NFL Players Under Pressure – NFL environments can be high-pressure environments for its players. Individual players experience different degrees of pressure depending on their circumstances – contract situations to failed expectations can all contribute to the increased pressure athletes feel in this league. Here’s a closer look at a few players under intense scrutiny who need to step up their game in the upcoming NFL 2023 season.
NFL Players Under Pressure: Isaiah Simmons Takes On Contract Year Challenge
Kyler Murray may seem under pressure given the Cardinals’ potential of selecting another top quarterback in 2024; however, more immediate stressors lie with Isaiah Simmons. After failing to have his fifth-year option picked up for the 2023 contract year, Isaiah Simmons has moved from linebacker to safety; it remains to be seen if his game can evolve and become a game-changing defensive playmaker or whether they may struggle to find their ideal position within their new defense unit.
Odafe Oweh: Striving for Consistency
Odafe Oweh flashed glimpses of promise after being selected 31st overall in the 2021 NFL draft. Yet, his production and efficiency declined considerably during the 2022 season, prompting questions about his continued professional presence. With the Ravens opting not to bring in veteran help at the position, Oweh faces a pivotal year as he takes on a massive role in the defense. This season will be crucial for the third-year pass rusher to prove his worth and silence the doubts surrounding him.
Jeff Okudah: The Proving Ground
Jeff Okudah, the former No. 3 overall pick, faces a critical season after being traded to the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons released veteran cornerback Casey Hayward and brought in Okudah as his replacement. While Okudah has the opportunity to start opposite A.J. Terrell, he needs to deliver on the field to secure a long-term deal. The Lions paid a portion of Okudah’s salary to facilitate the trade, nullifying his fifth-year option. It’s a make-or-break year for the 24-year-old cornerback, who must demonstrate that he can live up to his draft status and shed the “bust” label.
Adam Thielen: A Reliable Target
As the Panthers’ receiving corps faces uncertainty, Adam Thielen is a known commodity in the group. Although he will be 33 when his 10th NFL season begins, Thielen is expected to play a crucial role as a safety blanket for No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. Despite his age, the former Pro Bowler from Minnesota is counted on to provide stability and reliability to an average supporting cast of receivers. Thielen’s experience and talent make him a key player for the Panthers, justifying the team’s decision to sign him to a three-year, $25 million deal.
Gabe Davis: A Make-or-Break Season
Gabe Davis enters the final year of his rookie contract with the Buffalo Bills, and it’s a crucial season for him to prove his value. As a full-time starter alongside Stefon Diggs, Davis had solid numbers, but some felt he could have contributed more in a high-powered offense led by quarterback Josh Allen. With expectations elevated, Davis must exceed expectations in 2023 to secure another deal, whether with the Bills or elsewhere. Failure to impress could result in Davis exploring other opportunities, with his next contract falling short of his aspirations.
Justin Fields: Stepping into the Spotlight
Justin Fields has faced challenges in his first two seasons, including a lack of a supporting cast and a porous offensive line. However, the Chicago Bears have made significant moves to build around Fields this offseason. They strengthened the offensive line and added new playmakers, including acquiring DJ Moore to provide Fields with a much-needed No. 1 wide receiver. Fields is expected to take a significant leap in the passing game, showcasing his elite rushing ability while proving himself as a true dual-threat quarterback. The Bears traded up to select Fields rather than opting for a rookie quarterback, putting the pressure on Fields to live up to expectations and establish himself as the franchise quarterback the team has longed for.
Jonah Williams: Fighting for His Future
Jonah Williams had an offseason knee surgery and expressed his desire for a trade after the Bengals signed La’el Collins in free agency. However, Williams will play the fifth and final year of his deal at correct tackle and is projected to start in the season opener. He faces the challenge of fending off Collins, who is making a quick recovery from a season-ending injury. Williams must prove his worth to the Bengals and potentially other teams as he fights for a long-term contract or a shot at a starting position elsewhere. The upcoming season will be a defining moment for him on the embattled Bengals offensive line.
Russell Wilson: A Make-or-Break Season
Russell Wilson will face an essential season as Denver Broncos quarterback for 2023. If he fails to show substantial improvement under new head coach Sean Payton, they could decide not to renew him after 2024. Payton’s comments regarding backup QB Jarett Stidham potentially becoming an NFL starter has only added to the pressure for Russell. This season, his ability to perform at high levels and secure himself as the franchise quarterback will also be examined.
Dak Prescott Is Seeking Playoff Success
Dak Prescott has established himself as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks, yet pressure remains for him to lead the Dallas Cowboys to playoff success. While Prescott has delivered impressive performances, such as January’s scintillating playoff victory, his inconsistency and high interception rate remain a cause for alarm. Prescott is expected to lead them on deep playoff runs that lead them closer to Super Bowl contention; his best moments must come through to propel Dallas to new levels and elevate Prescott and company further forward.
Josh Allen: Chasing Success at Sack
Josh Allen had an impressive rookie campaign when he registered double-digit sacks and earned Pro Bowl consideration, yet he still needs to match those early successes. Now entering his final contract year with Jacksonville Jaguars, Allen’s performance will be closely evaluated; should he fail to register over eight sacks annually, then the decision will need to be made regarding an extension based on that factor alone. Allen must prove himself consistent enough on the field while showing why his value lies with them as a teammate.
NFL Players Under Pressure: Conclusion
The NFL is an intense environment in which players constantly face scrutiny and expectations from fans and other professionals. Each year presents unique challenges, whether contract years, needing to prove oneself, or playing for playoff success is among them. Their performances this upcoming season will determine their fate in the league while leaving an impactful mark on respective teams’ fates – as fans, we eagerly anticipate the outcome and hope these players are up for meeting these pressured circumstances head-on and can deliver. The NFL betting odds are soon to be available online as the NFL preseason approaches.