The NFL regular season is more volatile on a week-to-week basis than the Stock Market. A team that lost by several touchdowns one week can follow up with a blowout victory the next. Players who are responsible for the blame one week could be responsible for a game-winning play the next.
With Week 9 in the books, let’s take a look at three NFC North players who saw their stock rise, and three NFC East players who saw it fall as we look ahead to Week 10.
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Dez Bryant, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
After being limited by Richard Sherman and the Seahawks to just 12 yards on two receptions in his first game back from a broken foot in Week 8, Bryant was back to his old self in Week 9. He turned eight targets into 104 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. On his longest catch of the day, he displayed his trademark burst after the catch, and on his touchdown grab, he showed off his ridiculous leaping ability. It is no coincidence that Matt Cassel had his best passing day with the Cowboys in Week 9, and a case can be made that Bryant deserves double-digit targets in every game until Tony Romo returns. If the Cowboys can craft an offensive game plan that runs through Bryant and Darren McFadden, until Romo returns, they can finally snap their six-game losing streak.
Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
Entering Week 9, Matthews had just 39 catches for 398 yards receiving and one touchdown. He also entered the week among the league leaders in dropped passes with seven. In Week 9, he broke out with 133 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions. His 41-yard touchdown in overtime capped off his amazing performance, and this type of game could be the jumpstart he needed to turn his season around. Remember, if it wasn’t for Odell Beckham Jr., Matthews might have won Offensive Rookie of the Year after totaling 872 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. Also, it is no coincidence that Sam Bradford had his best game as an Eagle the same week Matthews broke out of his funk. If Matthews can build on this momentum, things could turn around fast for Philadelphia’s passing offense.
Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end, New York Giants
Pierre-Paul shook off the rust faster than anyone expected, and he played an integral role in forcing the Buccaneers to punt with 2:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. Over the course of the game, despite playing just 46 defensive snaps, Pierre-Paul lead the Giants in quarterback hits (2) and total quarterback pressures (6). Pierre-Paul’s total pressures were tied for the most of any 4-3 defensive end in Week 9. With defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins placed on injured reserve Monday, the Giants will need Pierre-Paul to build on his momentum and carry a defense that has dealt with a lot of injuries as of late.
Jordan Reed, tight end, Washington Redskins
Washington’s offense works much better when Reed is healthy, but he struggled in Week 9. Reed was a non factor until Washington’s final drive when the team was already down 24 points late in the fourth quarter. He finished with just three receptions for 18 yards and a late touchdown. However, Reed was targeted on seven attempts and finished with a team-high two dropped passes. The Redskins need to get more out of Reed if they want to open things up for DeSean Jackson over the top.
Damontre Moore, defensive end, New York Giants
Third year defensive end Damontre Moore has been given a golden opportunity to prove himself in 2015 due to injuries along the defensive line, but he continues to make the same mistake. In Week 9, Moore was once again flagged for a 15-yard personal foul penalty after hitting Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston after the whistle. His foolish decision led him straight to the bench again — he finished with just 10 total snaps. In the past weeks, head coach Tom Coughlin hinted that he can’t trust Moore on the field, and this penalty certainly won’t help his case. It’s a shame, too, when you consider that Moore generated two quarterback pressures on eight pass rush snaps. He has been one of the Giants’ most efficient pass rushers, but he needs to focus on fixing the mental errors if he wants to earn a consistent role on the defense.
Dashon Goldson, safety, Washington Redskins
When the Redskins acquired Goldson this offseason, they hoped that a change of scenery and a change in defensive scheme could help rejuvenate the former Pro-Bowler’s career after two down seasons. Goldson has struggled again in 2015, and his time as a viable starting safety may have officially passed him. In Week 9, Goldson missed a team-high three tackles as Patriots running back LaGarrette Blount trampled over he and the rest of Washington’s defense for 129 rushing yards on 29 carries. Goldson is up to 12 missed tackles on the season –only one safety has missed more tackles in 2015.
*All stats on quarterback pressures and hits are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.