Breaking Out or Breaking Down: 10 Players Who May Have a Seesaw Season
Throughout the NFL regular season, many players go through some rough patches in their careers. Like a hitter in baseball, many players suffer through a "football slump" only to come out on the other side looking fresher and more ready than ever.
It's always a tough job predicting who will have a "hot-and-cold" type season, but it can be extremely rewarding knowing that somewhere along the line, your prediction has come true.
In 2010, many players are poised for breakout years, while others are destined to struggle.
Therefore, questions must be asked: Who should we expect to fall into a slump? And which players will have a topsy-turvey style season?
It's no easy task, but here is a look at 10 NFL players who may have a seesaw season.
10. Ryan Grant - Green Bay Packers
I've always stuck up for Ryan Grant through thick and thin. It seems just when people predict he will have a poor game, he comes back with a bang and posts decent stats on the way toward a Green Bay victory.
However, his inconsistency in recent years has proven to be a problem. As a Packers fan, there have been numerous occasions where I have found myself yelling at the TV due to a Grant gain of a measly two yards, and therefore I can no longer stick up for him like I used to.
With this said, Grant has shown a lot of NFL fans that he still has what it takes. After posting 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, Grant's newfound potential explosiveness leaves Green Bay fans finally confident in their running game.
But like every once-inconsistent player, some scrutiny and questioning will pop up every now and again. Many have labeled Grant as a highly capable running back, but have failed to criticize his game.
At times, Grant struggles, and most of the time it is against top defenses in the league that are experienced in the art of silencing a explosive running back.
Grant may be on the edge of potential greatness and glory in Green Bay; however, we really don't know what to expect right now. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Grant's 2010 season could go either way.
9. Brett Favre - Minnesota Vikings
Brett Favre posting an inconsistent season? No way. Get out of town.
Well, come to think of it, maybe this idea isn't as crazy as it may seem.
Last year, at this very time in the offseason, no one really knew what to expect from Brett Favre in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. It's safe to say now, though, that he earned his paycheck.
So what about 2010? Fresh off ankle surgery, and well into the older stages of his career, can Favre consistently post the same stats game after game (including interceptions) as he did in 2009?
Well, if history proves noteworthy, the answer is a big fat yes. When Favre had shoulder surgery, he bounced back like Flubber. Beautiful passes capped off with the usual Favre enthusiasm left fans thinking that No. 4 was definitely invincible.
However, as fun as it is to relive old memories, Favre is old. God himself isn't going to be as kind to Brett as he has been in the past and indeed his old and worn-out body is surely due to slow down.
Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Favre may not be at his very best this season.
It's a statement that I expect to gain some nasty comments out of, although I do feel that a select group of sensible fans will realize that Favre's possible 2010 campaign won't go down as expected.
Favre is still to decide on his future, and if all goes wrong, he may actually retire for good. With this said, we can't count Favre out especially due to injury.
Is a seesaw season ahead? Possibly, but we'll have to wait and see.
8. Chad Henne - Miami Dolphins
If there is one word to describe Chad Henne, it would be impressive.
His 2,878 yards last season, along with 12 touchdowns, left most people with no other option but to praise his overall work ethic and ability.
Unfortunately for Henne, though, his impressive stats have yet to convince absolutely everybody. Still a young quarterback that is inexperienced, his impressive season as the Dolphins starter still leaves a lot to be desired.
The one criticism that seems to appear the most when considering Henne is in regards to whether or not he can stay balanced, poised, and maintain composure against league leading defenses.
At times last season, the Dolphins rallied extremely well against tougher opponents. Heck, they almost beat Indianapolis in the early stages of the season. However, the key word here is "almost," as the Dolphins still failed to get the job done.
Henne needs to step his game up a notch and tell everyone why he is the Dolphins starter and should be considered as an elite passer.
Now that Brandon Marshall is with the Dolphins, this should help Henne immensely, especially when it comes to locating a go-to guy against top-ranked pass defenses.
Right now Henne's season could go either way. Chad Pennington is still breathing down his neck, and the demand of a top-caliber wide receiver goes without mentioning.
I'm not saying that Henne will completely fall off the bandwagon, but we may see another Matt Ryan of 2009-type case this season. A great starting season, followed by a disappointing second year.
7. Terrell Owens - Free Agent
For the most part, Terrell Owens has left us in the dark in regards to his NFL future. So far, a few teams have been mentioned and linked to Owens, but an outcome is yet to be decided.
The most recent one, of course, is Chicago, as Owens has taken it upon himself to hunt down Jay Cutler in Chicago and scout-out a possible contract.
Quite frankly, this isn't surprising. Owens is no stranger to conflict, and if he wants something he will do his damnedest to get it.
Aside from T.O's future, though, his skills must be analyzed. In his time with Buffalo, he seemed a little quiet. He was overshadowed, outplayed, and sometimes failed to even make headlines.
Perhaps this was due to T.O. playing with a small market team, or perhaps it was due to the poor stats that he posted and the overall disappointing 2009 season.
Whichever one it was, how will T.O. really do in 2010?
Honestly, I have no clue. On one hand I relive the past, and remember just how dominant T.O. can be at the wide receiver position given the right quarterback and the right coaching.
On the other hand, I see a worn out wide receiver who is looking to settle down like an old cat looking for a warm place to sleep.
If one thing is for sure, T.O. is still the same controversial wide receiver he always has been. So it probably isn't the smartest idea to completely write him off and state that he will never be the same.
Will he post an above 1,000 yard season? Who knows.
He does, of course, have to find a team first. However, should T.O. sign somewhere, just expect him to play with a content attitude. He may speak out, but he shouldn't do overly poor or overly well.
A well balanced season is favorable for T.O., especially in the later stages of his career.
6. Shonn Greene - New York Jets
Shonn Greene impressed a lot of people last season. His stats weren't at all impressive, but the fact that he was, for the most part, a well-stabilized running back convinced Jets fans that he had a solid future.
Now, one man stands in Greene's future, and his name isn't Rex Ryan. It is LaDainain Tomlinson, and unfortunately for Greene, he is the favored starter in New York.
I guess Greene has every right to feel a little cheated out of the starting role, but it is quite stupid to assume that a top-flight running back will be benched over a second year player.
Aside from all of this controversy, Greene simply needs to strive off of the few minutes he sees of the playing field in New York. Greene won't be totally benched and never seen again for the Jets, but his playing time will be cut in half.
With this said, there is no reason for Greene to collapse entirely. Rex Ryan has faith in him, and he is still a very promising young player. If one thing is for sure, Greene simply needs to have confidence.
An overly-great season probably isn't expected from Greene right now, but that isn't to say that he can't have a remarkable second year.
A seesaw season perhaps? Extremely possible. It all depends on how much playing time he truly receives.
5. Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons
Like Ryan Grant, I have always been a homer for Matt Ryan.
I bought his jersey during his rookie year, and like most people, jumped on the bandwagon as everyone expected this young man to strive in the NFL.
Now, not to say that Ryan hasn't strived for success, but he hasn't exactly been all he was originally cracked up to be. I guess you could say Ryan has suffered from the "second-year blues".
During his rookie year Ryan was great. He threw a touchdown pass on his very first NFL possession, and from then on was loved by Falcon fans and NFL fans in general.
Heading into 2009, the same was expected. Another breakout year capped-off by a possible deep playoff campaign seemed to be in the cards for Ryan and the Falcons.
Unfortunately for Atlanta though, New Orleans had something to say about that, and as a result Ryan struggled in the confidence department.
Now, I know what you are thinking, "Matt Ryan wasn't the sole reason for the Falcons' 8-8 record." While this is entirely true, Matt Ryan simply disappointed a lot of people.
So what should we expect in 2010?
Easy. A new Matt Ryan, at least in the first four weeks or so. The true test for Ryan will come against the top NFC contenders, and whether or not he can still play a decent game.
With this said, Ryan may be in for another rather frustrating season. For his sake I hope he does extremely well, as he is quite possibly the future of the NFL.
But Ryan can only do as much as the Falcons allow him to.
4. Vince Young - Tennessee Titans
Put a smile on, because the Vince Young of old is finally back.
Okay, so there are a few minor screws that need tightening in Vince's game, but who can't help but get excited for the former Texas quarterback's future? I know I can't.
So what does Vince need to do in 2010?
It's quite simple, really: Post a consistent season. No disappointing losses, no poor games, and more importantly, keeping a firm focus on the playoffs.
While these ideas are nice, some may argue that Vince isn't yet capable of achieving all three. Personally, I like to believe in Vince Young. He is a hard worker and has overcome so much.
Therefore, Vince is either going to come out in gun-slinging fashion or he will have yet another mediocre season.
For the most part, Vince is a quarterback that is hard to put a finger on. He is due for a big season though, and desperately needs to convince any doubters that he is the real deal, and not just another flash in the pan.
Vince has already had his fair share of seesaw seasons, so it is debatable that he may have another in 2010.
At the end of the day, it is all on Vince's shoulders. For once, he needs to carry the Titans in every game, instead of the Titans carrying him.
3. Austin Collie - Indianapolis Colts
One season under his belt and runner up in the Super Bowl. Pretty impressive, right?
However, aside from how impressive Austin Collie was last season, his stats struggled. Perhaps it was due to the expectations and competition in Indianapolis, but Collie showed signs of inexperience and fatigue in games that truly mattered.
Collie's big year is 2010. He has the best quarterback in the game delivering passes to him, and the expectations from Colts fans are high for this young man's future.
Like every young wide receiver though, every now and again he is going to crack under pressure, so no one should expect Collie to be outstanding in every single game.
In 2009, Collie posted 676 yards and seven touchdowns. Dismal stats by some people's standards, but perhaps a mere start in the promising career of No. 17.
So how will Collie do in 2010? It can be summed up in two words: Extremely well.
He's had his disappointing season, and it is time to make up for it. Expect Peyton Manning to come out and target Collie this season and test his ability.
It will be an interesting watch for fans, so lets just hope that Collie's season stays on the right path.
2. Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers
Ah, Big Ben Roethlisberger. The controversial quarterback that has just about the whole world criticizing him right now.
Like Brett Favre, it is unusual to suggest that a well-established quarterback may struggle heading into a season. However, when you've been through so much scrutiny and questioning as Big Ben has, a question must be asked as to whether or not he can maintain himself under such immense pressure.
In recent years, Ben Roethlisberger has always been the humble quarterback. A two-time Super Bowl Champion who has been prone to a concussion or two, Ben has avoided media attention, aside from a silly motorcycle crash two years ago.
Now, he is like the Brett Favre on 2009. No one knows what to expect, and all eyes will be watching when he starts for the Steelers in 2010.
He's got the experience, he's got the coaching, but does he have the mental composure not to crack under pressure?
It's a question with no answer, and the answer may just come in a topsy-turvey season. Big Ben hasn't always been the brightest quarterback in the league, so it will be interesting to see how he does when the world tunes in to see how ole' No. 7 performs.
1. Jason Campbell - Oakland Raiders
Give Jason Campbell credit. He's stepped into a team that most players wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole.
In the past three months or so, I tended to criticize Campbell a little when he was a Washington Redskin. His talent was always questionable, and it seemed whenever he was expected to break out of his shell, he retreated and stuck to his guns.
Now we find ourselves looking at a new Jason Campbell, and one that has to adjust to a below .500 team that struggles year in and year out to have a well-balanced season.
For the most part, Campbell is used to being with a rebuilding team. But since becoming an Oakland Raider, the pressure is on Campbell to turn this team around and provide a throwing presence that can finally please Raider fans.
Like Green Bay and Minnesota in 2009, Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell are likely to be compared all season long. Who will come out on top is a mystery, but if one thing is for sure, Campbell may not have the most consistent season that he would like.
As far as talent goes on the Raiders, a lot is to be desired. Particularity at the wide receiver position.
Therefore, a more than serious question must be asked. Can Campbell play every game with the intensity, skill, and talent that allows the Raiders to at least have a chance at winning?
Realistically, the answer is no, as the Raiders defense still won't match up all that well against top AFC teams.
Despite Oakland's impressive draft campaign, Campbell is a marked man. Ife he fails, he'll be labeled as yet another footnote in Raiders history. If he succeeds, he will go down as a lifesaver of an organization that was turmoil-stricken.
Which one will it be, Jason? There is simply no two ways about it.