As we dive into Week 4, let’s rewind and see how last week’s quarterbacks fared under duress last week:
Joe Burrow, despite battling a nagging calf injury, showed immense grit leading the Bengals to their first victory of the season against the LA Rams. It was an admirable performance, even though he didn’t manage to throw any touchdowns.
Deshaun Watson, on the other hand, was in fine form as the Cleveland Browns cruised to a convincing 27-3 win over the Tennessee Titans. Watson shone brightly, throwing 2 touchdowns, with no interceptions, and boasting an impressive 81% pass completion rate. He showcased his agility, making crucial plays with his feet and converting pivotal third-down situations.
Now, for the not-so-great news. Justin Fields had a rough outing. Before the Bears could even put points on the board, they found themselves trailing 41-0. His season statistics aren’t exactly sparkling either, with three touchdowns, four interceptions, and a completion rate of just 58%. It’s safe to say he’s still finding his footing.
Wow, hold onto your seats, because we’ve got quite the story to tell. Sean Payton, the head coach of the Denver Broncos, finds himself in the spotlight, and not in a good way. In his 15-year career as a head coach, he recently witnessed one of the most embarrassing matches ever.
Picture this: the Broncos faced off against the Miami Dolphins, and it turned into a football nightmare. They ended up conceding a jaw-dropping 70 points, losing by a staggering 50 points! Yes, you heard that right. It was an absolute shocker of a game that left everyone in disbelief. The Dolphins did something remarkable, becoming only the third team in NFL history to score 70 or more points in a regular-season game.
The reactions were priceless. Stephen A. Smith didn’t mince words, branding the Broncos as a ‘national embarrassment.’ Even Shannon Sharpe, a Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl winner with the Broncos, couldn’t contain his disgust.
This loss made NFL history in the worst possible way. It marked the first time a team had ever given up over 350+ yards in both passing and rushing. They allowed rookie sensation De’Von Achane to run for an astonishing 203 yards on just 18 carries, averaging a mind-blowing 11.3 yards per carry – basically picking up a first down every time he touched the ball. It’s as if the Broncos’ defense had completely abandoned ship, a far cry from last season when they boasted the 5th best passing defense and the 6th best rushing defense.
The irony is palpable considering that in the preseason, Sean Payton had criticized the previous Broncos head coach, Nat Hackett, calling his job ‘one of the worst coaching jobs in NFL history.’ It’s almost like karma came back to bite Payton’s team as they gave up a whopping 70 points. To put it in perspective, that’s more than what the Lakers scored in Game 3 of the 2004 NBA Finals.
So, as the Broncos find themselves sitting at the rock bottom of the AFC West, their next opponent is another 0-3 team in Chicago who got utterly steamrolled by the Chiefs last week and might just be one of the very few teams worse off than Denver. The Bears have lost 13 straight so there is no excuse for the Broncos to not get their first win of the season.
Next Game: Chicago Bears @ Soldier Field
Dak Prescott, the star quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, has had a rather lackluster season despite the team’s 2-0 start before their shocking loss to the Cardinals last Sunday. It’s a concerning trend that’s been developing all season long, with the Cowboys consistently struggling in the red zone.
In fact, their red zone woes have been a recurring nightmare, and they were particularly glaring after the recent loss, where the Cowboys managed to score a touchdown on just one out of five trips inside the 20-yard line. This came against a Cardinals defense that had given up a whopping 31 points in the second half to Daniel Jones and the Giants just a week prior.
The concerning part? They now find themselves ranked 27th in red zone touchdown efficiency this season, a stark contrast to last year when they held the top spot at an impressive 71%. It’s a troubling sign, as we all know that settling for field goals won’t pave the way to championship success – something the Cowboys are undoubtedly striving for.
Now, peering into the future, the Cowboys find themselves once again tagged as favorites, this time as they gear up to host the New England Patriots. While a victory is possible, all eyes will be fixated on Dak Prescott, especially as he comes up against a defensive guru in Bill Belichick. It’s high time he regains his rhythm because the challenges don’t stop after this matchup. Dallas faces two formidable back-to-back road trips, first to the 49ers and then to the Chargers. The pressure is on, and the Cowboys will rely heavily on their quarterback to navigate these treacherous waters and steer them toward championship contention.
Next Game: New England Patriots @ AT&T Stadium
Now, you might be raising an eyebrow when it comes to the Chargers’ head coach, especially considering last week’s narrow victory against Minnesota. But let me tell you, it was nothing short of a heart-stopper.
Brandon Staley, the Chargers’ head honcho, once again finds himself in the hot seat due to his decision-making. In a critical moment, with the Chargers leading by just four points and less than two minutes left on the clock, Staley made a gutsy call. Instead of punting the ball away and forcing Minnesota to stage a last-ditch touchdown drive with no timeouts, Staley went for it on fourth and one from their own 24-yard line. It was a high-stakes gamble that had fans holding their breath. And guess what? It didn’t work out. The Vikings took over with excellent field position.
But hold on tight, because here’s where it gets interesting. The Chargers’ defense, perhaps sensing the gravity of the situation, came to the rescue. Kirk Cousins’ pass in the red zone took an unexpected deflection, landing right into the hands of linebacker Kenneth Murray. Talk about a sigh of relief!
Staley’s decision had the potential to cast a dark shadow over what was an exhilarating game, not to mention an awe-inspiring performance by quarterback Justin Herbert and wide receiver Keenan Allen. Herbert was nothing short of spectacular, racking up 405 yards and three touchdowns on an incredible 40-of-47 passing. And let’s not forget Keenan Allen, who hauled in 18 receptions for over half of Herbert’s yards, totaling an impressive 205.
But here’s the twist: Staley’s coaching decisions have walked a tightrope recently. In the final game of the regular season in 2021, a questionable timeout call arguably led to the Chargers missing the playoffs. His star receiver, Keenan Allen has not been afraid to call out Staley either. Last season, when Staley decided to go for it on fourth and one from their own 46-yard line against the Browns, Allen didn’t hold back. He took to Twitter and exclaimed, “WTF are we doing?” Fortunately, the Browns missed the potential game-winning field goal.
In a crucial divisional clash against the Raiders, Staley’s hot seat sizzles. Despite a talented roster, doubts linger about his choices, especially with his star quarterback in top form. Will his daring decisions bring success or spell trouble for the Chargers? The suspense unfolds this week.
Next Game: Raiders @ SoFi Stadium