New Stays: 10 Players Who Have Made the Biggest Impacts Since Switching Teams
Who are the top-10 players that have made the biggest impact since switching teams in 2012?
We have one-quarter of the 2012 NFL regular season in the books. That represents enough of a sample size of results to detect who have been the key players that have helped to transform their new team, or made the biggest impact since they switched uniforms.
The players in this presentation could have been the result of signing with a new team in free agency, they could call a new team home since they came out of retirement, or they could have switched teams due to a trade.
Whatever the reason that the player is now calling a new team home, we are very interested to see how they are functioning in their new residence. If they aren't performing at the high level that they were previously known for, are they stepping in other ways to still make a big impact on their new team?
We are looking at the big picture as well as personal production in our attempt to identify the top-10 players that have made the biggest impact on their new teams in the 2012 season to date. All the statistics and rankings in the presentation were updated coming into the Monday Night Football game for Week 4.
10) the Quiet Impact Players
Some players that joined new teams in 2012 make a large splash or impact, while others are much more subtle or quiet in the value that they bring to the table. This slide is dedicated to the players that don't make a huge contribution on the surface, but the coaches and general manager know full well how much value they bring to the team.
I am focusing primarily on the key quarterback moves that were made in the 2012 season, as some quarterbacks switched teams, but didn't wind up as the starter. Those players specifically are:
Kyle Orton (Dallas), Chad Henne (Jacksonville), Tim Tebow (New York Jets), Matt Flynn (Seattle), Jason Campbell (Chicago), Brady Quinn (Kansas City), Travaris Jackson (Buffalo), Matt Leinart (Oakland) and Charlie Whitehurst (San Diego). Some of these quarterbacks may never see a single snap this year. But the mere fact that they are on the roster makes enough of an impact by elevating the level of play of the starter and motivating the starter to stay on top of their game.
Even though he hasn't made a big statistical impact so far, this would also be the proper place to mention San Francisco 49ers WR Randy Moss, who's impact can be found in the film room, at meetings and on the practice field.
We could try to go around the league, position by position, to create a much longer list, but I think you get the point. Veteran players are brought in to challenge the starters, keep a certain level of competition on the team so that nobody takes their job for granted. It also helps starters to maintain an edge to their game.
9) St. Louis Rams CB Cortland Finnegan
His presence on the team may not wind up making a huge difference when it comes to the win-loss record, but St. Louis Rams CB Cortland Finnegan is demonstrating first-hand to his fellow new secondary members how to personally create turnovers and play a better brand of pass defense.
There are a number of young members to the Rams secondary, and nobody will be in better position to learn from Finnegan than rookie CB's Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. Johnson came up with one of the three interceptions that the Rams made on Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, that allowed the Rams to upset the Seahawks and even their record at 2-2.
Finnegan is tied for No. 2 in the NFL after four weeks with three interceptions on the young season. Averaging nearly one interception per game is one way to get the attention and respect of your teammates, not to mention something that will have your head coach jumping up and down about on the sidelines (see photo). It is also a great way to make a lasting impression on rookies that are looking for an example to follow.
8) Cincinnati Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
The Cincinnati Bengals decided to let free agent Cedric Benson walk away in free agency, and that decision was made easier when the Bengals signed RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis to join the team.
Green-Ellis brings fresher legs to the Bengals, and the team hasn't really missed a beat by making the change. After four weeks, Green-Ellis is averaging 71.5 yards per game, which is a pace that would put him at 1,144 yards for the season. He already has two rushing touchdowns, so if he comes up with double-digit TD's for the season, that would be another plus for his impact.
The Bengals are cruising along at 3-1 and the offense is looking good due to the additions of Green-Ellis, change of pace receiver Andrew Hawkins, and the emergence of WR Armon Binns. The only issue with Green-Ellis is that he needs to cut down on his fumbles, as he has fumbled three times on the year, and lost two of them.
7) Carolina Panthers DE Dwan Edwards
What has gotten into defensive end Dwan Edwards? Ever since he has become a starter for the Carolina Panthers at defensive end, Edwards has displayed pass rushing skills that his two-previous employers, the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills, only wished that they had seen first-hand.
In four short weeks, Edwards has already piled up 3.5 sacks, which ties him for No. 12 in the league. He has also forced a fumble to go with all the sacks.
Sounds pretty good you think, but then you realize that in his first four games in Carolina, Edwards has already eclipsed the sacks total that he generated in five years with the Ravens and has tied the sacks total he had with the Bills in his two combined seasons there.
Something about Carolina is very agreeable with Edwards. They needed help on defense, which was their Achilles' heel in 2011. Let's see what kind of impact Edwards continues to make throughout the final 14 weeks.
6) Atlanta Falcons LB Curtis Lofton
On the surface, you look at the 0-4 record of the New Orleans Saints and you wonder how much of a difference it would have made if Sean Payton were allowed to still coach the team.
But then you look at the scores, and the Saints have literally been in every game this year, as the losing margin so far has read like this: eight points, eight points, three points and one point.
One player that has made an impact on the Saints and allowed them to be in every contest is linebacker Curtis Lofton. The Saints got Lofton during the 2012 free agency period. What has Lofton done to make a solid impact on his new team?
Lofton has registered 44 tackles over the first four games, which places him just one tackle behind NFL leader, San Francisco 49ers LB NaVarro Bowman with 45. Lofton is tied with Minnesota Vikings LB Chad Greenway and Tennessee Titans LB Akeem Ayers with 44 tackles.
The next closest person on the Saints defense is Malcolm Jenkins with 33. In addition to the tackles, Lofton has also deflected two passes. The Saints have too much talent to go much longer without a win, but Lofton has certainly met the Saints expectations, and then some.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is ranked at No. 30 after four weeks, as they are only generating 276 yards per game. Just try to picture where they would be without WR Vincent Jackson?
So far in four games, Jackson has caught 16 passes for an average gain of 19 yards per catch. Any time you can pick up almost 20 yards on an average pass to a player, that is somebody that is making a huge impact for your team.
Jackson now has 304 yards in receptions on the year, while Mike Williams has 219 yards. Nobody else on the team has cracked 100 yards in receptions. Jackson also leads the team with seven receptions of passes that were 20-plus yards, which is another way that he is making a major impact on the team.
The Bucs are still learning the new offense that coordinator Mike Sullivan is installing this year. New coordinators seldom work miracles in three weeks, and Sullivan is no exception. But as the season continues to progress, look for the Bucs to continue to target Jackson to make big plays for them.
4) New England WR Brandon Lloyd
New England Patriots WR Brandon Lloyd has made an impact on the New England Patriots offense. After four games, Lloyd has received 40 targets from Tom Brady, which ties him for No. 8 in the NFL in that category.
Of all his various options in the Patriots offense, Brady has thrown the most passes to Lloyd so far this year. That is saying something about his impact, when you consider the other options like Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski.
Lloyd is tied with Welker with 25 receptions, which is good for No. 8 in the league. In the 2012 season, Lloyd has caught 25 passes for 287 yards, averaging 11.5 yards per reception and has three catches that have gone for at least 20-plus yards. Lloyd has one touchdown catch on the year.
Clearly Brady likes throwing the ball to Lloyd. He wouldn't be looking his way so often if he didn't trust him or if he wasn't getting open. With the injury to Aaron Hernandez, Lloyd will be taking on an even bigger role in the Patriots offense going forward, while we wait for an updated medical report on when Hernandez will return to action.
3) Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall
Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall has helped to transform the Bears passing attack. He has been the leading receiver in two of the Bears first three games and is clearly the favorite target of Jay Cutler.
Coming into the Monday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Marshall has registered 16 catches in the first three games for 214 yards. He is averaging 13.4 yards per reception, has caught one touchdown pass and is averaging 71.3 receiving yards per game.
Due to the presence of Marshall, the opposing defenses will have to game plan for him, which should eventually open things up for Matt Forte.
Marshall also has three catches for at least 20-plus yards on the year, so his big play ability will continue to improve the Bears offense in 2012.
2) Dallas Cowboys CB Brandon Carr
It is probably just a coincidence that the No. 2 and No. 3 players that appear in the presentation will be squaring off against each other in the Week 4 Monday Night Football game.
I am not sure how often that Cowboys CB Brandon Carr will be asked to defend against Brandon Marshall, but I will be looking forward to watching how the Cowboys secondary will try to contain the Bears passing attack. No doubt that will be one of the major keys to this game.
When the Dallas Cowboys signed free agent Carr to a big deal in the 2012 offseason, it figured that the Cowboys pass defense would improve, but nobody knew for sure by how much. You can consider three weeks of play a rather small sample size (which it is), but you can't argue the fact that the Cowboys currently are ranked as No. 1 in pass defense in the league.
Coming into the MNF game, the Cowboys have only allowed 137 passing yards per game, which is easily the best in the NFL. The No. 2 pass defense is Houston and they give up 183 yards per game. Between the addition of Carr and first-round draft pick Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys have transformed their pass defense in short order. Playing in the NFC East, they had to revamp with all of the talented QB's they face.
After three games the Cowboys defense has come up with seven sacks, which has them ranked at No. 20 in that category coming into the Bears game. That is another example of how well the secondary is playing, and the impact that Carr has made on the defense.
1) Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning
The three-ring circus that featured Peyton Manning's search in the 2012 offseason for a new team to play for included some of the most intense media coverage you can possibly imagine. Footage of him boarding a plane, watching the plane take off, or footage of him riding in a car to the airport. The coverage was so crazy that it bordered on driving viewers insane.
Fast-forward to four games as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, we notice that Manning has led the team to a 2-2 start, trailing the San Diego Chargers by one game for the division lead in the AFC West.
To date, Manning has completed 99 of his 153 pass attempts, good for 1,162 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. He averages 278 passing yards per game, and 7.6 yards per attempt. He is completing 64.7 percent of his passes. On the downside, Manning has three interceptions and been sacked eight times.
From a league wide perspective, Manning is tied with Matt Ryan for passing yards at No. 6 in the NFL. His QB Passer Rating of 96.9 has him ranked at No. 10 in the league.
But the biggest impact for Manning is that he has elevated the level of the Broncos team. They beat a quality team in Pittsburgh to open up the year, and they lost by six points to both Atlanta and Houston, which are two of the three undefeated teams in the NFL. Nothing to be ashamed of there at all.
Manning will keep the Broncos in the hunt for the AFC West all season. The fact that he has survived the eight sacks and is still functioning so well, has to be gratifying for everyone connected in bringing Manning to Denver.
The only problem I know of involved in creating top-10 lists is that you run the risk of leaving off some very talented players that could have easily have made the presentation, and ticking off all the fans of that team in the process.
With that being said, here are some other players that have made a positive impact on their new teams in 2012, that deserve some consideration.
GB C Jeff Saturday
BALT WR/KR Jacoby Jones
CHIC RB Michael Bush
KC RB Peyton Hillis
GB RB Cedric Benson
NYG TE Martellus Bennett
INDY WR Donnie Avery
BUF DE Mario Williams
OAK LB Philip Wheeler
PHIL LB DeMeco Ryans
KC CB Stanford Routt
NYJ S LaRon Landry
N.E. S Steve Gregory
WASH WR Pierre Garcon
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