Success often comes down to an equation of Opportunity + Luck + Performance.
A.J. Green has been given a terrific opportunity in Cincinnati and his performance hasn't been anything short of amazing. He's single-handedly made Andy Dalton look like a better player than he actually has been, and the Cincinnati Bengals look like a better team than they are.
Dalton has fallen into traps of locking onto one receiver too early in his reads, and that has tipped defenders to where he is going to throw ball. However, Green has been able to consistently fight his way back to the ball and at least swat the ball away from possible defenders to prevent interceptions.
Dalton has also been throwing a lot of inaccurate passes. His first half against the Buffalo Bills was one of the worst quarterbacking performances I've ever witnessed, and I lived through the David Klingler and Akili Smith eras in Cincinnati, so I know a thing or two about bad quarterbacks.
Again, Green has been able to bail Cincinnati out though. When Dalton gets into these situations the Bengals start running vertical, downfield routes and just throw the ball up to Green, who has consistently made miraculous game-changing plays.
Green is going to be unstoppable by 2013 as long as that third part of that equation—luck—doesn't affect him too negatively.
Here are five other players that we'll be discussing similarly during the first year of the Michelle Bachmann administration, which coincidentally would also be the first year I move to Canada, or England, or well, anywhere else.
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Jones is probably one of the "luckiest" players ever to enter the NFL. Here is an elite college talent who was drafted onto a playoff-ready team. Most great college players have to go to struggling teams, but Jones was drafted by the Falcons and placed into a situation crafted for him to succeed.
The Falcons haven't been the high-scoring powerhouse we expected just yet, but I fully expect them to have strong second half of the 2011 season, and Julio Jones will be a major reason why.
However, 2012 will be Jones' coming-out party. Once he's had a full season to work on timing with Matt Ryan, and a full season to learn the nuances of the offense, he's going to be an unstoppable force.
I watched Cam Newton at Auburn and saw a difference-maker. He was a fierce competitor, and you could tell that defenses just didn't have an answer for him.
My audition article for Bleacher Report was actually a piece detailing three or five reasons why I thought Cam Newton was going to have a great rookie season. Most of the reasons centered around the fact that Newton was going into an offense with quality options at tight ends to work as safety outlets if he got in trouble; also, that he could make plays with his feet and he wouldn't have much pressure on him because they would run the ball so much and likely not try to throw the ball downfield too often.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
Newton has obviously been a huge success in his rookie season, but it hasn't been because of a conservative, run-first Panthers offense; it's been because Newton is a dynamic gunslinger of a quarterback.
Newton throws the ball downfield on a consistent basis, and he's made some downright amazing throws to Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. Smith already has more yards in seven games this season than he had in 14 games last season.
Newton's dynamic playmaking ability with his feet has resulted in seven rushing touchdowns as well. So far he's been amazing and I don't see any reason why he won't continue to get better and become even more unstoppable.
This kid is legit.
If Haden were on a decent team in a bigger market then I think you would already be watching ESPN Sunday Morning Countdown pieces breaking down his dominance.
Haden is able to single-handedly shut down opposing teams' No. 1 options and is a central reason that the Browns are 3-3 this season.
Look for Haden to become even more unstoppable as he learns the nuances of each individual star receiver.
What's the central factor to Luck's equation for success? Well, luck of course.
If Luck is lucky enough to be drafted by the Colts with their lucky horseshoe logo and all, then expect 2013 to be the year Manning turns the reins over to the young quarterback.
Luck will be serving a dream apprenticeship under arguably the best quarterback in the history of the sport. I fully expect him to have an Aaron Rodgers-like career if he does in fact end up with Indianapolis, making him and the Colts unstoppable.
I don't have any rooting interest in Notre Dame whatsoever, but I never miss one of their games. I watch simply to see Manti Te'o do his thing.
Te'o is going to be the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year and he's going to be the next Ray Lewis. I don't have any doubt.
He led Notre Dame with 133 tackles in 13 games last season, and this season he already has 69 tackles in just seven games. He has great instincts for following the ball, and he's even become a better pass rusher this season.
Te'o is projected to be drafted anywhere from 10th to 15th in next year's draft, which means there are likely to be nine to 14 teams upset with themselves for passing on a truly unstoppable, difference-making, defensive playmaker.