Vincent Jackson and 4 NFL Superstars Who Will Struggle in 2012
Every once in a while, even a superstar athlete in the NFL suffers from a down year.
The true superstars will rebound in the following year, while others fade away and aren't heard from again.
Last year, Chris Johnson flopped big time after a contract dispute all offseason. Jamaal Charles suffered a torn ACL and missed the entire season.
It's a tough thing to project. Johnson looked unstoppable in 2010 before his less-than-stellar 2011 season.
That's the reason why they are superstars. They've proven over a series of seasons they can get it done.
Here's a look at some superstars in the NFL who have the potential of struggling in 2012 for different reasons.
1. Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson developed into Philip Rivers' favorite target during his time with the San Diego Chargers.
In the offseason, Jackson decided to leave in free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to try to help quarterback Josh Freeman.
It's a move that should eventually pay off for the Bucs, but there will be a transition period for Jackson as well as Freeman.
Jackson will need to get acquainted with head coach Greg Schiano's system while Freeman will have to get used to how Jackson runs his routes.
Chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver is arguably more important than any other position on the field. It takes time for both the quarterback and receiver to get on the same page.
Jackson is a talented player but will struggle to put up another 1,000-yard season with his new team in 2012.
2. Mario Williams
Mario Williams is similar to Jackson in that he changed teams this offseason after getting a huge contract.
The Bills are taking a huge risk by signing Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract coming off a torn pectoral muscle injury.
The Bills are looking for Williams to be a huge difference maker on defense by signing him to that deal.
Since Williams is coming off that injury and going to a new team, it's going to be tough for him to make that type of impact.
Williams is still getting adjusted to playing to the linebacker position. He got off to a good start in 2011 before the injury but didn't register a sack against Miami, who he'll have to face twice a year.
Obviously, Tom Brady gets rid of the ball with quick, short passes in New England and the Jets are still a playoff team.
By receiving that type of contract, the Bills are looking for Williams to play like a superstar, but there are many factors that are working against him going into 2012.
3. Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham is going to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL in the upcoming years.
However, he is coming off a record-setting year, and the Saints seem to have bad karma around the team heading into this season.
It's more of just a hunch than anything, but it's going to be nearly impossible for him to come close to the 1,310 yards and 99 catches he put up last year.
Drew Brees is still in a contract dispute with the organization, so that could limit his time on the field this offseason.
It's easy to forget that last year was just Graham's second year in the league. He looks to be set up for a great career.
However, the Saints team just has too many distractions around them this year, and I see Graham's play suffering from it.
4. Cam Newton
Fans and analysts have already proclaimed Cam Newton a superstar after just one year in the NFL. It's hard to blame anyone for it after he threw for over 4,000 yards in his rookie season.
However, the Panthers didn't make many upgrades to their offense for 2012, which could mean a sophomore slump for Newton.
Newton is a unique blend of arm strength, size, speed and agility that the NFL has never seen in a quarterback.
However, as a passer, Newton showed that he was a rookie by throwing 17 interceptions to 21 passing touchdowns. A decent ratio, but not great.
Also, in his last three games, he failed to throw for over 200 yards in any of those games.
Newton will continue to score touchdowns through the air and on the ground. However, there is little chance that he throws for over 4,000 yards in his sophomore season.
5. Fred Jackson
The biggest bust in the 2011 season belonged to Chris Johnson, and there are similarities between him and Fred Jackson.
It's a slightly different situation but still is worth noting.
The Bills running back became a fantasy stud last year by being both a runner and receiver out of the backfield.
Jackson received a contract extension, albeit small, during the offseason. Sounds a lot like Johnson.
Jackson's 2011 season was cut short due to a calf injury which could hinder him going into this season.
A running back's life span is short in the current NFL, and Jackson did so much for the Bills offense in 2011.
Jackson is over 30 years old now and could unfortunately start to see a decline in his performance in 2012.