Football is a wonderful, majestic game, and it’s fun to highlight and detail the greatest games, players, and schemes when they come along.
Football is also a maddening, weird, and occasionally nonsensical game, and it’s just as much fun to highlight and detail those games, players, and decisions that make you want to perform a full Keith Moon demolition to your television.
If you’re into the latter, this article is for you. Through Sunday’s early games, here are the worst beatdowns, the most inexplicable decisions, and the most outright bat-crazy stuff we’ve seen.
Folks, it’s the Worst of Week 4 in the 2023 NFL season!
Matt Canada's fourth-and-1 call.
When you’re not playing well on one side of the ball, things can steamroll pretty quickly. The Pittsburgh Steelers experienced this on the offensive side of the ball, over and over, in their 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been on the hot seat of late, which is to say that his seat is in flames to a level you might see in Dante’s Inferno.
What happened on Sunday certainly won’t help. With 1:16 left in the third quartier, and the Steelers already down 16-6, it was Canada’s decision to call a pass… out of shotgun… from the Houston 33-yard line… when Pittsburgh’s run game was actually working for once.
Kenny Pickett with left knee injury. Will not return. Isolated MCL vs ACL/MCL. If MCL alone will likely miss four weeks. pic.twitter.com/fjHvu8Y187
— Dr. Mark Adickes (@jocktodoc) October 1, 2023
My Touchdown Wire colleague Jarrett Bailey asked the questions pretty much everybody was asking at that point in time.
Najee Harris is averaging 5 yards a carry and Matt Canada sent the offense out in shotgun on 4th and 1 and Pickett got injured taking a sack. When will enough be enough?
— Jarrett Bailey (@JBaileyNFL) October 1, 2023
When will enough be enough? Only Mike Tomlin knows for sure.
Mac Jones' tush-push attempt... and everything else.
The Tush Push, or “Brotherly Shove,” has become the Philadelphia Eagles’ automatic winner in short-yardage situations. When you have the NFL’s best offensive line, and Jalen Hurts as your quarterback, you’re in pretty good shape there. As the New England Patriots found out on Sunday, when your line is a patchwork affair and Mac Jones is your quarterback?
Well, not so much.
In case we didn’t know it already…
People only hate the “Brotherly Shove” (formerly known as “The Tush Push”) because they can’t execute the play
Patriots & Mac Jones attempt it & fail to execute here. Zero noise. Zero outrage. Get that weight up, son. pic.twitter.com/OPQQNl2Pk4
Jones was also throwing balloons out there, and he paid for it, as Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland picked him off twice.
DaRon Bland pick-six! 2nd defensive TD of the half for the @DallasCowboys 🤠
— NFL (@NFL) October 1, 2023
Only one Patriots receiver has more receptions (3) off of Mac Jones than DaRon Bland does (2)
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 1, 2023
A former Patriots legend had an appropriate commentary on the situation…
..and you got the sense that Bill Belichick knew this 28-3 deficit wasn’t quite as manageable as one he once overcame when Tom Brady was his quarterback.
Rough day for Bill Belichick and the Pats🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/HbjyRswfhZ
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 1, 2023
Down 31-3, Belichick benched Jones in favor of Bailey Zappe, because how much worse could it possibly get?
Kader Kohou's baptism at the hands of Stefon Diggs.
The Miami Dolphins signed Kader Kohou in 2022 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M – Commerce, and in his rookie season, Kohou played well enough inside to rank fifth in our offseason list of the league’s best slot defenders. Not that smaller cornerbacks are automatically limited to inside duty, but Kohou has been there for the most part throughout his NFL career — last season, he was generally more vulnerable outside. However, injuries to Miami’s secondary over the last two weeks have had Vic Fangio and the Dolphins’ defensive staff playing Kohou outside more often, and this showed up as a huge liability against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. That process started ageist the Broncos in Week 3, but as Miami’s offense was scoring 10 offensive touchdowns, it didn’t matter much.
Against the Bills, and primarily against Stefon Diggs, Kohou was in a Groundhog Day nightmare scenario. Diggs caught six passes on seven targets for 130 yards and three touchdowns, and no matter what Kahou tried, nothing seemed to work. One week after scoring 70 points against the Denver Broncos, the Dolphins were blown out, 48-20, by the Bills.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) October 1, 2023
STEFON DIGGS: CONFIRMED DAWG.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) October 1, 2023
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) October 1, 2023
Kahou’s frustration was palpable, and it wasn’t all his fault. Diggs is one of the NFL’s best receivers when he’s on, and he’s put a lot of great cornerbacks in the proverbial blender. It just happened to be Kohou’s turn this time around.
To head coach Mike McDaniel’s credit, he stood up for his second-year guy after the game.
“I think that’s an easy finger to point. I think there was a couple situations where I know Kader would like to have back. But at the same time, I think there’s a lot of people that weren’t executing a lot of times late in the play. People can get blamed for getting beat down in the field, but our expectation as a defense is to is to get home in those situations too. So it’s a collective thing that I think hindsight it seems like, ‘Yeah, well, we should.’ I mean, obviously when you get beat by 28 points, you could argue that the opposite of what you did across the board would be a better answer. We’ll find those answers internally, but I don’t think it’s as easy as making one person a scapegoat for sure. Our team, offense and defense, needs to improve, as well as the special teams, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on moving forward, for sure.”
Justin Herbert 2, Raiders defensive linemen 0.
This picture of Las Vegas Raiders edge-rusher Isaac Rochell with the thousand-yard stare was taken in August, so it doesn’t have anything to do with what happened to Rochell on Sunday. Maybe Rochell was thinking of the embarrassment to come. Early in the Raiders’ Sunday game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Rochell got greased by Justin Herbert on this run in which Herbert didn’t just gain the edge — he did so by going all Beast Mode on the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Notre Dame alum, who did indeed play for the Chargers from 2017 through 2020. Ouch.
— Chargers Central (@BoltCentral) October 1, 2023
Later in the game, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, who also used to play for the Chargers, was ejected from the game after hitting Herbert out of bounds.
Jerry Tillery was ejected after this hit on Justin Herbert out of bounds 😳
— PFF (@PFF) October 1, 2023
Based on the Chargers’ reaction to that late hit, it was probably for the best that Tillery was escorted off the field. Never get this many offensive linemen unhappy at the same time!
The Raiders' alleged offensive line.
Sadly for the Raiders, that wasn’t the end of their issues along a line against a former teammate. Chargers edge demon Khalil Mack had sack after sack after sack against Las Vegas’ offensive line, and the hits just kept on coming. Mack finished his day with six takedowns of backup rookie Aidan O’Connell, and nothing done by the Raiders’ leaky front five could counter the mess in a 24-17 Chargers win. Mack also had five tackles for loss and four quarterback hits, so this was a one-man wrecking crew.
Six sacks today for Khalil Mack, who is one shy of the NFL record with about 10 minutes to go in L.A. pic.twitter.com/Q0RhptQLN3
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 1, 2023
Only Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas has ever had more sacks in a single game — he had seven against the Seattle Seahawks in 1990. Mack is tied with Thomas, Fred Dean, Adrian Clayborn, and Osi Umenyiora for second on the list all-time, and the Raiders are left to wonder just what the heck. If the game is built in the trenches, this franchise might want to go for a total reboot.
The Bears failing to get their stories straight.
It doesn’t seem long ago when Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields threw his coaches under the bus after a repugnant offensive performance — probably because it wasn’t. On September 20, the same day that Fields addressed the issues presented by offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and his staff, he then had a second press conference in which he tried to insist that what he said was misrepresented.
I mean, fair enough. Fields has enough problems without his coaches thinking that he’s thinking what he’s thinking.
Last week, that spirit was also shown by receiver Chase Claypool, who put forth an unvarnished response when ESPN’s Courtney Cronin asked Claypool if he felt that he was being used correctly in Getsy’s offense.
Here is the exchange with Chase Claypool on his belief he's not being utilized to showcase his strengths beginning with the 2 questions I asked. The assumption that quotes from players are cherrypicked is something I take offense to, so you can see it verbatim for yourself. pic.twitter.com/EdqTcTo9wT
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) September 29, 2023
Claypool was a healthy scratch for Chicago’s game against the Broncos, which started with the Bears putting up a 28-7 third-quarter lead before reverting to the inevitable and losing, 31-28, and after the game, nobody seemed to know whose decision it was for Claypool to stay away from Soldier Field.
We’ll see if we learn more about the Chase Claypool situation on Monday, but here was the exchange after the game with Bears head coach Matt Eberflus (the team later said that Claypool was told to stay home) pic.twitter.com/1szdSjTyu5
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) October 1, 2023
When you are definitely thriving as an organization. pic.twitter.com/m4k47Z0ZNC
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) October 1, 2023
The 0-4 Bears are a clear disaster, though they do currently have the first two picks in the 2024 draft — their own No. 1 pick, and the pick they got from the Carolina Panthers when the Panthers moved to the top overall spot in the 2023 draft.
So, they’ve got that going for them, and it’s not like the 0-4 Panthers don’t have their own problems to deal with.
Frank Reich forgetting that his top receiver wasn't on the field.
Coaching is a tough business. Being a head coach while calling plays for one side of the ball is even harder, and even good coaches can look a bit silly when they try to balance it all. This happened to Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich had to call a time out because he forgot that Adam Thielen, his most productive receiver this season, was not actually on the field of play. This didn’t help the Panthers as they lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 21-13.
Nah man, this is kind of atrocious.
— Ricky Raines (@rickyboboddy) October 1, 2023
Hey, we’ve all been there. You ever go to your local big box store to get one thing, forget to buy that one thing, and instead purchase 20 things you don’t actually need?
There you go.