Aaron Rodgers and 9 Other NFL Studs Who Will Soon Erupt
We see it every year. An NFL player is coming off an amazing season surely putting his name in the conversation for best ever at the position.
The offseason comes, and he's a sure thing to produce this year. Heck, it's a given! Fantasy drafts come and go, people selecting him high, positive that he's worthy of an early pick.
Then Week 1 comes, and he doesn't produce. Oh well, must be just an off week, it is the first week of the season, after all. Week 2: same thing, and so on until the player becomes a one-hit wonder.
This doesn't have to be the case, though. Some studs have the skill to turn it around after a few rough weeks, and while the young 2012 season has had its share of surprising underachievers, there are many who are about to explode back onto the scene.
Who are they? Glad you asked. Here are 10 NFL studs who are about to go off.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers. A-Rodg (you're welcome) led his team to a 15-1 record in the regular season last year before losing in their first playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champs.
Rodgers and the Packers offense were exciting and explosive, and they had a seemingly endless list of guys who could come in and produce.
This season so far? Not so much.
Rodgers had just three touchdowns compared to his two interceptions in the first three games this season, very uncharacteristic looking at his 45:6 ratio from last season.
Either way, Rodgers and his receivers just haven't looked like the squad Packers fans were treated to last season, barely gaining 1,000 yards so far this year.
But fear not, cheeseheads, as you saw on Sunday against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, the A-Rodg you know and love is back on track. Rodgers went 31-of-41 for more than 300 yards passing along with his four touchdown passes.
What Aaron and the Pack did to the Saints is just a preview. Rodgers and the Packers have a pretty soft schedule (minus the Texans) coming up, and the leader of the cheeseheads is poised to go off.
Speaking of the Saints...
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
Marques Colston had a great season with Drew Brees at the helm last year.
Colston had more than 1,000 yards receiving along with eight touchdowns. There were only three games in the whole 2011 NFL season that Colston didn't record five or more catches.
This year, Colston only has one game with five or more catches. With a very young receiving corps, Colston was being looked at as the obvious No. 1 target for the Saints.
Now, battling an early injury and an 0-4 record, Colston hasn't done much...yet.
We saw Brees connect with Colston nine times on Sunday in Green Bay after hauling in only 12 catches in the first three games.
So while Saints fans and fantasy owners may be crying, Colston is looking more sure of his feet and is finding himself open down the field again, something that Brees definitely saw on Sunday and will continue to see in the coming weeks.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
While Witten had just five touchdowns last season for the Cowboys, he was one of Tony Romo's favorite targets when America's team needed a big play.
Witten had more than 900 yards receiving last season and was continuing to look like one of the best tight ends on the gridiron.
That is, until the offseason. Since then, Witten has had spleen issues and an impressive young receiving unit for the Cowboys seeing a lot of his targets.
While it may look bleak for Witten, who has just eight catches for 76 yards (23 of those came on one catch) and is currently leading the league in drops, have no fear.
Witten is still one of the best tight ends in the game, and as he continues to get healthy and when he finally shakes the mental issues associated with an injury, his play will improve.
The Cowboys have a tough schedule coming up, and as the games become more serious, Romo will go back to his security blanket. As the young receivers continue to make big plays, it'll take some of the coverage off of Witten and let him get back on the right track.
It might not be this week against the Ravens, but Witten will have a big game soon.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have a hard enough time as it is, but throw in an injury-prone superstar not playing at a high level? That's downright sad.
The NFL fans have all seen McFadden's potential watching his six games with more than 100 yards rushing in 2010 and two games with more than 150 yards on the ground last season. However, injuries and a rough offense has made this could-be star look like more of a dud.
Keep in mind, though, that McFadden is still dealing with a shoulder injury. Once he's feeling 100 percent, he's going to have a breakout performance.
Looking at the Raiders' schedule, they have Atlanta in Week 6. 4-0 yes, but the Falcons are also giving up over 145 yards rushing a game, the fourth worst in the league.
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are undefeated, Matt Ryan is looking like an early MVP candidate, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez haven't missed a step and Michael Turner is running like the premier back that he is—wait. He's not?
Michael Turner rushed for more than 1,300 yards last season. In the first four games this year? 257 yards.
Turner rushed for 80 yards two weeks ago and 103 yards this week, but keep in mind that in both of these games he had at least one rush for more than 20 yards.
Turner hasn't had a huge game yet this season, but he's going to soon. The Falcons offense is rolling for the most part, and Turner is too good to not get it going.
As the passing game continues to look great, defenses will take focus away from Turner, allowing him to play like we all know he can.
Oh yeah, this week the Falcons take on the Redskins. Last time Turner played the Redskins? 166 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Antonio Gates is in the same boat as Jason Witten.
Gates is one of the best tight ends in the game who just hasn't produced much this season.
Gates had almost 800 yards receiving last year with seven touchdowns and was one of Phillip Rivers' favorite targets.
This year is Gates' 10th season in the league, and so far that's about the only milestone he looks like he's going to hit this year. Gates has just 10 catches this season and hasn't found the end zone yet.
While it may look like the batteries are dead in the big tight end, expect Gates to find a jolt and get back into the Chargers offense. Gates has great hands and can move well for a big guy, and a game against the 0-4 New Orleans Saints is just the thing to get him going.
Watch for Gates to find the end zone for the first time this year against the 24th-ranked pass defense next week in a big-time performance.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
You could really put most of the Green Bay roster on this list, but Greg Jennings has years of experience on Jordy Nelson, who's having a rough go of it as well.
Jennings has been one of the biggest weapons on the Green Bay offense in the past few years, catching more than 20 touchdowns from Rodgers.
This season, Jennings has had a hard time staying on the field with a few injuries, but once he's healthy, he's going to have a huge game. Rodgers looked like himself for the first time this season against the Saints, and the offense was looking solid.
As the offense and Jennings' health begin to improve, No. 85 will have some huge games. My money is on October 14th against the Jets if he stays healthy.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
Steven Jackson is an obvious name for this list.
Jackson has been a franchise back for the Rams, supplying them with the only real consistency since they were the "Greatest Show on Turf."
Even when the Rams weren't great, Jackson found ways to make plays and rack up yardage.
This year, Jackson has faded into the dark blue background in St. Louis while guys like Danny Amendola have stepped in to steal the spotlight. Jackson has 195 yards on 59 carries, which averages out to just over three yards per rush. Along with the poor average, Jackson has yet to find the end zone this season.
He won't stay lost for long, though. Jackson is going to erupt either against a middle-of-the-road Arizona team next week or against the Packers' struggling defense in two weeks.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick has had a rough season so far.
He's been so banged up that he has a fancy Kevlar vest, he lost to the Cardinals and people have started asking for other QBs in Philly.
Vick is also 3-1, winning two games by just one point and beating the defending Super Bowl champs last night by two.
Vick may have a great record right now, but his play has been rough. He's rushed for just 130 yards, running fewer designed runs than we've seen in the past, and he's thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Still, he is 3-1.
As the Eagles keep squeaking by with wins, Vick's confidence will grow. Vick isn't just going to turn his play around, he's going to explode. Vick is going to end up having a great season, and it's all going to start against the Titans on October 11th. The young weapons on the Philly offense will keep making plays, and Vick will emerge as the Vick of old.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions quarterback is coming off an amazing season.
Last year, Stafford threw for more than 5,000 yards and had an amazing touchdown-to-interception ratio of 41 to 16.
Stafford brought the Lions to the playoffs and gave Detroit something to be excited about.
This season, the Lions look like the Lions of old. The Lions are just 1-3, barely beating the Rams in the first week of the season. While the defense and special teams seem to be the biggest issues for the Lions, Stafford is right up there. Stafford has just three touchdowns compared to his four interceptions.
Stafford didn't even have more total interceptions than touchdowns in all of last season.
While Stafford isn't playing up to his numbers in 2011, he's going to get there. If Stafford stays healthy, he'll be back to normal, throwing for four, five and six touchdowns a game, and it's all going to come very soon.
Keep an eye on Stafford against the Eagles next week to have a huge week.
So, what do you think? Do you agree that these players will all make a comeback? Which ones will and which won't? Did I leave someone off the list?
Let me know what you think in the comments, and thanks for reading!