NFL 2010: 10 Players Who Won't Be Better Than in 2009
A player's career in the NFL can be quite strange.
Some remain on top for a while, but there is always that one year they can never top.
Then fans wonder why they weren't as good as they were that one season.
With the 2010 season approaching, I'll save you some wondering.
These players will never be better than they were last season.
Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos
Dumervil had 17.0 sacks, 49 tackles, and four forced fumbles.
The 26-year-old got to the quarterback an obscene amount.
But look closer, and it's clear that he won't be hitting that sack mark again.
When the Denver Broncos were winning earlier in the season, Dumervil was getting to the quarterback. He had 10 sacks in the first six weeks, including four against the Cleveland Browns. The Broncos started 6-0 and looked unstoppable.
When the Broncos started losing, Dumervil's productivity dropped, and he was not nearly as effective in all aspects.
Nate Kaeding, San Diego Chargers
Kaeding kicked 32 field goals for a 91.4 efficiency percentage, while scoring 146 points.
For the first time in his career, he had over 30 field goals, and made over 90 percent of his kicks.
Kaeding kicked long, short, and in the middle. Until the playoffs. He missed three kicks versus the Jets, two of them being under 40 yards.
And because the Charger offense may not be as good, expect a drop in points scored.
Thomas Jones, Kansas City Chiefs (formerly New York Jets)
Jones ran for 1,402 rushing yards, 4.2 YPC, and 14 TDs.
Jones had perhaps the most conspicuous career season in 2009. It's unusual for a 31-year-old running back to rush for over 1,400 yards—he had a great offensive line—then change teams.
Jones will be splitting time next season with solid running back, Jamaal Charles.
He still has fresher legs than a lot of running backs over 30, but he'll be lucky to see 1,000 yards again.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson had 2,006 rushing yards, 14 rushing TDs, 50 receptions, 503 receiving yards, and two receiving TDs
He will never reach 2,000 yards again. He may still lead the league in rushing, but 2009 was his masterpiece.
Johnson had 358 rushing attempts, leading the league. At that pace, who knows how much longer he can hold up?
He was his entire team's offense last season, and his average yards per carry declined near the end of the season.
Johnson is also in the midst of a contract dispute. Look for him to drop to 1,500-yard seasons, and never flirt again with 2,000.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger threw for 4,328 passing yards, with a 66.6 completion percentage, 337 completions, and a 100.5 QB rating.
2009 may not have been his best in all statistical categories, but he was as accurate as could be.
Regardless of his off-the-field issues, the Steeler offense doesn't work as well when it has to be on Ben's shoulders. Don't expect his team to need 4,000 yards from him again.
Look at his career stats and an interesting dynamic emerges. Every other year, he drops off statistically. It's possible that he lacks focus coming off his best years. With the whirlwind expected this year, and the late start, it'll be even tougher to focus.
Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Welker caught 123 receptions for 1,348 yards in just 14 games.
After tearing his ACL and other ligaments last season, his road to recovery may be difficult.
And unfortunately, the rest of the pieces around him won't be as good next season.
Welker is only 29. He isn't a deep threat, but runs the under routes to perfection. He isn't afraid to get dirty over the middle, and takes advantage of coverage on other teammates.
With question marks surrounding his recovery and Randy Moss's future, Welker's decline will begin now.
It's possible that he hits 100 receptions again, but his astonishing pace last year won't be matched.
It's also quite possible that he misses a hefty portion of the year.
Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
Revis had six INTs and 31 passes deflected.
It's extremely difficult to judge a cornerback on stats. Darrelle Revis was a ballhawk last year and engulfed most receivers who dared face him.
Revis will still be a great cornerback, but this was his year. The defense around him was incredible and he was in a mental zone.
He won't see the ball thrown his way as much, which is the sign of great respect. He will need to figure out ways to not to get complacent and increase his versatility.
And will he ever play on an overall defense as good as the Jets were last season?
Revis wants a new contract and it will be interesting to see how he prepares himself for the upcoming season.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati Bengals
Benson ran for 1,251 yards, six TDs, and 4.2 YPC in just 13 games.
Cedric Benson has finally arrived in the NFL. He is coming off two incredible seasons.
So why am I capping him out at 1,251 yards?
It's not just the off-the-field issues that make me wonder if he truly has matured.
First, his body has not yet been able to survive a full season. As he gets older, this will be a bigger problem.
Next, his speed. He's more of a bruising back who doesn't have the breakaway ability to go for 75 yards on a single rush. He methodically gains his yards by running over the other team. That doesn't fit with his lack of durability.
With Bernard Scott proving to be a worthwhile backup, look for Benson to give up a few of his carries to try to sustain his health.
He'll have a good year, perhaps even reach 1,000 yards, but don't expect more.
Steve Smith, New York Giants
Smith caught 107 receptions for 1,220 yards and seven TDs.
The New York Giants needed a receiver in 2009, and Smith stepped up to the plate.
His 107 catches broke the Giant franchise record for receptions in a single season. And it will be the only time that he catches over 100 balls.
Smith is a very sound receiver, who lacks a certain element. He isn't a deep threat, but a solid underneath receiver. He has good quickness to get open on short routes and is willing to catch over the middle.
Many compare his style to Wes Welker, but his surrounding cast isn't as good. Eli Manning is a good, but not great QB.
After his breakout season, defenses will have a better idea about where to cut him off.
Smith also has competing receivers, and a running game that should pick up. Look for him to fall to 80 to 85 receptions, and barely eclipse 1,000 yards.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Schaub threw for 4,770 yards and 29 TDs, with a 68 percent completion rate and a 98.6 QB rating
People have said for years, "If Matt Schaub can stay healthy, he'll be great."
Schaub finally stayed healthy, and with Andre Johnson, one of the best wide receivers in the league on his side, he had a fantastic year.
But the Texans put a lot on his shoulders last season. He had no running game.
Next year, he should have some extra help, and that should lessen some of his burden. He can be a consistent 4,000 yard thrower, but those extra 700 yards won't be needed.
His accuracy will remain strong as long as Andre Johnson still remains a Texan, but question marks do remain.
Will Schaub stay healthy? Will Owen Daniels recover and return as his safety valve? Will the team have a running game? Will the offensive line pass block as well as they did?
So who else will join this list after the upcoming season?
Will the competition from Dez Bryant cut into Miles Austin's production after the 2010 season?
How about Ray Rice? Will he eclipse 1,500 yards in 2010 and top out?
What are your thoughts?