In the NFL today even the best players have off years. This is due to many reasons including injuries, new teams, new teammates, new playbooks, being paid the big contract and so forth. But what makes them all great players is how they bounce the following year after a down year. Here are a few players that had off years and I expect them all to bounce back like never before.
1. Joe Flacco-QB Ravens: Flacco certainly in need of a great season and looks like he’s ready to have one. Ravens fans become the biggest critics around and last year just added fuel to the fire. After getting a record-breaking contract at that time following his great playoff and super bowl run he has a terrible season.
It was the first time that he missed the playoffs after the team finished with an 8-8 record. He also threw a career high 22 interceptions with only 19 touchdowns. He was sacked a career high 48 times and his completion percentage of 59% was his second lowest ever. He also set a career low with a 73.1 passer rating. Some people blame the bad season on super bowl hangover, injuries and roster turnover. He will have no excuse this year with everyone coming back healthy and the addition of Steve Smith and Owen Daniels.
2. Michael Crabtree-WR 49ers: If you’re looking for Crabtree to have a great season after missing 11 games last year with injury. Look for him to shine and be more motivated and make a statement since this is also his contract year.
Personally I think he is the second best wide receiver on his team behind the underrated Boldin who took over as Colin Kaepernick's go to guy last year. With the injury he set career lows in receptions (19) yards (284) and touchdowns (one).
Look for him to come out and prove he is the teams’ number one wide receiver and that he deserves a big contract.
3. Ray Rice-RB Ravens: Another Raven has made the list and has something to prove this season after a terrible 2013 and troublesome off season. Did the super bowl hangover affect him also last year with Flacco? Is age catching up to him as a NFL running-back? Rice had only 660 yards on the ground last year; the only other season with lower numbers on the ground was his rookie season. He averaged a career low 3.1 yards per carry and only found the end zone four times. He looked slimmer and faster during the teams OTA’s. I think Ray will return to the running-back that we all know him to be and he will put last season and his off the field issues behind him as he regains his top form.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew RB Raiders: He's back home in the bay area and the scenery change will give the nine year vet life. Playing in front of family and friends eight games will be just what he needs to get his career back on track. Along with the fact the Raiders have plenty of questions at the quarterback position and not many others weapons on the offensive side of the ball besides McFadden who cant seem to play more then four games a season I see them feeding the ball to Jones-Drew often. He will take full advantage of the opportunities that he gets this upcoming season.
5. Doug Martin- RB Tampa Bay: After setting the NFL on fire in his rookie campaign, his follow up season was a huge disappointment that end with a torn labrum. Martin put up great numbers in his rookie season with almost 2000 yards from scrimmage and 12 TD’s he didn’t get 600 yards from scrimmage last season and only managed to find the end zone just once. He did only play six games after the injury but he just didn’t show flashes of greatness before the injury. Was it just the sophomore slump or was his rookie season a fluke?
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