This week, after another slate full of shocking upsets and impressive performances, the NFL Week 4 Recap returns to give you my unfiltered opinion. Week 4 continued the recent trend of high scoring matchups, while some contenders strengthened their Super Bowl aspirations, and other pretenders started to show their true colors. Our NFL Week 4 Recap looks at the Bears QB situation, Studs ‘n’ Duds, early candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year such as Joe Burrow, the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers, and a breakdown of Dak Prescott and another disappointing Dallas Cowboys loss.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to jump around throughout this column, use the black box above titled “In This NFL Week 4 Recap…” At the end of each segment, you’ll see a divider that allows you to scroll back up to the top of this page if you wish to keep jumping around. If not, keep scrolling![sv slug=mocksim]
NFL Week 4 Recap | Solutions for the Bears QB controversy are few and far between
The only thing surprising about the Chicago Bears quarterback controversy is how quickly both Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles demonstrated that they both stink like head cheese. Now, head coach Matt Nagy has a 3-1 team with a playoff-caliber defense but no real answers at quarterback, and that’s the sort of dilemma that ends a head coach’s career (general manager Ryan Pace better not repaint the walls in his office, either). NFL Recap is here to help Nagy and Pace out with some potential solutions after Week 4, but none of them are ideal, and they’re unlikely to love any of them.
Bears-Colts Week 4 NFL Recap
Foles wasn’t just bad in the 18-11 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He was boring, too. Foles went 26-of-42 for 269 yards, one TD, one INT, and if you guessed that his stats were fluffed by a meaningless late touchdown drive against a prevent defense, you win a prize (Foles was 8-of-8 for 90 yards and a touchdown to Allen Robinson on that drive; you have to appreciate his commitment to stat-fluffing).
Foles air-mailed passes into traffic, bounced swing passes off his receivers’ backs, and nearly fumbled the ball like a heavy bag of groceries deep in Bears territory (it was ruled an incomplete pass). When he did complete a pass, save for a few downfield strikes on one second-quarter drive, and in garbage time, it typically netted about six yards.
At least the Trubisky offense looked a little like a middle school theater production of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Foles offense had no personality whatsoever, and it spoiled an afternoon in which the Bears defense played well enough to win if it got even modest support.
What the Bears can do at quarterback
Let’s roll through some options.
Return to Mitch Trubisky
See, that’s the problem with giving Trubisky the quick hook in Week 3. Trubisky’s mobility gives him a better chance to manufacture offense than Foles, but his first three-interception game after flip-flopping would erase what’s left of Nagy’s credibility in Chicago.
Third-Stringer Tyler Bray
He’s been hanging around the backs of Andy Reid/Nagy quarterback rooms since 2013 but has only attempted one NFL pass. He might as well be the dude who runs the video projector. Hard pass.
Former backup Chase Daniel
Fun fact: Daniel is so good at earning money for nothing that Pro Football Network must pay a $50 royalty every time we mention him. That’s the reason why we never, ever bring up S*m Brad***d: We simply cannot afford it. Anyway, Daniel is the Detroit Lions backup, and Matt Patricia wouldn’t dare part with someone so integral to his team’s winning culture.
The Bears have approximately 14 offensive coordinators tripping over each other right now. If they start trying to one-up each other, it will end with Trubisky sitting on Foles’ shoulders in the backfield or something.
Pace could pry Winston away from the injury-racked New Orleans Saints in exchange for a player — Sean Payton would just love to put Taysom Hill and Cordarrelle Patterson in the same backfield and run the single wing — and even at his pick-sixiest, Winston represents an upgrade over the current situation.
Winston is the kind of solution the Bears should be looking for: a young veteran who can be evaluated for the long-term while giving the offense a chance to breach the 20-point threshold every week.
Discount Winston, likely available for a draft pick. NFL Week 4 Recap has no idea what Rosen could do given defensive support, a semi-competent offensive line, and a weapon like Robinson. Neither do you. Neither does Nagy.
Let’s get silly! The Jets may listen to Darnold offers because they are the Jets, and it’s reasonable to think Darnold could go full Ryan Tannehill once liberated from Adam Gase. Darnold is damaged goods right now, but the quicker the Bears make a move, the quicker they can rescue Darnold before Gase runs him onto the field hurt again.
If you don’t like Darnold in this slot, feel free to craft your own scenario involving anyone from Jacoby Brissett up to Derek Carr. But no Nick Mullens, please: That storyline is soooooooooooooo last week.
It’s either self-evident to you that a rusty Kaepernick is a better fit for what’s supposed to be a Chiefs-like offense than Trubisky and Foles or you have spent the last four years lying to yourself about it for political reasons, so we won’t belabor the point.
Hey look, an ultra-rusty scrambling ex-49ers quarterback who doesn’t make your father-in-law take a break from mailing Get Well cards to Walter Reed to rage-type all-caps Facebook posts! Smith might be available from Washington for a mid-round pick, Nagy coached him in Kansas City, and the 2018 version of Smith could win games with this defense. But if Smith got hurt again after we advocated for this trade, NFL Recap wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves.
Tank for Trevor Lawrence!
It’s already too late for that, the Bears defense would make it impossible, and it wouldn’t help this year. Sorry, Allen Robinson; this might have been your best chance to finally connect with a good quarterback.
The most likely option for the Bears, of course, is to grit their teeth and white-knuckle their way through the year with Frick and Frack. Unfortunately, that’s the organization’s solution to most of their quarterback problems over the last 70 years or so. It rarely works.
What’s next for the Bears
Thursday night’s Super Bowl LII Tom Brady-Nick Foles reunion against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers promises to be ugly for the Bears. And an upcoming schedule which also features the Los Angeles Rams, Saints, and Tennessee Titans offers few games that can be won with 17-13 final scores.
NFL Week 4 Recap | Odell Beckham Jr., Jason Garrett headline NFL Week 4 Studs ‘n’ Duds
Odell Beckham Jr. and the Cleveland Browns offensive line went ham on the Dallas Cowboys. Jason Garrett is forcing the New York Giants to settle for less. And a punter who doubles as a perfect passer made a big play when the Baltimore Ravens needed it most. All of this and more in the Week 4 edition of NFL Studs ‘n’ Duds.
Stud: Odell Beckham Jr., WR. Cleveland Browns
Every once in awhile, Beckham has a game that reminds us of what all the fuss is about. Sunday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys was one of those games. Beckham caught five passes for 81 yards and two TDs — one from Baker Mayfield, one from crafty southpaw receiver Jarvis Landry on a trick play — and sealed the Browns victory with a 50-yard sprint through the Cowboys defense on an end-around.
If the Browns can get this version of Beckham two or three more times this season, they’ll cruise into the playoffs.
Dud: Jason Garrett, Offensive Coordinator, New York Giants
The Giants offense was barely functional in their 17-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. When the Giants did stumble into the red zone, they settled for short field goals because Garrett kept calling running plays on first down and short passes on later downs.
With the Giants trailing 10-9 near midfield in the fourth quarter and facing 3rd-and-3, Garrett called a screen to receiver Golden Tate which the Rams easily sniffed out for a one-yard loss. The Giants then punted. The punt was on head coach Joe Judge, but the third-down call that made it necessary was pure Garrett.
We all knew the Giants offense would be bad this season. But there is no reason for it to be this bad.
Stud: Shaquill Griffin, CB, Seattle Seahawks
Griffin helped seal the Seahawks 31-23 win over the Miami Dolphins with a pair of critical fourth-quarter plays. Griffin broke up a potential touchdown pass to Mike Gisicki, then intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the game to all but ice the victory.
Dud: The “spot” at the end of the Seahawks-Dolphins game
The Seahawks and Dolphins traded touchdowns after Griffin’s interception, so the Seahawks still needed to run out the clock in the final minutes to prevent any possible Fitzmagic. Chris Carson appeared to gain about 2.5 yards on 3rd-and-3 late in the fourth quarter, but officials gave him a charitable spot.
There still appeared to be a half-inch of daylight between the nose of the ball and the first down marker during the measurement, but officials signaled a first down anyway. Brian Flores challenged, but the spot was upheld, and the Seahawks lined up in victory formation.
Per Dolphins reporter Hal Habib, NFL head of officiating Al Riveron ruled that “we did not have anything that was clear and obvious to overturn it.”
Anyway, it was late in the fourth quarter, and most of the folks in Hard Rock Stadium sounded like Seahawks fans, so perhaps the NFL shrugged its shoulders and moved on because no one really cares about the Dolphins.
Can you really blame them?
NFL Week 4 Offensive Line of the Week: Cleveland Browns
If anyone knows what Jedrick Wills, Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, Wyatt Teller, and Jack Conklin did with the Cowboys defensive line’s dignity, please let NFL Recap know so we can return it to them, no questions asked.
NFL Week 4 Defensive Players of the Week: Quinton Jefferson, DT, Bills; Justin Blackmon, S, Colts; Alex Singleton, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
Jefferson stepped up with a big play when the Bills needed him, stripping Derek Carr and then pouncing on the fumble in the fourth quarter of a 30-23 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Blackmon finished Sunday with three passes defensed, including the fourth-quarter Nick Foles air mail interception that ultimately put the Colts’ 19-11 victory over the Chicago Bears out of reach.
Singleton merely dropped into a shallow zone and waited for Nick Mullens to toss the ball directly to him on the pick-six, which gave the Philadelphia Eagles an insurmountable fourth-quarter lead in their 25-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
None of these plays were really spectacular, but there wasn’t a lot of spectacular defense in NFL Week 4.
Special Teamer of the Week: Ravens punter Sam Koch
The Ravens held a too-close-for-comfort 14-7 lead over Washington and were having a hard time finding an offensive rhythm when John Harbaugh called a fake punt on 4th-and-9 on Washington’s side of midfield late in the second quarter. Koch hit Miles Boykin with a crisp 15-yard pass, and Lamar Jackson found Mark Andrews in the end zone a few plays later in what ended as a 31-17 Ravens win.
Koch is now 7-for-7 passing on fake punts for his career; he should demand Taysom Hill money! And play-by-play broadcaster Andrew Catalon should demand Tony Romo money: He warned viewers to watch out for the fake just moments before the ball was snapped. Ron Rivera’s special teams must not have been listening.
Best supporting actor in someone else’s highlight
Defender Marcus Epps made Brandon Aiyuk’s hurdling touchdown the 49ers’ 25-20 loss to the Eagles extra special by comically flailing and sailing out of bounds while Aiyuk floated over him.
Honorable mention goes to rookie Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs. Watch Diggs (#27) on Odell Beckham’s end-around touchdown run. He nearly twists his own ankle while trying to change direction at the start of the play. Then, he runs past Beckham and out of bounds without making a play and just stops while the receiver is streaking up the sideline. Diggs looked like a glitching video game character on the play. Then again, Beckham has been known to have that effect on defenders.
NFL Week 4 Recap | Joe Burrow shines as the NFL Rookie of the Year chase heats up
Joe Burrow looked great in his first win. Justin Herbert looked pretty darn good in another tough loss. James Robinson is one of the league’s best stories despite playing for one of the NFL’s worst teams. The Offensive Rookie of the Year race is heating up, and NFL Recap is here to catch you up on what the league’s top rookies have done through Week 4 and handicap the field, from the favorites down to the dark horses with the tastiest odds!
(All odds via DraftKings as of Sunday morning)
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow went 25-of-36 for 300 yards with one touchdown and one INT in a 33-25 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he looked even better than the numbers suggest. He lost an apparent first-quarter touchdown to a holding penalty, had another near-touchdown ripped from tight end Drew Sample’s arms by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack, and threw a few other impressive passes that scuttled through his receivers’ hands.
Burrow entered Sunday as the favorite at +150 to win Rookie of the Year, meaning that there’s little meat left on the bone for a wager. If NFL Week 4 Recap is betting on Burrow to remain a viable candidate behind Bobby Hart and the NFL’s most dubious offensive line for a full season, we at least need a +250 to make it worthwhile. And after Sunday’s win, we aren’t going to get it.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs and New England Patriots game has been postponed until Monday night. Edwards-Helaire’s teleportational jump-cut ability and versatility have been impressive through three games, but the possibility that he gets lost in a crowd and ends up with good-not-great final statistics makes him a bad bet at +200.
James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson had another strong performance in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals: 17 carries for 75 yards, and four catches for 32 yards. He’s on pace for 1,140 yards and 12 TDs, and his undrafted-rookie storyline should keep him in people’s minds as the Jaguars fade into irrelevance. Denver Broncos RB Mike Anderson was a sixth-round pick when he won Rookie of the Year in 2000, so there’s precedent for a rags-to-riches winner at running back.
Robinson’s problem may be that any flicker of Jaguars’ success will be credited to Gardner Minshew because the NFL world just loves to gush over Minshew for throwing 10-yard touchdown passes after his running back hammers out 50 yards on rushes and dump-offs. Robinson is somewhat enticing at +700, but that’s not action worth watching 3/4ths of a season of Jaguars games for.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Taylor is lying in wait in the Rookie of the Year field. He rushed 17 times for 68 yards in the Colts’ 19-11 win over the Chicago Bears and is now on pace for 1,000 rushing yards. But the Colts are 3-1, meaning that Taylor is likely to have more impact on the playoff chase than Burrow, Herbert, or Robinson, and he’s less likely to be overshadowed by his quarterback than Edwards-Helaire or some of the other rookies in the “field” like J.K. Dobbins of the Baltimore Ravens. Taylor’s status as a second-round pick could also help his candidacy: Rookies of the Year are often selected from players who were expected to succeed. Taylor could be worth a wager at +1100
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Herbert played well in Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He threw touchdown passes to guys who sounded like they were plucked from old XFL rosters, made a few plays with his legs, and his lone interception came when trailing late in the fourth quarter. The problem is that Herbert keeps playing well in losses to Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, and he faces Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints next week. The +1500 odds sound tasty, but they don’t give Rookie of the Year awards for moral victories.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Lamb is on pace for 84 catches, 1,236 yards, and eight TDs, and that’s with Mike McCarthy taking him out of the game in clutch situations now and then for no apparent reason. The last wide receiver to win the Rookie of the Year award was Percy Harvin for the Vikings in 2009. Those Vikings finished 12-4 thanks to a high-powered offense led by someone named Brett Favre. If the Cowboys turn things around, you could look like a genius for having grabbed Lamb at +2000.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team
Gibson generated 128 yards of total offense and scored a touchdown in Washington’s 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. His versatility and open-field elusiveness should keep the production humming even as Washington’s offense falters. Gibson is the arithmetic mean of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and James Robinson, and he comes with +2000 odds. Of course, if you are a true Gibson stan, you placed your wager on him the moment Adrian Peterson was released.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB Miami Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pair of interceptions in the Dolphins’ 31-23 field goal fest loss to the Seattle Seahawks, whose defense was without its best players on Sunday, and also stinks. That means Tua Time is coming soon.
It’s not unusual for a quarterback to win Rookie of the Year after starting the season on the bench: Dak Prescott and Vince Young are recent examples. If you are a Tua believer or just need a reason to stay awake during Dolphins games for the rest of the season, a +5000 wager is worth a flyer.
NFL Week 4 Recap | Tom Brady has the Buccaneers looking a lot like the 2019 Patriots
Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-31 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in NFL Week 4. That means that the GOAT is more caprine* than ever and is on pace to lead the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl, right?
Maybe. NFL Week 4 Recap doesn’t want to go the Worst. Five-TD game. Ever. route, but Brady’s Buccaneers look a lot like his Patriots. His 2019 Patriots that is, a team that feasted on weaker opponents but didn’t have what it took to hang with the true contenders.
Buccaneers-Chargers Game Recap
Michael Davis jumped a route and turned a Brady pass into a pick-six to give the Chargers a 14-7 second-quarter lead. The Chargers extended that lead to 24-7 when the Buccaneers failed to move the ball on several series while Justin Herbert spread the ball around to unlikely targets like Tyron Johnson and Donald Parham. But Josh Kelley fumbled near his own goal line before halftime, setting up a Brady touchdown to Mike Evans and awakening the Bucs offense.
Brady threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns after halftime while Herbert, short on weapons with Austin Ekeler injured, struggled to sustain any offense and threw a late-game interception to seal the Buccaneers victory.
What Tom Brady’s five-touchdown performance means
As mentioned above, the Chargers fumbled deep in their own territory and lost one of their top offensive weapons early in the game. They missed a short field goal and lost a 42-yard punt return to a penalty. Their defense, missing Melvin Ingram, failed to mount a pass rush. When Brady’s receivers weren’t wide open in the second half, their defenders were comically misplaying the ball instead of contesting catches.
In other words, the Chargers played like a rebuilding team with a rookie quarterback and a young, thin, mistake-prone roster. And that’s becoming a trend. The Bucs’ Week 3 opponent, the Denver Broncos, are one of the NFL’s most injury-plagued teams, and they were forced to switch from backup quarterback Jeff Driskel to third-stringer Brett Rypien mid-game. The Buccaneers’ Week 2 opponent, the Carolina Panthers, are another rebuilding team with little talent on defense who lost their best all-purpose weapon (Christian McCaffrey) while trying to stage a comeback.
It’s almost as if the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and (original recipe) Buffalo Bills followed Brady to Tampa and brought all of their quarterback woes and eagerness to lose their composure with them! Brady’s 2019 Patriots feasted on their AFC East serfs and the NFC East’s FCS-level competition, but they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, and Houston Texans in the regular season before the Tennessee Titans upset them in the playoffs. These Buccaneers look like similar daisy stompers right now.
Brady is playing well, of course, if you overlook the pick-six, which is a heckuva thing to overlook. No one doubts that he can stand in a clean pocket and pick apart a weak defense. But the schedule is about to get harder. Everyone on the Bucs must play better to defeat stronger opponents who won’t hand opportunities to them. Tom Brady is no exception.
What’s next for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers
Brady and Nick Foles get to relive Super Bowl LII on Thursday night as the Bucs visit the Chicago Bears, followed by a visit from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 6. We’ll know much more about where they really stand after that.
*Caprine is Latin for “goat-like.” It’s like the freakin’ SATs up here in NFL Recap.
NFL Week 4 Recap | Trying to make sense of the Dallas Cowboys
Bungling, embarrassing starts. Thrilling, desperate comebacks. King-sized statistics. Emperor-sized blunders. The Cowboys are must-see TV after their fourth-straight shootout of the 2020 season: A down-to-the-wire 49-38 loss to the Cleveland Browns. But are the Cowboys any good? Are they better or worse than their 1-3 record? And can they turn things around in the worst division in professional sports? NFL Recap is willing to risk a hallucinogenic journey through the Cowboys season so far in search of answers.
Dallas Cowboys 2020 Week 4 recap
NFL Recap isn’t going to try to summarize Sunday’s loss, because about 200 things happened in that game, and most of them were ridiculous. Cowboys games look like they were scripted by overstimulated television writers for the Freeform Channel who got all of their football knowledge from playing NFL Blitz in arcades as teenagers. The heroes are always down by two touchdowns. Every play is either a touchdown or a turnover and comes packed with unlikely, unnecessary drama. Including the kickoffs. ESPECIALLY the kickoffs.
The average final score of a Cowboys game this season is opponents 36.5, Cowboys 31.5. Dak Prescott is on pace to throw for 6,760 yards, which would break the NFL record by over 1,000 yards, but with 24 turnovers. The Cowboys are getting outscored 96-53 in the first half (that works out to 24-13 at halftime) but outscore opponents 49-26 in fourth quarters.
They would be 3-1 if not for a few mistakes but could also be 0-4 if the Atlanta Falcons weren’t a symphony of despair and regret. The Cowboys are agents of pure chaos, more dangerous to themselves than others.
What’s wrong with the Dallas Cowboys?
Here’s a list of the Cowboys’ biggest problems.
The Cowboys have nine turnovers this season, most of them in the first half. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have combined for five lost fumbles this season.
Prescott’s lack of feel for the pass rush results in strip-sacks, and he has also developed a habit of locking on to receivers and forcing passes: He threw a few would-be interceptions on Sunday which went through defenders’ hands.
As for Elliott, it’s time for him to spend a week carrying the football at all times while coaches, teammates, and travel secretaries try to pry it loose. If this violates social distancing guidelines, they should try to pry it loose with garden rakes, halberds, and toilet snakes.
Opponents average 172.5 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per rush against the Cowboys. The Browns, without Nick Chubb for most of the afternoon, rushed for 306 yards and 7.7 yards per carry. The Cowboys run defense loses too many line-of-scrimmage battles, and defenders get latched onto blocks too easily.
The Cowboys pass defense would never be mistaken for the Legion of Boom, either, but their biggest issue is that opponents constantly have great field position due to turnovers (see above) and favorable down-and-distance situations.
Terrible situational football
The Cowboys are 4-of-9 on fourth down conversions, with some goofy decisions (including a pair of failed fake punts) in the mix. Little details like proper clock management before halftime escape them.
As for kickoffs, whoa nelly: Tony Pollard (who muffed a kickoff last week) nearly let one roll until Browns defenders pounced on it on Sunday; it trickled harmlessly into the end zone at the last moment). Mike McCarthy later called for a short squib while trailing by five with 3:42 to play, as if he couldn’t decide between an onside kick or a deep kickoff and figured he would split the difference. The decision gave the Browns the ball near midfield, setting the stage for Odell Beckham Jr.’s game-icing end-around touchdown.
So can Dak Prescott and the Cowboys turn things around?
The Cowboys have had a little bad luck on those fumbles: They have lost six of seven, an abnormally high percentage. The special team mistakes can be cleaned up by coaching and/or swapping out returners. A team with a high-powered passing game can overcome a weak run defense by just outscoring everyone, assuming they stop spotting their opponents two possessions in great field position before halftime every Sunday.
That leaves Prescott’s turnover issues and the coaching mistakes in high-leverage situations. Both of those issues point directly to McCarthy, who was hired to be a better game planner and in-game decision-maker than Jason Garrett. That’s a really low bar to clear, but McCarthy has coached like Mega Garrett so far this season.
The good news for the Cowboys is that 7-9 could win the NFC East this year. The bad news is that they entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, and Prescott is supposed to be leaping into the upper echelon of quarterbacks this season, not turning into a Jameis Winston-like touchdown-and-turnover factory.
What’s next for the Dallas Cowboys?
The Cowboys are only scheduled to play one NFL game for the next month, as they face the Arizona Cardinals in two weeks. No, that’s not a scheduling quirk: They just face the Giants, Football Team, and Eagles in three of the next four weeks, and those are more like soccer friendlies or marching band tournaments than real NFL games.