One of my yearly traditions is to predict what players at each position I feel will break out in the upcoming NFL season. With a month or so until training camp starts, now is a good time to recap what I expected out of players last year. This starts with the quarterbacks. While other quarterbacks that weren’t mentioned here (Cam Newton and Alex Smith to name a few) broke out this past season there are only three players here which is lower than in years past. Here is what I originally said about the players can be found here.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: Last year I said the only question surrounding Stafford was if he could stay on the field. With the amount of playmakers on the Lions roster, I also thought a 4,000 yard, 30 touchdown season was well in reach. Stafford made it through the whole year and even surpassed my expectations.
For the year, Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards to go along with 41 touchdown passes and led the Lions to their first playoff berth since 1999. Stafford also was very impressive in bringing his team back into games as he had three fourth quarter comebacks on the season. With Calvin Johnson signed to a long term deal and players such as Titus Young coming into their own, Stafford should develop into one of the league’s elite quarterbacks for years to come.
Hit or miss: Hit
Kevin Kolb, Cardinals: Big things were expected in the desert for Kolb when he arrived as it looked like he would be the first legitimate quarterback the Cardinals would have since Kurt Warner. Kolb’s season was cut short by concussions as he only played in nine games. In that span he threw for 1,955 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. In those nine games, Kolb was also sacked 30 times on the year and with the length the NFL is now going to with concussions; it is unclear if this will affect him for the rest of the year.
He will go into training camp competing for the starting job against John Skelton who helped the Cardinals win six of their seven games going 5-2 in the games he started. Due to the hefty price the Cardinals paid for him last offseason, the job should be Kolb’s to lose.
Hit or miss: Miss
Chad Henne, Dolphins: I wrote last year that 2011 was a “make or break year” for Henne. Unfortunately, he was put on injured reserve for a shoulder injury he suffered in the fourth game of the season. I attended Henne’s first game of the year on Monday night against the Patriots and it looked like he was poised for a big year. Henne seemed more confident, was standing tall in the pocket, showed sneaky athleticism and put up big numbers with 475 total yards and three total touchdowns.
His inconsistency showed the next game though as he completed only 40 percent of his passes in a loss to the Texans. This offseason, Henne signed with the Jaguars to compete for the starting job with Blaine Gabbert. The new Jaguars coaching staff has no prior commitment to Gabbert who was the number ten pick in 2011 so Henne has a chance. While Gabbert should win the starting job out of camp if he struggles, don’t be surprised if Henne comes in sooner rather than later.
Hit or miss: Miss