NFL Week 4
Follow along here for frequent updates and developments from all of Sunday’s NFL games. Check back after “Sunday Night Football” for a look at the biggest moments and trends to watch.
Is it possible that a quarterback who has passed for over 70,000 yards and won a Super Bowl is underappreciated?
If his name is Drew Brees, we’re going to go with “yes.” Brees goes into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants in New Jersey as the NFL’s leader in completion percentage at 80.2 (the highest ever by a quarterback after Week 3) and in interception rate at 0.0. Last week, he broke Brett Favre’s record for completions with his 6,301st.
This week, he seems likely to pass Favre and move into second place on the career passing yardage list, trailing Favre’s 71,838 yards by 315. Next up after that is Peyton Manning’s record of 71,940, a mere 417 yards away. Brees has passed for 1,078 yards in three games so far.
“I hope there’s a lot more coming,” Brees said. “I think about all the people who had a hand in that. A lot of hands caught those passes. A lot guys blocked to make that happen. They all are a part of this.”
You’re forgiven if you overlooked Brees, though. He’s one of five quarterbacks who are on pace at the moment to break Peyton Manning’s single-season record for passing yardage, along with Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Patriots activate Josh Gordon: New England’s new wide receiver, Josh Gordon, is active for the game against the Dolphins, who are hoping to go 4-0 for the first time since 1995, and the Patriots wasted no time in involving him in the offense. His first reception was good for 13 yards.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill is 10-1 in his last 11 starts and is fourth in the NFL with a 121.8 passer rating. Miami will bring two of Tom Brady’s former targets, wide receiver Danny Amendola and running back Brandon Bolden, to town. “They’re going to do what they always do and get better each week,” Dolphins Coach Adam Gase said of the Patriots. ” . . . The records are irrelevant right now. It doesn’t matter.”
Tampa Bay faces a test: Thanks to the play of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Buccaneers have the NFL’s leading offense (473.3 yards per game), the leading passing offense (400.7 yards per game) and the leading passer (with 1,230 yards). This week, the Bucs’ Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension, but Fitzpatrick remains the starter, for now, after setting an NFL record with three consecutive 400-yard passing games.
Things escalate dramatically this week, though, with the Bucs traveling to Chicago to face the Bears and Khalil Mack. Chicago leads the NFL with 14 sacks and is fifth in the NFL in total defense, allowing 289 yards per game. In his first three games with the Bears, Mack has justified becoming the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player ever, with at least one sack and one forced fumble in each game.
Watch for roughing the passer calls: There has been pushback against the NFL’s overprotective rules about quarterbacks as the league sends the message that some players are more equal than others. Especially star quarterbacks, who are all but encased in bubble wrap by roughing the passer rules. Just look at what happened to Clay Matthews, who has been flagged three times in the first three games, and Dolphins defensive end William Hayes. He was lost for the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament when, according to Coach Adam Gase, “he was trying to not put his body weight on the quarterback.”
The 49ers’ Richard Sherman put it best, tweeting: “They don’t care about the rest of us getting hurt. Long as the QB is safe.” The Texans’ J.J. Watt added: “Roughing the passer calls are absolutely out of control.” Even some members of management hate it. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas that the rule has altered the NFL “as much as any one [rule] I have seen make a change from our past.”
The rule isn’t likely to change, but don’t be surprised if it’s applied differently going forward, the Post’s Mark Maske reports.
First day of school: Two prized rookie quarterbacks will make their first starts, with Baker Mayfield (the No. 1 overall pick) and the Browns facing the Oakland Raiders and Josh Rosen (the 10th overall pick) and the Arizona Cardinals playing the Seattle Seahawks.
Hello, byes: Bye weeks begin, with the Panthers and Redskins the first teams taking a breather. D.J. Swearinger, among others, isn’t thrilled to get a week off so early in the season.
Secrets from under the hoodie: Football may be evolving, but Bill Belichick says the keys to winning will never change. (Read more)
Who’s behind the Rams and Chiefs? Mark Maske’s power rankings are a bit of a jumble after the top two teams. (Read more)
A Vikings concern: Pro Bowler Everson Griffen was involved in a police incident last weekend. (Read more)
Everyone really, really hates the roughing the passer calls: That goes triple for Clay Matthews, the rule’s poster child. (Read more)
‘Left wing’: ESPN says Jason Witten’s ‘left-wing’ comment on the NFL rule had nothing to do with politics. (Read more)
Fournette will play: Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will return from a hamstring injury.
Rodgers in, Cobb out: Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring) and cornerback Kevin King will not play against the Bills. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is nursing a knee injury, is listed as questionable, but he will play.
49ers’s RBs are hurting: Matt Breida dodged a serious, noncontact knee injury and is listed as questionable, despite practicing fully Thursday and Friday. Alfred Morris also has a knee injury, a surprise addition to the injury report.
Freeman out: The Falcons’ Devonta Freeman remains out with a knee injury.
Allen uncertain: Wideout Keenan Allen is questionable with a knee injury.
Ailing Eagles: Jay Ajayi (back) is expected to play against the Titans, but Darren Sproles (hamstring) will not. Alshon Jeffery’s status is uncertain; he missed some time during the week with an illness.
Mixon out: Bengals running back Joe Mixon is out with a knee injury; wide receiver A.J. Green should be a go despite his pelvis injury.
McCoy says he’s a go: Bills running back LeSean McCoy said last week he will play against the Packers.
Fantasy player rankings: Who’s not, who’s less so. (Read more)
Players you need in your lineup: (Read more)
Week 4 cheat sheet: The choicest tips for Week 4. (Read more)
Week 4 Start/Sit: The Rams won’t trouble Kirk Cousins. (Read more)
The Patriots are no sure thing against the Dolphins. (Read more)