Tuesday Afternoon Football: Week 4
The first month of the 2018 NFL season wrapped up on Monday night, and Week Four might have been the most exciting week so far this year. There were incredible comebacks, stunning twists, incredible breakouts, and a quarterback who completed a pass with his non-throwing hand. In general, this was a great week of football, full of some of the most memorable moments of the year. With that being said, let’s jump into it.
The Real Reincarnation of Showtime is in LA...but it isn’t with the Lakers.
Through four games the Los Angeles Rams are the best team in the NFL, and it isn’t really a close race either. Their offense has been incredible, outscoring every team except for the Chiefs. They have one of the best point differentials in the league, which shows that they are truly exceptional on both sides of the football.
This summer, LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland in favor of the bright lights of Los Angeles. That one story has dominated headlines across the country since it happened, and deservedly so, as he is one of the best players to ever play in the NBA. Many took LeBron’s new team as a sign that the Lakers would be returning to the glory days of Magic Johnson, when the team was known as the “Showtime Lakers.”
That team, other than LeBron James, is full of cast-offs and young players, so it’s unlikely for them to be the best team in the league while a team like the Golden State Warriors still have the star power that they have. Even though both of these teams play their home games in Los Angeles, the Rams are much more like the Golden State Warriors than they are LeBron’s Lakers.
Over the summer the Los Angeles Rams acquired as much talent as they could following a season that saw them breakout under the tutelage of rookie head coach Sean McVay. The front office understood that it’s their job to make the team better by any means necessary. They brought in Brandin Cooks (a top-tier deep threat wide receiver), Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Sam Shields (three great cornerbacks), and they brought in Ndamukong Suh to wreak havoc on the defensive line with Aaron Donald.
They already had three pieces that made their team as good as any other. They had Jared Goff (who exploded once he played under an actual NFL head coach), Todd Gurley (who is a superstar running back), and Aaron Donald (who is one of the two best defensive lineman in the NFL). Now they have all the pieces around those three players that they need to win a Super Bowl.
On Thursday night the Rams played the Minnesota Vikings and put on a dazzling display on the offensive side of the football. Jared Goff completed 26 of his 33 passes for 465 yards and five touchdowns. Three different wide receivers for the Rams had more than 100 yards, and one of those receivers was Cooper Kupp who caught nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Their offense was absolutely dominant against a Minnesota Vikings team that many (including myself) considered to have the best, most complete, defense in the NFL.
The Rams walked away from the TNF matchup with a 38-31 win that clearly solidified them as the best team in the league. While the rest of their division is racked with injuries and incompetence, the Rams stand poised to make an easy run to the playoffs where they should do real damage.
While many thought that LeBron was going to bring “Showtime” back to Los Angeles, Jared Goff and the best team in the NFL are doing their best to establish their dlair before the Lakers even play a regular season game.
Goff has played like an MVP candidate, and in this last game against the Vikings he played the best game that a Ram has ever played in the history of their franchise. Not even Kurt Warner, who most consider to be the greatest QB in the franchise’s history, ever threw for five touchdowns and zero interceptions in the same game.
It’s showtime folks, and this time it’s happening on the gridiron, not the hardwood.
Mitchell Trubisky’s Career Day
While all the discussions about the Chicago Bears at this point have been about their defense with Khalil Mack, this past Sunday Mitchell Trubisky etched his name in the history books and showed that he can be just as special as his star defensive player.
He dismantled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the weekend, and when I say dismantled I mean it in the most brutal, violent form of the word. I don’t mean that he gently unscrewed all the bolts from their holes and organized all the pieces into color-coordinated piles, I mean it in the sense that Trubisky picked up the Buccaneers like they were a gigantic LEGO set built by his older sibling and smashed it on the ground. He simply obliterated the Buccaneers, he took all that was left of Fitzmagic and absorbed it for himself like a dementor in Harry Potter.
The Bears won the game 48-10, and they scored 38 of those points in the first half. Mitchell Trubisky ended the game with 354 yards and six touchdowns. That’s right, he threw for six touchdowns. The list of quarterbacks to throw for that many touchdowns in a single game includes people like Otto Graham, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees among a couple others. He was simply incredible. He was the the reason that the Sun finally set on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s day in the sun in Tampa Bay.
The Bears now sit at 3-1 in a division that appears to be up for grabs. While it is unbelievably unrealistic to expect Mitchell Trubisky to replicate his career day at any point in the near future (or ever for that matter), it isn’t unreasonable to think that he can play well enough to barely outscore opposing offenses for as long as his teams’ vicious defense plays as well as it has.
This individual story could have been as Khalil Mack, because he is not only the clear-cut Defensive Player of the Year so far this season, and if Patrick Mahomes didn’t exist or existed without arms he might be the clear-cut MVP favorite right now. On Sunday he forced another turnover while hitting Jameis Winston’s arm allowing for an interception by his teammate Danny Trevathan.
Before Sunday’s game the Bears were winning in spite of their offense. Mitchell Trubisky had just two touchdowns and three interceptions through three games while averaging just 197 yards. After his explosion this week his total numbers look tremendous, with 945 yards, 8 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 70% completion rate.
I guess what I’m getting at here is this: If last week’s game against the Buccaneers was an indication that Trubisky has turned the corner to become a legitimate franchise quarterback, he has a good enough defense and weapons around him to really make noise in the NFC North.
I think if he has turned a corner and averages 250-275 yards per game, this team will make it to the playoffs this year.
Pat Mahomes, His Left Hand, and the MVP of the NFL through Four Weeks
The biggest story in the NFL this season has been Patrick Mahomes. Of course there have been other stories, but it appears that Fitzmagic has run out and the Patriots appear to have righted the ship. No story has been bigger, or more important/exciting than the beginning to Patrick Mahomes’ career.
His ascension to NFL superstardom has happened remarkably fast, and he deserves every ounce of respect that has been put on his name.
He is the leader of the most prolific offense in the NFL, and he looks like the clear-cut MVP favorite through four games. Through those four games he has thrown for 1200 yards, 14 touchdowns, and zero interceptions while completing 65.2% of his passes. That’s a weekly average of 300 yards passing and 3.5 touchdowns per week.
Now of course that isn’t all on Mahomes as he does have one of the best offensive coaches of all time in Andy Reid, and he does have the best offensive weapons around him in the league, but regardless, he has been simply incredible.
Last night he had his worst game of the year, at the worst possible time. His team was playing in one of the hardest places to play in the league, Mile High Stadium in Denver. The Broncos have a fantastic defense, and they have absolutely ravaged great quarterbacks over the years.
The thing is that Patrick Mahomes’ worst game of the year was still really fucking good. He threw for 305 yards and a touchdown while also running for his first score of the year. Mahomes also made one of the most interesting plays of the year late in the fourth quarter. He was forced out of the pocket to his left, and while he was being dragged down by Von Miller he managed to complete a pass with his left hand for a first down.
The Chiefs, who won the game 27-23 after being down for nearly the whole game, are the NFL’s best offensive team, and they might be the best team in the AFC.
The problem with the Chiefs’ early success is that they did the same thing last year, just to a lesser extent. Alex Smith was the favorite to be MVP through four games and the Chiefs were undefeated. This year just has a different feel to it though. Patrick Mahomes just feels special, this feels like the beginning of a 15-20 year run of excellence from a fantastic young quarterback who could be mentioned among the all-time greats at some point.
He has the perfect team, the perfect coach, and all signs point to this being a special year.
Can I also mention that he’s a Stephen Curry fan, as is Jared Goff...so basically what I’m saying is that if Stephen Curry is your lord and savior, you are bound for success at the highest levels of anything you do.
Update from the Jimmy G Hype Train:
The Good, the Bad, and the Odd:
The Good: Cooper Kupp, who caught nine passes on Thursday against the Minnesota VIkings for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bad: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost 48-10 to one of the most mediocre offensive teams in the entire NFL.
The Odd: The odd this week is a mix of sad and odd. Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas fractured his left leg in a game against the Arizona Cardinals. While being carted off the field Thomas was caught on camera flipping off the Seahawks on the sideline, and he did this because he didn’t report to training camp or preseason or practice during the week because he wanted a contract extension/more money or to be traded to a team that would pay him.
His situation now serves as vindication for all players who hold out for new contracts, because your career/season can end in a second, especially in the NFL. I truly do feel bad for Earl Thomas, even though he did terrorize my 49ers for the last eight years.
CK Collusion QB of the Week: There is no CK Collusion QB of the Week for Week Four, as most quarterbacks this week were established franchise quarterbacks, were riding a hot streak (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill), or rookies. Starting in Week Six rookies will become potential winners of this award, but this week there is no winner.
Breakout Player of the Game: Corey Davis of the Tennessee Titans broke out for 161 yards on nine receptions and caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime.