The NFL Player of the Week award for the top Week 4 performance was tightly contested on the offensive side of the ball. However, the quarterback performance and defensive performance of the week were much easier to select. We won’t often see two players from the same team win awards, but this week, that nearly happened … twice.
*Our Week 4 NFL Players of the Week do not include the Monday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders. We will update if necessary.
NFL Player of the Week | Week 4
We appear blessed with the quality of football we’ve received so far in 2021. Fans are back in the stands, offenses are firing on all cylinders, and somehow the Chiefs are 2-2 despite Patrick Mahomes playing at an extraordinary level every week.
Quarterback of the Week | Patrick Mahomes
Granted, there is a very coarse grain of salt to take with passer rating. However, Mahomes has posted a 131+ passer rating in three of his four weeks. That’s absurd pure passing production. This week — unlike in Baltimore — they won.
This week was also his second performance posting with a QBR over 90. We’ve seen Mahomes make mistakes like the ones he made in the Chargers game. But he’s such a playmaker that — in the few instances where he throws a pass that makes no sense — it needs to be chalked up as an occupational hazard. He does so much to elevate the team around him that the few errors he makes can be dismissed.
And they should be — because nobody has ever played at the level of Mahomes. He’s unique, and I’m not sure we fully appreciate his ability within the structure of Kansas City’s offense.
Mahomes against the Eagles
He was surgical. We already know that Mahomes is a magician. Despite only possessing “average” athletic traits and speed for a quarterback, his understanding of space and time makes up for any athletic shortcomings. If he takes off to run on third down, you better believe he’s going to pick it up, as he did against the Eagles this week.
No team is more creative in the red zone than Andy Reid’s Chiefs. Additionally, nobody is better fit to execute in the red zone than Mahomes. The still photos of Mahomes delivering his 5 touchdown passes display arm angles that don’t even exist in Madden.
Mahomes completed 80% of his passes on the day, which was nearly 17% higher than his expected completion percentage. He was also responsible for .65 EPA/play, an absurd total over a 38-play sample.
NFL Offensive Player of the Week | Ezekiel Elliott
This was a tough decision between Ezekiel Elliott and Tyreek Hill. However, Hill won the award in Week 1, and Elliott’s resurgence deserves special recognition. After all, he was the second-leading rusher in NFL for Week 4 and averaged more than 7 yards a pop.
Elliott has been a punching bag for Cowboys fans ever since he signed his $90 million extension. Ultimately, a lot of the criticism was warranted — from 2018-2020, Elliott didn’t appear to be the same player we saw come out of Ohio State in 2016.
That changed this offseason. I don’t know if it was seeing one of his best friends, Dak Prescott, go down with a horrific ankle injury. Maybe the continued pandemic kept him away from McKinney Avenue. Or perhaps he simply matured to the point where being the best version of himself on the field outweighed having a good time off of it.
Whatever the case may be, this Zeke is different. We could tell in training camp when he appeared slimmed down and fit. Now, he’s running behind a relatively intact offensive line. They’re facilitating some of the most dominant football of Elliott’s career so far in 2021.
Elliott’s performance against the Panthers
His stat line was gorgeous — 20 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown. His 47-yard scamper was his longest run since his rookie season. He’s still running with power, but there is far more grace in the soles of his feet than we’ve seen the past few seasons. This is the Ezekiel Elliott the Cowboys extended.
His vision as a runner never wavered, but now, the spring in his legs can keep up with that vision, and the burst he once displayed is back.
I certainly didn’t expect this from Elliott — not in Year 6 with over 1,700 touches to his name. Running backs don’t age well, and it looked like he was no different. He’s proven me and many others wrong.
NFL Defensive Player of the Week | Trevon Diggs
When Aiden Diggs stole the show on Hard Knocks, some believed his father would do the same in Year 2 with the Cowboys. I was not one of them.
I wasn’t ready for the 6’2″, 210-pound cornerback to so effortlessly handle some of the best receivers in the game over a four-week stretch. That alone would have gotten a chuckle from me.
But if you would have tried to tell me Diggs would have 5 interceptions through four games and totaled -24.8 EPA when targeted, I would have politely asked you what drugs you’d ingested in the past 24 hours. He’s exceeded the expectations of everyone, including his most dedicated supporters.
I do, however, assume Aiden knew his father was going to become the best defensive player in football over the league’s first four games.
I thought Diggs would be a Marcus Peters-style player — someone who makes big plays but takes massive risks and gets beat handily at times. But it appears Diggs has the best of both worlds because he is so good at being situationally aggressive. It’s what netted him the NFL Defensive Player of the Week here and for the month of September.
It’ll take teams willing to take shots on double moves on crucial downs to catch Diggs slipping. Even then, he might just flip his hips and carry. It helps that the Cowboys finally found some competent safety play, too.
Diggs’ résumé thus far
Diggs has now faced and flourished shadowing Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, DeVonta Smith, and DJ Moore (who had a great game but did most of his work against zone coverage).
He won Defensive Player of the Month for September and followed that with a better statistical performance in Week 4 of the NFL season to start October. When will teams stop looking in Diggs’ direction completely?