NFL 2023 Week 4: Biggest questions, risers and takeaways

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Week 4 of the NFL season started Thursday night with a Detroit Lions win over the Green Bay Packers. Detroit ran for 211 yards and three scores to move to 3-1 on the season. On Sunday morning, the NFL’s international play started up with the Falcons and Jaguars facing off in London, where big plays by the Jaguars’ defense — including a pick-six — helped Jacksonville to a win.

Our NFL Nation reporters reacted to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who — or what — is rising and falling for every team. Let’s get to it.

Jump to a matchup:
DET-GB | ATL-JAX

Jaguars

Can the Jaguars get the running game going? Trevor Lawrence led the Jaguars in rushing until late in the fourth quarter. That’s not something that should ever happen with Travis Etienne Jr. in the backfield. The offensive line, even with a change at left guard (Tyler Shatley replacing Ben Bartch), wasn’t able to create a lot of space or push, especially in the middle. Etienne averaged 2.8 yards per carry (55 yards on 20 carries) against the Falcons after averaging 4.2 yards per carry in the first three weeks.

Stock up after the win: The secondary. The back seven came up with two big plays that were the difference in the game: Cornerback Darious Williams‘ 61-yard pick-six, and nickelback Tre Herndon denying Drake London‘s efforts to get both feet down in the back of the end zone on a fourth-down catch with the Jaguars leading by 13 late. That’s a 14-point swing in a game Jacksonville won by 16. Since the start of last season, only the Patriots (five) have more pick-sixes than the Jaguars (three).

Stock down after the win: Third-down offense. Issues on third down continued for a fourth consecutive week. They were marginally better against the Falcons (5-for-13, for a 38% conversion rate) than they had been in the first three weeks (29.7%), but it’s still not good enough for the offense to get back to what it was in the second half of last season. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Bills in London (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)


Falcons

Why does Atlanta’s offense continue to struggle early in games? The Falcons have not run more than three plays on their first possession in any game (three three-and-outs and one interception). In the first quarter Sunday, the offense ran just six plays for 5 yards while allowing two sacks and punting twice. Coach Arthur Smith and his offensive staff need to figure out a way to create early rhythm — a major talking point during each week leading into games. Talk, though, has not led to any substantial improvement.

Stock up after the loss: Running back Bijan Robinson. With another 137 yards from scrimmage Sunday (105 rushing, 32 receiving), Robinson now has 452 in his first four NFL games — more than that of any other Falcons player, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous mark was 445 yards from William Andrews in 1979. Robinson has become the focal point of Atlanta’s offense.

Stock down after the loss: Quarterback Desmond Ridder. The second-year pro did settle down in the second half and finished 19-of-31 for 191 yards, one touchdown, one fumble lost and two interceptions. But the first half was not pretty, and included interceptions on back-to-back plays, making him the first quarterback to do that since Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa last year against San Francisco. Atlanta needs more from Ridder for its offense to have sustained success. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Thursday

Lions

Has David Montgomery established himself as the Lions’ lead back? After missing last week’s action with a thigh injury, Montgomery returned with a three-touchdown performance in Green Bay. He ended up with 121 rushing yards on 32 carries, while first-round rookie Jahmyr Gibbs gained 40 rushing yards off eight carries with four receptions for 11 yards. Sure, Montgomery has scored five rushing touchdowns in his first three games with the Lions, but they’ll still continue to use both guys as a tandem while riding the hot hand on a week-to-week basis.

Stock up after the win: Jerry Jacobs. The undrafted free agent cornerback continues to make a name for himself. He came up with five total tackles and four passes defended while becoming the first cornerback in franchise history to tally two interceptions at Green Bay since Dick LeBeau in 1968.

Stock down after the win: Marvin Jones Jr. The 33-year-old receiver continued to struggle, dropping his lone target. In Week 1 at Kansas City, the veteran also dropped a pass and coughed up the first fumble of his 12-year career. His two drops through four games are tied for eighth most in the NFL. — Eric Woodyard

Next game: vs. Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Packers

Are the Packers tough enough? It wouldn’t appear so, not after the Packers lost the game in the trenches. They couldn’t protect Jordan Love, who was pressured a season-high 13 times despite facing only two blitzes. The other side of the ball was no better. The Lions slammed them for 211 yards rushing. They have a mini-bye weekend to regroup after the Thursday night game, but even that might not be enough time to get tougher before their “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Raiders.

Stock up after the loss: Christian Watson. In his first action of the season following a hamstring injury, Watson caught a pair of passes for 25 yards. Both catches — a 24-yard crosser and a 1-yard touchdown — came on the opening drive of the second half. Watson played 24 of 53 snaps.

Stock down after the loss: Quay Walker. The second-year linebacker made a crucial mistake on special teams in the fourth quarter, when he got a running start and jumped over the field goal protectors — an illegal play. The penalty put the Lions’ offense back on the field, and they ran two more minutes off the clock before scoring a touchdown with six minutes to play. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: at Raiders (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)



Source : ESPN