During the 2018 NFL season, there were a lot of surprises in terms of player production, both positive and negative. On the negative side, there were some players who had a drop in production from the previous season. A few big-name stars either suffered injuries or were not able to play as well as they are accustomed to playing. Here are some of those players who disappointed last year, but each of whom is set to have a bounce-back season in the 2019 NFL season.
In 2018, Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson returned from a season-ending wrist injury the season before. His goal was to compile both 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. However, Johnson did not have a very successful season, rushing for 940 yards on only 3.6 yards a carry. He also caught 50 balls for only 446 receiving yards.
However, a lot of his drop in production can be attributed to the supporting cast. The Cardinals ended with the absolute worst offensive line in football, according to Pro Football Focus. The offensive line was inadequate at opening holes for the rushing attack. In addition, rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was inaccurate with the football, allowing defenses to focus in on stopping David Johnson.
While they did not totally revamp the offensive line, the Cardinals did add two solid veterans in the offseason. They signed offensive guard J.R. Sweezy and traded for offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, both of whom have been reliable linemen in the past. In addition, replacing Josh Rosen with Kyler Murray at the quarterback position gives defenses more to worry about. Not only is Murray more accurate with the football, possibly making teams pull an extra player or two out of the box, but he is also much more elusive. This could allow Johnson a little more time to get open and create more yards from dump-offs. DJ should be closer to his All-Pro self this year than to last year’s production.
Tate had a solid first half of the season while he was on the Detroit Lions, compiling 517 yards in just seven games. He was on pace to break 1,000 yards receiving before the Lions traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles. On the Eagles, Tate was never able to catch on completely with the chemistry of the team, partially because he was the fourth option. In Philadelphia, he only caught 30 passes in eight games for a meager 278 yards.
In the offseason, Tate signed with the New York Giants, who also traded away superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Tate will be Eli Manning’s slot receiver and potentially the first option in the receiving game. He is a yards-after-catch machine and will have plenty of opportunities to produce YAC this season. Because of his higher level of importance to the team, as well as full offseason to gain chemistry, Tate should bounce back with a productive season on the Giants.
Many people thought Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr would have his bounce-back season last year after joining forces with head coach Jon Gruden. However, that did not exactly come to fruition, as Carr ended the season with 19 touchdowns and ten interceptions, as the team limped to a 4-12 record. However, on a brighter note, he did finish the season throwing only two interceptions in the last 11 weeks (albeit both in the final game). He also had a 68.9 completion percentage and a career-high 4049 passing yards.
Carr’s season wasn’t as awful as it has been made out to be. However, he did struggle to throw the ball downfield and became more of a game manager. With another year under his belt of learning Jon Gruden’s offense, as well as the addition of a top receiver in Antonio Brown, Carr should be set to improve. He showed that he still has the ability to be accurate with the football. If Carr is able to hit Brown downfield or on crossing routes consistently, he could have a season much like 2016, when he earned MVP votes.
Earl Thomas had a unique reason for not producing in 2018. He was simply not on the field. Thomas suffered a season-ending broken leg in week three of the season. In the offseason, he left the revamping Seahawks defense and signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
That addition will be mutually beneficially, both to Baltimore as well as Thomas himself. The Ravens were one of the top two defenses in football last season. Even after losing a couple of players in the front seven, they have a talented defense. The talent surrounding Earl Thomas will allow him to use his best skills as a free-ranging safety. He will be free to roam the defensive backfield to make plays on the ball, breaking up passes and creating turnovers.
Earl Thomas just recently turned 30 years old and has a lot left in the tank. He still has excellent vision and speed. As long as Thomas can stay on the field and healthy, he will have a terrific season because of his skills and the players surrounding him.
Featured Image by Arizona Cardinals
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