By Louis Addeo-Weiss
And just like that, we’re a quarter of the way through the 2019 NFL regular season. Week 4 showed us continued progress for a couple of rookie quarterbacks, while also gifting us games of an uber-competitive nature.
Most who have one great game yearn to avoid being labeled a “one week wonder”, and for the likes of Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew, that moniker is something I’m sure they’re happy to avoid.
After a thrilling victory on Thursday Night Football to kick of week 3, Minshew, while not as dynamic on the passing front against the Joe Flacco-led Denver Broncos, still managed to throw 2 touchdown passes, and get help in a big way from third-year running back Leonard Fournette, who ran for a league-high 225 yards, en-route to a 26-24 victory in Denver, giving the Broncos an 0-4 start.
Since the start of 2017, Denver has gone a combined 11-25, while being outscored 824-688.
Week 4 also saw the undefeated New England Patriots face their first real challenge of the season, as they were involved in a close matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
While future hall of famer Tom Brady delivered his weakest performance of the season, completing just 46.15% of his 39 passes, and posting a total QBR (ESPN) of just 19.5, it was New England’s defense, which has been a major strength early on, that picked the offense up, totalling 4 interceptions, with two coming via second-year DB J.C. Jackson.
In the end, while Brady may’ve been less-than-stellar, New England advanced to 4-0 after a 16-10 victory, as they look to re-establish their offensive prowess when they face off against the 0-4 Washington Redskins this Sunday.
In regards to the game which kicked off week 4, Thursday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers, enough has already been made of this contest, so we’ll be brief in our summing up of what may be the early-season pick for game of the year; Matt LeFleur, run the ball, especially when your offense is in the red zone on two consecutive possessions. Your team can worry about further incorporating Jimmy Graham into the offense when you face Dallas on Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs, who, too, like the aforementioned Patriots, saw their starting quarterback statistically compromised, fought hard against a Matthew Stafford-led Detroit Lions team en-route to improving to 4-0.
Patrick Mahomes, who failed to throw a touchdown pass, saw the bulk of the scoring came via the ground game, highlighted by recently signed LeSean McCoy, who ran for a respectable 56 yards, while catching two passes for 33 yards. Running back Darrel Williams, who, while only rushing for 13 yards on 8 total carries, scored two touchdowns, including a one-yard run with 23 seconds remaining to seal the victory for Kansas City.
As for the Carolina Panthers, who were playing their second consecutive game without Cam Newton, won in a similarly ugly fashion as did the Patriots.
Quarterback Kyle Allen fumbled 3 times in their 16-10 victory against the Houston Texans, though his team improved to 2-0 since Newton went down with a lisfranc fracture.
While Allen completed more than 70% of his passes for the second consecutive week (70.59 in W4), he has now fumbled 5 times in two games, second in the league to the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins.
As for those Vikings, who are surprisingly 2-2 while being outscored 84-63, their 1297 offensive yards rank 24th of 32 teams, this according to football-reference.
Last Sunday saw the Bears’ defense limit the Vikings offense to 6 points, as they fell 16-6 to a Bears team who looks to be without starting quarterback Mitch Tribusky in the near future, as the recently extended QB suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first quarter of Sunday’s victory.
Other than the extravaganza that was the Thursday Night Matchup, Sunday night’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints may have been our game of the week.
For New Orleans, who were playing their second straight game without the injured Drew Brees, a strong performance by the defense helped cover up what was an otherwise underwhelming performance by Teddy Bridgewater, who performance was highlighted by drawing five sacks via the hands of the Dallas defense.
Despite trouble reading the pass-rush, New Orleans squeaked out a 12-10 win, brining the Cowboys their first loss of the season, while not scoring a single touchdown in the process.
This would be the first time since October 25, 1998 that the Saints would win a game without safely landing in the end zone. Bridgewater’s week four total QBR of 22.4 ranked 24th of 31 qualified quarterbacks.
Regardless, New Orleans improves their record at 3-1 as they go up against a Tampa Bay team coming off a 55-point outburst against the Los Angeles Rams.
And last, but most certainly not least, we have the NFL’s heir to the 2017 Cleveland Browns, the Miami Dolphins.
A quick look at football-reference or any number of NFL statistical sites will tell you just how bad Miami has been thus far, with last Sunday doing nothing to reverse this already ugly narrative.
Drawing their first lead of the 2019 season in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Dolphins appeared to show some signs of life, though, as we’ve come to see, a gridiron flatline was inevitable.
While Miami’s defense held the Chargers to no more than 10 points in either of the four quarters, the team were still sacked with a 30-10 loss at the hands of Phillip Rivers and another unimpressive showing from Josh Rosen, forcing the now-0-4 Dolphins into their week five bye.
For Rivers and Rosen, this matchup was a tail of inexperience and prowess, as can be seen in Rivers’ 69.9 total QBR, according to ESPN, which ranked 7th that week, whereas Rosen’s mark of 41 ranked 19th.
Heading into week five, we’ll see a battle of the backups, as Minshew and Allen will square off at Bank of America Stadium, as Carolina faces off against Jacksonville.
Daniel “Danny Dimes” Jones will look to build on the recent success of their two victories when they matchup against the struggling Vikings at home.
What happens with many of these storylines in the coming week? Will New England continue their dominance of the AFC? Will the Jets finally end up in the win column? Does “Jimmy GQ” get passed the interception bug and overpower the Cleveland defense?
All will soon be answered come game day.