Some big names around the NFL are still looking to find their stride as the quarter pole of the season fades into the rear-view mirror and the halfway mark arrives on the horizon. Week 6 presents an opportunity for those stars to get back on track.
Although there's still plenty of time for players who aren't living up to expectations to turn things around, it's a fine line between a slump and reason for serious concern. A couple of strong performances can alleviate those worries, of course.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at three offensive stars who should begin to turn things around by helping lead their teams to victory in Week 6.
Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Brady entered the season with a lot of question marks surrounding his performance with Wes Welker joining the Denver Broncos and Rob Gronkowski dealing with multiple injuries. The early returns while working with would normally be secondary targets haven't been up to his usual high standard.
While the lesser supporting cast is certainly a key contributing factor, it doesn't totally explain why Brady's numbers are down across the board. Most notably, his completion rate has dropped more than six percentage points, and he's missing on some throws that used to be automatic.
Furthermore, his streak of 52 straight games with a touchdown pass came to an end against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Don't be surprised if that ends up being the low point of the season for Brady and the Patriots offense, though.
He has a great chance to showcase some vintage form in what should be a shootout with the New Orleans Saints. With chemistry continuing to build and a loss as motivation, Brady will be a man on a mission on Sunday, and that's what New England needs to come out on top.
Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
Newton was one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league throughout his first two seasons in the NFL. His ability to make every throw while also making defenses worry about him escaping the pocket to break off a big run was a key advantage for Carolina.
The Auburn product been far less effective in every area of the game. He's thrown just six touchdowns through four contests while throwing for 20 fewer yards per game and tossing five interceptions. On the ground, he's on pace for less than 500 yards after topping 700 each of the previous two years.
There have been plenty of minor problems, including dropped passes and bad routes, but the most notable issue has been the lack of a deep passing game. The team's longest reception is just 47 yards, and it's taking a lot of pressure off opposing defenses, allowing them to guard the Newton runs better.
In many cases, it's comes down to deep balls sailing high and wide from Newton. He needs to bear down on those throws, like in the past, and get back on the same page with Steve Smith and Co. Look for it to happen against the 29th-ranked Minnesota Vikings pass defense in a much-needed win.
Trent Richardson (Indianapolis Colts)
The Colts brought Richardson into the fold to help bolster their rushing attack. Instead, he's averaging just three yards per carry and struggling to finding running lanes just like he did with the Cleveland Browns before the move.
It's important to remember Richardson isn't an explosive runner. He's not built to break off a bunch of 80-yard touchdown runs. A lot of his value comes from grinding out those tough yards, which are important come playoff time.
Yet, one thing Indianapolis should do in the coming weeks is get him more involved in the passing game. He caught 51 balls in his rookie season, but has just one grab in three games with the Colts. Get him the ball in space and he'll find a way to make plays.
Richardson possesses plenty of talent, there's little doubt about that. It comes down to using him more effectively within the offense. The Colts should be getting closer to striking that right balance. It should finally come together against a porous San Diego Chargers defense on Monday night.