Every year, new stars pop up in the NFL. Young stars have breakout seasons, rookies exceed expectations, veterans finally live up to theirs, even Pro-Bowlers have Hall-of-Fame seasons.
More often than not, these seasons prove to be no flukes, but I have picked five NFL stars who I believe will struggle to find the same success they enjoyed last year.
Despite this enormous hype behind Michael Vick and the Eagles, I left Vick off this list because he will be used to a 16-game season, and he won't get tired and regress like he did towards the end of last season
Before I begin, I want to remind everyone that I'm not necessarily saying all these players will have poor seasons, just not as good, or as spectacular as last season's.
Broncos wide receiver, Brandon Lloyd, probably paid for many of Kyle Orton's meals last season on his way to his first Pro Bowl.
I hesitate to even call this performance a resurgence because there was nothing for Lloyd to “re-surge” from. Despite being praised as having some of the best hands in football and making improbable catches that make you wonder how he hasn't had a more productive career, he's been sort of an enigma.
And like enigmas tend to do, Lloyd unpredictably busts out a monster season, leading the league in receiving yards with 1,448, coming on 77 catches, 11 of which were touchdown grabs.
To put this into better perspective, his career stats—including this past season—are 241 receptions for 3,818 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Yeah. His previous career highs? 48 receptions, 733 yards and five touchdowns.
Yes, he's Kyle Orton's favorite target, but it's looking more and more like the Broncos quarterback controversy will end in a “Breaking News!” headline, and a very possible chance that Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow will get some time under center at some point during the season.
If (or when) a switch is made, look for Lloyd to fall out of favor. His talent is no fluke, but his numbers exceeded expectations a year ago. Don't wait for the same output this season.
I've learned never to bet against Tom Brady or the Patriots. They're too good.
But Tom Brady's MVP performance last year was almost God-like. It had to be if he beat out Michael Vick's comeback. If it were anyone other than Tom Brady (or Peyton Manning), I'd be skeptical of some rules being violated, or robots being built.
And Brady puts these seasons together on the regular, like he's sitting back on his couch on game day playing franchise mode in Madden.
His QB rating was 111.0 and his touchdown to interception ratio was an extraterrestrial 36:4. And to think this wasn't even his best year.
I have no real argument against Brady posting a repeat or better performance except for that I refuse to believe humans are capable of such things. The season after he threw an NFL record 50 touchdowns, Brady tore his ACL in his first game against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was as if the Adjustment Bureau intervened to prevent him from improving upon his already gaudy numbers.
I expect another obstacle, perhaps not in the form on injury, to slow him down this year. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but something will alter the course of Brady's season. I promise. The NFL Gods will not let this happen.
I have no reason to doubt this guy is an elite running back in this league, but I will anyway. I mean, 1,616 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns in the NFL is excellent and hard to label a fluke, but I have my reasons.
Looking past the fact that I'd never heard of him before last season, my biggest issue is that he plays for the Houston Texans. Every time the Texans think they have a franchise running back on their team, he disappears.
In 2008, Steve Slaton exploded onto the scene with nearly 1,300 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. The next year: 437 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Domanick Williams (changed his name from Domanick Davis) had hopes of being that guy, but was released after three years of service, and we haven't heard from him since.
Arian Foster doesn't exactly have history on his side, here.
Another problem I have is with the Houston Texans defense. Sure, they added a couple new pieces to the secondary, and they have "Super" Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans anchoring the front seven, but they were still one of the worst defensive teams in the league last year.
If that continues, they will find themselves in more situations where they have to pass the ball rather than run. They'll be playing from behind, or they'll be in shoot-outs where teams get pass-happy.
I don't trust that Foster can repeat his on-the-field success, but only because he plays for the Texans.
Santana Moss had to have had the lowest of low-key Pro Bowl-worthy performances of anyone in football. On a Redskins team that was in limbo for most of the season with quarterback issues, Moss caught 93 balls for 1,115 yards and six touchdowns.
Donovan McNabb was his quarterback for most of last year. This year? It's a toss-up between Rex Grossman and John Beck. How excited are Washington fans right now? I know I'd be oozing with confidence if Grossman guaranteed a division championship.
Has there ever been a funnier sentence in recent football history? The Washington Redskins starting quarterback job is a coin-flip between Grossman and Beck. Wow.
On almost any other team, Moss could post up Pro Bowl numbers, but the chances of that happening in Washington this year are probably zero.
Good luck, Moss. I'll be shocked if he gets anywhere near 60 catches and gains any more than 700 yards.
I don't know whether it was Hasselbeck who wanted out of Seattle, or management was ready to move on, but it was a bad move for both sides. Not that Hasselbeck put up overwhelmingly great numbers last season (73.2 QB rating and more touchdowns than interceptions), but he did lead a bad team to the playoffs.
Instead of having him throw deep balls to Sidney Rice and new TE weapon Zach Miller, it's Tarvaris Jackson. What was the thought process in all of this?
Let's get rid of the guy who won us the division (albeit it being the worst division in football), orchestrated a tremendous upset over the defending champs, New Orleans Saints, in the first round, and let's replace him with a guy who's only highlights can be found in tape of Adrian Peterson breaking a big one?
And Hasselbeck chose the Titans—over the 49ers, Cardinals and Dolphins, all of whom are more talented overall—who will more likely than not, begin the season without Chris Johnson (holdout) and Kenny Britt (probable suspension).
I know that Hasselbeck has had to deal with a lack of talent at receiver before, but not like this.
Like I said, his numbers last year were borderline average, and despite good showings in the preseason, the way things are shaping up in Tennessee, he won't even reach the average milestone.
I don't know how much worse numbers can get when you throw more interceptions than touchdowns in a season, but we're going to see it happen in Tennessee.