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Thoughts On The NFL: Week 4

What stood out around the NFL after Week 4

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago vs. Green Bay

In retrospect, the end of the Mike Glennon era in Chicago was overdue to end. The Bears made it clear long ago that Mitch Trubisky is their guy when they traded up to the 2nd overall pick in the draft to select him. Though their confidence in him is inspiring I’m not sure the rookie will perform much better with the depleted receiving core on the Bears and so so offensive line. We’ll find out next week but I have a feeling the tenure of John Fox and Ryan Race will be defined by how Trubisky performs for the next 12 games. For his sake, I hope the offensive plan is to lean on Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen as much as possible.

The Packers came prepared to play and the Bears didn't. Chicago looks somewhat rudderless right now which explains the switch. Nowhere was that more evident than with Danny Trevathan's inexcusable hit on Davante Adams. Trevathan was rightfully suspended and Adams is still in the concussion protocol. The Packers are in a dead heat with the Lions early on in the season to take the lead in the NFC North. Both these teams are very good and it's going to be fun to see who pulls away as the season goes on.

Dolphins vs. Saints

The Dolphins are terrible and the Saints aren’t as bad as I thought they were. The Saints are in a rhythm on offense and I daresay developing on on defense (I will regret saying that). The bad news for the Saints is that they are still squarely at the bottom of the NFC South and will likely stay there. By now we all know about the incredibly weird Adrian Peterson situation. Not sure why he’s there but I know there is an opening in Minnesota right now.
Jay Cutler is not good, and for someone who allegedly knows Adam Gases’ offense, he is showing a great amount of ineptitude. With the way the Dolphins season has started, I wouldn't be surprised if they finished in the top 5 of the draft order. The Dolphins will certainly move on from Cutler after this season but the more interesting and very premature prospect is if they will move on from Tannehill or try and get one of the top QBs?

New York (Giants) vs. Tampa Bay

I knew Jameis Winston would have a bounce-back game after last weeks performance but I did not expect the Giants to hang around like they did. I want to give a bit of praise to the rookie tight ends on both teams. Before the draft we knew all about Evan Engram and O.J. Howard as first-round talents at the position. Though both have gotten off to slow starts because of the struggles of the offense around them we got a taste of what they could do/be in this game. Both are mismatches and are serious receiving threats with great athleticism. I hope to see them both worked into their offenses more as the season goes on. I also hope the Giants keep losing.

Oakland vs. Denver

Oakland is in a bit of a spiral right now and it's not going to get better anytime soon. The Bronco defense stifled the Raider offense limiting their biggest threats in Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Marshawn Lynch. The Raiders could get nothing going and Derek Carr sustained a back injury in the third quarter while attempting to come back. He’s expected to be out a couple weeks but I worry for Carr a bit now as this is just the latest in a series of injuries that's plagued him in his career. Back injuries never really fully heal and I wonder if Carr isn't due to miss extended time. If that wasn't bad enough news for the Raiders their defense is a shell of itself being held together by tape and Khalil Mack. The Raiders ought to adjust and figure things out fast otherwise they will be firmly behind in the AFC West race.

Speaking of this AFC West matchup the Broncos are in a good spot after bouncing back from last week. Their running game was back on track with C.J. Anderson and Trevor Siemian was helped out by A.J. Derby’s incredible catch. I actually feel a bit confident when thing about the future matchup between the Broncos and Skins. Of course, their defense is top notch but the key to keeping the score in check is pressuring Siemein and the Redskins have been outstanding in that department thus far.

Indianapolis vs. Seattle

After I pointed out how bad the Seattle offensive line and defense was last week they follow up with a dominant performance, especially in the second half. It’s against the Colts though so I won’t make any more sweeping statements on it right now. We’ll see if Seattle can keep it up. Over or under: The Colts with finish with 3 wins?

Jacksonville vs. New York (Jets)

As each week passes, I become more and more certain that neither Josh McCown or Blake Bortles should be starting QBs. Not that the teams are spoiled which choices but I feel Bortles, in particular, is a detriment to the team on any given series. Exhibit A:

And there is plenty more where that came from. Leonard Fournette is getting 20+ carries a game but I feel like the Jags would have more success if they relied on their rookie RB more.

The Jets had no problem running the ball with Bilal Powell. He cut through the Jaguars defense like butter and pretty much carried the Jets to a point where they were able to attempt and make the game-winning FG.

San Francisco vs. Arizona

What I said about Blake Bortles apply it to Bryan Hoyer. The offensive output for the 49ers was below average after their big game against the Rams last week. The bright spot for that team is the promise the young DL is starting to show. Despite the loss, their pass rush was effective and that piled up 6 sacks against Carson Palmer and the Arizona offensive line. Arizona’s offense was nothing to get excited about either outside of John Brown’s individual performance. In a game that had 9 field goals, the Cards pull through.

Los Angeles (Rams) vs. Dallas

Sean McVay looks for real. The Rams are doing great. As much as I dislike the Cowboys they are no pushover and the Rams got a quality win coming from behind. If Jay and Sean still talk I’m sure Jay is congratulating him on the win and on helping out the Skins simultaneously.

Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore

It’s not that the Steelers are a bad team at all but they are fortunate the AFC North is a giant mess. I don’t think this Steeler team is operating at the rate of success and efficiency as past teams were (at least based on my eye test the stats might say something different) but things just seem a bit labored for them thus far this season. The took a big step to getting back on track against a struggling Ravens team that has no semblance of a threatening offense. They decided to feature Alex Collins this week but wound up with mixed results out of him. Joe Flacco finished with an average stat line but really struggled on the field.

The Raven defense had problems of its own trying to defend Le’Veon Bell who carried the team a victory and looks like he’s back to his old form. The Pittsburgh passing offense hasn't been as prolific as its been in past years but its still effective. Rookie Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster is being worked into the offense nicely and it will be interesting how the ball is distributed from receiver to receiver each week.

Cleveland vs. Cincinnati

The Bengals get their first win against a bad Browns team. Andy Dalton had a field day while the rookie Kizer struggled yet again. I already mentioned it but I’m not sure why Kenny Britt is on the team. He yet again was directly responsible for two drives ending prematurely and he doesn't produce enough to offset his mistakes. It's weird. Dalton went off but the Bengal running game is struggling. Joe Mixon had a pitiful 29 yards on 17 carries. If the Bengals are going to try and string together some wins their offense has to be balanced as Dalton is not going to throw for 4 touchdowns each week.

Los Angeles (Chargers) vs. Philadelphia

It really displeases me that the Eagles have squeaked by two weeks in a row now. I wish the Skins played them again next week.

Buffalo vs. Atlanta

Buffalo might have something going here. They have beaten two potential playoff teams in back to back weeks now and it's largely due to their fantastic defensive performance and efficient offense. Tyrod Taylor made some playoff caliber throws this game and they kept it balanced with LeSean McCoy on the ground. The Micah Hyde signing in the offseason has really boosted their secondary and Hyde has been making plays all season, in this one he picked off Matt Ryan twice! Turnovers were the Falcons undoing despite performing well otherwise. Watch out for the Bills.

Carolina vs. New England

After one of their worst performances in years last week the Panthers came out swinging this week against the Pats. Not forcing the ball to McCaffery works wonders! Unfortunately for New England, their defense was out to lunch the nearly entire game giving up nearly 450 yards to the Panthers. That gave Carolina just enough room to attempt the knockoff and it worked. This is a different Pats team, I’m not counting them out, but they have clear weaknesses that can be exploited.

Detroit vs. Minnesota

The Viking offense fizzled out after a red-hot performance last week. While Keenum still made some impressive throws he couldn't put the team on his back like he did last week. The Vikings also got terrible news when it was confirmed that Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the season. Aside from how much that injury sucks, Cook was off to a very impressive start and now the Vikings will have to lean on Latavious Murray on the ground. The Viking defense was much more effective in generating a pass rush and getting to the quarterback they just didn't have the offense to carry them after the Cook injury. Detroit is a good team who relied on their running game this time around. This is one of the best games in space Ameer Abdullah has had in my recent memory. I remember watching him at Nebraska being electric in space and he showed a little bit of that in this one.

Tennessee vs. Houston

Last year there were a lot of people saying Deshaun Watson wasn't ready for the NFL. He was too this, too that. He didn't know how to play in the pocket etc. I wonder where those people are now? Watson was exceptional and he is getting better every week. The Texans have to be ecstatic with what they are seeing out of him. He’s the lead for rookie of the year in my opinion right now and if he keeps it up he could earn another honor or two at seasons end. How about his receivers as well? Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins, and Bruce Ellington all make some spectacular watched to help out their rookie QB not to mention Lamar Miller performance running the ball. The Texan defense robbed Marcus Mariota and Matt Cassell (came in due to injury) blind through the air to the tune of 4 interceptions. I have nothing to say about the Titans their performance was terrible.

Washington vs. Kansas City

This was game of the week material and despite the loss one of the best games I’ve seen the Redskins play against top competition. Despite the pile on (rightfully so) on Josh Doctson’s GW drop, I thought the Redskins came in with a good plan of attack and executed well on a majority if their plays. My major criticism is the drop off in the run game. 19 attempts between 3 of your backs is simply not enough and the offense didn't maintain possession for long enough. The Chiefs had the ball for 37 mins compared to the Skins 22 and that wore out the defense down the stretch. In retrospect, they beat the Skins at their own game. I’m glad the Redskins showed up mostly prepared for this one in prime time though and it really gave me a positive outlook on the rest of the season. This is a good team that needs to clean up little things and remain dedicated, tenacious and focused. If they do that this is a playoff team capable of making a run.