Hard to believe we're already a quarter of the way through the 2022 NFL regular season. For some players, the first four games have been fruitful, a promising beginning to what could be a prolific season. For others, well, it's time to just turn the page and hopefully start anew.
Here are three offensive players who can rebound after a slow start to the season:
The Colts' coaching staff was enamored by Ryan in training camp, waxing poetic about his knowledge, leadership and "insane" accuracy. But the 37-year-old quarterback hasn't exactly lit the league on fire during Indianapolis' disappointing 1-2-1 start, posting a 5:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 85.0 passer rating.
What I hope the Colts have learned through four weeks is that they are asking the veteran to do too much. He is averaging nearly 39 pass attempts per game -- six pass attempts more per game than he had last season with a Falcons team that ranked 31st in rushing -- and has fumbled nine times(!) already this season.
At this stage of Ryan's career, I believe less is more, especially given Indianapolis' mediocre receiving corps. The Colts must find a way to get the ground game going with Jonathan Taylor -- who's battling an ankle injury (UPDATE: Taylor has been ruled out for Thursday night's game against Denver.) and has struggled over the last couple games -- and let Ryan be a complementary piece in Frank Reich's offense, one who can execute critical drives when needed. Having Ryan throw it all over the yard isn't playing to the Colts' advantage.
Harris isn't getting the same opportunity to impact each game as he did during his rookie season. It's as simple as that. He's averaging 14.5 rush attempts and 17 touches per game in 2022, down from 18 carries and 22.4 touches per game in '21. With rookie Kenny Pickett taking over at quarterback, I expect Harris to get more chances to create big plays.
Pickett should also be more involved in the run game than Mitch Trubisky, and his early chemistry with fellow rookie George Pickens is promising for a passing game that was near-dormant with Trubisky at the helm. As the Steelers' wide receivers get more familiar with the young quarterback in the coming weeks, Harris should begin to see lighter boxes resulting in greater production.
For the first time this season, the Raiders played from the inside out by leaning on "one of the best runners" in Josh Jacobs, and it was the best they've looked under Josh McDaniels. Even though Las Vegas scored a season-high 32 points in Sunday's win over Denver, this offense is far from its peak. And the freshly PAID tight end hasn't produced to the level everyone anticipated. Through four games, Waller has 16 catches on 24 targets for 175 yards and one touchdown.
Not to fret. The more the offense settles into McDaniels' system, the more everyone will get involved, including one of the league's top mismatch nightmares. Tight ends are the first players to benefit off increased run plays and play action. That's good news for Waller, who should begin to see more opportunities with Jacobs getting more carries.
Top 15 Offensive Players
Each week in the 2022 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts. The Week 5 pecking order is below.
NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week's rankings.
It felt strange to see Buffalo's offense essentially disappear for the first half this past Sunday, but give credit to Allen for rallying his team for 20 unanswered points on the team's final five drives. The stirring win at Baltimore was the largest comeback victory of Allen's career and snapped the Bills' 39-game losing streak when trailing by at least 17 points in a game. This game was huge for Allen's confidence. He's always had the belief he could win close games against other top-tier quarterbacks. Now he knows he can.
Mahomes has faced the No. 1 scoring defense seven times in his career and boasts a 6-1 record after defeating the Buccaneers on Sunday night. The bitter taste of falling to the Bucs the last time he played in Raymond James Stadium -- in Super Bowl LV -- appeared to be front of mind, as Mahomes looked dialed in from beginning to end. I think Travis Kelce said it best:
"The NFL hasn't seen anything like Mahomes -- I promise you that. You saw it today -- he's the Houdini of our era. The guy just finds ways to make plays throughout the game -- big-time third-down, big-time goal-line plays [and] just willing our team to the end zone -- willing our team to win. That's our ultimate leader, man."
Kupp received a season-high 19 targets in Monday night's loss at San Francisco, hauling in 14 of them for 122 yards. It's obvious why last year's triple crown winner is the focal point of this Rams offense, as even the best of defenses can't stop him. Making extremely tough catches look routine, Kupp is still the standard at receiver.
After dealing a first-half dud, Rodgers looked more like himself and willed the Packers to an eventual overtime win that should've been over in regulation if not for a TD drop by Romeo Doubs. The veteran QB is still working through the kinks with his new receiving corps, as evidenced by his three picks through four games (he threw four total in 2021), but his raw ability allows Green Bay to overcome a lot of shortcomings. No matter how ugly it was, Rodgers threw his 500th career TD pass and got a win over Bill Belichick. Not a bad Sunday.
Deciding to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 20, Jackson was pressured and threw an interception (his second of the game). If he had converted, it would've been one of the plays defining a potential MVP campaign. Instead, the Ravens came away without points and the Bills drove down the field and kicked the game-winner with no time remaining. Jackson is having a great season, but losing back-to-back homes games -- after having big leads in each -- might come back to haunt him.
Chubb is everything for the Browns right now. He's accounting for 114.8 of the team's 187.3 ground yards per game. With the second-most rush yards and rush TDs in the NFL, Chubb is doing all he can to keep Cleveland competitive. With more consistent help from the aerial attack and defense (which was without Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney on Sunday), the Browns could pretty easily be sitting at 4-0.
Patrick Mahomes wasted no time getting Kelce involved Sunday night, as the two connected for a 16-yard catch-and-run score on the second play from scrimmage, setting the tone offensively for the Chiefs. With nine catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the win, Kelce has now had nine receiving TDs in his last 10 games (including playoffs) -- and he passed Rob Gronkowski for fifth-most receiving yards by a TE in NFL history.
Jefferson got back on track with a big outing against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints after being kept in check the previous two weeks. The Vikings star amassed 147 yards on 10 receptions, including a 39-yard gain on Lattimore in the fourth quarter that helped set up Minnesota's go-ahead field goal. He also logged his first career rushing TD -- a 3-yard jet sweep -- in the win. It's good to see the Vikings' WR1 back to making big plays.
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There's no such thing as a moral victory -- especially for the G.O.A.T. -- but the Bucs seem to be trending up with the Falcons, Steelers and Panthers on tap.
By no means did Hurts have his best performance of the 2022 season against the Jaguars, but his overall improvement is a big reason the Eagles are the only undefeated team through four weeks. Hurts' marks in completion percentage (66.7) and yards per attempt (9.1, tops in the NFL) are way up from his corresponding figures over his first two pro seasons (59.0 and 7.3). His play -- and the confidence that has come with it -- has elevated those around him (SEE: Eagles' D had five takeaways vs. Jags).
Barkley is making sure the Giants realize he's their best player before he becomes a free agent. He leads the NFL with 463 rush yards -- which is the most in the first four games of a season in Giants franchise history -- but that's not all. He also ranks tops in the league in carries, touches and scrimmage yards. I'm thinking he just might be a reason why the G-Men are a surprising 3-1.
The Raiders looked like an entirely different offense against the Broncos, as they got the run game going early, which opened everything else up. Adams remained Derek Carr's favorite target, as he hauled in nine receptions for 101 yards, but snapped a 12-game streak with at least one TD reception from Carr in games played as teammates, dating back to September 2013 at Fresno State.
Like in most games, Hill was the best receiver on the field Thursday night against the Bengals. His 10-catch, 164-yard performance was highlighted by a 64-yard reception from backup QB Teddy Bridgewater in the third quarter. The pass traveled 52.1 air yards, the most of any NFL completion this season. With Tua Tagovailoa missing Sunday's game vs. the Jets, Hill is a player Bridgewater must lean on.
It's not a surprise that Diggs and the rest of the Bills and Ravens receivers had quiet outings on a rainy Baltimore afternoon. Diggs finished with a game-high 62 receiving yards on four receptions, but what felt most important was that the Bills -- as a whole -- were able to overcome adversity and get the job done.
The Chargers finally remembered they have a run game in Sunday's win at Houston, scoring their first two rush TDs of the season. Getting Austin Ekeler involved helped Herbert out tremendously, taking pressure off him and the pass game for the first time this season. Herbert, who's been battling a ribs injury, threw for 340 pass yards and two TDs in a much-needed get-right game for the Bolts.