who filled in for the injured Richardson. With Zack Moss as the lead running back (30 carries, 122 yards vs. Ravens), the Colts have a two-game winning streak and haven’t had much trouble moving the ball, despite not having Jonathan Taylor on the field this season.
As for another highlight for Steichen, it seems he made the right decision to retain Gus Bradley as the defensive coordinator. The Colts have held the Texans and Ravens to 20 points or fewer during the two-game winning streak.
5Bears might spend the rest of 2023 evaluating Justin Fields
Fields backpedaled after sharing too much earlier this week about possibly not being on the same page with the Chicago coaching staff.
Fields said his words were taken out of context, and that’s fair because often full quotes get lost for the sake of generating clicks. But it was obvious there was some kind of disconnect between the third-year quarterback and Luke Getsy’s offensive scheme. There was more evidence of that throughout the embarrassing loss to the Chiefs. To make matters worse for the Bears, Fields left the game to be evaluated for a concussion.
From the outside looking in, perhaps the Bears want Fields to improve as a passer and Fields wants to play freely as a quarterback who can do damage with his legs.
But after an 0–3 start, GM Ryan Poles will likely spend the rest of the season deciding whether Fields can be the long-term answer at quarterback or search for a new one via the 2024 draft. Chicago passed on Young, Stroud and Richardson to see what it has in Fields.