NFL Week 4 Recap

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    by Sports director
  • Post Date
    Tue Oct 05 2021

Author: Dan Latto

As we reach the quarter way point through the NFL season, it's time to take a look at the notable performances in week four of the NFL.

Bears bounce back against division foe Lions

The Chicago Bears had a truly humiliating week three where their offense recorded only 47 total yards for the entire game in a blowout loss to the Cleveland Browns. In week four, Matt Nagy and Justin Fields had a huge bounce-back performance against a struggling Detroit Lions team.

Let's start with the Bears. Quarterback Justin Fields had a very solid game in his second NFL start. He went 11/17 with 209 yards and one interception, which came off a tipped ball at the line. Besides that one unlucky interception, Fields looked in complete control of the game, making big throws when he needed to. More impressive was the way the Bears coached the offense. After last week, with Justin Fields almost getting killed out there, being under pressure in over 60% of his dropbacks, there were many people who were calling for the immediate firing of coach Matt Nagy. There were even rumors that if there was another repeat performance like the one against the Browns, he would be fired. So when I say that Nagy was coaching the game against the Lions like his job was on the line, that very well might have actually been the case. The Bears' offense finally had life, with a lot more pre-snap motion and trick plays to keep the Lions defense at bay. The Bears had a season-high six players with at least one carry rushing the ball, demonstrating a much more diverse and updated offensive playstyle.

Now I cannot give most of the credit to Nagy, as all he did to improve the offense was to turn over the play calling back to Bill Lazor. Lazor is the same offensive coordinator who once again brought some life into the Bears offense, as he did last year when Nagy relinquished play-calling to him. Justin Fields should be a very happy man about that, and this is a major step in the right direction for Fields and the Bears team as a whole.

As for the Lions, QB Jared Goff fell to 0-11 when Sean McVay is not coaching him, a clear sign of concern for a Lions team that has been stuck in the bottom half of the NFC North for over a decade. The Lions will need to figure out a major change or else they likely will be working for a top pick in the draft, while the Bears will try to build on this momentum against a very dangerous Oakland Raiders team next week.

Dak is back

Jumping over to Texas, we have to take a look at one of the scarier teams in the league right now, the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had a great win at home against an undefeated (and possibly overachieving) Carolina Panthers team. The Cowboys were definitely a team to watch last year, however, a gruesome ankle injury to quarterback Dak Prescott set back any hopes of success for the Cowboys. Prescott is back though, and he looks better than ever. He has been completing passes at an unbelievable rate, with their only loss coming week one against the defending Super Bowl champs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even in that game, Prescott finished with an impressive 403 yards passing.

Against the Panthers though, it was the revitalization of running back Ezekiel Elliot, who hit his game-high in rushing yards since 2018 with 143 yards on only 20 carries and added a touchdown to the game. It was not just the stats that impressed me though, but also the way Zeke ran the ball. We have seen the capabilities of Elliot before at Ohio State and in his first years with Dallas, but that explosiveness seemed to vanish the last two seasons. Well, it looks like he's back, as he ran the ball like a man on a mission, breaking wimpy arm tackles and fighting for extra yards each carry.

However, what makes this Dallas team so scary is not their offense, but the defense. Last season, the defense was in the bottom half in almost every defensive category, costing the Cowboys games even when Dak was playing. A bright spot for the defense this year is cornerback Trevon Diggs out of Alabama, who has had an interception in Dallas' first four games of the season, the first time this has been done for Dallas since the 1970 merger. He had two huge interceptions yesterday in back-to-back possessions; one in zone coverage and the other in man-to-man coverage, which allowed the Cowboys to pull away and inevitably beat the Panthers. Randy Gregory, who has been in and out of the league for the Cowboys since they drafted him, had two big sacks as well, demonstrating that he can still compete with the best of them.

For the Panthers, Sam Darnold has remained a bright spot for them, going 26/39 with 301 yards and four touchdowns (two rushing). He is doing this all the while Christian McCaffrey is dealing with a hamstring injury, with his return hopefully planned for next week against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, it is the Cowboys who are the main focus here, as they look to continue their win streak against a struggling New York Giants team. Watch out NFL, because if this Cowboys team can continue to force turnovers, they will be a tough team to take down any week.

Cardinals take it to the Rams in LA

The two hottest teams in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams faced off in LA in what was meant to be a duel of young and exciting undefeated offenses. Rather than that, Kliff Kingsbury and his Cardinals took the Rams to town, blowing them out 37-20. QB Kyler Murray once again made it look all too easy, going 24/32 with 268 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 39 yards on the ground. Murray looked in absolute control of the game the whole time, never panicking or flinching against an intimidating defense led by Aaron Donald.

The Cardinals rushing game also had its way with the Rams defense, with Chase Edmunds leading the way with 120 yards on only 12 carries, averaging a ridiculous ten yards per carry. James Connor was the tank on the ground, punching in two goal line touchdowns. The offense had a total of 216 rushing yards against a defense that had not let up over 140 rushing yards up to that point in the season.

Rams QB Matt Stafford on the other hand had a rough go of it on Sunday. He finished 26/41 with 280 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. While the stats don't seem terrible, Stafford missed a couple of big throws to his new favorite target, Cooper Kupp. The Cardinals also did a great job of keeping Stafford under pressure, forcing him to make tough throws on the run. Along with that, the Cardinals did a great job of capitalizing on turnovers and missed field goals by the Rams, scoring 21 points off those mistakes.

The Cardinals will look to keep their undefeated streak going as they return home to play a Trey Lance led San Francisco 49ers team. As for the Rams, they'll look to bounce back in a brutally tough matchup on the road against a very hit or miss Seattle Seahawks team. I would not be surprised to see these two teams play again in the playoffs, but lucky for us, they still have one more matchup in the regular season where McVay and Stafford will look to get revenge on this very intimidating Cardinals team.

Brady gets the best of Belichick in return to Gillette

In what was the most anticipated game in week four of the NFL, Tom Brady, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made his epic return to his stomping grounds against his former team, the New England Patriots. This was his first game back in Gillette stadium, where he won six Super Bowls for his Patriots and dominated for countless years (I know so well because he destroyed the Jets for my entire existence).

Additionally, it was a big game for him as he had the chance to take the record for most passing yards in a career from Drew Brees. It did not take him long, as by the end of the first quarter, he had overtaken the record with a 28 yard pass to Mike Evans. Brady overall had a relatively marginal game, only completing 22 passes on 43 attempts, with 269 yards and no touchdowns. Bill Belichick did a good job of forcing Brady to make tough throws by sending in different blitz packages and defensive looks to keep Brady and his Bucs offense on their toes.

However, Tom Brady was not the man with most of the pressure on him. Sure, he wanted to play well and show up against the team he spent two decades with. But to me, Patriots QB Mac Jones was the man who had the pressure on him. He was not only going up against the defending super bowl champions, but he was facing the man whose mantle he's supposed to take on. Patriots fans were looking to Mac Jones to be the next face of the franchise, and a game like this would of course be one that they would look at intently to see how he handled that kind of pressure. He did not disappoint. After week one I thought Mac Jones was going to be the best QB out of his class this year, and he really stepped up and played to his competition. Though they lost 19-17, Mac Jones looked really good in the pocket, finishing the game at 31/40, with 275 yards and two touchdowns. He moved well against consistent pressure, made big throws when he needed to, and did everything in his power to win his team the game by leading them to a 56-yard field goal attempt with under a minute left to take the lead.

Brady did get the best of Belichick at the end of the day, but we learned a lot about the guts and ability of Mac Jones. Patriots fans should be very excited to see how Jones handles the rest of the season, and the pressures that come with being the successor to Tom Brady.

In a very exciting week four of the NFL, fans will have a lot to look forward to throughout the rest of the season and the playoffs.