The Schein Nine  

 

NFL Week 4 takeaways: Jets, Rams impress; 49ers, Bills implode

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Week 4 provided yet another wild and wacky Sunday in NFL, with both positive and negative statements made around the league.

When you watch a football game -- or any sporting event, for that matter -- it's always interesting assigning the proper credit and/or blame. Does a result speak more to the success of the winner or the failure of the loser?

Allow me to answer that question as it pertains to notable Week 4 bouts, Schein Nine style:

1) New York Jets 27, Miami Dolphins 14

The Dolphins traveled to London and looked absolutely lifeless, a characteristic that directly stemmed from Joe Philbin. This wasn't breaking news. I still don't understand what Stephen Ross was thinking last December, when he abruptly announced that Philbin would retain his position. But we all know what Ross was thinking on Monday morning, when he relieved Philbin of his duties. Stunning development? More like the exact opposite. Everyone saw this coming.

So, to me, this game said more about the Jets' new culture, physical domination and improved talent.

Yes, it was a sloppy game across the pond, but the Jets punched Miami in the mouth. A fine bounceback statement for Gang Green, coming one week after a discouraging home loss to the Eagles.

New York's game plan was brilliant. A healthy Chris Ivory, behind a strong offensive line, humbled and humiliated the Dolphins' run defense, steamrolling his way to 166 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall has become the heartbeat of the Jets, posting his third straight 100-yard game (seven catches for a season-high 128 yards). And Eric Decker returned to health and returned to the end zone -- the Jets' WR2 has scored in all three games he's played in this season.

Todd Bowles' defense was strong and stingy, per usual. The Jets have plenty of talent on that side of the ball. The defensive backfield is vastly improved, thanks to Mike Maccagnan's outstanding offseason.

The Jets are 3-1. A loss would've sparked a familiar lament: "Same old Jets." But with a new head coach, new GM and a host of new players/leaders, the mantra just doesn't apply.

2) Washington Redskins 23, Philadelphia Eagles 20

The Eagles are a mess at 1-3. It's open season on Chip Kelly's game plan and game management. Has he forgotten that he signed the NFL's reigning rushing king? DeMarco Murray logged eight carries in a three-point loss. On the season, Murray has a grand total of 47 yards rushing -- just 487 yards behind his pace through the first four games of 2014. Thought this guy was an ideal fit for what was supposed to be a potent north/south ground game ...

All that said ... Let's give credit to the Redskins.

Kirk Cousins isn't as bad as he looked against the Giants in Week 3. He engineered a pulsating, 15-play, 90-yard game-winning drive, capped off by a gutsy throw to (and brilliant catch by) Pierre Garcon.

The Redskins, despite all the drama, are 2-2, in a three-way tie for first place.

3) New York Giants 24, Buffalo Bills 10

Every game, all season

Rex Ryan spent the week talking about New England, saying the Patriots were "clearly trying to embarrass us" in a Week 2 Bills loss. He took pleasure in the fact that Eli Manning, the QB his team was set to face on Sunday, has two Super Bowl wins over the Pats: "I like the fact that he beat [Tom] Brady twice. I like that. I'm not all the way over the Brady butt-kicking he did against us."

Lack of focus on that actual task at hand? I'd say so.

The Giants made plays and scored a season-swinging win. But this is all about Buffalo imploding.

Sure, LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins didn't play. The officiating wasn't perfect. But the Bills consistently shot themselves in the foot with an unfathomable 17 penalties for 135 yards. (Remember, they were flagged 14 times for 140 yards in the aforementioned loss to New England.)

Still, Ryan provided a passionate defense of his team's lackluster showing in the postgame.

Jets fans quietly shake their heads, having seen this act before.

4) Chicago Bears 22, Oakland Raiders 20

I'm very disappointed in Oakland not getting a win. A conservative approach doomed the Raiders, who could've gotten off to their best start since 2002.

But the biggest takeaway in this one was Chicago's effort in the face of extreme adversity.

The Bears rightly dealt Jared Allen and Jon Bostic last week, potentially starting the kind of fire sale typically reserved for baseball. I support this approach by general manager Ryan Pace. These Bears are going nowhere and lack talent. They should shop other players -- and consider moving Matt Forte, if the price is right -- to get ready for 2016.

But don't tell that to the professional ballplayers in Chicago's locker room. Plucky effort by everyone involved on Sunday. John Fox is all about energy, and his players showed this against upstart Oakland.

Jay Cutler returned to action and, in a stunning turn of events, gave the team a major lift. On a day when kickers left much to be desired across the NFL, Robbie Gould drilled the game-winning field goal from 49 yards out and Chicago exhaled.

Oakland missed a golden opportunity, as the Bears are dreadful. But this said something about the pride of Chicago.

5) San Diego Chargers 30, Cleveland Browns 27

Near the end of a wild, back-and-forth game, CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein summed it up best when he said, in incredulous fashion, "You cannot make this stuff up if you tried."

With the game tied at 27-27 and two seconds remaining, Chargers rookie kicker Josh Lambo shanked a 39-yard field goal attempt, sending the game into overtime. Or not. Cleveland, in classic Browns fashion, was guilty of a penalty, with Tramon Williams somehow jumping offsides. That's where Beuerlein's retort came into play. And, as every long-suffering Cleveland sports fan certainly anticipated, Lambo atoned on his second attempt, nailing the 34-yard game winner.

Great effort by San Diego in a great game, but the biggest takeaway here is also the most obvious: The Browns are the Browns.

6) St. Louis Rams 24, Arizona Cardinals 22

The Cardinals clearly played their worst game of the season, but nothing has changed in my belief that Arizona's a top-two team in the NFC.

Tip your cap in the direction of the Rams.

Nick Foles was the epitome of toughness on Sunday, and he tossed three touchdown passes against zero interceptions. That's the kind of performance Jeff Fisher, Les Snead and Co. were seeking when they flipped Sam Bradford for Foles. But let's talk about the true Rams revelation: Todd Gurley. The rookie running back scampered for 146 yards on 19 carries, showing off that unreal power and speed that had many (myself included) calling him one of the best prospects in the entire draft class long before he went 10th overall to St. Louis. I loved his savvy at the end, too -- playing in just his second NFL game, Gurley understood clock and score and stayed in bounds.

7) Green Bay Packers 17, San Francisco 49ers 3

The Packers are the Super Bowl favorites. That, I know. So, can we spend some time talking about how the Niners managed just three points against Green Bay's defense?

I thought San Francisco would indeed be inept this year, having jettisoned Jim Harbaugh because he wouldn't play nice in the sandbox with upper management. In a related story, Michigan is a top-20 team and the 49ers posted a field goal -- and nothing more -- against a mediocre defense.

Colin Kaepernick looks dreadful sans Harbaugh. Over the past two weeks, he's completed 50 percent of his passes for a total of 227 yards, with zero TDs, five interceptions and a QB rating of 25.7. Remember when Kap could play? Remember when this rivalry had juice? Remember when Aaron Rodgers couldn't beat Kaepernick, Harbaugh and the Niners? Feels like a lifetime ago.

The Packers were expected to win. But it really struck home how awful the Niners are after a catastrophic offseason.

Three points at home? Yes, San Francisco's that bad.

8) Cincinnati Bengals 36, Kansas City Chiefs 21

First of all, the Chiefs shouldn't look this lost. But, as a noted Andy Dalton/Marvin Lewis critic -- based upon numerous failures in big spots -- I can do nothing but give credit to the Bengals.

Dalton and the receivers rock steady, while Cincy's excellent defense exposed K.C.'s offensive line.

It was another magnificent Sunday for the undefeated Bengals. Of course, this team will be judged by what it does in January -- but right now, the Bengals are getting the job done in impressive fashion.

9) Atlanta Falcons 48, Houston Texans 21

It wasn't even that close.

Devonta Freeman put on an absolute clinic for the second week in a row. Dan Quinn's Falcons are 4-0 and flying high.

Regardless, the story in this game is how dreadful Houston looked.

The Texans' defense was supposed to be dominant and well-coached. It's been neither, as evidenced by the No. 25 ranking in scoring D.

The defense was particularly wretched on Sunday -- Atlanta was up 48-0 with three minutes left in the third quarter, for gosh sakes. Ryan Mallett failed at quarterback (again), getting replaced by Brian Hoyer in the second half. Arian Foster's return couldn't light a fire.

The Falcons quite simply wiped the floor with the Texans. It was akin to a varsity team taking on fifth graders. Color me stunned, as a noted Bill O'Brien enthusiast.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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