The NFL’s Pleasant Surprises


Samuel Fung, Staff Writer

Every so often, we see someone completely surpassing their pre-season expectations. They leave fans pleasantly surprised, of course. There have been many players who have come out and balled out. Here are seven players or teams who have stood out early on.

Trevon Diggs
Who would have thought this man would be an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year? Trevon Diggs now has seven interceptions in six games, and this new elite corner is a massive reason why the Dallas Cowboys are on the roll they are on. No one saw it coming, but Cowboys fans are once again enthusiastic.

Javon Hargrave
Among the sack leaders is a man who is on pace to beat his career-high in sacks. Javon Hargrave has 6 sacks after 6 games, and has more sacks than Fletcher Cox, who you would usually expect to make the biggest plays on the Eagles’ defensive line. However, the former Steeler is showing out.

Jameis Winston
The Jameis Winston of old was known for a load of turnovers. He had a season with 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, a feat that no one else has ever matched. However, it seems as though the turnover habits have nearly disappeared. He is on pace for a great season, with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions after 5 games.

The Arizona Cardinals
We knew the Cardinals were going to be good. How good? No one knew. Now we know. After Week 6, they are the only undefeated team in the league. Kyler Murray has shown great leadership. DeAndre Hopkins and James Conner have scored crucial touchdowns. The defense, led by Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt, has gotten the job done. Overall, the Cardinals are poised for a great future.

Ja’Marr Chase and the Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have stood out as over-performers after six games. Despite taking sacks and tossing picks, Joe Burrow has had a nice season. Most of it is thanks to his reliable friend Ja’Marr Chase. The chemistry that carried over from LSU is working its magic, and Chase is among the best and most reliable deep threats in the league this season.

Darrell Henderson
It seemed as though the Rams’ running game would be screwed after Cam Akers tore his Achilles and was forced to sit the whole season. However, the backup already in the house is apparently more than viable for the position. Darrell Henderson was a backup to Akers in 2020, but still posted 783 all purpose yards. This year, he has beaten out his competition for snaps, participating in 66% of his team’s total snaps through six games. He is on track to beat his all-purpose total from last year, as well as his touchdown total (he had six touchdowns in 2020, but five already in 2021).

The Las Vegas Raiders
Despite the entire debacle surrounding their head coach, Jon Gruden, the Raiders have managed to start 4-2. After Gruden resigned, the team managed to regroup and beat a Broncos side that started well. Derek Carr has shone in many ways. Maxx Crosby and Denzel Perryman are playing solid defensive football. Henry Ruggs is becoming the threat fans have been waiting for all this time. It all has gelled together in front of the Vegas faithful, and hopes are high again.

Teddy Bridgewater
After an inconsistent season with the Panthers, most expected Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock to compete closely for the starting job. But, that has all been put aside because Teddy B, who has a division-winning season in Minnesota under his belt, is piecing together a season that everyone wanted to see. He has overcome hefty obstacles and his 10 touchdowns and four interceptions are a sign of things to potentially come for the former Louisville stud.