NFL Week 4 Recap
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
In a battle of big offensive plays, the Cleveland Browns cruised by the Baltimore Ravens. Both Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield were elusive and provided excitement dodging defenders in the backfield. After a rough start to the season, the Browns push to 2-2 while the Ravens drop to 2-2 after an initial strong start.
A Win for YAC
Baker Mayfield was only sacked once by a fierce Ravens pass rush. By placing the ball in the hands of his playmakers, they racked up yards through the air as the Ravens secondary struggled to pursue. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry made up for almost half of the Browns total receiving yards with 167, while only accounting for 27% of the Browns’ total intended air yards (yards measured from line of scrimmage to where the pass was thrown to). Landry averaged an impressive 15.6 yards after catch.
Running Over the Ravens Defense
The Ravens struggled to contain Browns running back Nick Chubb, who gained 165 yards on 20 carries on his way to three touchdowns. Chubb attacked both the left and right sides of the Ravens defensive line, grinding out yardage for ease, and broke an 88-yard run for a touchdown that left Ravens defenders behind in the dust.
Lamar Jackson’s Downfield Struggles Continue
After starting the season strong with two wins, the Ravens have sputtered to 2-2. Lamar Jackson struggled to find deep options in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs and refrained from throwing deep often against the Browns after missing many last week. The Ravens need to find a balance in their offense if they want to find success the rest of the season. Too often, Jackson tried to make something out of nothing, taking four sacks and six hits.
Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans
The Carolina Panthers grinded out a tough win in a low-scoring affair against the Houston Texans. With quarterback Cam Newton still out indefinitely with a foot injury, Kyle Allen started his second game this season.
Kyle Allen Struggles in Second Start
Allen was the weak link for the Panthers, not throwing a touchdown despite his four touchdowns in his first start. The Texans defense kept him contained, forcing three fumbles that cost the Panthers dearly. These turnovers would have been the downfall of the Panthers, had it not been for…
Christian McCaffrey, Continuing Offensive Dominance
This seems to be the role McCaffrey was drafted into as he remains the key to the Panthers offense with Newton out and Allen struggling to hold onto the football. McCaffrey led the team with 93 yards rushing and 86 yards receiving, including a miraculous catch to convert on third down when Allen placed the ball too far in front of the running back. The Panthers’ gameplan kept J.J. Watt away from the ball, constantly chasing the action, as most of McCaffrey’s runs were to the opposite side of where Watt was lined up.
Panthers Fierce Defense
With six sacks and 10 quarterback hits, the Panthers defense kept pressure on Deshaun Watson and never let up. Watson was the league’s most sacked player last season with 62 sacks taken, and the offensive line of the Texans continues to be a problem as Watson is now the third-most sacked player (18 sacks). He was often forced to improvise, leading to an average time to throw of 2.91 seconds and subjecting him to further hits from the Panthers defenders. Brian Burns, Mario Addison, and Shaq Thompson led the Panthers’ speed rush, forcing Watson to check down and throw well short of the first down marker often, leading to a dismal average completed pass of 2.8 yards past the line of scrimmage. 14 of Watson’s 21 passes were within five yards of the line of scrimmage or behind. The Panthers secondary held DeAndre Hopkins to five receptions for 41 yards as Watson only completed two of his 8 passes thrown 10 yards or more past the line of scrimmage.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos
Gardner Minshew Mania continued as the Jacksonville Jaguars edged the winless Denver Broncos on a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds. Denver showed flashes of life in both their offense and pass rush despite Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette shredding their run defense.
Broncos Defense Plug One Leak, Begin Sinking From Another
On a day when the Broncos defense finally gained its footing in pass defense, racking up its first five sacks of the season, the Jaguars gashed them with 269 total yards on the ground. Leonard Fournette was unstoppable with 29 carries for 225 yards and dragged Broncos defenders wherever he ran, with a longest run of 81 yards. Most of Fournette’s runs were straight through the heart of the Broncos defense and resulted in Fournette having the second-best efficiency rating among Week 4 running backs.
Broncos Offense Slowly Coming Together
The Broncos offense played one of their better games this season and cannot be faulted for this loss. Joe Flacco put up respectable numbers with 303 yards and three touchdowns, despite throwing one interception. The offensive line gave up no sacks to a strong Jaguars defense, featuring defensive end Calais Campbell and edge rusher Josh Allen. Phillip Lindsay could have used more touches in the run game than just nine carries for 53 yards but the Broncos put up enough points to compete.
Gardner Minshew Clutch When It Mattered
Minshew spent most of the first half under pressure and seemingly confused by the Broncos defense. Although 14 of his 33 passes were 10 yards down the field or more, he only hit on four of them. Despite this, the rookie was elusive in the pocket and clutch in the fourth quarter to drive down the field for a game-winning field goal, ending with a strong 6.7 average completed air yards for Week 4.
Tampa Bay Bucs @ Los Angeles Rams
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams put together a wild, high-scoring game as the Bucs delivered the first loss to the Rams. The Rams had a rough start to the game, already down 21 to 0 in the middle of the second quarter before trying to launch a comeback.
What was Sean McVay doing with Todd Gurley? Gurley had only five carries for 16 yards, forcing Jared Goff to throw 68 times. An opportunistic Bucs defense led by Shaquill Barrett intercepted Goff three times and forced a fumble recovered for a touchdown to ice away the game. The predictable gameplan by the Rams was easy for the Bucs to counter.
Wade Phillips Searches For Lost Defenders
The Rams defense, led by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, was nowhere to be found against the Bucs. Hopefully Wade Phillips finds them somewhere. He sure could have used them in this game.
Offensive Explosion by the Bucs
Credit the Bruce Arians-led Bucs for a more balanced gameplan than the Rams offered. Ronald Jones carried the ball 19 times for 70 yards and Jameis Winston improved by completing 11 out of his 16 passes thrown 10 yards or deeper down the field. The quarterback ended with 7.6 average completed air yards with the fifth-fastest time to throw in Week 4 (2.46 seconds) against the fierce Rams pass rush.
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
Despite losing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in the first drive, the Chicago Bears rode a dominating defense to topple division rival Minnesota Vikings.
Bears Defense Suffocates Vikings
Dalvin Cook came into Week 4 having rushed for over 100 yards in each of his three previous games. A ferocious Bears front held him to 35 yards on 14 attempts, adding eight tackles for a loss. Without their star running back leading the way, the Vikings passing game suffered tremendously with Kirk Cousins under constant pressure from the Bears pass rush, which racked up six sacks and seven quarterback hits. Cousins averaged a completed pass almost five yards behind the first down marker.
Chase Daniel Manages Bears Offense
The veteran quarterback filled in nicely for the injured Trubisky, who is out with a dislocated shoulder. Though Daniel was mainly asked to throw underneath the coverage, he did so with more accuracy and better reads than Trubisky has in previous weeks, with an average completed air yards of 6.6. It still remains to be seen how Daniel can run the offense when under pressure without such a strong defensive backing behind him.