August 28, 2012
The 2012 NFL season is set to kick off in just a few short weeks and this season promises to be nothing less than fantastic.
While every team has their own storylines to follow, a few stick out and will shape the NFL landscape in 2012.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the upcoming headlines of the 2012 NFL season.
No. 5: Randy Moss Returns to the NFL
Love him or hate him, Randy Moss is one of the most polarizing wide receivers in NFL history. Now a member of the San Francisco 49ers after taking a season off, Moss is just another reason to believe that the Niners will be serious Super Bowl contenders this season. Their defense became the most feared in the NFL in 2011 as it was their offense that fans were skeptical of. Niners fans should have nothing but smiles on their faces because the organization boosted their offense with the likes of Moss this offseason. Everyone knows that he can be downright awesome when he wants to be and all signs indicate that he wants to be. Keep an eye on Moss.
No. 4: The New York Jets Quarterback Carousel
The New York Jets had a more than interesting offseason. After signing quarterback Mark Sanchez to a healthy extension, the team traded for Tim Tebow. Everybody expected a circus and they won’t be disappointed. The debate on who should start for the J-E-T-S, Jets!, Jets!, Jets! won’t end until one of the contenders is unable to answer the bell. One thing is for certain, Tebow will score at least 12 touchdowns on the ground this year.
No. 3: The Carolina Panthers are a Super Bowl Sleeper
Believe it or not, the Carolina Panthers are a deep Super Bowl sleeper this season. Behind quarterback Cam Newton and wide receiver Steve Smith, the Panthers are explosive on offense. Don’t forget that they have a 1-2 punch in running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, too. Combined with an improved defense and the belief that offensive lineman Ryan Kalil has instilled in the team, the Panthers will be for real. Kalil recently took out a full-page ad in the local newspaper stating that the Panthers would win the Super Bowl this season. Gotta love it.
No. 2: Peyton Manning’s Return from Injury
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning is now a member of the Denver Broncos, but fans shouldn’t expect anything but the usual from him this season. Yes, he’s had multiple neck surgeries, but even at 85 percent, Manning is better than 90 percent of NFL quarterbacks. Manning is a true competitor that wants to do nothing less than to prove his doubters wrong.
No. 1: The Highly Anticipated Debuts of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III
Whose better, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III? Who cares, these kids are pure excitement on a field. Drafted No. 1 and 2 overall in the 2012 NFL draft, these guys are the two most anticipated quarterbacks to enter the NFL since Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf in 1998. Not only are fans of the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins in for a treat, but the entire league is in for something special. These guys will simply dominate the headlines this season, get used to it.
June 18, 2012
As recently as two years ago, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ochocinco were three of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL. Each was a few years past his respective prime, but still able to contribute heavily. The trio combined for more than 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2010, and the group was still a potent bunch.
Two years later, though, and it’s a different story.
Moss didn’t play last season and after a brief retirement, signed with the San Francisco 49ers for 2012. Moss may be the biggest question mark as he had the worst numbers of the three players in 2010. He failed to make big splashes with any of the three (yes, three) teams for which he played. Moss had brief stints with the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans, but had a hard time fitting in with any of them, even though he previously had done well with the Patriots.
An offseason injury in 2011 forced Terrell Owens to the sideline. He was deemed ready to play by his agent and even held a televised workout in October, but no NFL teams attended. With no other options, Owens suited up for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, playing there earlier this year, but has since been released.
After a solid 2010, Chad Ochocinco dropped off in a big way last season. Playing for the New England Patriots, he never fully grasped the system and simply wasn’t a good fit. He had the worst season of his career with only 276 receiving yards and a single touchdown.
Even though all three have question marks, each is headed in different directions as I see it.
Of the three, Owens’ career may be the one most in danger. The fact that his workout in 2011 drew no NFL interest shows exactly where he stands in terms of league appeal. And while he had a productive 2010 playing alongside Ochocinco in Cincinnati, he wasn’t able to dominate the Indoor Football League this past season. Owens played in only eight games, so it’s not fair to judge him based on total numbers. But his per game average of 52.9 yards a game wasn’t even in the league’s top 20 and he was merely a good, not great, wideout. For a player trying to get back to the NFL, it isn’t terribly impressive that he wasn’t even among the best receivers in an indoor league. It’s a different brand of football, but Owens’ skill should still translate into better numbers.
Moss, on the other hand, will have an immediate opportunity. He’s headed to a 49ers team that is in desperate need of an upgraded passing attack. Alex Smith has become a serviceable quarterback, but will have a chance to get even better if Moss is in shape. Even in his older age, Moss has a chance to become a top target in San Fran. Still, it’s hard to put his dismal 2010 out of mind. When you think about his inability to fit with any of the three teams for which he played, it’s pretty unsettling. The bottom line is that while he’s getting yet another shot, there’s no guarantee Moss will work out.
Ochocinco recently signed with the Miami Dolphins and may have the best chance to revive his career simply because he’s the youngest. At only 34, there’s still plenty of time for him to be effective. His numbers were incredibly low last season, but there’s good reason to think that his year was a bit of an anomaly. Playing in New England as a wide receiver is a bit different than many places. The Patriots emphasize finding the open man rather than looking for specific targets – it’s one of the reasons why unknowns can produce big seasons there. The other thing to like about Ochocinco is that even while playing alongside Owens in 2010, he still racked up over 800 yards receiving and caught nearly 70 passes. Playing in Miami, he’ll become one of the focal points of the passing game since the Dolphins allowed their No. 1 receiver, Brandon Marshall, to go to the Chicago Bears. Ochocinco will be the star in Miami and could even be in line for a 1,000-yard season if he’s still healthy. If you need another reason for his potential success, look no further than the Dolphins’ potent rushing game, which was 11th in the NFL. That should free up the passing game a bit and give Ochocinco an even bigger chance for success.
If anything slows him down this year, it will be the quarterback situation. The Dolphins selected Ryan Tannehill in the first round and could be forced to play him early on. That could prevent Ochocinco from having a huge season if Tannehill has some growing pains, but Miami also has veterans David Garrard and Matt Moore in place. Neither is great, but both are capable NFL quarterbacks.
All three have a chance to become impact receivers again, but my bet is on Ochocinco to do the most with the remainder of his career.