The first four weeks of the Carson Wentz experiment in Indianapolis looked like the last couple years of Wentz's time with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Wentz was trying to do too much, taking too many sacks, making too many mistakes and not making enough plays to compensate for it. Finally, the last couple weeks, Wentz has turned a corner. That's win for the Indianapolis Colts, and the Eagles too.
Wentz looked sharp for the second straight week as the Colts blew out the Houston Texans 31-3. Wentz only had to throw 20 times in the blowout, but had 223 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite a horrid 0-3 start to the season, the 2-4 Colts will be just a game behind the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South if the Buffalo Bills beat the Titans on Monday night. That's not too bad.
And, now that Wentz is healthy, the Colts making a legitimate run seems on the table. Again, that's good for the Eagles, whose own first-round pick is looking like it could be top 10, and own the 1-5 Dolphins' first-rounder too.
When the Eagles traded Wentz to Indianapolis, it was for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional second-rounder. There were two ways in which the 2022 second-round pick would become a first-rounder. That would happen if Wentz played 75 percent of the Colts' snaps this season, or if he played 70 percent and Indianapolis made the playoffs.
It seemed for a while like the only path was the 75-percent part, but the way Wentz has played lately has given some life to the second option.
Had the Colts held on to win last Monday night at Baltimore, Wentz would be a buzzier topic of conversation. He played great against the Ravens. It was hardly his fault the Colts lost. He threw for 402 yards and two touchdowns. He kept that hot streak going Sunday. He had a long touchdown pass to Parris Campbell and a laser to Mo Alie-Cox.
Wentz had a foot injury in August. He injured both of his ankles in September. He looked mediocre at best but he had a good reason. The last two weeks he has looked healthy, and more like the rising star he was early in his Eagles career.
It's not too late for Frank Reich and the Colts to save Wentz's career, which went south fast in Philly. It's not too late for the Colts to save their season either. The Eagles needed to move on from Wentz. It looks like they'll be getting a first-round pick back for letting Wentz go. Everyone might win.
Here are the winners and losers from Week 6 of the NFL season:
Jerry Jones: This is finally the Dallas Cowboys team Jones has been waiting for.
He ended up getting the Dak Prescott contract situation right, after some bumps. The Cowboys have hit some huge draft picks that have transformed their team, most notably 2020 draftees CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs. And now the Cowboys look like a Super Bowl contender.
The Cowboys persevered and won a thrilling overtime game over the New England Patriots. Lamb's walk-off touchdown in overtime gave the Cowboys a 35-29 win. The CBS cameras immediately showed the Jones family, who was celebrating in its suite.
Jones deserves to live it up. He has taken a lot of heat through the years. But this team is one that he should be excited about.
Arizona Cardinals, legit contender: Nobody should be questioning the Cardinals anymore, if anyone had been.
Arizona is 6-0 after another quality win, a blowout of the Cleveland Browns. It’s the first 6-0 start for the franchise since 1974, when the Cardinals were still in St. Louis.
The Cardinals came out fast. Kyler Murray threw a touchdown to Christian Kirk. Then another to DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals led 14-0, then 17-0, then 20-0. Even when they gave up a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half, it didn’t matter. The defense played very well other than that play.
The Cardinals are the last undefeated team in the NFL. There shouldn’t be anymore questions about their legitimacy.
Joe Burrow: There was some skepticism about Burrow heading into the season. He was coming back from a major knee injury. There was no guarantee the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback would pick up where he left off from his successful rookie season.
It's safe to say Burrow is back.
Burrow looked very sharp in a 34-11 win over the Detroit Lions. Burrow had 271 yards and three touchdowns despite sitting much of the fourth quarter due to the blowout. The Bengals are 4-2. There's no reason they can't stay in the AFC playoff race. Burrow is good enough to keep them in it.
Cooper Kupp: The happiest person for the Matthew Stafford trade might be Kupp. He might be even happier than Stafford.
Kupp has been a good player for many years, but he's playing at another level with Stafford feeding him the ball. The Los Angeles Rams won in an easy 38-11 blowout on Sunday, beating the New York Giants. On a day the Rams did whatever they wanted, Kupp was the one who dominated. He had nine catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Kupp is playing at an All-Pro level. It didn't take long for Stafford to figure out who his No. 1 target was.
Patrick Mahomes, after a while: Mahomes is trying to do too much, and it's hard to blame him. The Chiefs were 2-3 coming into Sunday. The defense isn't very good. Mahomes had a bad interception in the first half Sunday when he didn't have control of the ball, was being sacked, but tried to make a play anyway and floated it up for an easy interception.
Eventually, Mahomes and the Chiefs calmed down and Kansas City got a much-needed 31-13 win over the Washington Football Team. Mahomes finished with 397 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Mahomes hit a touchdown to Tyreek Hill in the third quarter to give Kansas City a lead. Darrel Williams, filling in for injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire, scored his second touchdown to give Kansas City a 24-13 lead. That game, which was in doubt for a time, was practically over at that point. The Chiefs still might not be the juggernaut they have been, but at least they got a win.
Vic Fangio: The Denver Broncos’ 3-0 start could end up being a bit of a curse for Fangio.
That start got hopes up, even if it came in wins over the Giants, Jets and Jaguars. It looked like maybe, Fangio’s Broncos were turning a corner.
They’re not. The Broncos looked bad in a 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. That’s their third loss in a row. The offense looked really bad and the defense didn’t do much either. There’s not a lot to be excited about in Denver anymore.
Soon, the attention will turn to Fangio. He went 14-20 in his first two Broncos seasons. This season was a crucial one. It started well. That fast start seems like a long time ago.
Chicago Bears being owned by Aaron Rodgers again: Nobody will be happier if Aaron Rodgers doesn't return to the Green Bay Packers in 2022 than the Bears.
Rodgers has started 27 games against the Bears, including playoffs. The Packers are 22-5 in those games. Rodgers had another good game against the Bears on Sunday, and his running touchdown with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Packers some breathing room a competitive game. The Packers won 24-14.
Rodgers gave Bears fans something to remember after that touchdown by letting them know "I own you!" with an expletive included.
— IKE Packers Podcast (@IKE_Packers) October 17, 2021
The Packers might run away with the NFC North. The Bears could have been in a first-place tie with a win on Sunday. But they still haven't figured out Rodgers, after all these years.
Justin Herbert's MVP buzz: We might need to slow down the bandwagon for the Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert.
Herbert is very good and the Chargers might be too, but they all looked terrible on Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens dismantled the Chargers 34-6. Herbert was way off all day. Even his completed throws were off the mark. Brandon Staley's hot run at the craps table finally hit some bumps; his fourth-down gambles didn't work out against the Ravens. They failed on their first two fourth-down tries and that helped the Ravens build a 27-6 lead. Part of the reason the Chargers couldn't pick up first downs was that Herbert didn't play well.
There will be other days for the Chargers. There's no shame losing at Baltimore. But it wasn't a pretty day for them.
Brian Flores and the underachieving Dolphins: After last season, there was a lot of faith in Flores being a good NFL coach. And he might be.
But on Sunday, he got outcoached by Urban Meyer. That's not good.
The Dolphins lost 23-20 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on a last-second field goal. Two plays stood out. On one, the Dolphins went for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield late in the game. The decision to go for it wasn't bad, but running out of the shotgun instead of taking the quarterback sneak was. The play was stuffed short of a first down. Then, on the second-to-last play, the Dolphins played a soft coverage and gave up 9 easy yards, which was huge when the Jaguars hit a 53-yard field goal as time expired. Those are two bad coaching decisions that led to a Jaguars win.
The Dolphins fell to 1-5, and this loss is rock bottom. There's a lot of time to rally, and the Dolphins need to do that if we want to restore that faith in Flores being a good coach.