What We Learned From Week 4 of the N.F.L. Season

Totally dismantling a Carolina Panthers protection that has dominated the relaxation of the N.F.L. this season, Dak Prescott appeared like a Tremendous Bowl-caliber quarterback that Jerry Jones doubted he ever could be.

In spite of everything, it was Jones who had initially most well-liked Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook dinner to Prescott in the 2016 draft. The Dallas Cowboys proprietor was apoplectic when the Cowboys didn’t commerce into the first spherical for Lynch. That weekend, Prescott was little greater than a comfort prize, and there have been even members of the Cowboys’ entrance workplace who didn’t even view Prescott as a draftable participant then.

Jerry’s World is a(*4*), certainly.

Prescott received — immediately — and was compelled to attend six years to receives a commission.

After utilizing the franchise tag on Prescott in 2020, Jones lastly gave the quarterback a long-term deal earlier than this 2021 season. Now, Prescott seems able to reward the Tremendous Bowl-starved Jones. The most important takeaway from Week 4 in the N.F.L.?

Towards a Carolina protection that has been suffocating offenses — No. 1 in sacks, No. 1 in quarterback hits, No. 2 in factors allowed by way of three weeks — Dallas’s new $160-million-dollar man coolly accomplished 14 of 22 passes for 188 yards with 4 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 130.3 passer ranking in a convincing 36-28 win.

Granted, the season is younger. There’s nonetheless time for both Jones or Mike McCarthy to meddle with what’s working, through a weird commerce in the center of the season or mind-boggling clock mismanagement. Each are succesful of sabotaging a possible champion, as we’ve seen. However one is in the sales space and one is on the sideline. It’s Prescott with the ball in his fingers each play and Prescott completely offers the Cowboys an actual shot at ending a 25-year championship drought.

With the rating tied, 7-7, at the finish of the first quarter, on fourth-and-1 close to midfield, the Panthers had all of Dallas’s receivers blanketed. Prescott didn’t hesitate. He noticed a crease and took off for 21 yards to maintain the drive alive. Three snaps later, he knifed an 18-yard landing to tight finish Blake Jarwin.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold ran in for his second speeding landing to push Carolina forward, 14-13, Carolina missed a field-goal try on its first drive of the third quarter and Prescott struck once more.

With Carolina deploying a single-high security, Prescott was decisive once more.

Planting his proper foot at the Panthers’ 44-yard line, he rainbowed a magnificence to Amari Cooper for a landing that put Dallas forward, 20-14. Few defenses in in the present day’s N.F.L. ever cede a one-on-one alternative alongside the boundary like that. Prescott learn it and pounced on precisely the kind of throw these Cowboys have to constantly make towards elite defenses. Additional, the Cowboys’ offensive line did a wonderful job selecting up the unique blitz.

Dallas by no means appeared again, finally extending its result in 36-14.

Even in a league full of quarterbacks married to the sport, Prescott’s maniacal work ethic stands out as uncommon. Since 2016, he has drastically improved each side of his recreation: accuracy, athleticism, arm energy. If he was a caretaker as a rookie, he’s indisputably one of the greatest playmakers in the N.F.L. in the present day.

And the one side of his recreation that by no means wavered? His management. By most accounts, Prescott endeared himself to veterans, rookies and crew staffers from Day 1. And his first coordinator in Dallas, Scott Linehan, once told me that even with Tony Romo nonetheless roaming the backfield, “When Dak was in the constructing, you knew he was the face of the franchise.”

And now he’s grown right into a franchise chief who can interact in a shootout with Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson, if wanted.

In a season-opening loss to Tampa Bay, Prescott threw for 403 yards on 58 makes an attempt. However since then, the Cowboys have struck a extra sustainable system — they’re leaning on the floor recreation. With each Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard pounding away, Quinn has been in a position to retool what was a traditionally dangerous protection final yr. The Cowboys’ offense is complementing its protection and Sunday offered proof that the Elliott who was additionally handed large cash has returned.

Halfway by way of the third quarter, Elliott hesitated at the line, let a gap develop and hit a top-end pace that Dallas hasn’t seen in ages for a 47-yard carry.

Jones made it clear in coaching camp that he would “do something recognized to man” to win a Tremendous Bowl. Actually, that’s been the case since he purchased the crew — and has often resulted in dangerous selections.

Jerry Jones could by no means have actually needed Prescott, however Prescott is proving that he’s succesful of giving Jones what he has all the time been after.

By the Giants’ first three losses this season, it has been far too straightforward to pin all blame on the two gamers handpicked by Basic Supervisor Dave Gettleman to convey the crew again to glory. However the reality is that quarterback Daniel Jones was enjoying completely high quality — not nice, however not horrid, both — and operating again Saquon Barkley, in the meantime, appeared high quality in the early phases of testing his rehabbed proper anterior cruciate ligament.

In Sunday’s 27-21 comeback win over the New Orleans Saints, each Jones and Barkley have been unquestionably particular.

Their numbers have been spectacular: Jones threw for a career-high 402 yards and Barkley had 126 yards from scrimmage. However the play that utterly modified the complexion of this recreation in the always-deafening Superdome needed to must equipped the group actual hope that the pair may nonetheless be the franchise-carrying abilities they have been anticipated to be once they have been drafted.

Down 21-10, with seven minutes to go, Barkley cut up broad left and burned Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore for a 54-yard landing catch. Barkley famous afterward that he and Jones had mentioned the protection throughout the recreation: Seeing that Lattimore was sitting on an out route, Barkley knew he may merely go deep.

Jones ran in the 2-point conversion, and a discipline purpose on the Giants’ subsequent drive tied the recreation at 21. Barkley’s 6-yard landing run in extra time ended the recreation.

The Giants at the moment are 1-3 with renewed confidence proper in the tooth of their schedule.

Blame Kirk Cousins. Blame an anemic offensive line.

Both means, the Minnesota Vikings’ 14-7 loss at house to the Cleveland Browns was as demoralizing because it will get for an offense that would do no fallacious in September. For 3 weeks, Cousins tore up three subpar secondaries. He didn’t throw an interception, nor did he present a tick of concern in the face of any go rush. Statistically, he was enjoying in addition to any quarterback in the N.F.L.

Towards the greatest protection he’s confronted to this point, Cousins once more turned again right into a pumpkin.

That has been the rap on Cousins over his profession: Towards poor defenses, he’ll throw for 300-plus yards and three touchdowns with ease. However add a stingy go rush and sprinkle on greater stakes, and be able to be underwhelmed. Heading into this season, Cousins was 7-35 towards groups that completed the season with a successful file.

The Vikings wish to imagine he’s the reply. Basic Supervisor Rick Spielman and the entrance workplace did wage cap gymnastics to signal Cousins to a contract extension heading into the 2020 season.

Sadly, that is who he’s been since getting into the league 9 years in the past.

The Browns completed with 10 hits on Cousins, 4 from Myles Garrett alone. Nonetheless, this was a 4-point recreation for 3 quarters and one large play may have busted issues open. Only one. That throw deep to Justin Jefferson or Adam Thielen by no means developed. After Cleveland kicker Chase McLaughlin hit a 53-yard discipline purpose to place the Browns up, 14-7, with six minutes remaining, Cousins’s deep shot the subsequent possession was simply intercepted by cornerback Grasping Williams. The Vikings obtained the ball again twice extra however fell quick on every drive.

Cousins will get the Detroit Lions subsequent, however that’ll almost certainly function nothing however a pair of capsules of Advil with the Vikings then going through six respectable contenders in a row.

And sooner or later, the Vikings should ask themselves precisely how far Cousins can take them.

Cardinals 37, Rams 20: It’s time to cease sleeping on the Cardinals, who smacked round a crew that appeared borderline invincible to begin the season. Kyler Murray didn’t flip the ball over, Arizona rushed for 216 yards and, now, the Cardinals are in whole management of the N.F.C. West. The query now’s if Coach Kliff Kingsbury can maintain this offense buzzing and keep away from a slide just like final season’s, when Arizona began 5-2 and went 3-6 the relaxation of the means.

Seahawks 28, 49ers 21: You can’t let Russell Wilson hold round. With each alternative to bury Seattle early, San Francisco’s offense stored short-circuiting. And as he’s carried out his entire profession, Wilson turned it on when wanted, scoring 14 of the Seahawks’ 21 second-half factors.

Packers 27, Steelers 17: Every little thing for Pittsburgh turned on an offsides penalty earlier than the half. Officers dominated that cornerback Joe Haden jumped earlier than the snap, negating a blocked discipline goal-attempt that Minkah Fitzpatrick returned for a landing that might have given the Steelers a 17-14 lead. Alas, Ben Roethlisberger was compelled to play from behind. As we’ve realized up to now in 2021, that’s not a reasonably sight.

Ravens 23, Broncos 7: Going through the greatest protection he’s seen this season, Lamar Jackson completed with 316 yards and a landing by way of the air and ran the ball solely seven instances at hand Denver its first loss of the season.

Washington 34, Falcons 30: One of the greatest shocks of this season is how dangerous the Washington Soccer Workforce’s protection has carried out. In fact, it didn’t matter towards an equally porous Falcons protection. Operating again J.D. McKissic equipped the heroics by going airborne at the purpose line with 33 seconds left.

Bears 24, Lions 14: Each time hysteria reaches its fever pitch at Halas Corridor, it looks as if the Bears all the time have a get-right recreation on the schedule. The rebuilding Lions have been the excellent medication, and operating again David Montgomery (106 yards, two touchdowns) continued to bludgeon linebackers as one of the greatest gamers we don’t discuss almost sufficient about.

Payments 40, Texans 0: In the future, there might be a “30 for 30” documentary written solely on how the 2021 Texans managed to win a soccer recreation. Not this week, although.

Colts 27, Dolphins 17: Jonathan Taylor was a drive on the floor (103 yards, landing), Carson Wentz was environment friendly sufficient on these two dangerous ankles (24-of-32 passing with two touchdowns) for Indianapolis to get a much-needed win after three emotionally taxing losses.

Giants 27, Saints 21 (OT): Misplaced in the Giants insanity this season is the undeniable fact that Daniel Jones has taken an apparent step ahead. He’s not committing the backbreaking errors of 2020 and, on Sunday, he began taking extra photographs downfield, ending with 402 yards and two touchdowns.

Chiefs 42, Eagles 30: Andy Reid certainly is aware of he wants to wash up his rickety protection. Kansas Metropolis once more gave up yards and factors in chunks. However so long as Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill exist, this Chiefs offense can outscore any crew in the league. On 12 targets, Hill caught 11 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

Jets 27, Titans 24 (OT): OK, so Titans receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Brown have been each sidelined. Jets Coach Robert Saleh nonetheless obtained his first N.F.L. win behind a protection that hit Ryan Tannehill 14 instances and a rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson, who performed with the swagger the crew has been lacking.

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