NFL's Top-10 Roller-Coaster Players

Alex MarvezCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2008

On one snap, they are brilliant. On the next, they may be anything but.
These are the NFL's roller-coaster players. And so far this season, Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson is riding shotgun.

Even as a rookie, Jackson already is exhibiting the same traits as some of the league's best—and quirkiest—stars. His mistakes can be maddening, but the ability to perform at an elite level makes such flaws tolerable.


Jackson enters Sunday's game against Washington having already experienced a Space Mountain-like number of peaks and dips. The strong start to his NFL career—Jackson leads all rookies in receiving yards with 327—is being overshadowed by gaffes made in two prime-time contests.

In a Week Two game against Dallas, Jackson zipped through the Cowboys secondary for a 61-yard catch—only to drop the football at the one-yard line thinking he already had crossed the goal line.

Jackson didn't learn his lesson from a high school all-star game when a pre-touchdown celebration cost him another score.

The inconsistency continued in last Sunday's 24-20 loss at Chicago.

Jackson scored his first NFL touchdown while generating 106 yards on seven touches (runs and catches). But he also fumbled a punt, leading to a Bears touchdown, and caused a Donovan McNabb interception by running the wrong route.

A interview request for Jackson about his up-and-down rookie campaign was declined by Philadelphia's media relations department. Jackson, though, can take solace in knowing that even established veterans aren't immune to yo-yo play.

"Sometimes it stands out more for perimeter players because they handle the ball and are more exposed," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "To me, it's one of your daily (coaching) challenges. You're always fighting to find consistency."

Here are nine other standouts, besides Jackson, who continue to wage that battle well into their NFL careers.


New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre

His performance in last Sunday's 56-35 rout of Arizona was vintage Favre. He tossed one of the ugliest interceptions imaginable, a looping pass thrown awkwardly across his body to the other side of the field, and a personal-best six touchdown passes in the same game.

Such erratic play has become Favre's calling card while setting NFL records for career scoring throws (454) and interceptions (292).


Wide receiver Braylon Edwards

Coming off a Pro Bowl season, it appeared Edwards had overcome his penchant for dropped passes. So much for that theory. Edwards muffed five of the 25 passes thrown to him in Cleveland's first three games, all of which were losses.

The Browns hope a much better performance in last Sunday's 20-12 win against Cincinnati has Edwards back on track. He didn't have any drops and made a nifty one-handed grab for Cleveland's go-ahead touchdown.


Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

A shaky offensive line isn't the only reason Steelers fans hold their breath every time Roethlisberger drops to pass. Roethlisberger tends to hold onto the football for an extended period of time, which is part of the reason he has gotten sacked 68 times in the past two-plus seasons. But the willingness to take a beating often pays dividends, as Roethlisberger creates big-play opportunities when giving his receivers extra chances to get open.


New Orleans running back Reggie Bush

After a strong start to his NFL career, Bush is still trying to prove worthy of being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft. A rushing/receiving threat with Bush's athletic skills should be exceeding 100 yards from scrimmage on a regular basis. Instead, he has reached the century mark in consecutive games only twice in New Orleans' past 21 contests. Bush could get a boost, as Deuce McAllister, who is coming off a knee injury, assumes more of the rushing workload.


Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson

He has produced more consistently this season than during a feast-or-famine rookie campaign in 2007. But until the Vikings improve their passing attack, Peterson's weekly output could fluctuate as defenses stack the line of scrimmage to stop the run. Peterson also continues to struggle staying healthy, which was an issue during his injury-plagued college career at Oklahoma.


Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson

With the Packers using a press-coverage scheme, Woodson has become one of the NFL's most penalized defensive backs since joining the team in 2006. He committed two illegal contact fouls last Sunday against Tampa Bay, including one to keep alive a Bucs drive that ended in a touchdown.

Woodson, though, can smother receivers and usually makes amends for his infractions. Proof: He scored on a 62-yard interception return that put Green Bay ahead in the fourth quarter of what was ultimately a 30-21 loss.


Washington defensive end Jason Taylor

Taylor didn't emerge as one of the NFL's top pass rushers by sitting back and waiting for the snap. But teams sometimes take advantage of Taylor's aggressiveness, as he ranks among the league leaders in offsides penalties in recent seasons.

The discipline Taylor needed to display during his offseason dancing foray may be paying dividends on the football field. Before suffering a calf injury, Taylor was flagged for offsides just once in Washington's first three games.


Dallas left tackle Flozell Adams

One of the NFL's top shutdown tackles has a major flaw in his game. Adams has committed 48 false start penalties in 10-plus NFL seasons, including a career-high 14 in 2007. Adams, who has a hearing impediment, worked diligently this offseason to stop jumping early. His only false start this season has come in the season-opener against Cleveland.


Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski

During the previous eight seasons, Janikowski's 76.8 field-goal percentage was three points below the NFL average. Yet the Raiders continued to stick with Janikowski because of his leg strength (and the possible refusal to admit it was a mistake to use a 2000 first-round draft choice on a kicker).

Such patience may finally be paying dividends. Janikowski is 9-for-10 in field goals this season, with his only miss coming on a 76-yard attempt ordered by former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.


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