We are roughly two weeks away from the NFL season opening up with training camps. Every team heading into the season always has questions. Can Carson Wentz stay healthy? Is this the final year of the Belichick/Brady era? Also we head into the season with the famous phrase, “make or break season” for players. Who on your team is in a make or break season? Here is my list of players I think are entering a make or break season.
In 2015, the big debate entering the NFL draft was who was the better quarterback between Mariota and Jameis Winston. Well Tampa Bay picked Winston at number 1 and Mariota went to Tennessee with the 2nd overall pick. Now at the end of his rookie deal, he really hasn’t proven that he was worth the number 2 overall pick. Mariota has never played a full season. The Titans have had decent players around him like Derrick Henry, Delanie Walker, and Corey Davis. What did he show for it? Never passing for more then 3500 yards and only once passing for more then 20 touchdowns. Mariota is only signed through this season so he’s definitely on the hot seat to prove something. Otherwise he’ll be hitting the unemployment line at the end of the 2019 season.
Unlike Mariota, Winston actually has shown statistically that he was the better choice at quarterback. The only part of his game that needs work is ball security. He’s averaging one INT a game and has 38 fumbles in his career.
What makes him a make or break candidate, I believe, is his off the field controversies. Winston was suspended the first 3 games of the 2018 season for groping an Uber driver in 2016. This was the only incident since being in the NFL, but Tampa Bay should take into consideration the pattern he’s shown over the years. He was caught shoplifting in 2014, as well as suspended for a game against Clemson. Like Mariota, Winston is only signed through this year. If I’m Tampa Bay, and he keeps his nose clean and performs, I would sign him to a one or two year deal to see if he really did finally grow up and keep producing like he has.
The reason I have Derek Carr on my list for make or break players isn’t necessarily because of overall bad play. It’s more, can he and Chucky get whatever is going on between them ironed out in time so Carr can get back to taking his game to the next level. Last year was the first year Jon Gruden joined the Raiders after coming out of retirement. We all remember the confrontation they had on the sidelines week 11. Yes he produced, but if Carr and Gruden can’t see eye to eye, they may look to move on from him and draft his replacement next year. Even though Carr is signed through 2022, there’s no guaranteed money in the contract owed. So the Raiders wouldn’t be penalized for releasing him.
Now I don’t think I’ve seen Dak Prescott on any make or break season lists, but he’s on mine. When he produces, he produces. He had a very impressive rookie year but then dipped a little the following year. He had somewhat a bounce back year but not as good as his rookie year. The debate has always been who is the better quarterback between him and Carson Wentz. Wentz got paid this offseason but Dak and the Cowboys have been slow negotiating an extension. If he doesn’t have a better year then last year or even his rookie year, it may give the Cowboys some hesitation in giving him the $34 million a year deal he’s looking for. Then again, it’s Jerry Jones. He’ll end up giving him $40 million a year anyways.
Until next time this is your good friend Jimbo signing off.