With Week 4 of the 2018 NFL season mostly in the books, it’s time to look back at a week of action where quarterbacks ran wild, defences stayed in bed, and coaches decided to take the traditional wisdom of kicking on 4th down as a mere serving suggestion.
Jared Goff, LA Rams
Amongst a slew of impressive quarterback performances, a special nod needs to go to the Rams’ Jared Goff. The Rams have been excellent since their much maligned move to Los Angeles, and most of the credit usually goes to Todd Gurley and the disconcertingly young head coach, Sean McVay. This week, though, Jared Goff reminded people that he is a big part of it too.
Goff threw for a perfect QB rating of 158.3 as he racked up a whopping 465 passing yards and five touchdowns. He’d hardly been having a below average season so far, but this break out performance will serve to remind people that the Rams are more than just a good defence and mean running game.
Every NFL Defense
This isn’t entirely the fault of defensive players but, with the possible exception of the Chicago Bears, NFL defensive units need to take a long hard look at themselves and how they’re going to play under the 2018 rules.
The NFL has long tried to neuter defences; tight, defensive games don’t draw TV ratings, and an injured quarterback can ruin a team’s entire season. With the addition the Rodgers Rule, which stops defenders from “driving” quarterbacks into the ground when tackling, they seem to have succeeded. Tighter rules on contact for defensive backs are just a cherry on top.
This week alone there were five quarterbacks throwing for over 400 yards, and nine over 350 yards. Carson Wentz was just two yards shy of this mark to boot. These kinds of games used to be season defining, virtuoso performances, but as defences are shackled by rules, they’re becoming the norm. The rules won’t change, so for the good of the game defences need to figure out how to compete again.
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears / Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Take a bow, Mitchell Trubisky. The Chicago Bears gunslinger threw for six touchdowns and 354 yards as he put up a Fantasy score of 43.5. Trubisky had an awkward start to his Bears career, but a simplified playbook seems to have enshrined a new confidence in him as he enjoys a much improved sophomore season.
An honourable mention needs to go to New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara too for his garbage time TD run. Not only did it secure the win for the Saints, but it buoyed him to 36.1 Fantasy points and helped me stay alive into MNF as I try and beat my mate Danny.
Josh Allen , Buffalo Bills
I’m sure that the Buffalo Bills scared themselves in week 3 by picking up a surprise whitewash against the Vikings, as normal service was aggressively resumed this week against the Green Bay Packers. There were a lot of faults in the 22-0 shutout, but a large amount of blame needs to sit with quarterback Josh Allen.
Allen was a wet lettuce against the Packers, throwing two interceptions as he managed just 151 yards. The Buffalo Bills quarterback situation is one of the league’s longest standing dumpster fires, and if it wasn’t for the acute incompetence of his backup Nathan Peterman then Allen’s position might come under threat. Still, Allen needs to find some consistent form soon or else the Bills will look have to look to move on. Again.
Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
An honourable mention needs to go to Oakland Raiders cornerback Reggie Nelson, whose late game interception and pass deflections both took his team to overtime against the Cleveland Browns and helped secure his team their first win of John Gruden’s alleged ten year reign of terror.
But, again, Khalil Mack deserves the Khalil Mack Award for Being Khalil Mack. The Chicago Bears’ stud linebacker got another sack, forced another fumble, and was once again the prime example of how to play with aggression in an era where defensive players are unfairly penalised.
Indianapolis Colts to beat the New England Patriots
Deep in overtime, Colts head coach Frank Reich went for it on 4th down at his own 43 yard line against the Houston Texans. Andrew Luck couldn’t find a throw, however, and the field position they handed the Texans gave their opposition a game-winning field goal. Pundits agreed that it was a bonehead move, but the team all loved it. Reich too was unapologetic, saying he’d take the risk for the win again if given the chance.
The team rallying around their coach, plus Andrew Luck’s 464 yard, 4 touchdown game, showed all the signs of a team in the ascendancy.
Contrast this with New England. Sure, they rolled over and tickled the Dolphins, but weren’t as convincing as the 38-7 scoreline suggests. More importantly, if the Colts are a team united, then the Patriots at best are doing polite small talk at Christmas dinner.
There are rumours of big rifts between Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft. Add onto this the rigmarole surrounding Rob Gronkowski’s non-trade, and all is not well in the House of Kraft. The team will be helped by the return from suspension of Brady’s favourite receiver, Julian Edelman, but it’s doubtful even he will help fix a team at odds with itself.
Expect a resurgent Colts side to give the Pats a rough ride on Thursday night.