Today we take our fandom to the streets and evaluate the performance of the good and the bad around the NFL. There are players who have been stellar, and there are players who have underperformed. Here we take a look at both sides of the coin. In a league where fans want to see their teams getting the most for their money, you have to wonder how some guys go unappreciated while others get passes. Today we take an in-depth look at who is hot and who is not in the league.
1. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) – Matty Ice this season has been just as prolific as any quarterback in the league. Ryan has been firing on all cylinders and is quickly becoming a household name. Every week this season the Falcons have been impressive on offense. Ryan has plenty of weapons, and he uses all of them to their potential. One could argue that it would be hard not to look good throwing to Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, and they would be right, but we have seen plenty of situations where a gunslinger has plenty of weapons but keeps misfiring. That is not the case in Atlanta.
2. Torrey Smith (Baltimore Ravens) – In my annual 20 guarantees, I stated that Torrey would be the breakout wide receiver this year in the NFL, and so far he hasn’t disappointed. Smith had to endure a loss of his brother in a motorcycle accident earlier this week, but you couldn’t tell it in his play on the field. Smith has taken out all of his personal frustration on his opponents by just punishing the competition with big play after big play. Look for more from Smith as the Ravens continue to keep making their run in the AFC.
3. C.J. Spiller (Buffalo Bills) – C.J. has been electric, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry this season. He will eventually slow down, but what he has been doing so far this season is reminding us of how unstoppable he was at Clemson. It’s good to see Spiller doing some good and finally living up to the hype. Maybe the Bills can get similar production on defense from Mario Williams as well.
4. Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings) – Has there been anyone better than Ponder in his sophomore season in the NFL? Ponder is making plays and has posted a 104 passer rating while throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions on the season. He also has the Vikings leading the NFC North division. If you would have asked which quarterback in his second year would be having the biggest impact in the league at this point in the season, it is highly unlikely that Ponder’s name would have been uttered from your mouth.
5. Navarro Bowman (San Francisco 49ers) – Bowman is another great one in the line of All-Pro linebackers from Penn State. Bowman leads the NFL in tackles, and when you watch the 49ers play, he is all over the field. He is often overshadowed by the other superstars on his team, but make no mistake about it, no one is playing better than Bowman is at this point in the season.
Who’s Not Hot
1. Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears) – Cutler has more weapons at his disposal than any quarterback in the league, but he has really seemed to struggle without the services of Matt Forte. I was one of the people who thought this would be Cutler's coming out party, but I guess he will forever be remembered as the guy who hasn’t won anything since middle school.
2. Shonn Greene (New York Jets) – Shonn has been less than stellar this season averaging slightly better than 2.5 yards per carry. Greene hasn’t shown the ability to make people miss, and breaking tackles has been a challenge for the big back. If he’s not going to make people miss, and he’s not going to run people over, it may be time for the Jets to take a serious look at someone else in the backfield.
3. Randy Moss (San Francisco 49ers) – You have to wonder why Moss even came out of retirement. He doesn’t even run dummy routes in San Francisco. Moss has played very sparingly, and he doesn’t have many targets either. Through four games he has eight catches, and they aren’t typical Randy Moss type catches either. The 49ers are a balanced team, and maybe when teams start looking for run, Moss can get it going downfield.
4. Tim Tebow (New York Jets) – Tebow had all the hype leading into the regular season. The Jets were on ESPN every morning as Tebow ran shirtless, and fans and media sang his praises. Well he has been the most overblown player in the league so far this season, and his stats are pretty hard to find. Maybe he gets a chance at quarterback if Sanchez continues to struggle. Until then he is the most overhyped personal punt protector in the history of the game.
5. Mario Williams (Buffalo Bills) – Mario came to the Bills, and everyone thought he was the missing piece. Well it turns out that Mario is just missing. Coming off the injury last season, the Bills weren’t sure what they were getting but they figured it would be better than what they are getting. You can’t be the highest paid player on the field and playing like Williams has been playing and expect people not to take notice. Williams better step it up or people are going to start asking for some money back.
There you have it. There are some players who could have easily made the list, but these were the most evident on both sides. Give us your thoughts in the comments sections.
Stay Breezy ~ I’m Out!
Color Commentator for Time Warner Cable Sports Network NC/SC/OH and NCCU Sports Network. Washed up athlete who used to ball, now I write and call.