News & Analysis

Biggest surprises and disappointments in the NFL through Week 3

The season is but three weeks old, and we already have some takes. Some players are surprising with some big performances, while others have disappointed compared to the level of play we expected of them. So which players fall into which category so far this season?

Surprises

QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Prescott is well on his way to a career year that will see his star soar higher than ever before. Through three weeks, he has the second-highest PFF grade among quarterbacks who have started every game, trailing only Tom Brady. He has looked fantastic throwing the ball downfield, going 9-for-16 for 295 yards with five touchdowns and an interception on throws of 20-plus air yards.

WR D.J. Chark Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

A second-round draft pick in 2018, Chark has already set career highs in receptions, yards, touchdowns and first downs despite still being 13 targets shy of his season total a year ago. He dropped five of the 19 catchable passes thrown his way as a rookie and has yet to drop a single pass this season. Emerging as one of the top deep threats in the NFL, leading all receivers with 198 yards on throws 20-plus yards downfield.

CB Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots

Jones has posted solid grades in each of the past two seasons, but they've been nothing like we’ve seen in the first three weeks of the 2019 season. He currently leads all cornerbacks with 75 or more defensive snaps played in overall grade (86.0). Targeted 17 times in coverage, he has allowed just eight receptions for 79 yards and has recorded three pass breakups. Despite not recording an interception, he has allowed an NFL passer rating of just 60.7 on throws into his coverage.

LB Jamie Collins, New England Patriots

Bill Belichick and the Patriots know how to get the best out of Collins. After earning sub-65.0 overall grades in 2017 and 2018 with the Cleveland Browns, Collins leads all primary off-ball linebackers in overall grade at 89.8 through three weeks. He gets it done in a number of ways, too. He currently has two interceptions in coverage and four total pressures from 31 pass-rushing snaps.

Disappointments

QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

We definitely didn’t expect a sluggish start out of Mayfield after an impressive rookie year and the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. at wide receiver for the Browns, but that’s exactly what it has been. Of the 35 quarterbacks with 50 or more dropbacks in 2019, Mayfield ranks 33rd with an adjusted completion percentage of just 65.7%. He recorded a 74% adjuted completion percentage a year ago. When kept free from pressure as a rookie, he produced a PFF grade of 90.4; that number has dropped to 80.8 through three weeks in 2019. We know how good he can be, but he definitely hasn’t shown it so far this season.

RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette has disappointed in the NFL so far, but this season is trending to be his worst since the Jaguars selected him with the No. 4 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. On 43 carries through three games, he has forced just four missed tackles. His healthy yards per carry average of 4.2 is obliterated when you remove his one run for 69 yards against Tennessee in Week 3, dropping that average all the way down to just 2.6. Running backs in the NFL need to be able to contribute in the passing game, and Fournette has already dropped two of the 16 catchable passes thrown his way.

CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

Lattimore was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL as a rookie, but he looks far removed from that player in 2019. In 2017, he allowed just 486 yards on throws into his coverage in the regular season. Through three games in 2019, he leads the NFL with 341 yards allowed and is on pace for 1,818 yards, which is more than what he allowed in both of his first two seasons in the league combined. His rookie play proved that he belonged in the NFL, but the Saints need him to get back to that level and fast.

Edge Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions

The Lions paid big money for Flowers, but so far they aren’t getting the Trey Flowers we saw in New England. He had just one season with the Patriots where he missed more than three tackles, but he recorded three just on Sunday alone. His work against the run has regressed, with his PFF run-defense grade dropping from 88.5 in 2018 to 70.9 so far this season. And as a pass-rusher, he is on pace for five sacks, 10 hits and 42 hurries, all numbers that would be lower than what he produced a year ago. 

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