Thursday, July 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Quarterly Report: Biggest surprise and disappointment

The NFL season is a quarter of the way complete and nothing is as it might have seemed. The Vikings and Eagles are up, the Cardinals and Panthers are down. The Broncos and Patriots have been just fine, even without Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. With Brady set to return this week from a four-game suspension, the Times' Bucs/NFL coverage team looks at the biggest surprises and disappointments in the league so far this season.

Biggest surprise

Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud

The number of first-year starting quarterbacks or rookies tearing it up in the NFL, from Carson Wentz to Dak Prescott to Trevor Siemian.

Tom Jones, @tomwjones

The start by the Minnesota Vikings. They lose their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, right before the season and then lose the best running back in football, Adrian Peterson. This team should be looking for their first victory instead of sitting at the top of the NFC North.

Read more:

NFL Quarterly Report: Players, teams to buy and sell

NFL Quarterly Report: Coach of the year and those on the hot seat

NFL Quarterly Report: MVP and Super Bowl picks

Greg Auman, @gregauman

The Eagles and Vikings — both sides of the Sam Bradford trade — both open the season 3-0. Philadelphia's start under rookie Carson Wentz might be most impressive, but anyone who wrote the Vikings off after major injuries at QB, RB and tackle did so prematurely.

Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics

Rookie quarterbacks. Carson Wentz (five touchdowns, no interceptions) and Dak Prescott (three touchdowns, no interceptions) have led the Eagles and Cowboys to a combined 6-1 record.

Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you

Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott.

Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly

3-0 Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz. Overall success of young quarterbacks.

Biggest disappointment

Stroud

The Arizona Cardinals. A year ago they played in the NFC Championship game. Now their only win is against the Bucs.

Jones

Panthers. Not that anyone expected Carolina to lose one regular-season game like a season ago, but losing three in the first month is stunning. QB Cam Newton is getting beat up and there just seems to be something missing from this team. Perhaps it's Josh Norman's swagger.

Auman

Who would have seen Arizona and Carolina both at 1-3? Two of the prohibitive favorites in the NFC have looked little like their 2015 selves -- the standings might as well have been flipped in each division from a year ago. Which 1-3 team can bounce back and at least salvage a wild card?

Bassinger

Bucs. For a team that showed some promise last season, just about everything that could go wrong has. Jameis Winston (along with Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick) has turned the ball over a league-high 10 times. The defense hasn't improved, and so far looks worse than it did last season. And the head coach has talked about a problematic culture. Through four games, Dirk Koetter's win percentage (0.250) is the same as Lovie Smith's in 2014 and 2015.

Hooper

Arizona Cardinals -- unless they're playing the Bucs

Fennelly

1-3 Arizona and 1-3 Carolina.

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