The 2017 regular season has been packed full of surprises. From a team perspective, the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants stand out for being so much better and so much worse than we expected, but it’s not just limited to those two organizations.
Yes, the Rams and Giants have gone in totally different directions than expected, but units like the New England Patriots defense have been worse than expected, and the the New York Jets have even found a way to open eyes.
But what players have contributed to all these surprises? Well, here’s a look at every NFL team’s most surprising player, good or bad, so far this season.
Arizona Cardinals – Adrian Peterson, RB
After appearing in only 20 games over his final three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, many believed the career of Adrian Peterson had reached its end. Even with another opportunity given to him by the New Orleans Saints, little changed for Peterson. He appeared in four games, gaining just 81 yards on 27 carries. Then came the trade to Arizona. Although he hasn’t exactly returned to Hall of Fame form, he has gained 369 yards in five games, providing the Cardinals with an unexpected spark on the ground.
Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan, QB
A year after winning the NFL MVP Award and leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl, Matt Ryan has hit a bit of a wall. He’s returned to 2015 form and seen his completion percentage, yards per game, touchdown to interception ratio, yards per attempt and quarterback rating all drop — some of those considerably. He threw for 38 touchdowns last season and has just 15 in 10 games this season. His passer rating has dropped from 117.1 to 95.7. To cap it off, the Falcons are 6-4 and are no shoo-in to make the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer announced on Wednesday that he will not be making a change at quarterback ahead of Week 11.
With his team having won five games in a row, Zimmer says Case Keenum will remain the starting QB and Teddy Bridgewater will be his primary backup.
It was reported earlier in the week that the Vikings would stick with Keenum, and the decision was not really a difficult one. Since Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury, Minnesota has done nothing but win. Keenum completed 21-of-29 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a shootout win on the road against Washington Sunday. His passer rating of 92.6 ranks him in the top half of NFL quarterbacks, and the Vikings currently lead the NFC North with a record of 7-2.
We have heard nothing but positive reports about Bridgewater in recent weeks, which leaves the Vikings in a good situation. As long as Keenum continues to put the team in a position to win, the job should be his. But if he starts to struggle, Bridgewater is itching to see his first game action since 2015.
The Minnesota Vikings have done nothing but win football games since Case Keenum took over for an injured Sam Bradford, so it is no surprise that they are reportedly not planning to make a change at quarterback heading into Week 11.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Vikings will stick with Keenum when they host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
When asked about the QB situation on Monday, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was noncommittal.
“I’ve got a plan, and we’ll just see how it goes,” he said, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “Sometimes plans change. We’ll see how it goes, and we’ll sit down this week, and we’ll visit about it and go from there.”
Keenum completed 21-of-29 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-30 win over Washington Sunday, but he also threw two interceptions. He has now thrown five picks in his last four games, so there is room to improve with protecting the football.
Still, it’s hard to bench a quarterback who has led the team to five straight victories. We have heard nothing but positive reports about Teddy Bridgewater in recent weeks, which is a good problem for the Vikings to have. As long as Keenum continues to put the team in a position to win, the job should be his. But if he starts to struggle, Bridgewater is itching to see his first game action since 2015.
It was a big day for star performers across the NFL, with several quarterbacks and wide receivers in particular putting up very big days. We also witnessed a rookie nailing a game-winning 61-yard field goal and a few big defensive performances, even in losing efforts.
Here’s a list of 15 standout performers in Week 3 of the NFL season.
Atlanta’s running backs
In a contest where quarterback Matt Ryan threw three interceptions in one game for the first time in two years, it was the Atlanta running game that stepped up and drove the offense forward. The Falcons picked up 151 rushing yards as a team, with Devonta Freeman contributing 106 of them, plus a touchdown. Tevin Coleman was no slouch either, racking up 46 yards on just six carries, good for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. Their contributions opened up the passing game and allowed Ryan to get the job done despite his three picks.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
OBJ is back, and so is the drama — but when he’s playing like this, the Giants will be happy to tolerate it. The Giants’ star receiver reeled in nine catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, including an excellent one-handed grab in the back corner of the end zone for his second touchdown catch. He also had a rather controversial celebration on his first grab. He deservedly got flagged, but New York will deal with the consequences if he’s putting up stat lines like this one.
The Minnesota Vikings are apparently taking out an insurance policy at quarterback.
According to Mark Berman of Fox26 Houston, Case Keenum is signing with the Minnesota Vikings.
ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported that it’s a one-year deal.
Keenum started nine games for the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. He’s thrown 24 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in his 26 career appearances with both Houston and the Rams.
Keenum is basically a safety net for Minnesota at this point. The team still isn’t sure when they’ll get Teddy Bridgewater back, and with offseason workouts looming, they likely wanted a veteran backup with at least some experience to cover for Sam Bradford in case something else happens.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is sticking to his guns at all costs.
After the Rams defeated the New York Jets on Sunday by the final of 9-6 in a battle of offensive ineptitude, Fisher once again reiterated that he will not be making a quarterback change and even offered mild praise for starter Case Keenum’s performance, per Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.
Keenum completed 17 of 30 passes against the Jets for 165 yards and zero touchdowns. While he miraculously didn’t throw an interception, Keenum has still tossed eight of them over his last five games combined now.
Earlier reports suggested a change could be imminent and even Hollywood has begun lobbying for the QB switch to be made. But nevertheless, Fisher appears to be content with riding Keenum until the wheels fall off (assuming that they somehow haven’t already).
Case Keenum is not exactly the most popular athlete in Los Angeles.
Keenum is in the unfortunate position of keeping the quarterback spot warm until No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff is ready to play. With the Rams’ offense struggling and Keenum not performing well, the quarterback has been subjected to boos from fans.
During Sunday’s game against the Panthers, not only was Keenum booed, but the fans also chanted, “we want Goff.” Keenum said after the 13-10 loss to Carolina that the boos are frustrating.
He also commented on the chants for Goff.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher similarly said the fans have a right to boo.
The Rams are now 3-5 on the season, including a 1-3 record at home. The fans in Los Angeles were excited to finally have a football team after waiting two decades, but they’re already tired of the lack of offense.
Case Keenum continues to struggle at quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, but coach Jeff Fisher is not eyeing a change.
Keenum completed 32 of his 53 passes on Sunday in London, throwing for 291 yards and a touchdown. However, he also threw four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and there was speculation that perhaps he would be replaced. Not so, according to Fisher.
The pressure is heightened with Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick, sitting on the bench waiting for his chance. However, there has been no real interest on Fisher’s part to push the rookie – it was a big deal when he got to play backup, for instance. The Rams don’t want to throw Goff to the wolves, which probably means more Keenum – and more struggles.
Case Keenum was downright horrendous in his team’s Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and he knows it.
When asked about his performance in the 28-0 blowout, Keenum admitted he was not seeing the field well.
“I was seeing ghosts,” the Los Angeles Rams quarterback said, per ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. “I was seeing things that weren’t there. I wasn’t trusting myself and my abilities. I tried too hard. I just have to let the game come to me, take what the defense gives me, trust my teammates — they do a great job — and get the ball out of my hands to the right place.”
It would be difficult to say enough bad things about the way the Rams played on Monday night. Keenum completed just 17 of 35 passes for 130 yards and two interceptions. L.A. only had 185 yards from scrimmage the entire game and never got into the red zone. Going forward, Keenum has vowed to trust his teammates more.
“Just trust what you see and let it fly,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to do — I’m going to trust. That’s a word I’m going to use this whole week — trust. That’s trust my protection, that’s trust my mechanics, my rules, my footwork, and trust what I see, trust the guys out there, get the ball into the hands of those guys that can make plays.”
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher seems determined to not rush No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff, as Fisher said the team’s quarterback situation is not going to change despite the abysmal season opener. For Goff to not be starting, the report we heard during the offseason must be true.
Everyone — Fisher included — has to know Keenum is a below average quarterback. A few more performances like Week 1 and the Rams will have no choice but to make a change.
The Los Angeles Rams could not have looked worse in their season opener Monday night, but Jeff Fisher is not ready to hit the panic button.
After his team’s embarrassing 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Fisher said starting quarterback Case Keenum is not in danger of losing his job.
Keenum completed 17 of 35 passes for just 130 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. His quarterback rating was a miserable 34.2. But where else does Fisher have to turn?
Sean Mannion (who?) was L.A.’s No. 2 quarterback in San Francisco. Rookie Jared Goff — the No. 1 overall pick in the draft — could be listed as the backup in Week 2, but the reports we heard about the former Cal star all offseason were not great.
The Rams expect Goff to eventually be their franchise quarterback, which is why they took him first overall. The last thing the team wants to do is destroy Goff’s confidence. That said, Fisher will eventually have no choice if Keenum continues to perform the way he did Monday night.