Sunday, July 31, 2011

Five Players That Need To Prove Themselves: Sanchez, Romo, Asomugha, AP, Bush

In the NFL, your reputation is only as good as last season, or possibly the last game.  Whether due to injury, increased expectations, or former reputation, the following five players need to have a great season in order for their team to go far:

  • Mark Sanchez -  It depends on who you talk to about Sanchez: he's either vastly over-rated or the next Tom Brady.  Despite the couple of nice comebacks he had last year in games, overall his performance ranks him as one of the worst statistical starting quarterbacks in the league.  The Jets need for him to be a consistent performer, and if he can improve his accuracy and be more aggressive, the Jets might be unstoppable.  Here's where he ranked in certain QB stat categories last year:
    • Passer Rating - 27th (75.3)
    • Completion Percentage - 29th (54.8)
    • Yards/Attempt - 26th (6.49)
    • Touchdowns - 19th (17) Tied with Rothlisberger, who missed four games
    • Yards/Game - 26th (206)
  • Tony Romo - Coming off a season where he only played 6 games due to a shoulder injury, Romo will counted on to finally get the Cowboys back into the playoffs.  This will be Romo's sixth season as starter on a team that has been through a great deal of turmoil in the past few seasons.  A lot of that has seemingly been corrected with the hiring of Jason Garrett to replace Wade Phillips.  The new head coach brought in Rob Ryan in as defensive coordinator to fix the league's worst defense (taking a lot of pressure off of Romo), and the Cowboys finally cut loose disgruntled underachieving wide receiver Roy Williams.  Romo simply is out of any excuse to not perform well and lead the team well into the playoffs.
  • Nnamdi Asomugha - Heralded as the top free agent acquisition this year, he is now on a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.  That's a far cry from when he toiled in relative obscurity in Oakland for the past few years.  He'll be lining up against players like Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Hakeem Nicks, Santana Moss, Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress, and playing against quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Sam Bradford, and Matt Ryan.  That doesn't even count Aaron Rodgers, if the Eagles and Packers face each other in the playoffs.  That's a far cry from the competition in the AFC west he's faced the past two years. If Asomugha doesn't perform up to expectations, the Eagles don't have a shot at making the Super Bowl.
  • Reggie Bush - Dealt from the New Orleans Saints to the Miami Dolphins after a disappointing five-year stint in the Bayou, Bush should have a lot to prove.  Injury-plagued during his career, he has only played in 60 regular season games (out of a possible 80). In those 60 games, Bush has only accumulated roughly 4,000 yards in total yards running and receiving (average of 67 yards/game).  Considering he was a #2-overall selection and that he played in one of the NFL's most productive offenses, Bush's struggles are mystifying.  However, he has a fresh start on a team without a lot of offensive weapons, and so he figures to be a focus of the offense in a way he never was with the Saints.  

  • Adrian Peterson - The Minnesota Vikings running back looks to rebound after a couple of frustrating seasons with Brett Favre at the helm and a coach that seemed to forget Peterson was on the team in the second half of games.  During an outstanding season in 2008, in which he was the focus of the offense, he had 363 rushing attempts.  In 2009, he had 314 attempts followed by 283 in 2010.  Peterson will become the focus of the offense once again, but will his body be able to continue to produce especially if his workload dramatically increases?  The Vikings are already projected by many to be at the bottom of the NFC North this year, but a great season by Peterson could propel the Vikings to a winning season.

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