Even veteran players are prone to bad seasons in the NFL. Despite their experience and talent, sometimes things just don’t click, be it because of an underlying injury, a bad supporting cast or a poor scheme fit.
It’s particularly troublesome when vets go through bad seasons since NFL teams rely on their most accomplished players to drive them forward. If that doesn’t happen, the entire team suffers.
So which NFL veterans really need to turn things around and get back on track in 2020? Here are five to watch for.
5. J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
Injuries have been the big issue for Watt and have really sapped his production over the past couple years. He played in just eight games and collected four sacks last season, a far cry from the 16 he had in 2018, his last fully healthy season. Watt’s skill-set isn’t in question; he simply has to find a way to stay healthy. If he can, the Texans' defense will be much better for it.
4. Jared Goff, QB, Rams
At the time he signed his contract extension, Goff got the most guaranteed money of any quarterback in NFL history. That should lead to expectations of elite production. Instead, Goff had a middling season in 2019 that saw him regress in most categories, with a modest 22 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. Unsurprisingly, the Rams slipped to 9-7. Goff needs to be better if the Rams want to go back to being an elite offensive team. Entering his fifth season, the time for that is now.
3. David Johnson, RB, Texans
It’s not Johnson’s fault he was the one ultimately traded for wideout DeAndre Hopkins in what was, on paper, one of the more lopsided trades in recent memory. However, that’s what he’ll be saddled with. Coming off a year with just 715 yards from scrimmage, Johnson has a lot to prove. There are serious doubts he is still the elite running back he once was when he had 20 touchdowns and more than 2,000 combined yards in 2016. Perhaps that can be motivation for him. The Texans sure hope so.
2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Jets
Bell signed with the Jets to much fanfare, but the results never matched the hype during his first season in New York. Bell ran for 789 yards but only three touchdowns, and his production in the passing game wasn’t much better. The Jets are working on ways to make him more effective, and that’s a must for 2020. Bell, 28, was once one of the league’s most productive running backs, and he desperately needs his supporting cast to be better this year.
1. Odell Beckham, WR, Browns
On the surface, Beckham’s numbers in his first season with the Browns weren’t awful. He did surpass the 1,000-yard threshold for the fifth time in six seasons. However, he was a big disappointment. His four touchdowns were underwhelming, and it never seemed like QB Baker Mayfield developed a good rapport with the wide receiver. Beckham blamed injuries, which appear to have been sorted out. Now he has to produce to pay back the Browns’ investment in him.