NFL Week 4 Breakdown
Sunday, October 03, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
Welcome to week 4, where old dogs still have a few tricks left in them and quality QBs are in dangerously short supply.

Lovable Losing Lions. I know this sounds crazy, but the Detroit Lions might be better than 40-50% of the league, despite having a 0-4 record. They might be losing, but aside from a blow out against Minnesota, they've played extremely tough against some pretty good opponents. They have some great young talent - Matthew Stafford has a huge arm and has shown good leadership, Jahvid Best has game breaking talent, and Ndamukong Suh has been exactly as advertised (he already has 3 sacks this year). The next few weeks against the young St Louis Rams and the struggling N.Y. Giants might be their chance to turn their losing ways around. They're probably still looking at a losing season overall (I think 6-10 would be optimistic at this point, given their schedule). But I think that the Lions have a good foundation for the future, and meanwhile they're at least making it exciting to watch them for the first quarter of this season.

*Crunch*. Analysts had noted going into today's game that Michael Vick had already been hit 27 times this season. Part of that was due to a poor offensive line, but part of that was due to the fact that Vick still tends to run the ball more than the average QB. Vick is not one to slide with the ball if he thinks he can make a play. Now, Vick is undoubtedly a great athlete, but if you look at his body type, you see that he isn't built to take major hits. This point was driven home in sickening fashion (especially if you were a Philly fan) early in the first quarter of the Redskins/Eagles game, as Vick attempted to dive into the end zone after a long run, and was sandwiched between two defenders in midair. If you watch the replay you can literally see his rib cage compress in from both sides. With Vick out of the game, the Eagles struggled all game under Kevin Kolb, who certainly didn't do enough to start a QB controversy in his favor.

Last night, the Bears poor offensive line finally caught up to them as well, as they managed to get both their starting AND backup QB knocked out of the game. Here's how bad it was: in their first 22 plays, the Bears had 5 yards of total offense and 8 sacks. Horrific. Yes, some of those were due to Jay Cutler holding the ball too long, but honestly, after the Bears let one of the Giant defenders charge right up the middle, even though there were TWO linemen assigned to block him, you can't really blame Cutler for getting antsy in the pocket. After 9 sacks, Cutler was taken out with a concussion, and then late in the game backup Todd Collins was absolutely destroyed by a blitzing safety as he threw. See this excellent Yahoo! Sports article for more on how Martz's system might lead to a lot more nights like this for Cutler in the future.

All of this has happened before, all of this will happen again... There are several teams going through a sense of deja vu this year already. Take for example the San Diego Chargers, who yet again start slowly, but start to pick it up once October hits. Also the Washington Redskins, who were supposed to be much improved under the new regime and new QB, and yet still find themselves in the same position as last year - playing to level of their opponents, losing games they should easily win and barely eeking out victories against seemingly better teams. They started strong against Philadelphia, but just when it looked like it might be a blow out, they politely allowed Philly to stay in it till the very end. The Redskins are incapable of throwing the killer punch. Out in Arizona they find themselves right back where they were three years ago right before they brought in Kurt Warner - a team in search of a starting QB. Finally, the Bills still suck. Deja vu indeed.

Studs of the week. Congrats to Donovan McNabb, who had a mediocre day stat-wise, but finally got the Philly monkey off his back by guiding his team to a win on the road. Today LaDanian Tomlinson reminded us that while he might not be a first round pick in your fantasy league anymore, he's still got plenty of gas left in his tank. LT had his best day in years (19 carries, 133 yds, 2 TD), and crossed another career milestone, supplanting Tony Dorsett on the all-time rushing yardage list. Congrats to a tremendous player and seemingly excellent human being. Terrell Owens had a beastly day (10 rec, 222 yds, 1 TD) in a losing effort for the Bengals. Kyle Orton got a one year extension on his contract before the season started, but the way he's been playing lately (this week going 35/50, 341 yds, 2 TDs against a quality DEF) he's making a case for a much longer, much richer contract. The Raiders gave the Texans all they could handle today and Zach Miller (11 rec, 122 yds, 1 TD) was a big part of that effort. However, Arian Foster helped his team overcome the loss of Andre Johnson by putting up great numbers (131 yds, 1 TD rushing, 56 yds, 1 TD receiving) even though he was benched the first quarter. Antonio Gates looked great today (7 rec, 144 yds, 2 TD) as his team throttled the Cards. Lastly, congrats to Josh Scobee, who booted a 59 yd FG to win the game for the Jags.

Duds of the week. My biggest pet peeve is when a defender recovers a turnover and then runs like an idiot, thinking only of his own personal glory when going for a TD. Here's the thing though - defensive players don't get to handle the ball a lot, which means that they are susceptible to fumbling. Nate Clements of the 49ers intercepted the ball with his team leading 14-13 and only 91 seconds left in the game. If he had any situational awareness, he would have fallen to the ground immediately, ensuing his team could run almost all the time off the clock. Instead he went for glory, and was stripped from behind by the Falcons. The Falcons promptly took advantage and drove down for the winning FG.

Teams I like this week. I love the way Mark Sanchez has been playing for the N.Y. Jets lately. Not only are they running great, but Sanchez seems to be hitting a groove in the passing game, as they dismantled the Bills in all facets of the game (going 3-0 in the division in the process). Santonio Holmes finally returns from suspension next week, and just in time because the Vikings are a major test for this team. I talked up the Lions above, but the St. Louis Rams are also stacked with young talent. The difference is that the Rams' talent is blossoming NOW, with Sam Bradford showing incredible poise and the defense starting to take on the character of their tough coach Steve Spagnoulo. They are now tied for first in the NFC West, a division that is up for grabs this year

Teams I don't like this week. The Cincinnati Bengals' ugly play finally caught up to them this week, as they dropped a game to their divisional rival the Cleveland Browns. With the Ravens and Steelers around, the Bengals need to win games like this. Looks like another mediocre season might be in the making. The Arizona Cardinals got absolutely blown out of the water by the Chargers. I know they really liked their young rookie QB Max Hall, but you have to look at the Derek Anderson/Matt Leinart thing as a terrible mishandling of their QB personnel in general. Remember - this is a team that could have made a play for Donovan McNabb in the offseason. I also don't like the Chicago Bears - they have serious offensive line issues, and they can't really run the ball to take any pressure off the passing game. Finally, I don't like the Tennessee Titans to do much this year. Warren Sapp noted a few weeks ago that no defense in the league is scared by Vince Young, and really... he's totally right. When your starting QB throws for only 154, 66, 118 and 173 yards in his first four games, you just aren't going to win consistently.


*photos from the NFL.com official website
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