Thursday, December 7, 2023
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NFL Week 4 overreactions and reality checks: Has the game passed Bill Belichick by? Are Dolphins paper tigers?

Week 4 in the NFL was a crazy one, especially in the early slate of Sunday afternoon games. The Washington Commanders nearly upset the Philadelphia Eagles in overtime, while the Denver Broncos had a furious comeback against the Chicago Bears. The Dallas Cowboys crushed the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans destroyed the Pittsburgh Steelers. The San Francisco 49ers remained unbeaten and the Cincinnati Bengals continued to struggle. 

There were plenty of reactions to what happened, but which ones are overreactions and which are reality? Let’s take a look.

Matt Eberflus should not be the head coach of Bears next week 

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

Something needs to be done in Chicago if the Bears want to turn things around — or do they (more on that in a bit)? The Bears blew a 21-point lead, matching the largest blown lead in franchise history. They have lost 14 straight games and Justin Fields has been the starting quarterback in 12 consecutive losses (the longest by any first-round quarterback since Archie Manning). Fields threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns and still took the loss, as the Bears have allowed 25-plus points in 14 straight games. 

Eberflus was part of the collapse, going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Broncos’ 18 instead of kicking a field goal with 2:52 left in a 28-28 game. The Bears were stuffed, and the ball was taken out of Fields’ hands. 

The Bears currently own the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the NFL draft. Perhaps there’s a method to why they are losing at this point, but Eberflus won’t last the season. He probably shouldn’t be the head coach next week. 

The Dolphins are paper tigers 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

A blowout loss to Buffalo shouldn’t squash any Super Bowl hopes in Miami, but this is a bad loss for the Dolphins — especially since they got to play in Buffalo on the first day of October. The Bills defense shut down the Dolphins’ offense from making big plays, as they only had four of 20-plus yards. Miami averaged 7.5 yards per carry and had 142 yards rushing, yet still could only muster 20 points. 

The Bills — specifically Josh Allen — just have the Dolphins’ number. Allen went 21 of 25 for 320 yards with four passing touchdowns and a rushing score (perfect 158.3 rating) as Miami’s defense had no answer for him or Stefon Diggs (six catches, 120 yards, three touchdowns). Miami only forced Buffalo to punt twice out of the 10 possessions that didn’t result in the end of the half or game.

The Dolphins are still AFC East and conference contenders. Buffalo just has Miami’s number. 

The NFL’s offensive game has passed Bill Belichick by

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

The Patriots didn’t even belong on the same field as the Dallas Cowboys in their 38-3 blowout loss, the largest loss of Belichick’s career. This is the third straight season the Patriots have started 1-3 and the offense isn’t any better than it was last year. 

New England has 55 points through four games, the lowest since 2000 for the franchise (Belichick’s first year). The Patriots went scoreless on their final 10 drives of the game.

Belichick can still coach defense with the best of them, but offense rules in today’s NFL. The Patriots haven’t had that offensive spark since Tom Brady left in 2019, something to ponder when debating if Brady actually was the one that made Belichick one of the greatest head coaches ever. 

Belichick can still coach, but he just doesn’t seem to get the right offensive pieces on his team. Mac Jones getting benched isn’t going to help matters.

Joe Burrow needs to take some games off

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

It was another brutal outing for Burrow as the Bengals were blown out by the Titans. Burrow finished 20 of 30 for 165 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in the 27-3 loss, adding to his struggles as the Bengals are off to a 1-3 start. Burrow
has the fewest yards per attempt (4.8) through four team games by any quarterback in any season since 1950 (minimum 150 attempts).

The Bengals have scored just 49 points in four games. Remember they have Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon on their roster. In the past two games, Burrow is 46 of 79 for 424 yards with no touchdowns and two turnovers. Chase wants the ball and Higgins has three games having under 25 yards receiving.

The Bengals are a mess on offense and Burrow’s calf isn’t getting any better. Perhaps a few games rest would do their franchise quarterback some good, even if it costs Cincinnati games in the process. The Bengals are losing with Burrow, anyway. 

Replacing Matt Canada will be the change made by Mike Tomlin

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

The Steelers offense hit a new low point in Sunday’s loss to the Texans. They scored just six points and tallied just 225 yards of offense in the blowout loss, their 52nd straight game without 400 total yards (the longest streak since the 2009-2013 Arizona Cardinals).

Kenny Pickett was just 15 of 23 for 114 yards and an interception before exiting the game with a knee injury. The Steelers didn’t score until the second half and had 53 yards at halftime on 24 plays.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers have “got to make some changes” after the loss, which should start with Canada. Pittsburgh is 25th in total yards since Canada became offensive coordinator in 2021 and 31st in yards per play. They are also 26th in points scored in that span.

Pickett isn’t improving and the offensive line has been atrocious throughout Canada’s reign. May be time for a change. 

Eagles are the best team in the NFC 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction 

The Eagles are 4-0 for the second consecutive season, but the reigning NFC champions aren’t dominating opponents like last year. One week the running game is excellent and the passing game is off. One week the defense can shut down the pass and the next week teams are converting big plays against the secondary. 

Philadelphia needed overtime to beat Washington on Sunday, getting to 4-0 in the process. Jalen Hurts had his best game of the year, but the running game was off and the offense went 4 of 12 on third down. The defense gave up a touchdown pass with no time left in regulation, but got bailed out by Ron Rivera not going for two and the win — allowing them to force a three-and-out in overtime (the second chance they needed). 

The Eagles are one of two unbeaten teams left and have a lot of talent, but they are trying to piece everything together. San Francisco is 4-0 and playing very well every single week, but of course it’s only the first day of October. 

Philadelphia knows how to win, and that’s enough right now. They do need to clean some things up, but are making timely plays to ensure victories. 

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