Mike Freeman's NFL Grades: Pre-Week 4 Edition

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterSeptember 24, 2013

This week's grades are about coaching. The good, the bad, the fugly. But mostly the good.

Two terrific coaching jobs are ongoing. Andy Reid has reached 3-0 with the Kansas City Chiefs by doing the opposite of the current trend in football. He's relying on a strong running game, a conservative passing game and defense. Imagine that.

There is also the Chicago Bears' Marc Trestman. I thought he'd flop as an NFL head coach. I was wrong. What Trestman has done is pretty remarkable. He's been able to protect Jay Cutler, and this in turn has calmed the signal-caller down. The number of knuckleheaded things Cutler has done has fallen exponentially. Imagine that.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants yelling on the sideline during the 2nd half of the Denver Broncos 41-23 win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jerse
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

The most befuddling team so far might be the New York Giants. It's been some time since I've seen a team fall off a precipice like this. Tom Coughlin is a Hall of Fame coach who twice beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. I know Coughlin has had rough starts, but this is worse.

Read on for your gradiest of grades. 


49ersFColin Kaepernick looked human. The defense looked awful. Massive choke job by the 49ers and one of their best players.
BearsAThey manhandled a desperate, flailing Steelers team. Cutler looks as steady and confident as he ever has.
BengalsA-Actually, this was a huge moment in history for this franchise. They didn't stop Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but they slowed him and got a huge win against a solid team. I used to think many in the media overrated the Bengals, but this win starts to change my mind.
BillsCThey lost maybe the ugliest game of the day, combining with the Jets for 255 penalty yards. Quarterback EJ Manuel continues to impress, but the Bills also continue to hurt themselves with miscues and turnovers.
BroncosA+The Peyton Manning train won't be slowed any time soon. He's an alien. 
BrownsATo borrow a line from a friend, the Cleveland front office may have given up on the season, but the players haven't. A truly gutsy effort, particularly from quarterback Brian Hoyer.
BuccaneersFAn awful team on the verge of imploding, they are back to being the Yuckaneers. Is coach Greg Schiano going to survive the season?
CardinalsDIt wasn't just that the Cardinals couldn't stop Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense. The problem was Arizona's offense. Carson Palmer is starting to look like the Raiders' Carson Palmer. He was intercepted twice and sacked four times.
ChargersDThat last play, the Chargers looking like a clown show, ending with Philip Rivers kicking the football like he's playing in a soccer game, epitomized the entire recent sorry existence of the franchise.
ChiefsA++At the end of that game, as Andy Reid outwardly tried to remain calm, there had to be this skinny little dude inside jumping up and down with glee. The surprising part: The Chiefs did something they rarely did last season, and that's physically beat the hell out of an opponent. They sacked Mike Vick five times.
ColtsA+Quarterback Andrew Luck didn't put up huge numbers, but he was smooth, skilled and brilliant in spots. And the Colts defense made Kaepernick look ineffective. A huge win few people thought Indianapolis would get.
CowboysAThere are moments, and this is one of them, when the Cowboys look like the best team in football. Then there are moments when they look like one of the worst. Cowboys fans, enjoy this moment while it lasts.
DolphinsAThe pass Ryan Tannehill dropped to tight end Dion Sims to win the game was absolutely perfect. The Dolphins quarterback has long been capable of such feats, and now he's exploding into a top passing talent.
EaglesDYou are seeing one of the major problems with Chip Kelly's offense being run at the pro level. It's still potentially awesome—and definitely explosive, as Vick had the longest run of his career—but it requires near-perfection from its players. The Eagles committed five turnovers, and Vick was sacked five times.
FalconsC-This is just not an impressive team when it's on the road. They lost despite a 24-16 advantage in first downs and five sacks of Tannehill. The Dolphins just looked...hungrier.
GiantsF-When a train wreck goes to sleep at night, it wears Giants pajamas.
JaguarsDThere was effort from the Jaguars, at least. The Seahawks toyed with them the way an older brother play-wrestles with a much younger sibling.
JetsB-The Jets had a team-record 20 penalties and were still victorious. As B/R's Aaron Nagler said, they found a new way to win.
LionsB+Detroit got its first win in Washington since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Ending that streak is high-grade-worthy by itself. Plus, Ndamukong Suh didn't cheap-shot anyone this game. That's a victory, too.
PackersC-Not sure what the sideline argument between Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy was about, but that's never good to see.
PanthersB+They absolutely crushed a demoralized and lost Giants team. The huge positive from this game wasn't just the Panthers defense playing wellgetting seven sacks, causing three turnovers and perhaps saving the job of head coach Ron Rivera—it was also Cam Newton looking like Cam Newton again. He tossed three TDs and ran for one. If he can keep that type of form, the Panthers could be a factor.
PatriotsBTom Brady is 3-0 with these receiving bums. He deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor. 
RaidersBThe Raiders fought hard but were simply outmanned. For fighting the way they did, high marks. One thing is certain: The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future in Terrelle Pryor.
RamsDSam Bradford was sacked six times. He's still not very good, but that Rams defense is worse. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray had 175 yards rushing and a touchdown. At times there wasn't a Rams defender within five yards.
RavensB+The Ravens win with defense (interception returned for a score, no TDs allowed in the past eight quarters) and special teams (punt return for score). On the other side, quarterback Joe Flacco is 11-0 in September home starts, the best record for a QB with at least 10 passing attempts per start in the Super Bowl era.
RedskinsD-The defense didn't look putrid, and RGIII looks more fluidbut Washington, to be blunt, looks poorly coached.
SaintsAFormer Saints linebacker Scott Fujita tweeted that the Saints defense looks like it has completely bought into the coaching philosophy this season, something that didn't happen last year. There was no Sean Payton last year. Also, Drew Brees threw for 342 yards and three scores.
SeahawksBPenalized a grade for playing the Jaguars. This is known as the Jacksonville Grading Curve. Russell Wilson had four touchdown passes and is now 10-0 at home. He is just the fifth quarterback to win each of his first 10 starts at home among QBs who began their career since 1970.
SteelersD+I'd hate to be the person who picked the Steelers to go to the Super Bowl.
TexansC-The Texans won't win a Super Bowl with Matt Schaub as quarterback. No clutch gene. Houston had only three field goals. Awful.
TitansBJake Locker was brilliant. Wait. Hold on. Jake Locker was brilliant? When have those words ever been written since Locker was in the pros? He threw for 299 yards and a score and rushed for 68 more and a score. Jake Locker was...brilliant.
VikingsD-They let Hoyer, a third-string quarterback in his second career start, throw for three touchdowns and look like Joe Montana. Absolutely disgraceful.

 Note: Stats and historical information via the NFL.  

Note: Stats and historical information via the NFL