By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
After three weeks of not having to deal with the elephant in the room, the spectre of the Coronavirus finally hit the NFL right between their collective eyes.
Whether it was the continuing outbreak with the Tennessee Titans or the diagnosis of Field General Cam Newton, COVID-19 is slowly leaving the league groggier than most quarterbacks are after a close encounter with the likes of Deacon Jones, Lawrence Taylor, or Derrick Thomas.
In fact, last week’s scheduled meeting between the aforementioned Newton and K.C.’s Patrick Mahomes was one of the first aftershocks affected by the latest outbreak.
Heading into Week 5, the Broncos at Patriots game will be played on Monday, October 12 at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. Also, the Bills at Titans game will be played on Tuesday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET on CBS.
And it just may be the beginning. So with that being said, let us really cherish and enjoy what the Field Generals can and will be able to do while we still have some football to watch.
Looking back on last week’s action, we’ve seen more and more offense as teams work out the kinks of the first three “exhibition” games on both sides of the line.
Let’s take a look back at the action.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Win at Washington)
The reigning MVP used the struggling Washington defense to bounce back from the Ravens’ loss to the Chiefs. Jackson completed 14-of-21 (66.7%) throws for 193 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. He ran for 52 yards on seven attempts. In the process, he reached 5,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing quicker than any player in NFL history. He recorded this feat in his 35th career game, which eclipsed Michael Vick (39 games). He also broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run, which is the longest of his career. It was the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in five seasons. This also marked the first time a player produced a touchdown run of 50 or more yards and a touchdown pass of at least 25 yards since Marcus Mariota in 2015.
Dwayne Haskins, Jr., Washington (Loss vs. Baltimore)
So much for the “vote of confidence” in D.C. Not only has Haskins lost his starting job, he’s been demoted to the 3rd quarterback in Washington behind new starter Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. After throwing three interceptions last week, he went 32 for 45 for a career-high 314 yards and was sacked three times Sunday. The former Ohio State standout has struggled behind a shaky offensive line this season. Over four games, Haskins is ranked 27th in completion percentage (61.0) and 26th in yards per pass attempt (6.43).
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Win at Miami)
Another 1:00 PM ET (10:00 AM PT) start for No. 3? Not a problem. Wilson passed for 360 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 112.4 rating in the Seahawks’ 31-23 win at Miami. Seattle advanced to 4-0 for the first time since 2013, when they went on to win Super Bowl XLVIII. They’ve also scored 30 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time since 2015. Who knows?? Maybe he’ll finally get some MVP votes for the first time in his career.
Deshaun Watson, Houston (Loss vs. Minnesota)
In this week’s edition of “Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown”, Mr. Watson threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns as Houston continued their “close, but no cigar” existence. Houston’s NFL-worst run defense continued to struggle, giving up 162 yards as the Texans dropped to 0-4 for the first time since 2008. This was all part of the backdrop that led to the firing of head coach/general manager/failed motivation speaker Bill O’Brien. It’s now Romeo Crennel’s job to try and stop the bleeding a bit. Up next: a struggling Jacksonville squad that gave Joe Burrow his first NFL victory on Sunday.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Loss vs. Cleveland)
There’s no truth to the rumor that every team on Dallas’ schedule gets a 20-point lead just before the National Anthem. It just seems that way. As for Mr. Prescott, he had his first 500-yard game, throwing for 502 yards and four touchdowns while becoming the first NFL quarterback with at least 450 yards passing in three straight games. However, Prescott set that record because the Cowboys (1-3) have played from behind three straight weeks. How bad has it gotten in Jerry’s Place? Cleveland’s 307 yards rushing were the most the Cowboys have ever allowed. Dallas is the first team since Oakland in 2012 to allow at least 38 points in three straight games in the same season. The only other time the Cowboys did it was their inaugural season in 1960, when they went 0-11-1. The eyes of Texas are being burnt to a crisp.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Loss at Carolina)
After a promising start, Arizona finds itself taking more steps backwards. However, No. 1 was able to bounce back a bit despite the loss. Murray threw for three touchdowns for the Cardinals (2-2), but was limited to 133 yards passing as Arizona finished with 262 yards on offense, running just 55 plays. Carolina’s ball control offense eventually wore down the Cardinals’ defense. In the first quarter, the Cardinals gave up third-down conversions of 7, 10, 1 and 8 yards, and a fourth-down conversion of 2 yards, which allowed the Panthers to keep two scoring drives alive and hold a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina (Win vs. Arizona)
Was that really No. 5 doing his best Cam Newton impression against Arizona on Sunday? Okay, I got a little carried away. However, Bridgewater threw for 276 yards and two scores as the Panthers solved their red-zone issues from a week ago by scoring TD’s on their first four trips inside the Arizona 20-yard line. Teddy Ballgame scored his first rushing touchdown since before a devastating knee injury in the summer of 2016. He also completed 26 of 37 passes, most of those underneath coverage. Up next: a trip to Atlanta against another struggling defense.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Win vs. New England)
For the fourth straight season, the Chiefs have opened up 4-0. However, it didn’t come easy. It took a late pick-6 by Tyrann Mathieu before Kansas City salted away a win against the Newton-less Patriots. Mahomes threw two touchdown passes as the Chiefs remain perfect. They’ve had a winning streak of at least four games in every one of coach Andy Reid’s eight seasons. Also, the game was only the third with Mahomes as the starter in which the Chiefs didn’t score a touchdown on any of their first four possessions.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Seattle’s Russell Wilson has 16 touchdown passes through the first four games of the 2020 season, tied with Peyton Manning (16 touchdown passes in 2013) for the most by a player in his team’s first four games of a season in NFL history.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.