AFC East

Week 4 Takeaways

That Rams Offense…
Sean McVay had the Rams offense firing on all cylinders on Thursday night. We wrote early last year about how McVay’s schemes put the Rams in position to succeed as an offense. This year, they have more talent, a unit that now has experience playing with each other, and a quarterback in Jared Goff who seems to keep getting better with each game he plays. Right now, the Rams are the team to beat in the NFC.

That Giants Offense…
The Giants offense continues to take one step forward and two steps back. Their approach was decent in Week 1, they just ran into a very good Jaguars defense and failed to execute in key moments. Week 2 was a disaster all around. Week 3 vs Houston, they exploited mismatches and gave Eli Manning time. Yesterday, the offense was anemic. Eli left a few throws on the field, and big plays in the passing game continued to escape this offense. Not to mention, Saquon Barkley only rushed the ball 10 times.

We’ve seen mediocre quarterbacks and offenses put up 30+ points on multiple occasions over the last several years. Just look at yesterday’s slate of games. The 49ers, with C.J. Beathard at quarterback, still put up 27 points against a decent Chargers Defense. How have the Giants not scored 30+ points in a game since 2015 with the weapons they’ve had?

The Bears are for Real
The Bears Defense will keep them in just about every game this season (and flat out win some games). If the offense can get going consistently, this team goes from surprise team of the season to legitimate NFC contender. Yesterday’s game against the Buccaneers was a step in the right direction. Mitch Trubisky looked comfortable in a way we haven’t seen at any point in his career. Keep in mind, the Buccaneers are last in the NFL in scoring defense. Chicago will have tougher tests in the coming weeks against Miami and New England. Circle that Week 7 Patriots-Bears matchup on your calendars. Should be a good one.

The Patriots Aren’t Going Anywhere
Speaking of Miami and New England, did anyone really think the Dolphins had a chance in Foxborough? The Dolphins weren’t going to hold the Patriots to a low-scoring game at Gillette Stadium, despite how well some of their secondary has played this season. It was going to be on Ryan Tannehill and Miami’s offense to outscore Tom Brady and the Patriots. We don’t think Belichick and the Patriots were too concerned about that.

The Ravens Offense Woke Up This Offseason. The Steelers Defense is Still Sleeping
The Ravens are 3-1 with three convincing wins and one loss in a road game on a Thursday Night to a divisional opponent. The Ravens offense has more weapons at the wide-receiver position than a year ago, and they are deploying them in more imaginative ways. The Joe Flacco downfield passing offense has returned. On the other side of the ball, the Steelers Defense has been a non-factor all season. Their execution has been poor and there have been far too many mental mistakes. The return of Le’Veon Bell is a moot point if Mike Tomlin’s defense doesn’t get its act together.

Rookie Quarterbacks
Four 1st-round rookie quarterbacks started on Sunday – Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen. Maybe we’ve all been spoiled by the Cam Newtons, Andrew Lucks, Deshaun Watsons etc. of the world who instantly make a huge impact in their first season. They are the exceptions, not the rules. We’re not saying this 2018 crop of quarterbacks won’t be able to turn it around this year. The only thing that’s certain is that these guys will all make their fair share of mistakes. It happens. It’s called the development process.

The NFL game is different from the college game, and it’s not just because of the speed and strength of the opposition. It’s their football smarts and ability to make adjustments. It’s the types of complex coverages and blitzes thrown at these young quarterbacks. It’s subtle differences like the location of the hashmarks being in the center of the field versus college where they are more towards the sideline. This leaves more space to the far side of the field, and therefore, more room to complete passes.

In the NFL, there aren’t as many blatant mismatches as there are in college, both at the individual level and the position group level. The worst defense in the league can make the best rookie quarterback look like a clown.

Each of these quarterbacks will take their lumps this season and they’ll be better for it next year. This doesn’t mean every one of these 4 quarterbacks will “make it” and become superstars or even franchise quarterbacks. But this is the process. The best way for quarterbacks to learn the NFL game is by playing. The best way for GMs and coaches to learn about their quarterbacks is by watching them play. Maybe that’s difficult for certain folks in the media who have never played the game to understand.

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