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2023 NFL season, Week 3: What We Learned from Monday night doubleheader 

Philadelphia Eagles
2023 · 3-0-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2023 · 2-1-0


Brenna White's takeaways:

  1. Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown rekindle strong connection. Despite Brown and Hurts exchanging words on the sideline in Week 2, this bond continues to be unbreakable. Hurts’ first two targets went to Brown for a total of 44 yards. Although the Eagles were not able to muster up any points during that first drive, the connection was prominent throughout the game. Brown ended the night with nine receptions for 131 yards. However, Hurts did make sure to spread the love to his other targets, including Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith and Olamide Zaccheaus, who got the Eagles their first TD of the game (his first as an Eagle on only his third target with Philly). The Eagles are still undefeated, and Hurts is now 20-1 in his last 21 regular-season starts.
  2. Eagles D terrorizes Baker Mayfield from start to finish. The Buccaneers got the ball first to start this week's doubleheader and were quickly jogging off the field after six plays. The Philadelphia defense showed up prepared and made some big plays, with a sack by Marlon Tuipulotu, another sack by Fletcher Cox and Reed Blankenship snatching Mayfield's first interception of the season. Rookie Jalen Carter was also a force on the inside, causing a pair of fumbles. Philly became the only team to have multiple turnovers in all three games to start the season. The Buccaneers ended the day with a total of just 174 yards. The Philadelphia defensive line proved that it’s going to take a lot to slow it down. 
  3. Bucs keep Hurts on his toes, but it's not enough. The Eagles have a dominant offense that only got stronger during the offseason with the addition of D'Andre Swift. However, the Buccaneers' defense did not make it easy for Hurts. Though the Eagles ended the first half with 13 on the board, it was a battle, especially after Hurts threw an ugly interception to Devin White. The Bucs stayed in the game in the second half with another huge INT from Dee Delaney on a pass intended for Smith. Philly racked up more than 400 yards but scored just two touchdowns as Tampa stood strong in the red zone (the Eagles were 1 of 5 inside the Bucs' 20). Hurts and the Eagles are undefeated, but the Bucs' defense didn't go easy.
  4. Running game continues to be problem for Tampa Bay. For the third straight week, Rachaad White and the running game struggled, this time to a season-low 41 yards, with White recording a total of 38. The second-year running back could just not get anything done against the Eagles' defensive line. That was not the only place the Bucs struggled on offense. Mayfield could not find Mike Evans during the first three quarters. Evans had just two catches on six targets for 13 yards all the way up until the start of the fourth. Mayfield eventually showed the rapport that the two had been developing with a TD pass to Evans, but it was already too late. The Buccaneers offense is struggling to break out of sticky situations and took most of the game to gain any kind of momentum.

Next Gen stat of the game: Jalen Carter finished with a team-high five QB pressures on 16 pass rushes (31.3% pressure rate). Through the first three weeks, the rookie is tied for second among defensive tackles in total pressures (15).

NFL Research: This is the second time in the last 10 years the Eagles have had a safety and two or more takeaways (Week 8, 2020, at DAL).

Cincinnati Bengals
2023 · 1-2-0
Los Angeles Rams
2023 · 1-2-0


Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. A less-than-perfect Joe Burrow gets the job done. The Bengals finally, mercifully entered the win column Monday, but it didn't come without the frustration (and boos) that have become too familiar for this early stage of the season. Cincinnati was lifeless offensively for two quarters, going 1 of 7 on third down in the first half and mustering just six points. Even after Logan Wilson picked off Matthew Stafford at the Rams' 41, the Bengals ended up moving backward by eight yards and punted. Cincinnati's offense was reduced to sideline tosses and not much else; that is, until the Bengals finally forced themselves to find some offensive balance, handing off to Joe Mixon twice (for a total of 15 rushing yards) on the first two plays of a third-quarter march that included a handful of Burrow-to-Ja'Marr Chase connections and ended in a Mixon touchdown run. This is what the Bengals are supposed to be, and with Burrow clearly not 100 percent healthy, expecting him to morph into Hercules and carry them to victory is just unfair. Eventually, Cincinnati will need to put together four quarters of good offensive football, and the responsibility shouldn't be Burrow's alone. A larger dose of Mixon would certainly help, even if it doesn't work right away. It's not a coincidence Burrow threw his most important pass of the night -- a 43-yard connection with Chase that set up an important third-quarter field goal -- off a play-action fake. Running is still important, and would help Burrow while he's still limited.
  2. A rough night for Rams fans. Los Angeles was teased way too much Monday night. Tutu Atwell's big gain in the first quarter was initially ruled a touchdown, then overturned by review, and the Rams ended up settling for a field goal. After a much-needed deep completion to Atwell, Stafford had his next pass deflected at the line of scrimmage, resulting in Wilson's second interception of the night. If that wasn't enough, it seemed as if each time they converted a third down, a penalty wiped it out (which happened on a few occasions). Los Angeles didn't do the little things right, didn't capitalize on prime scoring opportunities, Stafford took poorly timed sacks, and when the game entered its final stages, Sean McVay elected to punt while trailing by 10 with less than six minutes to play. The Rams might look back on this and lament their wasted opportunities, but they truly only have themselves to blame for losing a winnable game.
  3. Bengals defense comes to play. While both offenses left a lot to be desired, the Bengals' defense deserves commendation. Cincinnati renewed concerns regarding Los Angeles' offensive line Monday night, hunting for Stafford on passing downs throughout the contest. It paid off tremendously, with the Bengals recording six sacks and only one player -- Trey Hendrickson, who tallied eight pressures (23.5% pressure rate) -- logging more than one takedown of Stafford. Wilson had a fantastic night, showing off his athleticism with each of his two interceptions, and the Bengals can frame the Rams' third-down conversion rate (1 of 11, with the one conversion coming on their lone touchdown in the final two minutes) and hang it above their theoretical mantle in the team facility. That was a darn good outing for Lou Anarumo's bunch, and it was undoubtedly needed, especially while the Bengals continue to seek out the kinks on the offensive side of the ball and slowly work them out.
  4. Cooper Kupp's absence is painfully apparent. Fifth-round pick Puka Nacua has been a nice story for these Rams through the first three weeks of the season, but against a defense that wasn't afraid to get after Stafford, it became very clear how badly the Rams miss Kupp. Nacua caught five of his seven targets, but wasn't able to make the kind of impact that propelled his name into headlines around the football world through the first two weeks. Kyren Williams still has a communication issue between his brain and hands, and while Atwell made a handful of plays, he was too often the target of desperate Stafford heaves that fell incomplete. These Rams need more talent, and with their most dangerous weapon sidelined, they're simply not explosive enough to compete when their offensive line doesn't give Stafford -- who is healthy and has looked good to this point, by the way -- enough time to work. We won't even get into the Rams' running game, which mustered just 71 yards on the night.

Next Gen stat of the game: After struggling in Cincinnati's first two games, Ja'Marr Chase thrived Monday night, finishing with a career-high 12 catches for 141 yards. He caught 8 of 10 targets outside the numbers for 89 yards, and was a perfect 7 for 7 on out-breaking routes, shredding the Rams' secondary with his sharp route-running along the boundary.

NFL Research: Joe Burrow won his first game with a sub-80 passer rating, and now has two games with a sub-60 passer rating in 2023 (zero such games in his career entering 2023).

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