Below are the top five players that are under the most pressure as we enter the 202 regular season:
5. Brandon Weeden, QB Cleveland Browns
At number five we start with the 28 year old quarterback, who was drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns organization found a way to throw two curveballs on draft night: moving up one spot to grab injury-prone Trent Richardson and then using their 22nd pick to grab a quarterback that should be in his prime, age-wise. With the Browns fans being harsh already, they will are expecting big things from their new quarterback in Cleveland. Due to his age, the fans believe that Weeden will bring a mature phase to his game in his transition to the pros. The quarterback position in Cleveland has been horrible over the past few years, examples include: Tim Couch (winning percentage-.373), Derek Anderson (.471), and most recently, Colt McCoy (.286). Fans are going to put pressure on their rookie quarterback early, especially if he is not getting the job done. He must show consistency and poise his first year to win over the fans, or he might lose his job.
4. Tony Romo, QB Dallas Cowboys
Dallas, Dallas, Dallas! I know, that’s all anyone ever talks about, but this is about the new word being thrown around by Tony Romo, “elite”. This offseason had an ongoing debate upon whether the leader of “America’s Team” should be considered with the elites of the entire league. Fellow teammate Demarcus Ware commented on the subject, “I look at (Romo) and say he is (an elite quarterback). He’s been that way every year. We’ve just got to find some way to get there. It takes a team. It’s not just the offense; it’s not just the defense or special teams”. His career statistics are impressive with 149 touchdowns, 72 interceptions and a QB rating of 96.9. His stats are the showing of an elite quarterback, but the argument then moves on to the amount of wins, and depth into the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys have had a very impressive team but their window is closing for the playoffs; Tony Romo will be pressured just like any past quarterback on “America’s Team”. He better perform like his teammates, fans, and organization expects of him, or he could soon be out the door in D-Town.
3. Sidney Rice, WR Seattle Seahawks
Sidney Rice? Yeah, remember him? He was that one player that signed that 5-year; $41 million with $18.5 million guaranteed along with a $6 million signing bonus, but is now known for becoming familiar with the PUP list in his time in Seattle. His nine games at Seattle are followed by mediocre stats: 32 receptions, 484 yards, and a total of two touchdowns. That’s a lot of money for a player that is constantly battling injuries and taking up so much cap space. There has to be pressure for Rice to perform after Seattle has decided to cut Mike Williams. There is a great possibility that there will be a new quarterback starting this year for the Seahawks in Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson. If the Seahawks have a healthy Sidney Rice, the transition should be easier for the Seahawks true number one receiver. Questions will arise from fans if Sidney Rice does not perform this year. The expectations will be based off the money he received and if he doesn’t return to his 09’ form, it is doubtful Rice will still be with Seattle.
2. Blaine Gabbert, QB Jacksonville Jaguars
Next on the list is the tenth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert in his rookie year was expected to help lead a promising pass game but fell way short of expectations in his 2012 campaign. After a very disappointing season, the organization looked to help their future quarterback out by drafting Justin Blackmon, whom was ranked the top wide receiver of the 2012 class. This draft pick displays the trust the organization has in their first round selection, Blaine Gabbert. With a big weapon found in Justin Blackmon, Gabbert has the chance to gain chemistry with him as they hopefully are a part of the organization for years to come. Pressure will arise for the hopeful ‘Most Improved Player’ in his second season, while fans and critics will analyze the opportunity for Gabbert to improve after a poor rookie year. His success can be determined by what the organization does with the Maurice Jones-Drew situation; the NFL’s best running back last year is holding out for more money after a stellar season. With MJD back, it would be hard for Gabbert not to improve upon the last season unless injuries arise around him. A second year in the system along with a full offseason (lockout last year deprived rookies of interactions with the coaching staff), a better wide receiver corps, and a hopefully back (and happy) MJD to take pressure off the passing game.
1. Mark Sanchez, QB New York Jets
Nation’s question: When is it TebowTime? With the acquisition of Tim Tebow in the offseason by the Jets, who was a proven winner last year by topping the Steelers in a huge overtime win, why wouldn’t they be asking the question of a possible quarterback switch? Why else would an organization trade for another quarterback (that has won in the postseason) if they would not want to play him, to create a competitive vibe on their football team? Mark Sanchez has been nothing but mediocre during his three years starting for the New York Jets, and during those three years, Coach Rex Ryan has promised nothing but Super Bowls to the city of New York- inserting more pressure on the quarterback to perform at an all-star level. New York is a hard place to play especially when every fan expects Mark Sanchez to become the next Joe Namath, but now Mark Sanchez has Tim Tebow breathing down his neck. Whenever an incomplete pass is thrown, fans will slowly (but surely) cheer for #15 to come in at quarterback and lead them to the promise land. Pressure will always be on Mark Sanchez to be the fifth overall pick that the city wants, and Tebow will be waiting for his moment to make the team his….