Sunday, September 25, 2022

Judgements III

 By Clark Judge 
Darius Slay
Philadelphia cornerback Darius Slay may be right. There are no Robins on the Philadelphia Eagles. Just a bunch of Batmans

Slay was talking about the Eagles’ wide receivers, but he might as well have been talking about the entire roster. The Eagles are one of only two NFC unbeatens (the Giants are the other), and, granted, that’s after three weeks of a 17-game season. But the signs are all there that it’s time to take them seriously.

They run. They pass. They play defense. They win.

 Plus, they have a potential MVP candidate in quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Never was that more apparent than Sunday’s 24-8 demolition of Washington, a game where Hurts threw for 340 yards, the defense rang up nine sacks, they held an opponent to single digits for the second consecutive week and wide receiver DeVonta Smith caught eight passes for a career-best 169 yards.

Unusual? Not really. It was the second straight week where Hurts was marvelous. He committed no turnovers, looked poised and was in complete control of an offense that put up 24 points by halftime. It put up 24 by the half the week before, too. And in the season opener? You guessed it: 24.

Then there’s this: Only one turnover in three starts.

Playmakers are everywhere, with running back Miles Sanders and receivers A.J. Brown and Smith among the most notable Batmen. But it’s the improved play of Hurts that stands out. A question mark entering the season, he suddenly is accurate, makes smart decisions and doesn’t commit costly mistakes.

”He has been fantastic this year,” said Hall-of-Fame coach and NBC analyst Tony Dungy.

Five times in a career of 22 starts – including twice this season –the 24-year-old Hurts threw for 330 or more yards. Only four other quarterbacks, including Hall-of-Famers Kurt Warner and Sonny Jurgensen, can say that. More important, he’s 8-1 over his last nine regular-season starts, and the Eagles are 9-2 over their last 11.

In a conference where Tampa Bay, Green Bay and the defending Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams were supposed to predominate, it’s not too soon to add another team to the conversation. Philadelphia, come on down.


1.      The honeymoon is over for Josh McDaniels. OK, so he’s coached just three games in Las Vegas. But Raider Nation is restless, and who can blame them. Dating back to his days in Denver, McDaniels is 1-10 in his last 11 games as a head coach.

2.      Don’t schedule Tennessee after the Titans play on Monday Night. Under Mike Vrabel they’re 5-0 following games on Monday.

3.      Lamar Jackson’s price keeps going up. He turned down the Ravens’ five-year, $250 million offer and decided to bet on himself this season, ala the Yankees’ Aaron Judge. Smart. Like Judge, Jackson is playing like a league MVP with 12 TDs (10 passing, two rushing), 749 yards passing and another 243 yards rushing, including back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. Better yet, he just put up five TDs on Bill Belichick’s D. For Lamar, it’s play now, pay later.

4.      So does Roquan Smith’s cost. He’s Chicago’s best player and the reason the Bears moved to 2-1. Uncertain to play because of a hip injury suffered in Week 2, Smith turned in a bravura performance. Not only did he have 16 tackles, including two for losses, but he produced the fourth-quarter interception of Davis Mills that led to a game-winning field goal. If the Bears don’t pay him the big bucks, somebody else will.

5.      The South just rose again. Entering this weekend, the AFC South was the pits – with a combined 1-5-2 record. Then Sunday happened, and the division went 3-1 – with Houston the only loser. Indianapolis upset Kansas City, Jacksonville upset the Chargers and Tennessee held off the Raiders.


1.      Consider that a signature win for Miami. It broke a seven-game losing streak to Buffalo. It kept the Dolphins unbeaten this season (3-0). Plus, it has them on top of the AFC East. But if I’m a Bills’ fan, I’m not overly concerned. Buffalo played without seven starters, with others wilting in the 90-degree heat, yet still had a chance to win in the closing seconds. As I said, a signature win for Miami, but not a shift in the balance of power. The road to the AFC East still goes through Buffalo.

2.      Buffalo ran 90 plays to Miami’s 39 … and lost. You can’t make this stuff up.

3.      The NFLPA wants a review of the league’s concussion protocols after Tua Tagovailoa returned from what the Dolphins said was a head injury … and it should. Tua was slow to get up after hitting his head on the ground, stumbled on his way back to the huddle and had to be escorted off the field.  Then he returned and played. The NFLPA wants to know why. So do I.

4.      Who needs Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore when we have Bills’ OC Ken Dorsey on Coach Cam?

5.       At 3-0, Miami’s Mike McDaniel is one of three unbeaten head coaches (Nick Sirianni and Brian Daboll are the others). But here’s what’s more impressive. His wins were against Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh and Sean McDermott.

6.       All 24 of Philadelphia’s points Sunday occurred in the second quarter, and I know what you’re thinking: So what? So that’s where most of the Eagles’ points have been this season, and you can look it up. They have 84 points through three weeks, with all but 19 (65) in the second period

7.       The past two seasons, the host team not only reached the Super Bowl; it won it. That streak ends in February. The game is in Arizona.

8.       Chargers’ coach Brandon Staley’s explanation for leaving quarterback Justin Herbert in Sunday’s 38-10 loss is absurd. I have no doubt that Herbert – who played despite broken rib cartilage (that’s another story) – pleaded to stay in the game. Most players would. But he’s not the coach. Staley is. It’s his job to protect his player. Leaving Herbert in and risking further injury made no sense. Herbert doesn’t run the team. Staley does. So, then, riddle me this, coach: What has happened to Austin Ekeler? After scoring 20 times last year and accumulating 1,558 scrimmage yards, he’s disappeared. Four carries Sunday, 28 for the season and only 13 catches. More important, zero TDs. Staley’s supposed to be a bright young coach. Explain that one.

9.       Now here’s one for Tom Brady: You’re two points down with 14 seconds left and line up for a game-tying two-point conversion. How in the world do you let the play clock expire before the snap? Inexcusable, especially by someone with Brady’s experience and resume.

10.   Believe it or don’t: Jacksonville not only is on top of the AFC South but defeated its last two opponents by a combined score of 62-10.

11.   Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, sacked 13 times in the first two weeks, was dropped only twice Sunday … and that’s a start. But let’s not get carried away. It was the Jets.

12.   With Zach Wilson sidelined, the Jets tried to win with a backup quarterback … OK, Joe Flacco … throwing 155 times in three games, an average of 52 per. Not a good idea.

13.   Justin Fields is the Bears’ quarterback, but let’s be honest: He’s more of a threat as a running back. The reason: Inaccuracy. He hasn’t thrown a TD pass in two weeks, has thrown for 297 yards in three, has a passer rating of 50.0 and 23 completions … for the season.  Can you say, “Bobby Douglass?” A report last week suggested the Bears would let Fields throw more in the future. They didn’t. Now you know why.

14.   The Patriots are 1-2, quarterback Mac Jones has a significant ankle injury and the next stop is Green Bay. Good luck. You’re going to need it.

15.   Yeah, it was ugly. But it was predictable. With Sunday night’s 11-10 victory, Denver’s Russell Wilson is 18-4 vs. the 49ers (including the playoffs) and 5-1 vs. Jimmy Garoppolo.


The Saints have been held scoreless in the first half four times in their past 20 games … or since Drew Brees left. They were blanked in the first half four times in 228 games with Brees as their starter.

Since the start of last season, Buffalo is 0-6 in games decided by eight or fewer points.


“I am frustrated, and I am angry. I expect more. It’s not easy to win in this league. We know that. But we expect more, and we’ll do it better as we move forward.” – Las Vegas receiver Davante Adams.

“It’s frustrating as hell. It wasn’t good.” – N.Y. Jets coach Robert Saleh on latest loss.

“You get a front-row seat to watching greatness.” – Baltimore defensive end Calais Campbell on quarterback Lamar Jackson.


  1. hey Clark, nice posting, hope this will be a weekly feature here at PFJ....regarding 3rd/15 point #3: we all know why....Tua was allowed to stay in the game because winning and $$$ are more important to teams and the league than the health of players. (that thing at the end of the sentence? Period.)

  2. ....superb article Clark....