Week 3’s Top NFL Storylines: Nick Foles Has Two Teams Regretting Their Decision at QB

Plus: Adam Gase's scalding-hot seat and the case against the Buffalo Bills promising start

September 29, 2020 8:52 am
Week 3’s Top NFL Storylines: Mitch Trubisky, Carson Wentz, Adam Gase and the Buffalo Bills
Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Getty Images

Following a matchup between the Chiefs and Ravens on ESPN’s Monday Night Football that ended with Kansas City upsetting Baltimore 34-20, Week 3 of the 2020 NFL season is complete. While we can’t get to everything — like Ryan Fitzpatrick’s beard vs. Gardner Minshew’s mustache and the Broncos filling their stands with South Park characters — here are four of the top storylines to emerge from the football week that was, and whether we’re buying or selling on ’em.

Buy: Mitch Trubisky needs to stay benched for the Bears

In a move that was a mere formality after Nick Foles engineered a come-from-behind victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Chicago head coach Matt Nagy announced on Monday that Foles would be taking over as the team’s starter for Mitchell Trubisky starting in Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Benched in favor of Foles midway through the third quarter after he threw an interception, Trubisky was just 13-of-22 for 128 passing yards before he was relieved.

Now 3-0 on the season, the Bears have little choice but to roll with Foles for the foreseeable future after he was able to toss three TDs while leading a fourth-quarter comeback against the Falcons.

Foles, a Super Bowl MVP who has also somehow lost starting quarterback competitions on four different teams (Eagles, Chiefs, Jaguars and Bears), is 26-22 overall as a starter and gives the Bears a better shot at contending for an NFC playoff spot than Trubisky (a deceptive 26-18 as a starter) in 2020 and possibly beyond.

As long as Foles, who finished Sunday’s win 16-for-29 passing for 188 yards, can stay healthy (which has been an issue for him throughout his career), he should remain the starting quarterback in Chicago for the rest of the season. The Bears also declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option for 2021 prior to Week 1, so there’s a strong chance Trubisky has thrown his last pass meaningful for the franchise unless Foles completely flops.

At 26, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft will probably get another shot at a starting job in the NFL, but it won’t be with Bears — and that’s a good thing if you are a Chicago fan.

Sell: The Buffalo Bills will win the AFC East

Since taking over in Buffalo prior to the 2017 season, Bills coach Sean McDermott has amassed a total record of 9-3 over the first three weeks of the NFL season, including two straight 3-0 starts.

And yet, despite the hot starts, Buffalo never finished better than 10-6 or higher than second place in the AFC East in 2017, ’18 and ’19 seasons — a trend that won’t be reversed this season.

Buoyed by the play of Josh Allen, who had four touchdown passes and a rushing score during a comeback win over the Rams on Sunday, the Bills have been able to overcome back-to-back poor performances from their defense, a unit that has allowed 60 points, 888 yards and 56 first downs over the last two games.

As good as Allen, who is second in the NFL in both passing yards and touchdowns, has been, the Bills are not going to be able to keep winning if their defense continues to get torched.

Coming up on the schedule, the Bills travel to Las Vegas for a game with the Raiders and then go to Nashville for a game against the Titans before heading home for a matchup against the Chiefs. Though they are 3-0 now, it is entirely possible the Bills will be 3-3 by the time Week 7 rolls around, as those all project to be fairly difficult games for Buffalo to win, especially the latter two.

In Week 7, the Bills have a matchup with the Jets that they should win, but in Week 8 they take on the Patriots for the first time, the team they are attempting to displace at the top of the division by season’s end. Allen has been great and Buffalo’s start has been stellar, but until the Bills, who were unbeaten until they took on the Patriots last season and lost both games to New England in 2019, can defeat their divisional boogeyman, they will still be a second-place team.

Buy: The Eagles kept the wrong quarterback

Speaking of Foles, the guy who he temporarily replaced in Philadelphia, Carson Wentz, is off to a very poor start for the 0-2-1 Eagles.

Wentz, who is signed to a $128 million contract that runs through 2025, has thrown multiple picks in three straight games for the first time in his career and is tied for the most interceptions in the NFL with six. If he throws just one more, Wentz will match the seven interceptions he has thrown in each of the last three seasons.

The 27-year-old did run in a touchdown to help his team tie the Bengals on Sunday and force overtime, but had a poor day overall, going 29-of-47 for 225 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Thanks to that performance, Wentz is now 29th in the NFL in completion percentage (59.8) and dead last in QB rating (63.9). The team would never admit it publicly, but they have to be kicking themselves for deciding to keep Wentz (inking him to a massive contract in the process) and letting Foles walk prior to last season for nothing.

The Eagles at least partially seemed to acknowledge that mistake by selecting quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round of this year’s draft. Hurts won’t be starting for Philadelphia in Week 4 against the 49ers, but the calls for Wentz to lose his job will keep getting louder if he plays poorly again on the road in San Francisco.

“Carson’s our quarterback. We’re going to get it fixed. He is going to get it fixed,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson told 94.1 WIP on Monday. “We have a long season. … The whole division right now is not playing very good football. We’re not that far off.”

He’s right, as the Eagles are just a half-game out of first place in the wretched NFC East — the Washington Football Team and the Cowboys are tied for first at 1-2 — but Philadelphia may have to consider benching Wentz if the club continues to lose football games. It’s shame they no longer have Foles to replace him.

Sell: Adam Gase makes it to Week 5 as the coach of the Jets

Were it not for the back-to-back collapses of the aforementioned Falcons under head coach Dan Quinn, the hottest NFL coaching seat would belong to Adam Gase.

The Jets are the only team that has not held a lead this season and are coming off a loss to the Colts on Sunday where Indianapolis’s offense scored 20 points, its defense accounted for 16 and New York put up just seven.

New York has the worst point differential in the league by far at -57 and third-year quarterback Sam Darnold, who threw two pick-sixes in Sunday’s 36-7 loss at Indy, seems to be unraveling with each passing week.

Gase was brought in by the Jets to serve as a mentor for Darnold, who finished Sunday’s game 17-of-29 with one (spectacular) touchdown, three interceptions and 168 yards passing, and it clearly is not working.

That’s a problem on multiple levels for the Jets, as even if they are bad in the short-term, Darnold’s development in the long-term is the ultimate priority for the organization. Under Gase, that development seems to have been stunted and the Jets are horrible to boot.

In Week 4 on Thursday Night Football, the Jets will take on a winless Denver Broncos team that will be playing without starting quarterback Drew Lock and will have to start either Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien or Blake Bortles on a short week. If Gase, who is 30-37 as a head coach in the NFL and has guided a team to a record better than .500 just once, can’t win that game, the odds of him making it to Week 5 are about as poor as his career record.

At 0-4, the Jets will have very little incentive to keep Gase around and will want the rest of the season to see if Darnold, who has a fifth-year option that can be exercised this spring, can perform better under a new coach. If he can’t and the team continues to lose, it’s certainly possible New York will end up with the first pick in the draft and the chance to take Clemson superstar Trevor Lawrence.

Obviously that’s the worst-case scenario for a team that selected Darnold at No. 3 overall in the 2018 draft, so if firing Gase even has a chance of preventing it from happening, that’s what the team will do. If Gase loses in Week 4, he may get the pink slip before Week 5 even begins.

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