5 NFL Players That Need To Step Up For Their Teams to Make the Playoffs
5 Guys Who Need to Step Up
NFL Football is a team game, probably more than any other sport. Running backs and quarterbacks can’t do their job without the offensive line. Defensive backs can’t do their job without the defensive line playing a part. It all boils down to team.
But in the end, when you talk about separating the good teams from the great teams; the playoff pretenders from the playoff contenders; the star players and difference makers need to do their jobs.
If your team is playing well, but your star quarterback is making mistakes, it kills the whole enchilada. If your primary receiving target is dropping balls that should be easily catchable, it makes the good play of the rest of the team all for nothing.
Every team has stars, and people they depend on, and some of those teams are on the cusp of pushing themselves out of playoff contention less than halfway through the season.
If these guys don’t step up, and earn their paychecks, their teams are going to suffer for it, and end up sitting on the couch with some soda and popcorn, watching the NFL playoffs instead of participating in them.
Nobody is above criticism, but there are five players in particular who need to start bringing it, and being the reason their teams do make the playoffs.
We’ll open this list with a familiar face…
Peyton Manning: QB - Denver Broncos
I nearly hesitated to put Peyton Manning on this list, but the truth is, the fate of the Denver Broncos is in his capable hands. Manning was brought in to make this team better than it was with Tim Tebow behind center. So far, they arent. Even though there were questions surrounding Manning's health, the general consensus was that Manning still had plenty left. He's going to have to really step up and bring this Denver team together for them to eclipse last year's success.
Mike Wallace: WR - Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Wallace is fighting the stigma of the hold-out. Anytime an impact player on a team gets into a contract dispute and decides to hold out, even briefly, it generally ends in either injury or diminished performance. Even though Wallace's numbers aren't terrible so far this season, it seems as he hasn't been hitting those home run plays and breaking the back of the defense as he has in the past. Ben Roethlisberger has to know that Wallace is his big play guy, and right now you just don't feel that connection.
Chris Johnson: RB - Tennessee Titans
Last season the Tennessee Titans went 9-7 and narrowly missed making the playoffs. This year the expectations for the Titans were even higher, and two guys were going to play an important part - QB Jake Locker (who has been injured) and RB Chris Johnson. Johnson has been showing diminishing numbers for the past few seasons, but so far in 2012 he's been a veritable ghost. When you watch him run, you just don't see the same decisive runner that you did when he was breaking runs for huge gains. The Titans can't win without a strong running game, and Chris Johnson has to be the focal point.
Mario Williams: DE - Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are becoming the biggest tease in the NFL. Just when you think they are finally going to breakout and become a team to be reckoned with in the AFC again, they run off, take their ball, and go home. This year Bills ownership spent a LOT of money to finally bring the Bills back to glory, and Mario Williams was one of their top investments. He was going to make what was a pretty good defense into a top defense. So far...zip...nada...nothing. Williams has 11 tackles and just 1.5 sacks through 5 games. He's going to have to step up and become the leader on that defense if the Bills are going to go anywhere.
Tony Romo: QB - Dallas Cowboys
It's time for Tony Romo to stop listening to all the excuses that are made for him, and start playing like the leader he is supposed to be. You can blame his receivers, his offensive line, his running backs, et al. But the bottom line is, throughout his career, Romo has not stepped up and played big when the Dallas Cowboys needed it most. The days of saying that Romo isn't the problem should be over in Dallas, and owner Jerry Jones needs to be as harsh with his star quarterback as he is with any other member of his team. Time for Romo to put up, or pack it up.