The NFL has a way of taking preseason predictions and making them look foolish. That unpredictability is a big part of what makes studying and analyzing the game so enjoyable.
With every team having played at least half of the games on their schedule, it's time to look back and reflect on some of the most surprising performances in the 2020 NFL season. Whether it be a pleasant surprise or a disappointing one, these players and units have not played to expectations coming into the season.
Drake was the fourth-highest-graded running back in the NFL from his debut with the Cardinals in Week 9 of the 2019 season through the end of the regular season. A league-high 34% of his carries went for a first down or touchdown over that stretch. It seemed like he had found a fit in Arizona's offense, but the results this season have not been the same. Just 24% of his carries have gone for a first down or touchdown, and Drake has been a complete nonfactor in the passing game, with only seven receptions on 127 routes all year. At this point, it has become a 1A-1B situation with Chase Edmonds for the Cardinals at running back.
The contract that the Falcons gave Fowler this offseason didn't match up with his career PFF grading profile, but he was a player who looked to be improving. Fowler's pass-rushing grade and pressure count had risen in each of the past three seasons, culminating in a 67-pressure season in 2019, playing next to Aaron Donald in Los Angeles. There was reason to believe that Fowler's career was on an upward trend, and he could develop into a consistent option off the edge. Instead, he has taken a definitive step back. Fowler is on pace for fewer than 50 pressures for the season, and has made little impact against the run. Grady Jarrett is having an outstanding year on the interior, but Atlanta needs more from Fowler on the outside.