Chris Johson, Dez Bryant and Overhyped Headlines: Week 1 of the 2012 NFL Season

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IAugust 28, 2012

Chris Johson, Dez Bryant and Overhyped Headlines: Week 1 of the 2012 NFL Season

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    As much as the average Joe doesn't want to believe it, there are players in the NFL that do earn their salaries. But then there are those who are so overrated that hearing their names only conjures up dollar signs and shrugs.

    Chris Johnson is one of those names.

    Dez Bryant is one of those names.

    As much as fans of the Titans and Cowboys franchises want to believe they have gems on their hands, there is still some proving to be done.

    More important than these overrated players are the stories and headlines they bring to each Sunday game, especially in Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season.

    Here are the 10 most overrated story lines going into the season that will quickly deflate as the year goes on.

Matt Flynn's Contract vs. Russell Wilson's Starting Job

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    Neither Matt Flynn nor Russell Wilson is an overrated quarterback.

    Flynn is a sure-bet type of quarterback that will not impress you with his arm strength or downfield playmaking, but he will not lose the game for you either.

    Wilson is breaking out onto the scene showing NFL defenses that same ball velocity out of the pocket, ability to extend the play when the pocket breaks down and, even with his small stature, finding the open man and creases in the defense.

    However, the story of Flynn’s contract and how it supposedly dictated his starting job and the security of his No.1 QB spot in Seattle is highly overrated. When considering the fact that the Seahawks did not expect to be able to grab Wilson in the third round of the draft with the 75th pick, that point is clear.

    Flynn was not brought along with the expectation that he would have to battle for the starting quarterback position, but things are wildly unpredictable in the league. Wilson has won the job and has been named the starter for at least Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season.

    Despite being mildly undervalued with a four-year $2.99 million contract, it would appear that the Seahawks are pulling the chair from under their fans. The numbers and timing of the announcement are off, but the decision is not by any means.

    Coach Pete Carroll is looking forward to the postseason strides Seattle can make with an experienced Wilson in the pocket.

    Think about the moves that the franchise can make now with a Russell Wilson playing with a chip on his shoulder—the makings of a stud.

Mike Wallace's Holdout

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    Mike Wallace has returned to Steelers facilities and will be sporting his Pittsburgh uniform after a long offseason holdout.

    It is true that it would have been nice to have Wallace running a lot of plays in Todd Haley’s new offensive scheme during the offseason and getting a hefty load of reps in the preseason, but things do not always work out as planned.

    He may be at a slight disadvantage with the money, the attention and the reps all on the side of Antonio Brown, the crowned receiver in Pittsburgh during Wallace’s absence. Don’t make the mistake of counting Wallace’s playmaking abilities and speed out completely, because it would be a grave mistake.

    Big Ben’s top option will be Brown, but even in Wallace’s dominance last season, his touches towards the end of the season were diluted, and he was still considered Pitt’s most dangerous downfield threat.

    He will not walk into the Steelers locker room to awkward stares and chatter as he flops down in front of his locker. His teammates will not cast him to the side, and Big Ben will not ignore him on the field as he gets back into football shape while simultaneously learning a new offense.

    A few jokes may be made at his expense, but football players understand what a lot of fans don’t.

    The NFL is full of professional football players and millions of dollars—it’s a business.

    In a business, deals need to be made and sometimes two sides need more than the delegated time frame to come to a general consensus on how not to screw themselves over more than they screw the opposing side.

    Wallace will not be his dominating self immediately, but he will not be a scrub, and the franchise doesn't hate him. 

Dez Bryant's New Rules

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    Here is a rundown of the rules set in place for troubled Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant in hopes of keeping him out of trouble and developing in him an air of responsibility and discipline while he represents the Cowboys organization, as reported by ESPN's Calvin Watkins.

    • A midnight curfew. If he's going to miss curfew, team officials must know in advance.

    • No drinking alcohol.

    • He can't attend any strip clubs and can only attend nightclubs if they are approved by the team and he has a security team with him.

    • He must attend counseling sessions twice a week.

    • A rotating three-man security team will leave one man with Bryant at all times.

    • Members of the security team will drive Bryant to practices, games and team functions.

    At first glance, it may seem a little presumptuous of the Dallas franchise to think they can control a grown man in almost every avenue of his life on and off the field. However, when the situation is dissected and Bryant’s long list of indiscretions and "mishaps" involving the law are raised, a different perception arises.

    Let’s not forget one key component of the installation of these rules. They could not be carried out had Bryant had not agreed to them himself.

    Obviously, there are some issues going on with Bryant internally if he feels that these restrictions are reasonable, and if the franchise believes that they will ultimately lead to his growth as a football player and as a man.

    If both sides are in agreement that these rules are a feasible solution to curbing Bryant’s failures on and off the field, then why not embrace them as a temporary way to push Bryant down the right path? If he violates these rules after agreeing to them, then there will be a real problem, but obviously neither he nor his adviser think that this will be the case.

    This is not the first time Jerry Jones has given a player a certain set of rules in order for him to become more accountable for his actions and the dark cloud he raises over the Dallas Cowboys’ reputation. 

    Pacman Jones suffered the same consequences and obviously went on to violate those rules, which consequently exposed him to a six-game suspension and his subsequent release from the franchise altogether.

    There is still room for error, but what is more important than the rules themselves is how Bryant’s future will thrive off of the restrictions and the renewed focus on improving himself and his play on the field.

    He could actually become the talent we all expected him to become over the next several seasons. 

Michael Vick Is Not 100% Healthy

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    Michael Vick isn’t 100 percent?

    Notify the presses! The Philadelphia Eagles’ season is over before it even started!

    Give me a break.

    It isn’t the end of the world because (if half the league hadn’t already noticed) Vick is rarely at 100 percent health due to the way in which he plays the game. He is not the size of a linebacker like Cam Newton or Tim Tebow and often takes hits that bottom-heavy running backs are built for.

    Sometimes he doesn’t slide and tries for the extra yardage, only to find himself on the sidelines with a bruised thigh or with a concussion as he's wheeled into the Eagles locker room. Then what happens?

    Vick comes back onto the field if he wills himself to. None of this is a shock to the coaching staff or his teammates, and it definitely isn’t a shock to Vick himself.

    Over the past two seasons, Vick has worked on becoming more of a threat in the air and not using his athleticism and speed so much unless the pocket breaks down.

    Another fraction of his game that he’s been improving upon is sliding instead of colliding head down, body-to-body with some of the strongest men in the NFL, only to be seeing stars when he gets behind center for the next down.

    Vick’s health will consistently be questionable as he is a bit undersized for the way he approaches the position, but he is still one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the game. As for not playing in the preseason, it should have been determined that he wouldn’t in the first place.

    Every team’s defense loves getting a piece of him at the most inopportune moment, and he always manages to get himself in a pickle that an ice pack will not get him out of.

    The bigger story should not have been that Vick managed to acquire another injury; it should have been that Vick was in the second preseason game after barely escaping injury in the first. After all, this wasn’t a game to determine playoff seeding.

    Let the backups prove their worth on the depth chart and sit Vick on the sideline as a spectator.

    With a player as injury prone as Vick, it’s best to gamble when the pot is overflowing. 

Terrelle Pryor 'Breakout' Preseason Game Against Detroit Lions

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    Terrelle Pryor actually has potential in the NFL.

    If there were any fans who didn’t think so, he had a spark that was reminiscent of a viable starting quarterback against the Detroit Lions when he made plays with his feet and looked comfortable in the pocket showing off his arm in Carson Palmer’s place.

    No sooner than the Raiders were crowned victors, Twitter began to explode with the imaginative revelation that Pryor might just be the second coming of Cam Newton or even better, the replacement for Palmer as Oakland’s starting quarterback.

    Of course, there were the fans who recognized the relaxed pace of the second and third units of the Detroit Lions and just brushed the assumptions off as a raw reaction to a pretty impressive preseason outing. The fact of the matter is that this is all it was—an impressive preseason outing for a franchise that is not following the trend of putting the value of potential over that of experience.

    Pryor looked solid and showed a lot of promise against the Lions, but as it stands, Palmer is a proven professional NFL starting quarterback.

    If the Raiders did not give up on Carson when he logged more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (14) last season, they are not going to give up on him now.

    Should they have?

    Maybe. It doesn’t seem like the preseason is giving Raiders fans any hope of Palmer making any strides in the offensive scheme, as he was outshone by Pryor.

    Despite the fact that Palmer has yet to be responsible for a single score in the preseason, there is zero indication that Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is going to take the leap of faith it would require to put Pryor in the starting quarterback position this season.

    As for next season, if Pryor continues to capitalize on his opportunities throughout the season and continues to show progression, he may be given a chance.

    As far as the 2012 NFL season is concerned, the new coach is going to tread lightly and give his veteran a chance to get the Raiders to the top of an unpredictable division in the AFC.

Schwartz-Harbaugh Handshake-Gate

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    They shook. Then Jim Schwartz chased Jim Harbaugh.

    Even then it wasn’t the story it was made out to be. One head coach felt that the other offended him, and he wanted to make sure it was known.

    Who cares?

    It definitely fired up both teams' players, but soon after it became nothing but an overly aggressive memory in the back of their minds. The incident had no long-term affect and provided fans with an amusing Youtube clip.

    It is a new season, and there will be new feuds and tussles scripted for fresh entertainment.

    The rematch between the Lions and the 49ers is not going to be the all-out brawl the media may predict it to be, as both men are professionals and primarily focused on winning the game instead of giving everyone another conversation for Monday morning.

    Of course, there will be increased on-field tension, but that will have zero to do with what happened last season between Coach Schwartz and Coach Harbaugh. The 49ers and the Lions are quickly developing a relevant rivalry within the NFC conference, as each franchise begins to regain the mantle of respectability they once had.

    Detroit and San Francisco are equally as relevant, and while the 49ers are expected to defensively thrust themselves back into the position they were in last season, the Lions are expected to cross the threshold from just a good team to a great team in contention for the Super Bowl.

    If something violent comes out of this game, it will be a result of the growing animosity these franchises have for one another as they climb to the top.

    Not some over-hyped handshake. 

Chris Johnson's Breakout Return

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    Chris Johnson, as a football player, has become entirely too overrated. Was he once an amazing running back at the top of his game?

    Sure, he was.

    That was until he returned from his holdout with the Tennessee Titans and looked like three quarters of the shadow of his former self. Johnson just can’t get his mojo back and it’s not looking as if his performance will be any more awe-striking than last year’s snore fest.

    The most perplexing thing about Johnson is that his body has not changed, while his play has consistently diminished. No one should put too much stock in his 2.9 YPC average in the preseason while it’s not his time to prove anything to his franchise.

    Johnson is not looking for a roster spot as his is already secured and endorsed by head coach Mitch Munchak. He’s done some things right.

    Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Johnson was able to have a two-touchdown game performance. Not too shabby for someone looking to rebound from the worst season of his career.

    Johnson’s ability to strike with the game-winning play at any moment affords him the benefit of the doubt but after last season, he should be forced to perform to his potential or live in the middle of the league. The scary thing about Johnson’s drop in production last season was that his body hadn’t changed. He was still fast.

    His ego would not allow him to play accept playing small, yet he did.

    Each week, Tennessee fans went to games looking for a little bit more. Fantasy football owners included him in their rosters because he would breakout at any time now.

    He never did and everyone is still waiting for him to have that amazing game that will restore his career to the elite level it once dwelled at.

    Until he can deliver consecutive performances, he should not continue to be given that pass or the praise. 

Ryan Tannehill Named Miami Dolphins Starting QB

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    The Miami Dolphins have officially given up on the season.

    How do fans know this without coach Joe Philbin stepping up to some podium and screaming it to the mountaintops?

    For starters, Brandon Marshall was traded away about a month before their rookie starting quarterback was drafted with the No. 8 pick, Chad Johnson was dropped without even as much as a tissue to wipe his crocodile tears and Vontae Davis could do nothing to stop his trading away just a few days ago.

    The offense rests in Ryan Tannehill’s hands and instead of making sure the rookie was surrounded with veteran receiver weapons the franchise seems to be leaning more towards developing newer additions of less experience for the organization’s future.

    Legedu Naanee seems primed to make huge marks on the 2012 season but the rest of the receiver’s potential is pretty much up in the air.

    If you can’t accumulate yards in the air, then the most likely plan of attack will be predicated on the running game.

    In comes the unpredictable Reggie Bush. Last season was his breakout year, but no one knows if Bush is going to repeat or disappoint like he did in his days with the New Orleans Saints.

    Tannehill is stuck between a rock and a hard place in his first season with the Dolphins because with the shrewd moves they have made in the offseason there is no faith from the franchise that they will see an adequate amount of victories in the coming season.

    The veteran players on the squad know it and the public is using their very uncommon "common" sense to come around to the realization.

    Tannehill is being given the ultimate developmental season while the Fins’ front office relies on their future pickings in the draft and the grooming of their young players to make their future far more attractive than their present.

    The Dolphins will be just as irrelevant this season as they were in the last therefore the starting quarterback job will be even less of a story.   

Vince Young Cut from the Buffalo Bills

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    This was so much of a non-story that some NFL fans were even in awe at the simple fact that he was a member of the Buffalo Bills to begin with.

    Young’s antics during his stint with the Tennessee Titans combined with how much potential he showed on the field gave him a voice and presence in the media.

    Ever since his removal from the Titans, Young has faded into black more and more as his proclamation that he would not be a backup quarterback in the league fell on deaf ears and he was placed behind Michael Vick on the Philadelphia Eagles’ depth chart.

    There were some good moments and there were some bad with Philly which eventually landed the QB in Buffalo.

    The problem with his story is that it was over soon after it had began as it appeared that Young became more and more inconsistent in his behavior without becoming more reliable on the field as a general for the offenses he was an integral part of.

    Simply put, a player that doesn’t perform to the height of what he believes and states his potential becomes immaterial. Young’s worth has become so questionable in the NFL and with his propensity to perform on his terms and play the game in the way that he feels makes him successful as opposed to what the coaches think is best make him untouchable.

    Not in an elite form as if he was inextinguishable. He’s become a pariah of some sorts, especially publicly. Most fans didn’t expect to see him play much this season.

    The fact that he was cut from the Bills, a team that isn’t really too notable in its own right, shouldn’t create a buzz around his person.

    With as much talent as Young seems to offer, he has allowed outside factors to wrongfully influence his path to success.

    A quarterback who used to be crowned with the sky as the limit is fighting for a chance and no one who can give him that chance is really paying attention. Once the season starts, Young will be a forgotten tale.  

Tim Tebow vs. Mark Sanchez

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    Tim Tebow is an exceptional football player, but a good starting quarterback in the NFL he is not.

    There isn’t a coach in the league who can truthfully say that he feels comfortable with him having to make a run for it on every down or that he is comfortable with how slow the ball comes out of his hands.

    After one of the poorest throws of the entire preseason against the Carolina Panthers, Tebow has done almost everything in his power to prove exactly why the quarterback position is not where he excels.

    The New York Jets are just trying to pull that characteristic of his game out of him and it may not exist. What’s been made perfectly clear is that his skill set and his capabilities at the QB spot are not rivaling Mark Sanchez’s by any means and that’s saying a lot in light of the overrated New York QB.

    Sanchez looks a little better than he did last year, where he was much more timid and less useful.

    In the same preseason game against the Panthers, Sanchez connected on 61.1 percent of his passes for 123 yards and probably should have been awarded a touchdown pass that was consequently dropped. The mild-mannered quarterback shrugged the game off with the notion that the Jets were “saving their good stuff for the season”.

    The truth behind the Jets’ preseason is that they have yet to be able to score a touchdown in three games and Tebow has looked like the worst of the two quarterbacks.

    The battle for the media spotlight may still be raging, but as far as talent and sufficiency goes, Sanchez has the war won by a long shot. Tebow may never be equipped to take snaps for an NFL franchise, over the course of multiple seasons, as their starting quarterback.

    His destiny may lie on special teams or in the backfield. In either instance, the previous threat to Sanchez’s job security that Tebow may have presented in the past has dissipated completely.