Season Changers: The Five Offensive Players That Can Change This NFL Season

Ian SwobodaContributor ISeptember 26, 2010

DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 19:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles calls the play in the huddle during the third quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 19, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Eagles defeated the Lions 35-32.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

This list of the five most important players to the Rest of NFL Season is in no particular order.  These are the five players that contain the most value to his team’s success.  This not only includes what they can bring to the table but also what is lost if the player does not play.  So without further ado, let’s get this thing going:


Michael Vick


Vick was the most electrifying player in the NFL before he went to jail.  There was not a Mike Vick moment that did leave fans and players awestruck.  His only downfall always seemed to be his ability to pass.  After his performances in the past three weeks since taking over for Kevin Kolb, he has showed a well-rounded game that compliments the offense that the Eagles are trying to run.  Vick has looked to mature since his time in prison and continued to grow as a player even while he was away from the game.  Watch for the importance of Vick to increase as the Eagles continue to win games.  It is very hard to plan and prepare for a Mike Vick that can run and pass.  He had almost 300 yards passing and three passing touchdowns this week against the Jaguars.  Although Jacksonville’s defense is nowhere near was it was a couple of years ago, 3 passing touchdowns by Michael Vick is a real improvement and makes the Eagles really exciting to watch for the rest of the season.


Santonio Holmes


I know this guy has not played in four weeks.  I know he seems to enjoy marijuana over football but he is a true talent.  This is coming from a person that hates Ohio State and Pittsburgh.  This guy has been a star since his days as a Buckeye and showed that he could play in the NFL.  He then excelled in the NFL leading up to a Super Bowl MVP.  This is a player that has to prove that he is worth more than a fifth round draft pick.  Holmes is also valuable for more than the chip on his shoulder.  If anybody watched “Hard Knocks” they would see that Mark Sanchez and Santonio had a special connection.  If this connection can be brought into the season, then the Jets’ offense has the opportunity to be explosive if Sanchez can air the ball out to Holmes, opening holes and defenses for Shonn Greene to run through.  Wait another week and get excited for this transcendent talent coming back with a chip on his shoulder and a spotlight in this offense.


Rashard Mendenhall


I don’t care what anybody says, this player will not change once his quarterback comes back.  Whether the team has Roethlisberger or not, they will always run the ball.  The Steelers offensive line seems to be doing their job this year and the defense will give the offense plenty of possession time.  Watch for Mendenhall’s carries to drop a little but for his Yards Per Carry to rise.  He will have more openings to run through once Roethlisberger returns, making opponents think about the pass a little more than they do now.  Mendenhall is also a special talent.  He has the speed to break away for big runs but also enough power and brute to run between the tackles.  He also is not like other running backs in the league that is splitting time.  He is getting more than four times the carries as Isaac Redman, the backup, and also has every rushing touchdown for the Steelers this season.  Mendenhall will continue to do his job and that is necessary for the Steelers to win.


Jermaine Gresham


It’s hard to believe that with the big names on the Bengals’ offense, that Gresham would be the most important player on the team but it is absolutely true.  Think for a second about the tools that Jermaine Gresham has.  He runs like a wide receiver.  He has the body of a tight end and he blocks like a lineman.  Not too mention he has an excellent character record, which is vital to the Bengals’ success.  Carson Palmer has been missing  a big target for years and Gresham can stretch the field unlike anything Ochocinco or Owens could ever do.  Once the Bengals realize that they can pass him the ball in the red zone, the offense will become explosive.  This is not a team that needs to worry about what Cedric Benson said about getting the ball.  Cedric Benson can continue to complain because the way that the Bengals will be the most successful is to make the most use out of Gresham as possible.  If you are a Bengals’ fan, hope that Gresham gets more looks.


Jay Cutler


What is the difference between the 2009 Bears and the 2010 Bears?  Yes, the record has looks relatively the same as the 3-1 record to start out last year.  The biggest difference is Jay Cutler.  Cutler had 5 interceptions through the first four games.  Through the first two, Jay only has one interception.  In order for the Bears to be successful, Cutler must play better.  He needs to find the blinding speed of Devin Hester and awake the fantasy sleeper wide receiver Devin Aroshmadu.  Jay Cutler had 26 interceptions this year.  Behind Mike Martz’s revamped offense, Cutler has excelled with the short passes.  The Bears’ quarterback looked nervous and out of place last year.  This year, the baby-faced quarterback has shown a little more confidence and a little more determination.  I truly believe he is mad about his poor performance last year and wants to improve and show he is still the strong-armed gunslinger that was so successful in Denver.  If this pans out for the Bears, this team could be dangerous behind a wide open throwing attack and a strong defense.  Do not give up on Cutler if he falters a little on Monday Night against the Packers.  This is a division game  between two teams that hate each other.  The Packers’ defense is strong and could affect Jay Cutler.


These five players may not be the highest fantasy point getters.  They might not have the most stats but in order for these five teams to be successful, these five players must continue to widen their roles in the given offenses.  If any of these players go down to injury or become lost in the offense, look for their teams to also struggle.