Around the NFL  

 

Fresh off the wire

Darren McFadden's slow start among AFC surprises

We've looked at the biggest surprises early in the season in the AFC East and North, and then did the same exercise in the NFC East and North.

With a little help from the geniuses who invented Game Rewind, let's move back to the AFC.

AFC South

How can anyone logically be anything but stunned by Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne's resurgence? He looks underpaid now. It's not like there were a lot of teams out there ready to pay him No. 1 receiver money. ... I'm surprised how good quarterback Andrew Luck already is. The numbers don't tell the whole story. He's unbelievable avoiding pressure. He might be a more valuable runner than Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Colts are asking Luck to do so much. He's making consistently tougher throws than the other rookie quarterbacks. ... Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has regressed after a positive preseason. It's reminder No. 394 not to trust what you see in the preseason. The Jaguars' offense is somehow more conservative than a year ago, and their defense isn't the same.

I'm surprised Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak isn't more careful with Arian Foster's workload. He's on pace for 422 carries. Nothing good can come from that. ... The Texans actually have been a better team passing than running early this season. Tight end Owen Daniels looks reborn, while wide receiver Andre Johnson has been quiet. Houston is the most complete team in football. ... Even during Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson's good weeks, he leaves us wanting more. He gets tackled way too easily in the open field. He turns potential big gainers into second-and-short. He's not the only disappointing young Titan. Wide receiver Kenny Britt has been injured and was drop-prone in his return. Rookie wide receiver Kendall Wright has been productive but sloppy. ... The Titans' defense has a solid cornerback group but nothing else exciting. It's one of the worst groups in the league.

AFC West

It almost seems beside the point that teams are daring Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to beat them deep. Manning is the middle of a ridiculous stretch. He's one of only five QBs in NFL history with eight-plus TDs, no INTs and 1,000 passing yards in a three-game stretch. ... I'm surprised linebacker Von Miller is significantly better in Year 2, considering how ridiculous he was as a rookie. ... It's hard to explain why Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden isn't as explosive this year. Perhaps he's not a fit for zone blocking, but he's also not as dynamic when he gets in space. ... The Raiders' cornerbacks are so bad that it's hard to evaluate the rest of the defense. Linebacker Rolando McClain remains a problem.

The Kansas City Chiefs' defense has been a far bigger disappointment compared to quarterback Matt Cassel. Safety Eric Berry isn't the same after his ACL tear. Cornerback Brandon Flowers was slow to come back from injury, and safety Kenrick Lewis has been out. ... Not enough has been written about Jamaal Charles' comeback from a torn ACL. He's the best running back in football this year. ... The Chargers have some young defensive players to get excited about on defense for the first time in a while with linebacker Melvin Ingram and defensive end Corey Liuget. ... Quarterback Philip Rivers has improved from his 2011 play, but the big-play element in San Diego hasn't been like it was during Rivers' peak. There's at least a chance that peak has passed.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15