Every-Thing Sports

NFL Week Four: Good, bad & ugly

Bill Wippert, buffalobills.com

Week four of the NFL season was a wild one. There were a few unexpected results of different varieties on different levels. This week marks the end of the first quarter of the NFL season. Here's some of my observations:

The Good

-Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones won his second straight start this week in a 24-3 win over division rival Redskins. "Danny Dimes" didn't have a great game (two picks and only one touchdown), but did enough to help his team win by going 23/31 for 225 yards, along with five runs for another 33 yards. Jones is showing some of the same promise he showed in the preseason. He might be as good as his draft position (#6 overall)...might is the key word here.

-Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes did it again. Every week he shows us something we haven't seen, rarely see, or a "wow" play. This time, he took off on a scramble, but stared down a ref mid-play, and still managed to run for a first down! While he didn't throw a touchdown pass this week (first time in his career), he led a comeback win in Detroit. Wonder what he'll do next week?

-I've been watching Bills running back Frank Gore for the better part of about 20 years now. He was a stud at the University of Miami. Sans his knee injuries there, we may have never heard of Willis McGahee or Clinton Portis. At 36, he ran for 109 yards in a loss against the Patriots, but moved himself into fourth place all-time behind Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders. Kudos to the ageless wonder. I've enjoyed watching him play. Hopefully, he gets a gold jacket whenever he decides to hang up his cleats.

The Bad

-The Ravens fell to 2-2 after giving up over 500 yards on defense for the second week in a row. The Browns also put up 40 points in Baltimore which hasn't happened in several years. The Ravens were leading the AFC North. Now they're tied with the team they just lost to and gave them a confidence boost.

-The Bills forced Tom Brady into one of the worst games of his career...and still lost. Brady was 18/39 for 150 yards, no touchdowns and threw an interception. Not only that, but Bills quarterback Josh Allen was knocked from the game by Jonathan Jones after a helmet to helmet hit. Disappointing way to lose your first game of the season to a division rival and defending champs.

-The Rams gave up 55 points in a home loss to the Bucs. Their quarterback Jared Goff threw the ball 68 times (the third highest total in NFL history) in the loss. The Bucs aren't an offensive juggernaut and the Rams' defense is thought to be better than this performance. This is why they play the games.

The Ugly

-Add Mitchell Trubisky to the list of quarterbacks that have been sidelined due to injuries this season. It was a non-throwing (left) shoulder dislocation and slight labrum tear, but it'll still keep him out for an undisclosed amount of time. It occurred on the sixth play from scrimmage. Backup Chase Daniel came in and secured a 16-6 win for the Bears over the Vikings.

-Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the rest of the season after his helmet to helmet hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle. Burfict has been warned, and suspended/fined, several times previously for similar offenses, hence the heft of this suspension. Burfict is a guy that can't seem to get himself together, and it may have cost him his career. Doyle said he thinks the hit was worse than what it looked.

-Broncos outside linebacker/defensive end Bradley Chubb suffered a partially torn ACL in their loss to the Jags. He was injured on a play in which he was attempting to shed a block on a run to his side of the field. There was no contact, as he seemed to plant and barely twist is leg when the injury occurred. The fact that he came back and played after the injury is crazy!

With one fourth of the season down, we now have a clearer picture of the division and playoff races. There are several good surprise teams (Bills and Lions come to mind first), and several expected awful teams (Cards and Dolphins). With 25% of the season done, there's still a long way to go. Too early to tell who's a favorite to win it all, but we can certainly see who won't have an ice cream sandwich in a Houston July's chance. Looking forward to seeing the dust settle in a few more weeks.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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