I remember right around this time a year ago, hopping on various radio shows and being asked questions like the following: After three guys did it and a fourth barely missed out, are 5,000-yard passing seasons about to become the norm? … Who will be the 2013 versions of Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Von Miller and Aldon Smith, all coming off rookie seasons unlike few we’ve ever seen? … What will Tim Tebow do for an encore?
Of course, no QB eclipsed 5,000 yards, no rookie wideout or pass rusher even surpassed the 1,000-yard/10-sack mark, respectively, and Tebow, well, let’s just say the bloom is off the rose at this point.
I tried to caution listeners then just as I’ll try to do the same to our readers here: Part of what made those stories so compelling and unexpected was that they were exceptions to rules — not, in fact, new rules.
Since we are right before the time when I’m ready to begin diving into the myriad sexy stories surrounding Super Bowl XLVII — and I will continue to avoid doing any type of Pro Bowl plugging whatsoever — I thought it would be fun to share 13 predictions for 2013: Cases in which 2012 history won't repeat itself.
- There is no Russell Wilson waiting to be drafted in Round Three this April, someone who will make the type of immediate splash the dynamic Seahawks QB did in Seattle in 2012. I expect at least a few NFL teams to make the mistake in thinking there is, but Wilson looks like the type of talent and leader that doesn’t come around every year.
- RG3, Chris Clemons or any other player who suffered a similar knee injury to Adrian Peterson in December or later shouldn’t be held to the same standards as Peterson, who completely defied science and medicine with his MVP campaign.
- Don’t expect the 2-14 Chiefs or Jaguars to have a Colts-like turnaround. Kansas City at 2-14 was much more talented than the Colts, but even beyond the obvious lack of an Andrew Luck at the top of this year’s draft, the Colts’ magical season transcended football in a lot of ways.
- J.J. Watt won’t eclipse 15 sacks and 15 batted balls again next season. Wade Phillips called it the greatest season ever by a defensive player. It’s certainly in the conversation, and even the 23-year-old Watt will have to make adjustments after the league has a full offseason to figure out how it is going to slow him down.
- Peterson, even two offseasons removed from the knee injury, won’t break the 2K rushing barrier again. Much like with Watt, other NFL teams will make the proper adjustments, namely forcing Peterson to his left, like the Packers did with great success in the postseason.
- Minority candidates won’t again be shut out of the numerous head-coaching and GM openings that will unavoidably appear next offseason. Maybe this is more wishful thinking, but I get the sense that the strong responses and emotions this story elicited will be a big factor. I also think Jim Caldwell and Ray Horton are ready for their opportunities now, and they appear to be set up for great success next season.
- Drew Brees won’t tie for the league lead in interceptions again. The return of Sean Payton will be a huge weight off the shoulders of Brees, who will no longer feel like he needs to be Superman every week.
- Tim Tebow will not be a QB in 2013. Only the dysfunctional Jets had the audacity to think it could work last season. The best thing that could happen for Tebow’s career right now is if everyone stops enabling him. He needs people in his corner who will shoot straight and tell him it is time to ditch the QB aspirations and try his hand as a fullback, tight end or strictly gimmicky special-teamer.
- A starting QB, with a passer rating north of 100, with a clean bill of health, won’t be benched. Much like Russell Wilson in the third round doesn’t happen every year, neither does having a backup QB with the type of explosiveness, poise of Colin Kaepernick.
- Julio Jones was worth two first-round picks in 2011. RG3 was worth three first-rounders last April. Who is the blue-chip talent in this year’s draft that will entice an NFL team to sell the farm, sending a boatload of picks to make a dramatic move up the board in Round One? I don’t see him in this year’s class.
- We won’t have another Saturday during the divisional round as edge-of-your-seat gripping as the one we had a few weeks ago. I’m sorry — I don’t want to be the wet blanket — but that was one of the more memorable days in NFL history for my money.
- A 36-year-old tight end won’t catch 93 passes and eight TDs. If this was indeed your last hurrah, Mr. Gonzalez, thanks for an incredible ride. You represent everything that is good about the game.
- We won’t have a rematch of the Harbowl next year … right?