Every year in the NFL, a handful of highly regarded players have disappointing seasons after being very successful one season prior. 2011 will be no different. In fact, with the NFL lockout depleting crucial offseason preparation time, some players could take an even steeper nosedive.
One of those players could be the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner.
Turner is a stud who plays for a Super Bowl-caliber team that just added another dangerous weapon to its already-lethal backfield. Julio Jones joins Turner, Roddy White and Matt Ryan to form a monstrous quartet in the Falcons' offense.
So how is it likely that Turner will regress in 2011? Let's find out.
Including Turner, here are seven NFL stars whose play will decline in the 2011 season.
Sources: WalterFootball.com, NFL.com, ESPN.com
Michael Turner recorded 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground for a very good Atlanta Falcons team in 2010.
The Falcons practically traded their souls to Cleveland for the sixth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft so they could select star Alabama receiver Julio Jones. With Jones across from Roddy White, quarterback Matt Ryan should have a career year.
Normally this would lead to better stats for Turner, as defenses will not be able to key in on him as much. However, a couple of things are working against the 5'10", 244 pound back in 2011.
First, Turner led the league in carries last season, and Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com points out that the league leader in carries usually regresses the next season.
A great example of this is Turner himself, who had only 871 yards in 11 games in 2009 after toting the rock a whopping 376 times in 2008.
Turner averaged 3.3, 2.8, 3.9 and 3.9 yards per carry in each of his final four 2010 games, respectively. This could be an omen of things to come in 2011.
The second reason is the NFL lockout. Julio Jones won't have near as much time to learn the offense before the season begins, and this could indirectly affect Turner. If Jones isn't effective early in the season, defenses will be able to focus more on Turner anyway.
The Falcon's star back is a stud, but he's set to take a step back in 2011.
Once a stud receiver, Cincinnati's Chad Ochocinco has become more of a diva than a football player.
Ochocinco had a halfway decent season in 2010, catching 67 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns. However, compared to some of his earlier years, most would consider the season a disappointment.
Unfortunately for Bengals fans, he's probably going to do even worse in 2011.
Quarterback Carson Palmer doesn't seem to want anything to do with Cincinnati, so the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton to lead the offense. On top of being a rookie, the TCU product will be even further behind as a result of the lockout.
This doesn't bode well for any Cincinnati receivers.
Instead of being the steady veteran leader that the Bengals need him to be, Ochocinco seems inexplicably focused on just about everything but football.
The Bengals seem to have noticed. Chad Ochocinco won't have another good NFL season.
Santana Moss has had six good seasons with the Washington Redskins. He was able to put up an impressive 93 catches for 1,115 yards and six touchdowns in 2010 despite inconsistent play from Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman.
However, with both McNabb and Grossman likely on their way out the door, Moss may be completely out of luck.
Depending on who the Redskins obtain at quarterback through free agency, Moss could end up posting another good season. But I wouldn't count on it.
The 32-year-old Moss relies on speed, and that is usually one of the first things to go.
Also, Washington's running game could be abysmal in 2011. Clinton Portis is burned out and nobody else on the roster sticks out. Ryan Torain and rookie Roy Helu Jr. could share the carries, but neither will take much pressure off the passing game.
Moss won't likely have much help from under center either, even if McNabb or Grossman sticks around.
Moss's only shot is to go somewhere else, and even if he does that, he could be too old to make a smooth transition.
Cassel returns with go-to receiver Dwayne Bowe, prolific running back Jamaal Charles, and rookie stud Jonathan Baldwin, so how could he possibly regress?
Cassel's notable season could have been a farce.
Dwayne Bowe caught 15 of Cassel's 27 touchdown passes last season, and Bowe had never caught nearly that many touchdowns in any season before. If Bowe can't continue his production, Cassel will fall off as well.
Unfortunately, that is a very real possibility with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis leaving to head up the Florida Gators' attack. And since Baldwin might struggle like many other rookies because of the lockout, Cassel won't have as much help as he normally would.
Walter Cherepinsky explains, "When Cassel was finally confronted with a tough opponent, he predictably struggled, going 9-of-18 for 70 yards and three interceptions against the Ravens. Charlie Weis is gone, which is a huge blow for Cassel. He's really going to regress in 2011."
Matt Cassel is overrated as an NFL starter, and 2011 won't be as kind to him as 2010 was.
Once labeled a bust, former Texas Longhorns superstar Cedric Benson has ressurected his career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
After underachieving for three years, the Chicago Bears parted ways with Benson. He ended up with Cincinnati, and in 2009, he broke out with 1,251 yards and six touchdowns on 301 carries.
Benson had a second consecutive 1,000 yard season in 2010, rushing for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns. However, with 321 carries, his average carry came out to be just 3.5 yards.
As of now, it looks like the situation in Cincinnati will only get worse. Rookies Andy Dalton and AJ Green will be leading the passing attack, and the lockout will hinder the progress of both of them.
Since defenses will be able to put even more focus on the running game, the 28 year old Benson will have his worst season since 2008.
After toiling in relative obscurity for seven seasons, the Broncos' Brandon Lloyd finally came into his own and had a breakout season.
A bright spot for Denver in 2010, Lloyd caught 77 passes for an impressive 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. And when rookie Tim Tebow took over the starting quarterback job late in the season, Lloyd didn't seem to miss a beat.
However, Lloyd may be in for a reality check when the 2011 season rolls around.
While Tebow is a great football player and an even better person, the fact remains that his passing skills leave much to be desired at this point. As long as Tebow is under center, the passing game will be somewhat limited.
On top of that, Tebow's development is further hindered by the NFL lockout since the most important aspect of the former Florida Gator's progress is coaching.
So even though Lloyd may not have been a one-year wonder, he won't have near the success he had in '10.
Joe Flacco had a good year for the Baltimore Ravens in 2010 and is one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL.
However, the Ravens have failed to get Flacco a true No. 1 receiver.
Anquan Boldin was arguably Flacco’s best receiver, but underachieved after having a prolific career with the Arizona Cardinals. The seemingly ageless Derrick Mason finally seemed to drop off in 2010, and TJ Houshmandzadeh is well past his prime.
That leaves rookie Torrey Smith of Maryland to pick up the slack. As with many other rookies, the lockout will cut practice time drastically and probably hinder Smith’s development as a result.
While it’s been debated whether or not Boldin will rebound in 2010 (my vote is no), what cannot be argued is that Baltimore’s receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired.
The accumulative impact of the listed reasons will cause Flacco to suffer a bit of a regression in 2011.