By: Edwards Kemedjio | October 7, 2021
Four weeks in and the National Football League is the gift that keeps on giving. From the youth spreading their wings to the foiled attempts at perfection, the league has kept everyone one of its fans on its toes. There’s so much going on I’m sure you’re having trouble keeping up. Thankfully, another week of football means another week of Highs and Lows. Hopefully, I can guide you all in the right direction.
‘Fly (Cardinals) Fly’
The birds are soaring above all else. Not the ones from Philadelphia, they’re just disappointing people, but the ones from Arizona. The Cardinals traveled to Los Angeles in a battle of 3-0 teams and blew out the Rams 37-20 to stay perfect on the season. In what could prove to be a pivotal game against one of the hottest teams in football, Kyler Murray and Co. took the Rams to task and put the NFL on notice. The Rams were coming off a week 3 win against the 2020 world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on that very same field.
Kyler Murray added to his MVP campaign with 307 total yards and two touchdowns against a vaunted Los Angeles secondary. He spread the wealth with six different receivers catching multiple passes. Running back Chase Edmonds has a monster game with 139 yards on only 16 touches, 120 of which coming on the ground. Defensively the Cardinals gave Matt Stafford 280 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, and his 89.5 passer rating is his lowest of the season. The Cardinals are the lone unbeaten team left in the league and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
The youngins have life, folks! All five of the 2021 first-round draft picks saw the field this week and delivered their best performances of the season. Prior to week four, the only win by a rookie quarterback this year was against another rookie quarterback, when Mac Jones’ Patriots took down Zach Wilson’s Jets in Week two. This week we saw steps in the right direction across the board.
In his first primetime NFL game, Trevor Lawrence had his best game as a pro. Though he lost to the Bengals 24-21, Lawrence had a very solid showing with 240 yards and a rushing score. More importantly, turnover issues that plagued him coming into week 4 were nowhere to be found, and the Jaguars nearly pulled off the upset on the road.
Justin Fields bounced back his nightmare NFL starting debut in a major way in a 24-14 against the Detroit Lions. While his statline looks modest, 209 yards and an interception, Fields led three separate scoring drives that were capped off by touchdown runs in goal-to-go- situations. His best plays of the day featured a 64 yard strike to Darnell Mooney and a sideline dot to Allen Robinson for 28 yards.
No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson got his first win as a Jet as he led New York to a 27-24 overtime win against the Tennessee Titans. Wilson had the best statline of the day with 297 yard, two touchdowns, and an interception. Wilson showed off his arm talent in the fourth quarter with a 53-yard touchdown on the run, to take the lead for the first time this season. He then followed it up in overtime with a 27-yard sideline strike on third down to set up the game-winning field goal.
Trey Lance was the only quarterback of this group to not start his game. The 49ers' top three picks took over quarterback duties halfway through a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Considering the FCS product was thrown into the fire due to a calf injury to Jimmy Garapolo, he put on a decent showing. Lance had 157 yards and two passing touchdowns in one half of play, with a passer rating of 117.1. He also added 41 yard on the ground, picking up multiple first downs with his legs. In his first real action Lance took care of business, despite the loss.
Mac Jones had the best performance of the day among rookie quarterbacks to cap off Sunday’s action. In the pouring rain, against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones went toe-to-toe against the GOAT in his return to Gillette Stadium and nearly pulled off the upset. Jones showed poise in the pocket, getting the ball out quickly all night in the face of a frightful Tampa Bay front seven. He had 275 yard, two scores and a pick, and set up what would have been the go-ahead score for New England late in the fourth. Unfortunately Nick Folk’s kick clanged off the right upright and the Patriots fell 19-17 on Sunday Night Football. Regardless, Jones showed the league he’s ready to fill the QB void in Foxborough.
Baker Mayfield was a nightmare on Sunday. In a 14-7 win against the Minnesota Vikings, Mayfield went 15/33 with no touchdowns and no interceptions, had a 15.9 quarterback rating only managed 4.7 yard per attempt. This is all coming against a Minnesota passing defense that was ranked 26th coming into the game. The absolute best thing you can say about his performance is that he didn’t turn the ball over.
Mayfield was missing throws up and down the field and leaving at least two touchdowns on the board, including badly missing a wide open Odell Beckham Jr. on what would have been a walk in touchdown. His completion percentage was his worst in a game since 2017. It’s his second game in the young season without a score, and should be a concern going forward for Cleveland supporters. If the Browns truly are considered the contenders some believed them to be he cannot carry on with the inconsistency we’ve seen from him.
Year Too Late
Ben Rothlisberger should have retired last year. We’re four weeks into the season and the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback looks like he doesn’t belong in the league. Rothlisberger and the Steelers took on the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau and lost 27-17, a score that makes the game look closer than it was. For the third straight week their offense looked completely inept, averaging 4.9 yards per play and going 4-13 on 3rf and fourth down. Through four weeks Pittsburg is 28th in the league in scoring and 27th in yards. According to Pro Football Reference, the Steelers are also 30 in yards per drive.
Now part of this is because of an offensive line that is among the worst in the league, which has resulted in the worst rushing offense in football, but Big Ben is not making play like he used to. His mobility simply isn’t there and we’re rarely seeing the ball being pushed past the ten yard mark. Pittsburgh brought their Hall of Fame QB back for another run at it, but they probably should’ve taken a look at the 2020 New Orleans Saints before they made that decision.
Oh When the Ain’ts
The New Orleans Saints blew a game against the New York Giants Sunday, losing 27-21. It was the Saints first game in the newly named Caesar’s Superdome and their first home game since Hurricane Ida but the Saints fumbled an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter on their way to giving the Giants their first win of the season. Three scoring drives in the 4th quarter and overtime is not ideal against anyone, especially a winless team. This is the second bad loss of the season for the Saints, the first coming in a blowout week two against the Panthers.
While the loss itself isn’t too much to overreact about, the Saints can’t drop games against bad teams in this division. The Panthers look like a real football team with Sam Darnold, and Tom Brady is going to reign supreme until he decides to hang it up. Stop letting Taysom Hill throw the football, and start giving Jameis the freedom to let it fly a bit. Outside of the Panthers game, he has been making the throws and protecting the ball. The return of Michael Thomas in the coming weeks will aid matters, but the Saints can’t fall behind if they have playoff aspirations.
That’s it for this week. The league is in full swing and there is plenty to talk about. Check out Highs and Lows next week, where the NFC and AFC West will surely be the topic of conversation.