Who’s to thank for the success of the NFL’s top teams? There seems to be an obvious answer for most of the league’s prominent success stories. These five players, however, are the guys who aren’t getting the props they deserve.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams
He just won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, and I’d argue he’s still not getting enough credit. He’s tied with Phillip Rivers for the second best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the NFL (11:2). He’s tied with four quarterbacks for second most touchdowns. Goff is throwing for the second most yards per game.
He’s been an absolute stud. Meanwhile, his coach Sean McVay is getting praised for Goff’s success.
The argument is that Goff is a product of McVay’s schematic genius. And to some degree, that’s correct. But McVay isn’t out there dropping dimes to Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp. McVay didn’t throw this ball.
Or this one.
Those receivers aren’t wide open. Goff threw them open. He delivered the ball to a perfect spot in a difficult situation. Goff is an MVP front-runner, not only because he’s in a great system but also because he’s turning into one of the NFL’s best signal-callers.
cameron erving, OT, Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is absolutely getting the credit he deserves. Quietly, the offensive line has helped the Chiefs flourish. Left tackle Eric Fisher has been a big part of that solid line. Erving has been a revelation. In 2017, he joined the Chiefs in a trade with the Browns, where he’d essentially been a bust. Drafted to be a left tackle, Erving flunked in Cleveland, but with the Chiefs, he spent 2017 (and some of 2018 training camp) playing practically every offensive line position. He settled at left guard, where he’s been a key contributor.
Ronnie Harrison, safety, Jaguars
It’s not easy to make an impact on the NFL’s best defense as a rookie. Harrison, a 2018 third-round pick, comes from the best defense in college football at Alabama. Perhaps that’s helped him acclimate quickly.
“He understands football, and that’s one of the things that you look at,” Tashaun Gipson told reporters during a press conference. “He knows how to play the game of football, and I don’t know if you want to give Nick Saban all that credit. He’s just genetically gifted. It’s exciting to have young guys like that.”
Harrison has proven that he’s not just a box safety with limitations in coverage. He can play both positions. And with just four games of experience, he’s likely only to get better.
Demario Davis, LB, Saints
Davis is the leading tackler (37) and has the second most sacks (two). He was a disaster waiting to happen against the New York Giants in Week 4, when he had 11 tackles and both his sacks on the season.
Admittedly, Davis won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. So he’s getting credit — just not enough nationally. The Saints offense gets all the love, between New Orleans’ big 3: Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Davis, meanwhile, joined the Saints this offseason, and has immediately been one of their most consistent defensive players. He has led the Saints in tackles in every week that he’s been with New Orleans.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 30: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
The Bengals have been really good. They’re 3-1 — and have plenty of runway to crash and burn. But for now, they deserve credit for their outstanding start, which has put them atop the AFC North.
Dalton has been the key to a superb Bengals offense, which has put up 126 points, the fourth most in the NFL. In that offense, Dalton has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,197 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is tied for the second most touchdown passes in the NFL. He has completed passes to 11 different pass-catchers. He’s also enjoying the rise of Tyler Boyd, who has benefitted from the Bengals’ strong offensive performances.