NFL Report Card: Grading the Good, Bad and Injured from Week 4
Week 4 of the 2011 NFL season produced some spectacular finishes, and some stellar performances, but it has also produced some horrible failures.
Today, I'd like to take a look at who the "A" students were in Week 4, and who walked away with the "F."
There are many players to talk about, so I have condensed some of these slides for easy reading, while also leaving the table open for you, the fans, to chime in with who you felt passed of failed.
Donovan McNabb, for example, gets the honorable mention here as he has failed miserably to get the job done through four games.
Let's take a look, shall we?
Aaron Rodgers Leads the Pack...Literally!
The Packers were able to fend off several mounting Denver attacks defensively as well, but it was Rodgers who masterfully guided his team to a 49-23 victory with a near flawless outing.
As for the rest of the class:
Matt Forte Embarrasses Carolina
Where did this come from?
Forte was unbelievable, making nearly everything he did look as easy as a pro-back playing against a high school team.
There is no denying that Forte led the class this week with an A+, and there were a few other A student this week as well.
Beanie Wells - A
Arian Foster - A
Ryan Torain - A
Frank Gore - A-
Behold the Ressurection of Steve Smith
Aside from one bad game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Steve Smith has basically been the valedictorian of the receiving class of 2011.
Prior to Week 4, Smith had already caught 16 balls for 249 yards and two touchdowns—that's better in comparison to his ENTIRE 2010 performance.
In Week 4, despite it being a losing effort, Smith was at it again catching eight balls for 181 yards against the Bears.
The other top four receivers in the A-student class are:
Hakeem Nicks - A+ counter part with 10 catches for 162 yard and a single touchdown.
DeSean Jackson - A
Jimmy Graham - A
Wes Welker - A
Brandon Lloyd - A
Julio Jones - A-
A. J. Green - A-
Laurent Robinson - A-
Darrius Heyward-Bey - A-
Joe Flacco Leads Failing Week 4 Class
Nobody floundered more than Joe Flacco, and going up against the Jets is no excuse.
After a compelling performance in Week 3 where Flacco threw for a career high 389 yards, Flacco completed a miserable 10 passes out of 31 attempts alongside a single interception.
The Jets were able to pressure Flacco all day, true, but Flacco performed as if he were a rookie QB who had never played a snap in the NFL.
Other class members who walked away with an F were:
Thomas Jones - 11 carries for 37 yards
Peyton Hillis - 10 carries for 46 yards
Darren McFadden - 14 rushes for 75 yards
Daniel Fells - Two catches for 29 yard and a key fumble
Ahmad Bradshaw - Four catches for 11 yards, 12 rushes for 39 yards, a single touchdown and fumble
Ricky Williams - 12 carries for 49 yard and a fumble
Andre Johnson Was Cruising Until...
Prior to Johnson's Week 4 contest against Pittsburgh, Johnson was averaging seven catches for roughly 105 yards and a single touchdown per game, which isn't all that unexpected.
Johnson is just a beast on the field, and when he isn't present, his void is felt.
But Andre Johnson wasn't the only player to either get injured, or be injured that was doing well.
Ryan Grant: Packers
Despite not yet seeing the end zone, Grant has done a solid job as a RB that was asked to play in a committee approach prior to his Week 3 kidney injury that kept him out of Week 4.
Grant was averaging roughly 4.7 yards a carry for a pas-first Packers team that needed to flirt a legitimate RB, in order to set up their deadly play-action pass.
Grant should be fine in Week 5 when the Packers face Atlanta, which is another favorable matchup for grant and Green Bay.
Rashard Mendenhall, on the other hand, has not been doing so well.
Prior to his Week 4 injury, Mendenhall has been struggling heavily averaging 49.3 yard on 16 carries with just one touchdown, for a Steelers team that had high hopes for the traditional scat-back.
There isn't any real reason other than the fact that Mendenhall has had trouble finding lanes, and exploiting the ones that were right in front of him.
NFL.com's Jason LaCanfora says that Mendenhall's injury isn't as serious as originally thought, but at this point, the Steelers might be better off giving Issac Redman the nod and see if he can bring anything different to the table.
Mario Manningham's Struggling
Manningham missed out in Week 3 and that may have been the best thing to happen to the Giants, this year.
Prior to Manningham's injury, the Giants passing game was a little disheveled, and part of that reason was due to Manningham's inability to run crisp and correct routes consistently through two games.
But the injury obviously paved the way for Victor Cruz, and it was Cruz who showed his overall value against Philadelphia catching three crucial balls for 110 yard and two touchdowns.
In Week 4, Manningham was demoted in the two-wide sets in favor of Cruz after screwing up a few routes and seemingly peeving quarterback Eli Manning, which again, paved the way for Victor Cruz and his six catch 98 yard day.
Sometimes injuries are a good thing.
Knowshon Moreno May Not Be the Solution at RB
The Broncos really need to re-evaluate whether or not Knowshon Moreno is worth it, and whether or not Willis McGahee may be the better choice moving forward.
OK, so Moreno only played one game before his injury, but in Week 1 and Week 4 Moreno just looked flat, and unable to see the open lanes or find the proper holes.
Moreno may have been prematurely labeled as the Broncos' primary back prior to the start of the 2011 season, and while a few more games will give us a better gauge of that claim, Moreno is showing signs of being better suited as a situational back, rather than a full-blown starter.
The Bronco's need a back that can moves the chains, and Willis McGahee has done that with every chance he has been provided thus far.
Denver could be seeing a changing of the guard in the backfield from this point on.