Early-season stats need to be taken with a grain a salt. Whenever we hear that a specific player is on pace for some absurd number, we have to take a step back. After all, teams have played less than 20 percent of their schedule heading into Week 4.
Even then, there are some absolutely absurd stats around the league heading into the fourth week of the NFL season.
From defenses putting up some horrible numbers against the pass to one running back in the desert proving himself dynamic, here are the seven-most absurd stats heading into Week 4 of the NFL season.
1. Three teams are yielding a 110-plus quarterback rating
We already know that the NFL has made it increasingly difficult for defenses to actually defend the pass. It’s in this that we’re in the golden age of quarterback stats.
An example of this would be the fact that Drew Brees has thrown for more yards and touchdown passes in each of the past eight seasons than Joe Montana compiled in a single season throughout his career.
Still, it’s rather astounding that three professional football teams have been this bad against the pass.
The Detroit Lions have given up 10 touchdowns compared to one interception for an opposing quarterback rating of 120.2.
Meanwhile, both the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets are yielding 110.7 ratings and an absurd 71 percent completion to opposing quarterbacks.
2. Marvin Jones absolutely dominating in Calvin Johnson role
While the Detroit Lions will surely miss the retired Megatron moving forward this season, they have had a comparable replacement over the first three games. That’s come in the form of Marvin Jones, a veteran free-agent signing from the Cincinnati Bengals.
Including last week’s 205-yard performance against the Green Bay Packers, Jones has absolutely filled up the stat sheet. Not only does the former CAL standout have 408 receiving yards in three games, he’s averaging 22.7 yards per reception and 14.1 yards per target.
For comparison’s sake, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith led the NFL at 20.1 yards per catch last season. Though, he caught just 33 passes and possessed a catch rate of less than 52 percent. Jones has already hauled in 18 receptions and boasts a 62.1 percent catch rate.
3. Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott continue to awe
It sure looks like these two NFC East rookies will be division rivals for the next decade-plus. Outside of the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys boast a combined 5-1 record, the stats these two signal callers have put up are absurd.
They’ve combine to complete 65.7 percent of their passes for 1,536 yards with eight total touchdowns and zero picks. In fact, the two have yet to turn the ball over on the season.
What’s even more amazing is that their individual splits are so darn similar it makes us wonder if they were twins at birth.
Wentz: 66 completions, 102 attempts, 64.7 completion, 769 yards, five touchdowns
Prescott: 66 completions, 99 attempts, 66.7 completion, 767 yards, three touchdowns
Who isn’t excited to see these two take on one another in Dallas come Week 8? Of course, that’s all dependent on Tony Romo still being sidelined in Big D.
4. David Johnson’s otherworldly production
When the Cardinals selected Johnson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the common fan had never really heard much about the small-school product.
Shameless plug here, but Sportsnaut actually predicted the success we’re seeing from the second-year player. Okay, well we had no real idea just how good he was going to be.
Through the first three games of the 2016 season, Johnson has tallied 386 total yards of offense on 57 touches. That’s an average of 6.8 yards every time he gets his hands on the ball. This comes on the heels of Johnson putting up 6.4 yards per touch as a rookie.
Oh, we might also want to add that he knows how to score. The Northern Iowa product is scoring one touchdown per 14.5 touches during his young career.
5. Offensive line play is completely inept
Heading into Week 4, nine different teams have yielded nine-plus sacks on the season. This means that over a quarter of the starting signal callers around the NFL are on pace to be sacked 48-plus times.
There’s no real way to measure how bad this is unless we decide to go back into the history books for a second here. The aforementioned Joe Montana was never sacked more than 34 times in his career. Looking at a more recent example, going back just five years ago, only four quarterbacks were sacked 48 times during the 2012 season.
Of course, a lot of this has to do with the increase in pass attempts. Though, that it somewhat mitigated when we only decide to look back five seasons.
Of the teams struggling the most in pass protection, the Carolina Panthers are on pace to allow Cam Newton to be sacked an absurd 64 times on the season.
6. Just how bad is Blaine Gabbert?
While we’re sitting here talking about how bad pass protection is, let us realize how well the San Francisco 49ers’ offensive line has played. Gabbert has been sacked a grand total of two times in three games. He’s also been hit just five times during this span.
Despite this, Gabbert is putting up some atrocious numbers. He’s completing 55.2 percent of his passes, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt and 10.0 yards per completion.
When delving into the numbers more, we’re having a hard time understanding why San Francisco hasn’t turned to Colin Kaepernick.
With an exception of a 75-yard catch and run to Vance McDonald, Gabbert’s average completion goes down to 8.5 yards. For comparison’s sake, Matt Ryan is averaging 9.4 yards per attempt.
Do you want us to take this one step further? Well, fans in San Francisco, maybe it’s time to hold your noses to ward off the stink.
Gabbert is completing a not-so-ripe 50 percent of his passes to wide receivers and boasts a 32.5 quarterback rating when throwing 10-plus yards down the field. He’s also averaging 2.8 yards per attempt on third down while converting less than 35 percent of his third-down passes for first downs. Yuck.
7. Cleveland Browns quarterback quagmire
When Cody Kessler starts this upcoming Sunday against the Washington Redskins, it will be the first time that the same quarterback has started consecutive games for the Browns since Johnny Manziel back in December of last season.
In fact, last week marked the Browns’ fifth starting quarterback in as many games dating back to last year.
It’s important to put this into perspective. Prior to Jacoby Brissett starting for New England last week, the Patriots and New York Giants have put out a combined four starting signal callers since the start of the 2004 season. Heck, let’s continue with the math here for a second.
Starting QB's since 2004:
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) September 30, 2016
During that very same 13-year span, the Browns have trotted out 22 different starting quarterbacks. No wonder the five teams listed above have won six Lombardi trophies and earned a combined eight Super Bowl appearances during this 13-year time frame.
Meanwhile, the Browns have not won a playoff game since then head coach Bill Belichick defeated the New England Patriots (oh the irony) back in 1994.
How long ago was this? Nick Saban was serving as Belichick’s defensive coordinator for the Browns that season.