The first quarter of the 2021 NFL season is in the books! Time sure goes by fast when we’re having fun. Which seven most burning topics of the who, what, why, and the how of week four stood out? Which teams have some work to do as we exit the first quadrant of 2021? Let’s take a look at some NFL Power rankings and answer the question: Who had a good quads like Saquon Barkley?
1. Matty Ice can still flash the fastball
Our NFL power rankings begin in Atlanta. The old aging warhorse showed he’s plenty capable of uncorking the heater on occasion, as he did on Sunday. He was great against a dominant WFT front and showed some life just yet, including a beautiful whistling dart to Kyle Pitts. Add in four scoring tosses (three to sudden WR1 / RB1 Cordarrelle Patterson) and a hilarious, spritely gallop to extend a must-have late drive.
While he won’t be the Matt Ryan of old any longer, he still has a bit left in the tank to unleash performances like the one on Sunday. It’s quite unfortunate that his defensive teammates can’t stop Falconing so often. Next up for the Falcons, a date across the pond with the one-win Jets.
2. Kyler Murray is always fun
What else can we say about the kid at this point? He’s on a rampage even against the best of defenses. Murray is easily the frontrunner for MVP as we exit the first quadrant of the 2021 season. The electric playmaker is proving all the doubters wrong every week. Defensive coordinators are just flabbergasted and torn asunder trying to scheme against him. Murray has the potential to be the fully evolved and weaponized Michael Vick in an offense that fits him perfectly.
3. The Dallas buddy cop show is back on the air
Dak continues to round back into pre-injury form and for the first time in a long while, we had a dominant Zeke performance Sunday (against the top-ranked run defense, no less). If the offensive line can somewhat keep Dak and Zeke going to match their suddenly performing defense, Dallas might be an NFC contender. The NFC East has habitually shown that any competent team could win it. Is America’s Team truly back? Time will only tell.
4. Justin Fields sans Matt Nagy calling plays
Much to the chagrin of fantasy owners who picked up the Lions’ defense, Justin Fields had a nice rebound game after last week’s disaster. The difference? Matt Nagy not calling the plays and being a bemused bystander/delegator. OC Bill Lazor took over the play-calling duties and the difference in Fields was night and day. If Nagy can just stick to being maddeningly furtive and nonsensical during press conferences and avoid the headset, the Bears can do something. It’s only the Lions but baby steps, people, baby steps. Up next for Fields and co are the hapless Raiders defense who Justin Herbert dissected with ease on Monday night.
5. Sam Darnold revivalist movement
Speaking of young quarterbacks trying to redeem themselves, enter Sam Darnold. OC Joe Brady certainly has begun to rebuild Darnold after his Jets tenure was so rocky. It only has been four weeks but the signs of a Darnold revival are there. Many people were skeptical of him being able to play the position but he has proved that he’s more than capable early on. He has been the first passer in team history to throw for 300 yards or more in three straight games. Who leads the entire league in rushing touchdowns? Not Derrick Henry. Darnold does. The young buck could be on his way to stardom if this keeps up.
6. The Diggs holiday family football games must be INTENSE
Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs has ascended to the ranks as one of the best corners in the game this season. Receiver brother Stefon was one of the best receivers already. Trevon has had an impressive start to 2021, snagging five interceptions and shutting opposing receivers down. Stefon continues to be the focal point for the Bills offense. Just how crazy are the holiday backyard games in the Diggs household? We need the All-22 footage right now! Could we see the brothers go up against one another on a sunny day in Los Angeles in the month of February?
7. Russ Cooking to 💯 wins
Bonus Ups: Chris Jones really tried that bounce pass off the Referee + Hunter Renfrow is Vegas DB1
First up, we have Chris Jones trying to imitate LeBron’s self alley-oop dunk with the ref acting like the glass on the way to the failed fumble recovery. *Insert at least he tried Bart Simpson cake meme*
Next, Hunter Renfrow makes an astute observation of the incoming Chargers fake punt and destroys the receiver
1. A bad day at the office for the Texans offense
If players and teams are rising in the NFL power rankings, others must be falling. We all knew that there would be bad days for the hapless Texans but Sunday was a horrifying example of what happens when a vastly superior team shows up. Davis Mills had a massive “welcome to the NFL, rookie” game, throwing four interceptions en-route to a Bills 40-0 rout.
Three straight losses for Houston and a date against a smarting Patriots squad looking for a rebound. Somehow, some way the Texans are in second place in the AFC South.
2. Mike Vrabel and Sean Payton
Both of these coaches deserve to lose their parking spots for their abject failures in leading their teams to painful defeats against vastly inferior opponents. Vrabel had no excuse in particular against the previously winless Jets. Payton even less so with them blowing a lead in the fourth quarter, allowing for a walkoff TD to young Saquon Barkley.
It’s time for both men to make changes. The Saints need to scrap the two quarterback thing and stick with Jameis Winston for good or bad. Tennessee needs to let DC Shane Bowen go and move Jim Schwartz into a full time role.
3. Big Ben is what he is
The end has come for a once-proud, aging star quarterback, and Father Time waits for absolutely no one when he arrives. The mind may still be willing but the body just isn’t responsive at this point in his career. Roethlisberger tried his best to hang on to what little gifts he has left but he should retire at the end of the season to save face for himself and the organization.
The offensive line issues are aplenty but Ben is sadly beyond the pale. He should get ready for the Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2026 instead of giving it another go in 2022.
4. Jared Goff and Detroit had a Jared Goof type of day
How’s the Lions season going, you ask? Well, it’s going kind of like this:
5. Bill Belichick and late game management
Speaking of questionable late game management, we enter into evidence Bill Belichick’s mystifying decision to attempt a 56 yard field goal on fourth and short. If he opts to go for it, either way the game is likely over at that point. In a year that more and more teams are going for it on fourth down in plus territory, he opts against it.
The Patriots don’t convert, Thomas Brady has to drive down the field on an absolutely rain blasted soaked pitch and he looked shaky at points in the game. If they do get it, they can continue to milk the clock for a closer attempt on the very same slick surface. Did Belichick outsmart himself trying to teach the old man a lesson?
6. Jimmy G as the 49ers starter
We may have witnessed the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo regime by the Bay through no fault of his own. He injured his calf during Sunday’s contest and Trey Lance had to step in for a cameo appearance. The kid wasn’t half bad, tossing two touchdowns to no interceptions.
Calf injuries, like most soft tissue injuries are notoriously finicky so it will be interesting to see if Jimmy G can go next Sunday or the rookie stepping in for a start. Garoppolo has been nothing but a consummate professional dealing with the notoriety of being “Mr. Right Now” while assisting Lance in his development.
7. Captain Kirk vs. The Baker
Let’s just say that it won’t go down as the preeminent quarterback duel of our lifetimes any time soon. Both passers were, to put it mildly, not up to expectations on Sunday. Sorry, Kirk and Baker, absolutely no one progressively liked that. Not even opposing defensive coordinators. The Vikings did win an enthralling 14-7 stare-down, however. Perhaps it is best that the tape gets burned before everyone’s retinas are pervasively damaged from watching that horror show. Minnesota hosts the Lions while the Browns travel to Los Angeles to face rising superstar QB Justin Herbert next.
Previous 7 Up, 7 Downs
A Perceptive Repeat
So Nice, Do it Thrice