Week 8 Takeaways: Bears Problems Go Beyond Kicking, Browns Aren’t Dead Yet, 49ers Are Terrifying

Plus, Stafford’s MVP campaign, the Patriots’ offensive identity is their defense, Eagles steamroll Buffalo, Brees is back and Saints are cruising, Deshaun Watson wins it while blinded, Joey Bosa is a wrecking ball, trick plays everywhere, and much more from Week 8’s Sunday afternoon action.
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Bears lose to Chargers

Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened in the Week 8 Sunday afternoon games...

Things That Made Me Giddy

Matthew Stafford Officially Announces His 2019 NFL MVP Candidacy, Again: Had some very confused officials not taken a victory away from Detroit two Mondays ago at Lambeau, Stafford would be getting the recognition he deserves. (Well, he still plays in Detroit, so he’d be getting slightly more recognition than he does now but still not as much as he deserves.) Against the Giants on Sunday, he went 25-for-32 for 342 and three scores—many of his throws spectacular but done with such ease that no one seems to notice—and finally delivered a knockout blow in the fourth quarter on a trick-play double-pass for a 41-yard TD. He’s averaging 8.4 yards per attempt and on pace for 4,784 yards and 37 touchdowns despite a middling (despite being high-priced) offensive line and no running game.

Welcome Back, Drew Brees: Life is pretty good with this Saints defense playing like it is. He looked rusty at times, but overall it was pretty much vintage Brees.

Deshaun Watson Throws Game-Winning TD After Being Blinded:

The 49ers Pass Rush is Terrifying: The Panthers had no hope of generating offense on Sunday. This was as lopsided as the final score suggests.

The 49ers Ground Game Is Also Terrifying: It was Tevin Coleman with some Matt Breida and receiver Deebo Samuel sprinkled in. The misdirection concepts made it unstoppable and made the Panthers look silly.

Lawrence Guy Is the Most Underrated Patriot: And it’s not easy to be on this team and be underrated. Along with being an absolute rock on the defensive line, Guy had his hand in two takeaways in the first quarter against Cleveland.

Eagles Ground Game: An utterly dominant performance in the slop at Buffalo: 41 attempts, 218 yards, just under 36 minutes of possession in Philly's most impressive win of the season.

Joey Bosa Ruins Everything: To be clear, that Bears offense does plenty to ruin itself, but Bosa was utterly dominant: Two sacks and countless pressures that led to Trubisky-fueled chaos.

Jon Gruden’s Arm Talent on Challenge Flags: A Josh Allen-type throw after a dicey offensive pass interference call against Hunter Renfrow took away a big play in the second quarter.

Adam Vinatieri Needs the Drama: He pushed a 45-yarder early and also pulled a PAT, contributing to the Colts’ 13-12 deficit against the Broncos. And it created the need for a 51-yarder in the final seconds to win it, which Vinatieri drilled.

Titans Are Very Much In This Thing: This defense is for real—they took it away from the Bucs four times on Sunday—and they have plenty of games against AFC South opponents yet to go. If they can find that running game they’re supposed to be built around offensively, watch out.

Fletcher Cox Gets Going: It was the All-Pros best game of the season, as he consistently wrecked plays in Buffalo.

Pete Carroll Very Nice to His Old Colleague: It looked like the Seahawks were going to blow Dan Quinn’s Falcons out of their own building (just like everyone else has), taking a 24-0 lead into halftime. The Seahawks took their foot off the gas in the second half, going three-and-out on three of their four possessions, allowing Atlanta to make it a respectable 27-20 final.

Gardner Minshew Toys With the Jets: They challenged him to throw outside the numbers, and Minshew did so with ease. He also converted time and time again with his legs.

Jordan Howard as Kyra Segwick in The Closer: Eight carries, 34 yards and a touchdown to cap off a fourth-quarter drive that lasted more than eight minutes and stretched it to a three-possession game, all but ending it in Buffalo. He finished with 11 back-breaking carries for 55 yards in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold’s Opening Drive: He was in rhythm, trusting what he saw, and Adam Gase’s script was excellent. The Jets got boned by a bogus offensive pass interference call erasing a big play later in the first quarter, and the wheels came off after that.

Saquon Converting This First Down:

Joe Mixon Runs Forward: At least a couple of times. Seventeen carries for 66 yards behind this Bengals offensive line is something to brag about.

Darius Slayton on Contested Catches: The Giants' rookie fifth-rounder had one punched out of his hands by Stephon Gilmore on the Thursday nighter in Foxboro. In Detroit, he went up and got two 50/50 balls in the second quarter—for 28- and 22-yard TDs—and drew what should have been a pass interference flag in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. He's got some nice things cooking with Daniel Jones.

Belichick Gets No. 300: Whatever, celebrating a statistical achievement just because it’s a round number is lame. 

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Regrets

Eddy Pineiro’s Single Doink Early, Pulls the Game-Winner Late: Surely, this franchise will react calmly and take it in stride. As they said all offseason, pay no attention to the disastrous offense led by the head coach with the offensive background brought in to develop the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft. The kicker is such a convenient as a scapegoat. (Apropos of nothing, Cody Parkey hit all five of his kicks including a 51-yarder for Tennessee in their win over the Bucs.)

Just Run Two-Minute Offense Only, Matt Nagy!: For the third time in their last 10 games or so, Mitchell Trubisky played 58 minutes of the worst football imaginable. Then, in the final two minutes when they were in need of points, he delivered. Why not just try running a hurry-up offense throughout the game. It can’t go any worse than what they’ve been running for the first 58 minutes of these games.

How Bad Has it Gotten for Trubisky?: After a couple of near-disasters in the red zone, the Bears ran the ball on third-and-goal from the 9. If you can’t throw on that down, why even put a quarterback on the field? Chicago had five red-zone possessions and scored one touchdown.

Bears at the End of the First Half: Inside the Chargers’ 15, the Bears were gifted a horse-collar flag on a third-down play that came five yards short of the sticks (because their M.O. is to throw nothing beyond three yards) and a third-and-goal pass interference flag that probably should have been picked up because Trubisky airmailed the ball 12 feet over everyone’s head. They then couldn’t score on two plays from the 1-yard line, let 18 seconds run off the clock, clocked the ball and kicked a 19-yard field goal, rightfully getting booed as they left the field.

Gareon Conley Is Confused: Maybe it wasn’t his fault (it probably was, he just got there, after all), but Houston had a major blown coverage on Tyrell Williams’s 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter. To be fair, considering his performance for Oakland in 2019, he probably owed one to the Raiders.

I Don’t Know About That Gregg Williams Fella: Gardner Minshew and John DeFilippo has absolutely no problem with pretty much every blitz the Jets dialed up in Jacksonville. This was candy from a baby.

Baker Mayfield’s Ball-Handling:

The Jets’ Lack of Protection, and How Darnold Reacts to It: It’s breakdown after breakdown up front, whether it’s the line being overmatched by superior talent when facing a four-man rush or the complete chaos of reacting to a blitz. There’s a ton of work to do (but the schedule is about to get very, very soft).

J.J. Watt’s Shoulder: It’s a major problem if he misses significant time, especially because the Texans’ secondary still doesn’t know what it’s doing back there.

The End of Jameis Winston?: He had four more turnovers in Nashville, giving him 10 in the last two games. Aggressiveness is often good in the modern, but Winston consistently finds the wrong side of the line.

This ‘Getting Stepped on By the Punter’ Flag: On a fourth-and-4.

Malcolm Jenkins’ Night of a Thousand Personal Fouls: The count only rose to two, but they came in a span of three plays (one roughing the passer on Josh Allen, and one late hit on a sliding Allen).

Someone Buckle Myles Garrett’s Helmet for Him, Please: It came off with very little contact twice in the first half.

Bears’ Orange Jerseys Are a Crime Against the State: Their blues are the best jerseys in professional sports, yet once a year they insist on dressing like extras from Idiocracy.

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Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About

The Reverse (Definitively Not Double Reverse) Flea Flicker: With Cooper Kupp getting it at the start of the play and again at the end of it. B.W. Webb’s mind is so thoroughly blown that all he can do is stop, drop, and roll.

Brissett to T.Y. Hilton: This is a monster play by a star quarterback on an otherwise rough day. It was the key play in setting up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 51-yarder.

When Nick Bosa De-Pantsed Kyle Allen on Live Television:

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What We’ll Be Talking About This Week

Pobody’s Nerfect, Even Kyle Allen: It was fun while it lasted, but the perfect record is no longer intact and now it’s time to turn it back over to Cam Newton in Carolina. Allen has his limitations, and they were glaring in Santa Clara.

Patriots’ Offensive Identity is the Defense Taking the Ball Away: Tom Brady is right, this New England offense doesn’t have an identity. But the defense has more touchdowns (4) than opposing offenses have this season (3), so it doesn't really matter.

Don't Be Fooled, Browns Are Still In It: Because they’re in the AFC, and because the second-half schedule is very favorable for them. (And, let’s face it: If Nick Chubb doesn’t lose two fumbles in the first quarter, we might be having a different conversation about their performance in Foxboro.)

See? The Eagles Are Fiiiiiine . . . : They just have to hang in until that soft December schedule arrives (well, soft with the exception of the big one: Week 16 home game against Dallas). Going to Buffalo and steam-rolling the Bills is a very promising development.

Would You Trust Matt Nagy With Another Young QB?: Because Trubisky won’t be the guy next year. It could be that Trubisky is just a dud, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a young quarterback who fell apart quicker and in uglier fashion than Trubisky has in a year-and-a-half under Nagy’s direction. Considering the championship window the defense creates in Chicago, they almost have to bring in a vet.

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