Each week, theScore looks at the teams, players, and units trending upward and those taking a step back.
? Jamison Crowder
With DeSean Jackson in and out of the lineup and Pierre Garcon an afterthought, Jamison Crowder has emerged as a legitimate target in the Redskins’ passing game. The sophomore out of Duke has back-to-back 100-yard games and he caught nine passes and a 33-yard touchdown in the team’s tie in London. He currently leads the team in receiving yards.
He also has a Player of the Week award on his mantle for his special teams performance. Crowder returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in a Week 5 win for the Redskins.
? Offensive coordinators
A trend is emerging in the NFL. If a team is floundering and it appears the head coach’s job is in danger, the remedy is to fire the offensive coordinator.
The Buffalo Bills axed Greg Roman after two weeks. The Baltimore Ravens let go of Marc Trestman after Week 5. This week, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson was fired when the team dropped to 2-5 on the year. While the coach isn’t on the hot seat in Minnesota, Norv Turner elected to resign on Wednesday rather than change the Vikings’ offensive approach.
There appears to be at least one solution to the declining ratings and dull first half of the 2016 season: More ties! The Week 7 tie between the Cardinals and Seahawks was one of the more entertaining games of the year, and this week’s tie between the Bengals and Redskins was the best game played in London. The Buccaneers-Raiders game was less than two minutes from ending in a tie as well.
That’s three of the better games in the NFL this year. Bring on the ties.
? Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals lost in resounding fashion in Carolina for the second year in a row. They were embarrassed 49-15 in last year’s NFC Championship game and beat 30-20 on Sunday in a battle of teams looking to save their season.
They gave up a whopping eight sacks of Carson Palmer, one of which led to a fumble and a scoop-and-score touchdown on the first drive of the game. At 3-4-1, the preseason favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl will have to fight tooth and nail just to make the playoffs.
? Kansas City Chiefs
Don’t forget about the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders are the talk of the league and the Broncos are the defending champs, but quietly, the Chiefs have won three straight, keeping pace with their divisional foes. And they’re doing it without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith or Spencer Ware for much of Sunday’s game.
The Raiders and Broncos share the AFC West lead at 6-2, but one is guaranteed a loss next week as they meet in a head-to-head battle. A win by the Chiefs over the Jaguars on Sunday would put them second in the division at 6-2.
? Josh Norman
Surely, the Redskins didn’t sign Norman to a $75-million contract for him to clutch, hold, and draw penalties. The star corner was roasted by A.J. Green who caught nine passes for 121 yards on Sunday. He was also called for five penalties, four of which were for illegal use of hands.
Norman leads the league in penalties – according to nflpenalties.com – with 13 called against him. His lone interception came against the Browns in Week 4. Washington paid for much more than this.