NFL Roundtable: Week 4 recap
In CBCSports.ca's Week 4 chatter, our guys discuss what the Ravens-Jets outcome really means, Calvin Johnson’s chances of making history, and another Tony Romo heartache.
In the biggest matchup of Week 4, the Baltimore Ravens overwhelmed the New York Jets during an important AFC confrontation. Does this result mean anything in terms of where these two teams might be headed?
Tony Care: The Ravens finally have the look of a team which will get at least one home playoff game. The defence looks strong and the team is pounding the ball better than it did last year. I’m not ready to bury the Jets but they need to follow the same script as the Ravens. Defensively, New York will be fine. However, Mark Sanchez continues his up-and-down play, giving New York more evidence that it needs to run the ball more. Hopefully All-Pro centre Nick Mangold will return in the big Week 5 clash against New England. The Jets will need him.
Jesse Campigotto: I think it tells us more about the Jets than the Ravens. Let's look at New York's 2-2 record: road losses of 10 and 17 points to Oakland and Baltimore, home wins of 29 over Jacksonville (one of the NFL's worst teams) and three over Dallas (a miraculous victory in which the Jets needed both a mind-boggling Tony Romo fumble and a blocked punt return for a TD to pull it out). New York could easily be 1-3 right now, and they'd better hope All-Pro centre Nick Mangold can return soon because I don't trust Mark Sanchez and the other "skill" players to carry the offence for a prolonged stretch.
Jason Davidson: Oh the irony. Rex Ryan used to run this Ravens’ D. This game was all about the turnovers. With the exception of the Ravens' defence, there wasn't much to be impressed with. Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez each put up some bad numbers. A combined 21-for-66? They should still be in the mix for one of the available AFC wild card spots at season's end. As for the Ravens, they simply clicked. Only the Tennessee Titans have allowed less points in the entire NFL through Week 4. Not bad at all. After seeing what Sanchez endured, it will be interesting to see what Chuck Pagano's defence has in store for Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans after the team’s bye week.
For two of the last four games, Tony Romo has single-handedly been responsible for the Cowboys’ biggest collapses. This time, Romo threw three interceptions in the second half, which erased a 24-point lead and allowed the Detroit Lions to steal one in the final minute. How many more heart-wrenching mistakes can owner Jerry Jones handle before screaming "no mas?"
Jason Davidson: Who knows what you will get with Tony Romo? Flashes of brilliance one week and mind-boggling decisions the next. It's admirable that he's accepting the blame again but when this becomes a regular thing in post-game pressers, I don't think Jerry Jones is going to be patient much longer. Especially after a collapse like this. The bye week comes at a good time for Dallas as it’ll have an extra week to regroup and prepare. Veteran backup Jon Kitna will be motivated. Head coach Jason Garrett, a former pivot himself, may have to make a switch but I don't see it happening when they head to New England to take on the Patriots. Might be time for third stringer and 2009 fourth-round draft pick Stephen McGee to start getting more and more comfortable with the playbook. He did have a solid college football career with Texas A&M.
Tony Care: I’ve got three words for all Cowboys fans, including me: deal with it. We can yell and scream all we want, but it won’t do any good. Jerry is as stubborn as an Arkansas mule and he will never admit that Romo isn’t his guy. We’re all left with wanting to hanging him one week and singing his praises the next. To borrow a line from Bill Parcells, Romo "is what he is." Sadly, I fear that will never change.
Jesse Campigotto: It seems everyone's looking to bury the Cowboys, but they're 2-2 and, as Grantland football writer Bill Barnwell argued on Twitter on Sunday, they could be 4-0 or 0-4 without having played any differently. Dallas' four games have been decided by 3, 3, 2 and 4 points. All toss-ups. With Philly (1-3) struggling and Washington and the Giants (both 3-1) - hardly juggernauts, the NFC East is up for grabs. Romo is maddening, yes, but this is no time to throw in the towel on him.
Lions receiver Calvin Johnson is off to one of the great starts. He’s the first receiver in NFL history to score two touchdowns in each of his first four games. With that in mind, can Johnson eclipse Randy Moss’s record of 23 touchdowns in one season?
Jesse: It's possible, but I wouldn't bet on it, if only because Matthew Stafford would probably have to play all 16 games for that to happen. But how about these Lions? Next week's matchup against rival Chicago at home on Monday night feels like it could be Detroit's national coming-out party, and after that they host San Fran and Atlanta before visiting Denver? 8-0 going into their bye week is a real possibility.
Jason Davidson: Right now, it looks like 'Megatron' is definitely up to the task. I'm still slightly in shock that the Detroit Lions, now 4-0, have pulled off back-to-back second-half comeback wins, both of them on the road. Still, we have to remember that when Moss set his record of 23 in 2007, Tom Brady was the guy throwing to him. Brady also set a record with 50 TD passes that year. We all knew Johnson had immense talent since he started his NFL career but he was stuck on a bad team. This year obviously is different and you can't rule out the possibility of Johnson reaching 24 TD receptions. He'll need Matthew Stafford to stay healthy to have any shot whatsoever.
Tony Care: Oh, he has the ability to take this record into the next stratosphere. Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL. That’s right, he’s better than Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. With his size and speed Johnson is impossible to stop in the red zone. Didn’t that first TD, where he outleaped three defenders, remind you of Moss? I do agree with both my colleagues, though. If Stafford gets hurt then Johnson has no shot.
The Philadelphia Eagles blew a 20-point lead against San Francisco, allowing 21 second-half points to suffer their third straight defeat. This team had so much hype coming into the season, but what has happened to Philadelphia?
Jason Davidson: You know things are not going well when former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is voicing his concern. Head coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo are taking a lot of heat from Eagles fans, who clearly had envisioned the 'dream team' to be 4-0 right now. Castillo is clearly struggling with the transition from offensive line coach (an off-season move I am still trying to understand). But blowing a 20-point lead at home in the second half to a San Francisco 49ers team that isn't exactly a powerhouse has to raise eyebrows. Only four games in and they are a couple of games out of the division lead. Sure the team is full of superstars but with the amount of silly mistakes being made on the field, like that disaster of a trick play they attempted in the second quarter. Now they need back-to-back road wins against the Bills and Redskins just to get back to .500. The good news is that the Eagles have the talent to turn this thing around.
Tony Care: Andy Reid made a colossal mistake in how he spend the team’s free-agent money. By neglecting the offensive line, defensive tackle and linebacker positions, Reid’s team has done nothing but give up big plays while also exposing Michael Vick to big hits. This has to be the worst tackling team in the NFL.
Jesse Campigotto: For my money, that was the most surprising result of the season. But there's certainly something wrong with Philly. I read somewhere last week about their strange defensive alignment, which puts the defensive ends out very wide and leaves the short middle vulnerable. It seems smart teams have figured this out. Plus, you weren't supposed to be able to throw on the Eagles, but the D ranks 21st in yards allowed per pass attempt.