NFL Surprises: The Top Three Breakout Players Early in the Season

Most fans dream of all the possibilities for their team before the season starts. Breakout players, surprising win streaks and proving the critics wrong dance in their heads. Everyone looks good in training camp. All players are said to be “in the best shape of their life.” It is hard to parse out the real from the hyperbole before a season starts. That is still somewhat true just over two weeks into the NFL season. At least now there is some real evidence of players, coaches, units, and teams that are better than they have been in the past or outperforming expectations. It is hard to say for sure that some of the early NFL surprises are sustainable in the long run. They sure have all been a lot of fun so far.

Veteran Quarterbacks Among the Early Season NFL Surprises

NFL Surprises: Quarterback Derek Carr – Las Vegas Raiders

The sense around the Raiders since Jon Gruden returned as head coach is that he has never been totally comfortable with his quarterback. It is hard to argue with what Carr has done in the team’s first two games though. The former Fresno State Bulldog has been on fire. Some of the hype is overblown but there is no denying the start is exciting.

Carr has a video game total of 817 pass yards through two games. He has four touchdown passes to just one interception. Carr has thrown for over 4,000 yards in the last three seasons. It is not shocking that he is playing well. Performing as one of the elite NFL quarterbacks through two weeks is definitely one of the NFL surprises thus far.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater – Denver Broncos

The talent has always been there for the Broncos quarterback. After coming out of Louisville in 2014, Bridgewater had two promising seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. A devastating injury robbed him of nearly two full campaigns. Bridgewater re-emerged as a backup with the New Orleans Saints and played solid football over six starts in two seasons.

The Carolina Panthers signed Bridgewater last season and he was again, fine. After beating out Drew Lock in training camp for the starting role, the 28-year-old has impressed in the young season. Bridgewater has completed over 77 percent of his passes for 592 yards. He has four touchdowns with zero interceptions. Bridgewater’s quarterback rating of 120.7  is fifth in the league in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) amongst quarterbacks. Bridgewater is one of the feel-good NFL surprises.

Running Back Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills

The statistics are not eye-popping for the Bills diminutive back. Efficiency has been the name of the game through two weeks for Singletary. The third-year pro averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his rookie season of 2019. Singletary followed that up in 2020 with 4.4 yards per rush. Through two games in 2021, Singletary is averaging 6.4 yards on his 24 attempts.

The 24-year-old has seized control of a workshare in Buffalo with Zack Moss. Singletary has added five catches for 17 yards. This is certainly nothing to be thrilled about but he has proven to be capable as a receiver in his young career. Singeltary is third in the league in DYAR among running backs. The Bills have their eyes set on a Super Bowl run and Singletary is a big piece of that puzzle.

Statistical information courtesy of Football Outsiders and the NFL

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