A look at who’s up and who’s down at midpoint of NFL season – The Denver Post

A look at who’s up and who’s down at midpoint of NFL season – The Denver Post

Bill Belichick’s reputation as a general manager has taken a hit since Tom Brady left New England.

Meanwhile, players like Davante Adams and Derek Carr are gaining respect as the former Fresno State teammates enjoy career years.

Midway through the 2020 season, performance has altered perception all around the NFL. Here’s a look at who’s up and who’s down:

UP

DALVIN COOK: While running backs have generally been devalued during this pass-happy era, Cook is showing the impact a big-play back can make. He leads the NFL with 858 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing one game with an injury. He has rushed for 369 yards the past two weeks and his four games with at least 130 yards rushing are tied for the most in a season since Ezekiel Elliott had five in 2016.

DAVANTE ADAMS: Aaron Rodgers’ favorite receiver in Green Bay has developed into one of the NFL’s top targets. Adams has 53 catches for 675 yards and eight TDs in just six games. He’s the first NFL player with at least 50 catches, 600 yards receiving and eight touchdown receptions over his first six games of a season. Adams already has three games with at least 10 catches, 150 yards and a TD. The only previous player to do that was Calvin Johnson in 2012.

DEREK CARR: After three straight losing seasons when the Raiders failed to average 20 points per game in any of them, it was fair to wonder if Carr would ever get back to his 2016 form. He’s been even better so far this season thanks to a more aggressive style that has led to more deep passes, as well as scrambles. The addition of speedy rookie Henry Ruggs III has helped increase Carr’s average depth of pass by more than a yard, helping the Las Vegas quarterback rank fifth in the league in passer rating at 110 with 16 TD passes compared to only two INTs.

BRIAN FLORES: A Belichick coaching disciple is finally showing signs of living up to his mentor with Flores’ performance in Miami. After losing his first seven games last year with a Dolphins team that appeared to be tanking, Flores helped Miami rebound to a 5-4 finish. The Dolphins have only built on that this year by starting 5-3 and now appear to have a young QB to build around in Tua Tagovailoa.

ROOKIE QBs: Three quarterbacks went in the top six picks of the draft and the early returns are positive.

Joe Burrow went No. 1 to Cincinnati and opened the season as the starter. He has the third-most yards passing (2,272) for a rookie in his team’s first eight games.

Justin Herbert, the sixth pick, became the starter for the Chargers in Week 2 and already has 17 TD passes in seven games, including at least two in the past five games.

Tagovailoa took over for Miami in Week 8. He struggled in his first start but then threw for 248 yards and two TDs last week at Arizona to lead the Dolphins to a 34-31 win.

DOWN

BILL BELICHICK THE GM: This season was billed as a referendum on who had a bigger impact on New England’s six Super Bowl titles: Belichick or Brady. While nothing can take away from Belichick’s reputation as a coach, his failures as a GM are showing up this season. He has not drafted a player who made the Pro Bowl since Jamie Collins in 2013, and the lack of playmakers on offense has played a big role in the Patriots’ 3-5 record.

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