Giants and Steelers Still Winless and 3 Other Surprises After NFL Week 4
The 0-4 Giants and 0-4 Steelers
It's been 26 years since the New York Giants started a season 0-4 and 45 years for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Since the 2000 season, the Giants have gone 116-92 in regular-season games and have won three conference championships (2000, 2007, 2012) and two Super Bowls (2007, 2011). In the same time frame, the Steelers have gone 135-72-1, also winning three conference championships (2005, 2008, 2010) and two Super Bowls (2005, 2008).
For both teams, problems appear on both offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The Giants have given up at least 30 points to each of their first four opponents and have scored just seven points in their last two games. Their 231 total rushing yards rank third-worst in the NFL, and their 14 sacks allowed is tied for fourth-worst.
Although their defense sits in the middle of the pack when it comes to yards allowed (20th), their 36.5 points allowed per game is dead last.
Giants safety Antrel Rolle has recently gained media attention for his declaration that his team will finish the season by winning 12 straight.
The Steelers, who have traditionally relied on their stifling defense to win games, have given up the eighth-most total points this year (110) due in part to an unusual number of missed tackles, outlined in a report by Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. They have only three turnovers (all fumbles), which ranks 31st (behind only the Denver Broncos who have two).
They are tied for sixth-worst in points (69) and have given up the third-worst number of sacks (15). Their 232 rushing yards is fourth-worst (232). They have achieved just 12 first downs on the ground, tied for second-worst.
Offensive woes have apparently been a negative side effect of offensive coordinator Todd Haley's play-calling, an point discussed by Ian Rapoport, an NFL Media Insider, on NFL Gameday Morning (h/t Marc Sessler of NFL.com).
Browns are 2-0 with New QB
The week before Brian Hoyer took over the starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns, running back Trent Richardson was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts. Now injured quarterback Brandon Weeden is staying positive about watching his team succeed under Hoyer, but it looks like the Browns are better off with Hoyer under center.
What happens when Weeden gets healthy is unclear, but as of now, the Browns are playing relatively solid football. Fantasy Football Editor for NFL.com and NFL Network Michael Fabiano put it into perspective how well Hoyer has really been these past two weeks.
Brian Hoyer has scored more fantasy points than all but FOUR quarterbacks in the last two weeks. Name them...— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) October 1, 2013
Struggling Flacco and Defending Champs Ravens
When Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was signed to his six-year, $120.6 million contract after he led his team to a Super Bowl victory, I was definitely on the side of Skip Bayless (see embedded video). By the way, I don't say that often, but we actually saw eye to eye on this one.
Now that the Ravens have started the 2013 season a lukewarm 2-2, Bayless is looking more right than ever.
Is Flacco doing terribly? No. But he certainly not playing like one of the NFL's highest-paid players. The Ravens' struggles are not all on Flacco, of course.
The Ravens run game has been anemic lately, and we should expect more out of Ray Rice. The offensive line has a huge role in both their passing and rushing issues. The only consistent receiving threat that Flacco seems to have is Torrey Smith.
Like ESPN.com blogger Jamison Hensley wrote in an article Sunday night, "If you really want to fault Flacco for something, it is the fact that the NFL's third-highest paid quarterback could not carry his team when everything else was falling apart around him." So I guess with great...money...comes great responsibility.
Patriots Still Undefeated Without Three Keys
Although Tom Brady is still one of the top three quarterbacks in the league, he would have to manage an offense without three key players from last year: Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker, who combined for 224 catches for 2,627 yards and 22 touchdowns.
He may still get Gronk back before the season is up, according to a recent report by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (h/t Josh Katzowitz of CBS Sports), but right now, it doesn't look like they need him.
The Patriots seem to be able to take average-at-best players and turn them into a perennial talent. A lot of that has to do with Brady's ability to make players around him better, and some of the credit should go to their scouts and front-office personnel.
I guess it shouldn't shock me that the Patriots are 4-0, but I remember The Miami Herald's Dan LeBatard making a convincing point on his radio show this summer. He said something along the lines of the Patriots offense cannot be what they were last year because the pieces they are missing were so fundamental to their offense.
With a struggling Patriots offense in mind, I thought about their defense being on the field more than they are used to and saw opposing teams exposing their inexperienced secondary. As the video included here by the Boston Globe points out, however, the defense is doing just enough, coming up big when it counts.
I certainly didn't foresee a 4-0 start with their personnel changes, and I didn't foresee Julian Edelman seamlessly replacing Wes Welker, but I should have foreseen Tom Brady and Bill Belichick finding a way to get the job done. In retrospect, their four wins have come against teams that are now a combined 5-11.
Granted, you could lose on any given Sunday, but with the Bengals in Week 5, the Patriots won't play a fine-tuned machine until Week 6 against the 4-0 New Orleans Saints.
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