Analysis: NFC’s ups and downs so far

Barry Wilner
Associated Press

The big surprises and disappointments in the NFC:


Surprise — CB Marcus Cooper: Having all kinds of problems at the cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals traded for Cooper, who intercepted two passes in his first start, returning one for a touchdown.

Disappointment — WR Michael Floyd: He has struggled in his contract year and fallen behind J.J. Nelson as the No. 2 receiver.


Surprise — LB Vic Beasley Jr.: Whispers were he was a draft bust, but the 2015 first-rounder has emerged with 71/2 sacks.

Disappointment — RB Devonta Freeman: Last season’s breakout dual-threat star has one game with 100 yards rushing and one with at least 50 yards receiving as Tevin Coleman has taken some of the workload.


Surprise — TE Greg Olsen: He always has been productive, but the 10-year veteran is in the midst of his best season with 45 receptions for 673 yards through eight games.

Disappointment — DE Kony Ealy: He has one sack after getting three in the Super Bowl in February.


Surprise — RB Jordan Howard: A fifth-round draft pick, has become the main man running the ball, averaging 5.1 yards a carry.

Disappointment — WR Kevin White: He missed his 2015 rookie season with a left leg injury and is back on injured reserve with another leg problem.


Surprise — QB Dak Prescott: No questions asked. The Cowboys could have been looking at a repeat of 2015 without Tony Romo, but the fourth-round pick stepped in and they are 7-1.

Disappointment — owner Jerry Jones: He’s taking so long to set aside his allegiance to Romo and accept Prescott as the starting quarterback.


Surprise — QB Matthew Stafford: Playing without star WR Calvin Johnson for the first time, he has the highest passer rating in his eight-year career.

Disappointment — DE Ziggy Ansah: Coming off a 141/2-sack season, has either been ineffective or injured.

Green Bay

Surprise — LB Nick Perry: In his fifth season is finally living up to being a 2012 first-rounder. Slowed by various injuries, he came into the 2016 season healthy, and it’s paying off.

Disappointment — RB Eddie Lacy: He looked trimmer after tweaking his training routine in the offseason, then wound up on injured reserve.

Los Angeles

Surprise — WR Kenny Britt: He has resurrected his career after problems on and off the field, and has become a downfield threat.

Disappointment — QB Jared Goff: The top overall draft pick hasn’t come close to getting on the field behind journeyman Case Keenum.


Surprise — WR Cordarrelle Patterson: He was relegated to a kickoff return role for the past two years. He’s improved enough as a receiver to factor in as a complementary pass catcher, also excels as the outside coverage man on the punt team.

Disappointment — LG Alex Boone: The entire offensive line ought to qualify for this dishonor. Boone was the big-money addition to a group that needed a boost, but the Vikings have been struggling badly up front.

New Orleans

Surprise — LB Craig Robertson: He came in unheralded as a likely backup to James Laurinaitis or 2015 first-rounder Stephone Anthony. Instead he’s starting and reliable.

Disappointment — RB Mark Ingram: He had no 100-yard games thru seven weeks, but produced a 158-yard outing last weekend. Still, he has been turnover prone and not the factor New Orleans expects.

N.Y. Giants

Surprise — S Landon Collins: The second-round draft pick in 2015 has been the best player on the team after struggling as a rookie.

Disappointment — the offense: The Giants added WRs Victor Cruz, back from injury, and rookie Sterling Shepard. It was one of the best in the league last season.


Surprise — QB Carson Wentz: He was elevated from No. 3 quarterback to starter eight days before the season opener after only playing part of the first exhibition. He led the Eagles to a 3-0 record, and he’s played well despite four losses in five games since.

Disappointment — WR Nelson Agholor: A first-round pick in 2015, he is moving closer toward being a bust with each unproductive game.

San Francisco

Surprise — WR Jeremy Kerley: Picked up in a trade from Detroit just before the start of the season, he leads the team as a pass catcher.

Disappointment — WR Torrey Smith: San Francisco’s big free-agent acquisition in 2015 has had little impact and has struggled to get open consistently.


Surprise — C Justin Britt: He started his career as a right tackle, moved to left guard and this season took over at center.

Disappointment — RBs Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael: Seattle’s once-vaunted run game is broken. Rawls had a breakout 2015 before he broke his ankle, and has been injury prone this season. Michael has shown flashes, but not enough consistency.

Tampa Bay

Surprise — RB Jacquizz Rodgers : He had career-best performances filling in for injured Doug Martin until Rodgers himself got hurt.

Disappointment — K Roberto Aguayo : The Buccaneers traded up for him in the second round, saying he was the best kicker in college football history. He’s been inconsistent at best.


Surprise — OLB Trent Murphy: He looked likely to be a backup defensive end, but Junior Galette tore his Achilles tendon. Murphy molded himself into a pass-rushing LB and he’s been terrific.

Disappointment — WR Josh Doctson: A first-round pick, he was practically invisible, played in two games, and eventually went on IR.