What We Learned From Week 5 Of The NFL

sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, sports editor): In Week 5, we saw two teams get their first wins of the NFL season, a coach receive his pink slip and an undrafted rookie quarterback out of Samford — yes, Samford — make his NFL debut, nearly leading his team to a comeback win.

We also saw last season’s MVP limping around the field on Sunday night. Guys, how worried should we be about Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs?

Salfino (Michael Salfino, FiveThirtyEight contributor): This was the second game in a row where a team took the deep ball away from Mahomes. Of course, Tyreek Hill could be back next week, so that could turn the tables in the Chiefs’ favor again, regardless. Mahomes’s ankle injury didn’t seem too serious, but it could affect his ability to evade the rush for a few weeks, as it did after the injury last night.

neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): Yeah. He’s had some ankle issues already earlier this season, but he’s expected to be fine from all the reports I’ve seen. What his performance really did was underscore just how strange it is for Mahomes to not be amazing.

Believe it or not, this was only the second start of his career in which he was below-average in our Elo QB metric.

joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): I think the same is true of QBR — but I suppose our metric and QBR are closely related.

neil: Right. Mahomes’s previous below-average start was his first career start, at the end of 2017. So that means Mahomes had a streak of 22 consecutive above-average starts end yesterday.

Salfino: Mahomes had been on an epic run of efficiency on 20-plus air-yard passes, and in the past two weeks, he was just 4 for 15 with a passer rating of 80.7. Not good.

sara.ziegler: So should we have expected that his amazing run was going to come to an end at some point, and this was just the time it happened? Or is there something else going on here?

Salfino: I think the Lions and Matt Patricia went to school on it, and the Colts followed up even with an injury-riddled secondary. Now the ball is in the Chiefs’ court. Sort of the NFL circle of life.

neil: If anybody can adapt, it’s Andy Reid. And it still helps to have a QB who can do this:

joshua.hermsmeyer: I think it’s interesting to see how reliant the team really is on its all-world QB. It’s just so clear how much he means to the Chiefs, and I would think their top priority is to keep him healthy.

Salfino: Someone posted a diagram on that play showing that pass-rushers have to coordinate rather than going for the cheese in the same direction. The deeper rusher, we were told, should have gone outside to keep Mahomes contained. Sort of like how the Raptors worked in Jurassic Park. 🙂

neil: And here I thought all the Raptor talk this week would be confined to basketball

sara.ziegler: LOL

So what do the Chiefs need to do to take care of Mahomes? The offensive line looked … not good.

Salfino: Deeper passes require more protection. Maybe they need to get into a quicker rhythm and forget about emphasizing the deep throws so often. His protection for his career to date has been top-notch.

joshua.hermsmeyer: There are schemes you can employ to buy more time and prevent him from having to hang in the pocket, but they’re probably not sustainable. It’s also tough because what makes him so special is what he does when a play breaks down — and that’s also a dangerous time to be a QB.

Salfino: But they’re still winning the battle of the passing game so decisively for the season to date that I really believe that, despite the loss, the Chiefs are right on schedule. The pass defense is decent. The run defense … not so good. But high-scoring teams naturally evolve this way, if they’re smart. It’s the old Colts/Peyton Manning model.

sara.ziegler: So if the Chiefs are going to be fine, how about the Cowboys? They looked incredibly flat on Sunday against the Packers.

neil: The Cowboys are now 3-0 against teams with pregame Elo ratings under 1500 (i.e., average) and 0-2 against teams with pregame ratings over 1500.

Salfino: If you believe the Cowboys have the kind of high-powered passing offense their per-play stats suggest, they’re golden. I’m not sure I believe that, though. I’m not quite ready to go all-in on Dak Prescott as a true franchise-level QB. He’s good, though.

Neil’s point about their win quality is spot-on.

neil: Though, to push back against my own snarky observation about opponent-quality splits, Dallas did beat six above-1500 Elo teams during that period last season when they won eight times in nine games down the stretch.

So it’s not necessarily a persistent split. But it has stood out so far this season.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Dak has been fantastic. I thought they mounted a respectable second-half comeback. If I’m a Cowboys fan, I’m not worried when my team’s QB is playing like one of the top 5 at his position.

sara.ziegler: So the game did nothing to change anyone’s priors on the Cowboys?

joshua.hermsmeyer: It was a loss, so not great! But I’m not selling on the Cowboys yet.

Salfino: Definitely not selling. They are a legit Super Bowl contender.

sara.ziegler: You guys are refusing to overreact, and it’s annoying.

neil: Maybe the past two games have settled them back into the tier below the top contenders again.

Salfino: You can overreact to Captain Kirk, Sara. The Vikings are an offensive juggernaut.

sara.ziegler: I will not.

And they are not.

neil: Speaking of teams and QBs that play well only against below-average opponents…

sara.ziegler: Damn.

Tough but fair.

neil: That IS a trend dating back to last season.

Salfino: The Giants defense is … inviting.

sara.ziegler: I am on record saying that the Vikings were 100 percent going to win that game. It was a classic game of absolutely no stakes, so Kirk Cousins played well. Easiest call I’ve ever made.

neil: Can’t he just convince himself that all games have no stakes?? We said it ourselves last week: We all die in the end. Loosen up a little, Kirk.

sara.ziegler: LOLOL

joshua.hermsmeyer: I was just happy to see the Squeaky Wheel narrative pay off for Adam Thielen. Two touchdowns was a great game for him.

sara.ziegler: OK, so what about the other notable NFC North teams this week? Aaron Rodgers did nothing, but the Packers looked … great?

Salfino: The Packers pretty much ignored their wide receivers in the game. It somehow worked.

We may have to accept that the Lions are the best team in the North. Did I just type that?

sara.ziegler: The same Lions that tied Arizona? Those Lions?

neil: Let’s not go crazy here.

Salfino: Actually, the Vikings grade better in my key stat — net yards per pass play — but I don’t want Sara to have unrealistic expectations. I will say the Lions are playing better than the Bears.

sara.ziegler: My expectations are always as low as possible.

neil: BTW, all four NFC North teams still have winning records.

sara.ziegler: But what about those Bears? Is Chase Daniel not the answer???

Salfino: No less not the answer than Mitchell Trubisky.

I’ve tied myself up in double negatives.

Daniel and Trubisky are a double negative.

neil: 😂

joshua.hermsmeyer: I need more coffee to parse these Salfino Bears takes. Interestingly, if you were hanging your hat on their defense being great against the pass this season, early returns are not that good. Chicago, so far, has allowed the fifth-highest completion percentage in the league.

neil: Daniel basically played like you would expect from somebody with four career starts in 10 NFL seasons.

Salfino: Daniel is beating the system.

But Jon Gruden is still a good coach. That he’s 3-2 — with a team that is not talented and with all the Antonio Brown distractions — is impressive. The Raiders should be a losing team and probably still will be, but it won’t be because of Gruden.

neil: What about JAY Gruden? Lol.

sara.ziegler: First coaching casualty!

neil: Josh, is the Bears’ performance another example of defenses just regressing to the mean incredibly quickly in the NFL?

joshua.hermsmeyer: I don’t know what to make of NFL defenses, tbh. Some claim there was a jet-lag factor with Chicago, or they didn’t sleep well. It’s all a muddle.

Salfino: I’m shocked by how bad the Ravens pass defense has looked, even yesterday against the third-string QB.

sara.ziegler: Devlin Hodges was the best part of that game.

That story is my favorite of the season so far. Guy goes undrafted, signed to the practice squad, makes the team because some other backup is traded away … then, BAM. He’s leading a second-half comeback.

Salfino: The Browns may win the AFC North by default even with a loss tonight.

neil: We do still have Cleveland as favorites (granted, at 49 percent) to win the division.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I feel like you were bagging on Baker Mayfield just a week or two ago, Mike. How quickly the winds change.

neil: And we were pumping up Lamar Jackson!

Salfino: No, I was defending Baker. I was bagging on Baker in August. I am still bagging on Baker Mayfield the spokesperson.

neil: Lol

BTW, speaking of Jackson, he had the second-worst QB Elo game of the week yesterday. After that hot start, his rolling QB rating is basically average again.

However, the worst by a MILE belonged to poor Luke Falk of the Jets. In fact, Poor Sad Luke Falk had the worst QB game of the entire season. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson of the Texans had the best game of the entire season!

The best — and worst — of 2019 QB starts were in Week 5

Best and worst quarterback games of the 2019 NFL season, according to FiveThirtyEight’s QB Elo ratings vs. league average

Best QB Games of 2019 season
Date Quarterback Team Opp QB Elo vs. Average
10/6/2019 Deshaun Watson HOU ATL +464
9/22/2019 Russell Wilson SEA NO +379
9/8/2019 Dak Prescott DAL NYG +340
9/8/2019 Patrick Mahomes KC JAX +270
9/15/2019 Dak Prescott DAL WSH +265
9/8/2019 Lamar Jackson BAL MIA +259
9/15/2019 Patrick Mahomes KC OAK +255
9/22/2019 Patrick Mahomes KC BAL +253
9/15/2019 Lamar Jackson BAL ARI +239
10/3/2019 Russell Wilson SEA LAR +224
Worst QB Games of 2019 season
Date Quarterback Team Opp QB Elo vs. Average
10/6/2019 Luke Falk NYJ PHI -478
9/15/2019 Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA NE -350
9/30/2019 Andy Dalton CIN PIT -326
9/22/2019 Luke Falk NYJ NE -263
9/8/2019 Jameis Winston TB SF -239
9/29/2019 Case Keenum WSH NYG -235
9/16/2019 Trevor Siemian NYJ CLE -202
9/29/2019 Josh Allen BUF NE -200
9/5/2019 Mitchell Trubisky CHI GB -200
9/22/2019 Joe Flacco DEN GB -185

Source: ESPN

joshua.hermsmeyer: Mike’s Jets: Out indefinitely.

neil: This was such a sad play:

Salfino: Jets fans like me have not had a season at all yet, and it’s Week 6. Can’t even kill the team for the way they’re playing. Can’t practice Falk if you think Sam Darnold can play because you have to get him ready for his health’s sake. And you can’t know how big his spleen is. But practice is not gonna save Falk, who just has no clock in his head for when to throw the ball. That’s fatal in the NFL. The Jets defense is actually … OK.

neil: When will Jets QBs not be on the receiving end of the universe’s jokes?

joshua.hermsmeyer: It’s the curse Namath put on the franchise after that embarrassingly inept attempt at hitting on Suzy Kolber on the sidelines.

sara.ziegler: I’ve never before thought about how big a quarterback’s spleen is.

Maybe never want to again.

neil: There’s Big Brain Time, and then there’s Big Spleen Time.

Check out our latest NFL predictions.

How Much Trouble Is Kansas City In?

sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, sports editor): In Week 5, we saw two teams get their first wins of the NFL season, a coach receive his pink slip and an undrafted rookie quarterback out of Samford — yes, Samford — make his NFL debut, nearly leading his team to a comeback win.

We also saw last season’s MVP limping around the field on Sunday night. Guys, how worried should we be about Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs?

Salfino (Michael Salfino, FiveThirtyEight contributor): This was the second game in a row where a team took the deep ball away from Mahomes. Of course, Tyreek Hill could be back next week, so that could turn the tables in the Chiefs’ favor again, regardless. Mahomes’s ankle injury didn’t seem too serious, but it could affect his ability to evade the rush for a few weeks, as it did after the injury last night.

neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): Yeah. He’s had some ankle issues already earlier this season, but he’s expected to be fine from all the reports I’ve seen. What his performance really did was underscore just how strange it is for Mahomes to not be amazing.

Believe it or not, this was only the second start of his career in which he was below-average in our Elo QB metric.

joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): I think the same is true of QBR — but I suppose our metric and QBR are closely related.

neil: Right. Mahomes’s previous below-average start was his first career start, at the end of 2017. So that means Mahomes had a streak of 22 consecutive above-average starts end yesterday.

Salfino: Mahomes had been on an epic run of efficiency on 20-plus air-yard passes, and in the past two weeks, he was just 4 for 15 with a passer rating of 80.7. Not good.

sara.ziegler: So should we have expected that his amazing run was going to come to an end at some point, and this was just the time it happened? Or is there something else going on here?

Salfino: I think the Lions and Matt Patricia went to school on it, and the Colts followed up even with an injury-riddled secondary. Now the ball is in the Chiefs’ court. Sort of the NFL circle of life.

neil: If anybody can adapt, it’s Andy Reid. And it still helps to have a QB who can do this:

joshua.hermsmeyer: I think it’s interesting to see how reliant the team really is on its all-world QB. It’s just so clear how much he means to the Chiefs, and I would think their top priority is to keep him healthy.

Salfino: Someone posted a diagram on that play showing that pass-rushers have to coordinate rather than going for the cheese in the same direction. The deeper rusher, we were told, should have gone outside to keep Mahomes contained. Sort of like how the Raptors worked in Jurassic Park. 🙂

neil: And here I thought all the Raptor talk this week would be confined to basketball

sara.ziegler: LOL

So what do the Chiefs need to do to take care of Mahomes? The offensive line looked … not good.

Salfino: Deeper passes require more protection. Maybe they need to get into a quicker rhythm and forget about emphasizing the deep throws so often. His protection for his career to date has been top-notch.

joshua.hermsmeyer: There are schemes you can employ to buy more time and prevent him from having to hang in the pocket, but they’re probably not sustainable. It’s also tough because what makes him so special is what he does when a play breaks down — and that’s also a dangerous time to be a QB.

Salfino: But they’re still winning the battle of the passing game so decisively for the season to date that I really believe that, despite the loss, the Chiefs are right on schedule. The pass defense is decent. The run defense … not so good. But high-scoring teams naturally evolve this way, if they’re smart. It’s the old Colts/Peyton Manning model.

sara.ziegler: So if the Chiefs are going to be fine, how about the Cowboys? They looked incredibly flat on Sunday against the Packers.

neil: The Cowboys are now 3-0 against teams with pregame Elo ratings under 1500 (i.e., average) and 0-2 against teams with pregame ratings over 1500.

Salfino: If you believe the Cowboys have the kind of high-powered passing offense their per-play stats suggest, they’re golden. I’m not sure I believe that, though. I’m not quite ready to go all-in on Dak Prescott as a true franchise-level QB. He’s good, though.

Neil’s point about their win quality is spot-on.

neil: Though, to push back against my own snarky observation about opponent-quality splits, Dallas did beat six above-1500 Elo teams during that period last season when they won eight times in nine games down the stretch.

So it’s not necessarily a persistent split. But it has stood out so far this season.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Dak has been fantastic. I thought they mounted a respectable second-half comeback. If I’m a Cowboys fan, I’m not worried when my team’s QB is playing like one of the top 5 at his position.

sara.ziegler: So the game did nothing to change anyone’s priors on the Cowboys?

joshua.hermsmeyer: It was a loss, so not great! But I’m not selling on the Cowboys yet.

Salfino: Definitely not selling. They are a legit Super Bowl contender.

sara.ziegler: You guys are refusing to overreact, and it’s annoying.

neil: Maybe the past two games have settled them back into the tier below the top contenders again.

Salfino: You can overreact to Captain Kirk, Sara. The Vikings are an offensive juggernaut.

sara.ziegler: I will not.

And they are not.

neil: Speaking of teams and QBs that play well only against below-average opponents…

sara.ziegler: Damn.

Tough but fair.

neil: That IS a trend dating back to last season.

Salfino: The Giants defense is … inviting.

sara.ziegler: I am on record saying that the Vikings were 100 percent going to win that game. It was a classic game of absolutely no stakes, so Kirk Cousins played well. Easiest call I’ve ever made.

neil: Can’t he just convince himself that all games have no stakes?? We said it ourselves last week: We all die in the end. Loosen up a little, Kirk.

sara.ziegler: LOLOL

joshua.hermsmeyer: I was just happy to see the Squeaky Wheel narrative pay off for Adam Thielen. Two touchdowns was a great game for him.

sara.ziegler: OK, so what about the other notable NFC North teams this week? Aaron Rodgers did nothing, but the Packers looked … great?

Salfino: The Packers pretty much ignored their wide receivers in the game. It somehow worked.

We may have to accept that the Lions are the best team in the North. Did I just type that?

sara.ziegler: The same Lions that tied Arizona? Those Lions?

neil: Let’s not go crazy here.

Salfino: Actually, the Vikings grade better in my key stat — net yards per pass play — but I don’t want Sara to have unrealistic expectations. I will say the Lions are playing better than the Bears.

sara.ziegler: My expectations are always as low as possible.

neil: BTW, all four NFC North teams still have winning records.

sara.ziegler: But what about those Bears? Is Chase Daniel not the answer???

Salfino: No less not the answer than Mitchell Trubisky.

I’ve tied myself up in double negatives.

Daniel and Trubisky are a double negative.

neil: 😂

joshua.hermsmeyer: I need more coffee to parse these Salfino Bears takes. Interestingly, if you were hanging your hat on their defense being great against the pass this season, early returns are not that good. Chicago, so far, has allowed the fifth-highest completion percentage in the league.

neil: Daniel basically played like you would expect from somebody with four career starts in 10 NFL seasons.

Salfino: Daniel is beating the system.

But Jon Gruden is still a good coach. That he’s 3-2 — with a team that is not talented and with all the Antonio Brown distractions — is impressive. The Raiders should be a losing team and probably still will be, but it won’t be because of Gruden.

neil: What about JAY Gruden? Lol.

sara.ziegler: First coaching casualty!

neil: Josh, is the Bears’ performance another example of defenses just regressing to the mean incredibly quickly in the NFL?

joshua.hermsmeyer: I don’t know what to make of NFL defenses, tbh. Some claim there was a jet-lag factor with Chicago, or they didn’t sleep well. It’s all a muddle.

Salfino: I’m shocked by how bad the Ravens pass defense has looked, even yesterday against the third-string QB.

sara.ziegler: Devlin Hodges was the best part of that game.

That story is my favorite of the season so far. Guy goes undrafted, signed to the practice squad, makes the team because some other backup is traded away … then, BAM. He’s leading a second-half comeback.

Salfino: The Browns may win the AFC North by default even with a loss tonight.

neil: We do still have Cleveland as favorites (granted, at 49 percent) to win the division.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I feel like you were bagging on Baker Mayfield just a week or two ago, Mike. How quickly the winds change.

neil: And we were pumping up Lamar Jackson!

Salfino: No, I was defending Baker. I was bagging on Baker in August. I am still bagging on Baker Mayfield the spokesperson.

neil: Lol

BTW, speaking of Jackson, he had the second-worst QB Elo game of the week yesterday. After that hot start, his rolling QB rating is basically average again.

However, the worst by a MILE belonged to poor Luke Falk of the Jets. In fact, Poor Sad Luke Falk had the worst QB game of the entire season. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson of the Texans had the best game of the entire season!

The best — and worst — of 2019 QB starts were in Week 5

Best and worst quarterback games of the 2019 NFL season, according to FiveThirtyEight’s QB Elo ratings vs. league average

Best QB Games of 2019 season
Date Quarterback Team Opp QB Elo vs. Average
10/6/2019 Deshaun Watson HOU ATL +464
9/22/2019 Russell Wilson SEA NO +379
9/8/2019 Dak Prescott DAL NYG +340
9/8/2019 Patrick Mahomes KC JAX +270
9/15/2019 Dak Prescott DAL WSH +265
9/8/2019 Lamar Jackson BAL MIA +259
9/15/2019 Patrick Mahomes KC OAK +255
9/22/2019 Patrick Mahomes KC BAL +253
9/15/2019 Lamar Jackson BAL ARI +239
10/3/2019 Russell Wilson SEA LAR +224
Worst QB Games of 2019 season
Date Quarterback Team Opp QB Elo vs. Average
10/6/2019 Luke Falk NYJ PHI -478
9/15/2019 Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA NE -350
9/30/2019 Andy Dalton CIN PIT -326
9/22/2019 Luke Falk NYJ NE -263
9/8/2019 Jameis Winston TB SF -239
9/29/2019 Case Keenum WSH NYG -235
9/16/2019 Trevor Siemian NYJ CLE -202
9/29/2019 Josh Allen BUF NE -200
9/5/2019 Mitchell Trubisky CHI GB -200
9/22/2019 Joe Flacco DEN GB -185

Source: ESPN

joshua.hermsmeyer: Mike’s Jets: Out indefinitely.

neil: This was such a sad play:

Salfino: Jets fans like me have not had a season at all yet, and it’s Week 6. Can’t even kill the team for the way they’re playing. Can’t practice Falk if you think Sam Darnold can play because you have to get him ready for his health’s sake. And you can’t know how big his spleen is. But practice is not gonna save Falk, who just has no clock in his head for when to throw the ball. That’s fatal in the NFL. The Jets defense is actually … OK.

neil: When will Jets QBs not be on the receiving end of the universe’s jokes?

joshua.hermsmeyer: It’s the curse Namath put on the franchise after that embarrassingly inept attempt at hitting on Suzy Kolber on the sidelines.

sara.ziegler: I’ve never before thought about how big a quarterback’s spleen is.

Maybe never want to again.

neil: There’s Big Brain Time, and then there’s Big Spleen Time.

Check out our latest NFL predictions.

Week 4 Taught Us A Lot About Backup QBs And Nothing About Defenses

sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, sports editor): Week 4 in this NFL season has been a wild ride. We had Chase Daniel proving his worth as a backup quarterback who’s usually paid not to play, Baker Mayfield getting his revenge on Rex Ryan and Daniel Jones outdueling fellow rookie Dwayne Haskins (after Washington starter Case Keenum was benched).

But let’s start with the weirdest score of the weekend: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 55, Los Angeles Rams 40. What the hell happened here?

neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): That scoreline was a shootout kinda on the order of that epic Rams-Chiefs game from last season. Only trouble is, the Bucs are not the Chiefs, and Jameis Winston is not Patrick Mahomes.

Salfino (Michael Salfino, FiveThirtyEight contributor): I just noticed that Winston was first in Total QBR for the week and Jared Goff was 20th. I actually never thought the game was in doubt until Winston lost his mind and threw one of the worst pick-sixes you can imagine to make it 45-40 (they missed the 2-point conversion) with about eight minutes left.

Goff was all meaningless numbers against the Bucs. It’s good that QBR susses that out.

joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): These type of point explosions are always in Winston’s range of outcomes. But so are those ridiculous pick-sixes.

Salfino: Exactly. He is so Jekyll & Hyde.

sara.ziegler: I guess my question when I saw the score was: What happened to the Rams defense?

joshua.hermsmeyer: *cracks knuckles*

Well…

Salfino: When you run into a hot QB and an offense that is executing, defense doesn’t really matter. It can’t win.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Defensive statistics — what we traffic in — are largely a function of the offenses you’ve faced, so we often get fooled by those numbers. We assign the numbers to the defense when really it’s just a function — mainly — of the schedule.

Salfino: The Bucs also never took the foot off the gas with their explosive passing plays. The hope for a defense is that the offense gets up big, goes into a conservative shell and loses its mojo if the game turns against them. The Bucs played all day like they needed to score 50.

neil: But isn’t this kind of a counterexample to that theory (that defense is only a function of offenses faced)? Last season, the Rams only gave up more than 32 points twice: Against the Saints and against the Chiefs. Great offenses! It makes sense that it would be a function of schedule. But the Bucs don’t really fit that same profile.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Yeah. I’m not sure too much has changed from last season on offense, where we saw the Bucs putting up huge passing numbers one game and then fading the next. I think the explanation is just that they are very boom-or-bust as a team.

Salfino: The Bucs have talent, though. They’ve been all tools, no toolbox because of Winston’s volatility. But on Sunday, Winston mostly kept his erratic, mistake-prone self in check. If he does that, they are very dangerous. That might be the most talented receiving corps in football if you include the still-ignored-for-some-reason O.J. Howard.

neil: I suppose the Bucs offense did make Ryan Fitzpatrick look like an elite QB for a couple games at the start of last season…

Salfino: Basically, defenses need Winston to beat himself or they’re screwed.

sara.ziegler: Wait, this guy wasn’t elite on his own???

Salfino: I refuse to say anything negative about Fitz.

sara.ziegler: LOL

joshua.hermsmeyer: And yet all the shade for Gardner Minshew last week, smh.

East Coast bias!

Or something

sara.ziegler: I dislike them both!

neil: Haha

Salfino: QBR is throwing shade at Gardner this week.

neil: That’s right Mike — only a 38.8! But if you watched him late in that game, if didn’t seem like a 38.8.

sara.ziegler: He’s 2-1 as a starter.

joshua.hermsmeyer: No, he looked very special late.

Salfino: Yeah, he Tebowed, ironically in Denver.

neil: Lol. Now they know how it FEELS!

joshua.hermsmeyer:

neil: He takes a lot of sacks, but when his pocket mobility works, it is amazing.

Salfino: He was almost broken in half late in that game.

sara.ziegler: These rookie QBs, man. Minshew Mania, Daniel Jones…

Are you all onboard the Jones Express???

joshua.hermsmeyer: I am not.

My main reason is that in his first game, he performed at a level over what he ever showed in college, and that’s just unprecedented.

Salfino: That’s an excellent stat. Let’s see what he does against the Vikings this week. He’s lucky the game is in East Rutherford.

He’s also lucky he’ll only have to score about 17 points.

(Sorry, Sara.)

sara.ziegler: I think 7 points will probably do it.

neil: I thought Kirk Cousins talk was off-limits in this chat.

Salfino: I was trying to be nice.

Is Cousins still in the league?

joshua.hermsmeyer: You know who was worse than Cousins on early-down passes yesterday?

Tom Brady.

(Cousins yards per dropback: 2.97; TB12: 2)

sara.ziegler: 🤔

neil: I know Buffalo is a legit defense, but that’s a bad game for TB12.

Salfino: With Brady, do we have to be alarmed that he’s showing his age, give credit to the Bills, or just ascribe it to random variance? His raw QBR was 10.3, and it was under 20 even after adjusting.

Brady’s yards per attempt by year from 2016 on: 8.2, 7.9, 7.6 and now … 7.3. I see a pattern!

neil: According to our Elo QB metric, this week was Brady’s worst game (relative to average) since 2013.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Wait, is this the year he’s washed?

Sounds like bulletin board material.

Salfino: Eventually, we’ll all be dead, Josh.

sara.ziegler: Not if we eat enough kale, Mike.

Salfino: Never!

sara.ziegler: Hahaha

Salfino: Brady looked old. Let’s be honest. He is old. Gravity always wins, though he’s defied it for a very long time. Maybe we’ll look back at this as a meaningless blip, too, but I doubt it.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I dunno, something something stem cells. He could play forever.

neil: To be fair, Brady has seemed poised to decline so many times over the years, we’re numb to it by now. The default assumption is that he’ll rebound and be fine.

(He also was fine in the previous three games.)

Salfino: What’s the Occam’s razor takeaway with Brady’s Week 4? (Does Gillette make those?)

sara.ziegler: LOL

neil: I smell a sponsored segment of the weekly chat!

joshua.hermsmeyer: I think Bill Belichick expected a tough rock fight, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Much like the Cowboys and the Saints.

Salfino: Was the problem with the Cowboys yesterday too much running on early downs?

joshua.hermsmeyer: Hard to say what Garrett was thinking. Questioning the fundamentals of *squints* counting appears to be on the table in Dallas.

neil: Credit to the Saints’ defense, though, for the pressure they put on Dak Prescott.

Salfino: Why not open up the offense yesterday and force Teddy Bridgewater, who has no possibility of any explosion in his game, to make plays? The old saw is that you beat the opponent with the passing game and then beat the clock with the running game.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I believe the intent was to establish the run. They ran 20 times — many with the highest-paid back in the NFL — and averaged 2.3 yards per attempt.

neil: Bridgewater had one of the least-deserving QB wins of the season Sunday, I think.

Actually, if you look at worst QB Elo ratings in games the QB still won, Teddy’s game is second so far this season. Brady’s is the worst, LOL.

Salfino: That late sack was sickening. I actually thought Drew Brees was going to vomit.

Sacks that take you out of FG range are turnovers, period.

sara.ziegler: That sack was really something. I believe I yelled at my TV, “THROW IT AWAY, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.”

And I didn’t even have a rooting interest in that game.

neil: Residual Bridgewater rooting via the Vikings.

joshua.hermsmeyer: FWIW, Sean Payton blamed himself for the play call.

Salfino: I don’t care if the pass rush is fired out of a cannon at you, you can’t get sacked there.

sara.ziegler: That would be an interesting new wrinkle for defenses.

neil:

sara.ziegler: The other weird game yesterday, in my mind, was Lions-Chiefs.

The Lions look … good?

neil: Or, at least, not-bad?

Salfino: My plea to NFL teams is to stop the hurdling and reaching the ball over the goal line. The Patriots have a rule that if you do the latter, you are taken out of the game. And Matt Patricia obviously has a Patriots history. Yet, Kerryon Johnson did it so recklessly on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and they lost the game. It was a 14-point swing.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I’m so very glad the refs swallowed the whistle.

Salfino: Yeah, that was a super job by the refs.

joshua.hermsmeyer: But I think the game is just another reminder that we don’t really know who is good on defense yet. Are the Lions really that much better at this than the Ravens?

Salfino: The Ravens defense was just atrocious Sunday, but credit to the Browns offense. Mayfield made fun of Rex Ryan, but he did stop leaking out of the pocket like he’s a runner. He stayed in there by sliding and stepping up, and he made a bevy of downfield plays as a result. I think this was a big moment for him because he recognized a weakness and got out of a slump in a big spot on the road.

sara.ziegler: Rex Ryan, always helping out the young players.

neil: Baker needed that game, too. That season-opening slump had been really tough.

This was much more like the Mayfield we saw late last season.

Salfino: One other thing we should mention is the Bears QB situation. Chase Daniel was very good — third in Total QBR — and Mitch Trubisky is likely out for a while. Are the Bears better off with a QB who is more of a game manager and more capable of executing the easy passes? Or is Trubisky, for all his faults, still clearly better and thus this will hurt the Bears should it extend past their Week 6 bye?

neil: This is why Daniel gets paid the big bucks.

Big backup bucks.

A backup better than your starter is worth his weight in gold.

joshua.hermsmeyer: loool

Salfino: The number of backup QBs is really noteworthy too. It feels like we’re up to 137 teams.

neil: I saw a stat that entering Week 4, 40 QBs have started so far — a Super Bowl-era record through three weeks.

sara.ziegler: So backup QBs are the most important players, the Browns are back, the Lions are decent, we don’t know anything about defenses, and Tom Brady will live forever. Does that sum up Week 4?

joshua.hermsmeyer: Yes, Sara!

neil: It was a weird week. The Dolphins actually led a game at one point.

Check out our latest NFL predictions.

What We Learned From Week 4 Of The NFL

sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, sports editor): Week 4 in this NFL season has been a wild ride. We had Chase Daniel proving his worth as a backup quarterback who’s usually paid not to play, Baker Mayfield getting his revenge on Rex Ryan and Daniel Jones outdueling fellow rookie Dwayne Haskins (after Washington starter Case Keenum was benched).

But let’s start with the weirdest score of the weekend: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 55, Los Angeles Rams 40. What the hell happened here?

neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): That scoreline was a shootout kinda on the order of that epic Rams-Chiefs game from last season. Only trouble is, the Bucs are not the Chiefs, and Jameis Winston is not Patrick Mahomes.

Salfino (Michael Salfino, FiveThirtyEight contributor): I just noticed that Winston was first in Total QBR for the week and Jared Goff was 20th. I actually never thought the game was in doubt until Winston lost his mind and threw one of the worst pick-sixes you can imagine to make it 45-40 (they missed the 2-point conversion) with about eight minutes left.

Goff was all meaningless numbers against the Bucs. It’s good that QBR susses that out.

joshua.hermsmeyer (Josh Hermsmeyer, NFL analyst): These type of point explosions are always in Winston’s range of outcomes. But so are those ridiculous pick-sixes.

Salfino: Exactly. He is so Jekyll & Hyde.

sara.ziegler: I guess my question when I saw the score was: What happened to the Rams defense?

joshua.hermsmeyer: *cracks knuckles*

Well…

Salfino: When you run into a hot QB and an offense that is executing, defense doesn’t really matter. It can’t win.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Defensive statistics — what we traffic in — are largely a function of the offenses you’ve faced, so we often get fooled by those numbers. We assign the numbers to the defense when really it’s just a function — mainly — of the schedule.

Salfino: The Bucs also never took the foot off the gas with their explosive passing plays. The hope for a defense is that the offense gets up big, goes into a conservative shell and loses its mojo if the game turns against them. The Bucs played all day like they needed to score 50.

neil: But isn’t this kind of a counterexample to that theory (that defense is only a function of offenses faced)? Last season, the Rams only gave up more than 32 points twice: Against the Saints and against the Chiefs. Great offenses! It makes sense that it would be a function of schedule. But the Bucs don’t really fit that same profile.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Yeah. I’m not sure too much has changed from last season on offense, where we saw the Bucs putting up huge passing numbers one game and then fading the next. I think the explanation is just that they are very boom-or-bust as a team.

Salfino: The Bucs have talent, though. They’ve been all tools, no toolbox because of Winston’s volatility. But on Sunday, Winston mostly kept his erratic, mistake-prone self in check. If he does that, they are very dangerous. That might be the most talented receiving corps in football if you include the still-ignored-for-some-reason O.J. Howard.

neil: I suppose the Bucs offense did make Ryan Fitzpatrick look like an elite QB for a couple games at the start of last season…

Salfino: Basically, defenses need Winston to beat himself or they’re screwed.

sara.ziegler: Wait, this guy wasn’t elite on his own???

Salfino: I refuse to say anything negative about Fitz.

sara.ziegler: LOL

joshua.hermsmeyer: And yet all the shade for Gardner Minshew last week, smh.

East Coast bias!

Or something

sara.ziegler: I dislike them both!

neil: Haha

Salfino: QBR is throwing shade at Gardner this week.

neil: That’s right Mike — only a 38.8! But if you watched him late in that game, if didn’t seem like a 38.8.

sara.ziegler: He’s 2-1 as a starter.

joshua.hermsmeyer: No, he looked very special late.

Salfino: Yeah, he Tebowed, ironically in Denver.

neil: Lol. Now they know how it FEELS!

joshua.hermsmeyer:

neil: He takes a lot of sacks, but when his pocket mobility works, it is amazing.

Salfino: He was almost broken in half late in that game.

sara.ziegler: These rookie QBs, man. Minshew Mania, Daniel Jones…

Are you all onboard the Jones Express???

joshua.hermsmeyer: I am not.

My main reason is that in his first game, he performed at a level over what he ever showed in college, and that’s just unprecedented.

Salfino: That’s an excellent stat. Let’s see what he does against the Vikings this week. He’s lucky the game is in East Rutherford.

He’s also lucky he’ll only have to score about 17 points.

(Sorry, Sara.)

sara.ziegler: I think 7 points will probably do it.

neil: I thought Kirk Cousins talk was off-limits in this chat.

Salfino: I was trying to be nice.

Is Cousins still in the league?

joshua.hermsmeyer: You know who was worse than Cousins on early-down passes yesterday?

Tom Brady.

(Cousins yards per dropback: 2.97; TB12: 2)

sara.ziegler: 🤔

neil: I know Buffalo is a legit defense, but that’s a bad game for TB12.

Salfino: With Brady, do we have to be alarmed that he’s showing his age, give credit to the Bills, or just ascribe it to random variance? His raw QBR was 10.3, and it was under 20 even after adjusting.

Brady’s yards per attempt by year from 2016 on: 8.2, 7.9, 7.6 and now … 7.3. I see a pattern!

neil: According to our Elo QB metric, this week was Brady’s worst game (relative to average) since 2013.

joshua.hermsmeyer: Wait, is this the year he’s washed?

Sounds like bulletin board material.

Salfino: Eventually, we’ll all be dead, Josh.

sara.ziegler: Not if we eat enough kale, Mike.

Salfino: Never!

sara.ziegler: Hahaha

Salfino: Brady looked old. Let’s be honest. He is old. Gravity always wins, though he’s defied it for a very long time. Maybe we’ll look back at this as a meaningless blip, too, but I doubt it.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I dunno, something something stem cells. He could play forever.

neil: To be fair, Brady has seemed poised to decline so many times over the years, we’re numb to it by now. The default assumption is that he’ll rebound and be fine.

(He also was fine in the previous three games.)

Salfino: What’s the Occam’s razor takeaway with Brady’s Week 4? (Does Gillette make those?)

sara.ziegler: LOL

neil: I smell a sponsored segment of the weekly chat!

joshua.hermsmeyer: I think Bill Belichick expected a tough rock fight, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Much like the Cowboys and the Saints.

Salfino: Was the problem with the Cowboys yesterday too much running on early downs?

joshua.hermsmeyer: Hard to say what Garrett was thinking. Questioning the fundamentals of *squints* counting appears to be on the table in Dallas.

neil: Credit to the Saints’ defense, though, for the pressure they put on Dak Prescott.

Salfino: Why not open up the offense yesterday and force Teddy Bridgewater, who has no possibility of any explosion in his game, to make plays? The old saw is that you beat the opponent with the passing game and then beat the clock with the running game.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I believe the intent was to establish the run. They ran 20 times — many with the highest-paid back in the NFL — and averaged 2.3 yards per attempt.

neil: Bridgewater had one of the least-deserving QB wins of the season Sunday, I think.

Actually, if you look at worst QB Elo ratings in games the QB still won, Teddy’s game is second so far this season. Brady’s is the worst, LOL.

Salfino: That late sack was sickening. I actually thought Drew Brees was going to vomit.

Sacks that take you out of FG range are turnovers, period.

sara.ziegler: That sack was really something. I believe I yelled at my TV, “THROW IT AWAY, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.”

And I didn’t even have a rooting interest in that game.

neil: Residual Bridgewater rooting via the Vikings.

joshua.hermsmeyer: FWIW, Sean Payton blamed himself for the play call.

Salfino: I don’t care if the pass rush is fired out of a cannon at you, you can’t get sacked there.

sara.ziegler: That would be an interesting new wrinkle for defenses.

neil:

sara.ziegler: The other weird game yesterday, in my mind, was Lions-Chiefs.

The Lions look … good?

neil: Or, at least, not-bad?

Salfino: My plea to NFL teams is to stop the hurdling and reaching the ball over the goal line. The Patriots have a rule that if you do the latter, you are taken out of the game. And Matt Patricia obviously has a Patriots history. Yet, Kerryon Johnson did it so recklessly on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and they lost the game. It was a 14-point swing.

joshua.hermsmeyer: I’m so very glad the refs swallowed the whistle.

Salfino: Yeah, that was a super job by the refs.

joshua.hermsmeyer: But I think the game is just another reminder that we don’t really know who is good on defense yet. Are the Lions really that much better at this than the Ravens?

Salfino: The Ravens defense was just atrocious Sunday, but credit to the Browns offense. Mayfield made fun of Rex Ryan, but he did stop leaking out of the pocket like he’s a runner. He stayed in there by sliding and stepping up, and he made a bevy of downfield plays as a result. I think this was a big moment for him because he recognized a weakness and got out of a slump in a big spot on the road.

sara.ziegler: Rex Ryan, always helping out the young players.

neil: Baker needed that game, too. That season-opening slump had been really tough.

This was much more like the Mayfield we saw late last season.

Salfino: One other thing we should mention is the Bears QB situation. Chase Daniel was very good — third in Total QBR — and Mitch Trubisky is likely out for a while. Are the Bears better off with a QB who is more of a game manager and more capable of executing the easy passes? Or is Trubisky, for all his faults, still clearly better and thus this will hurt the Bears should it extend past their Week 6 bye?

neil: This is why Daniel gets paid the big bucks.

Big backup bucks.

A backup better than your starter is worth his weight in gold.

joshua.hermsmeyer: loool

Salfino: The number of backup QBs is really noteworthy too. It feels like we’re up to 137 teams.

neil: I saw a stat that entering Week 4, 40 QBs have started so far — a Super Bowl-era record through three weeks.

sara.ziegler: So backup QBs are the most important players, the Browns are back, the Lions are decent, we don’t know anything about defenses, and Tom Brady will live forever. Does that sum up Week 4?

joshua.hermsmeyer: Yes, Sara!

neil: It was a weird week. The Dolphins actually led a game at one point.


Should Colin Kaepernick be on an NFL roster?


Check out our latest NFL predictions.