The NFL’s Sophomore Jinx Is Real, But Can Several Second-Year Players Run From It?

The NFL’s Sophomore Jinx Is Real, But Can Several Second-Year Players Run From It?

Herbert, Young, Lamb, and Burrow are the players with the biggest upside and downside of all second-year players.

Would you believe it if you did not know it already happened?

Last year, a rookie player talked trash and goading the GOAT before their game with Tom Brady. And the other rookie is given his first start ever, five minutes before the game against the world champs. All because the veteran starter punctured a lung right before the game. 

You can’t make that stuff up

Washington Football Team’s Chase Young was trying to get in the head of the greatest quarterback that has ever lived. It didn’t work, but he did get a signed Tom Brady jersey from the man himself after the game.

Los Angeles Chargers Justin Herbert became the biggest rookie quarterback star since the Pittsburg Steelers Ben Rothlisberger rookie year 17 years ago.

Both Herbert and Young became Rookies of the Year on their respective sides of the ball and became immediate big-time stars from their rookie season.  

In week two, former head coach Anthony Lynn walked up to Herbert five minutes before the second game of the year against reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes game and said, “you’re starting.”  Lynn admittedly said, “I think he thought I was kidding.

In that game, the rookie threw for over 300-yards, threw for a touchdown, and ran one in.

Patrick Mahomes is not the only quarterback in the AFC West to worry about

The one thing about a young NFL player is knowing the sophomore jinx is very real.  The worst thing a second-year player wants to hear is the possibility of a colossal crash and burn during their sophomore season in the league. But, unfortunately, it has happened to the best of them, and it has happened big time.

In the case of Herbert and Young, those are the two most essential sophomores to their team in the league. Without their repeat performance or better in their second year, their teams will be worse off than in the 2020-2021 season.

Several players in their second season are vital to their team’s success. Still, the Dallas Cowboy’s CeeDee Lamb and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow are the essential players in the league to a team that’s not named Herbert or Young. 

With Dak Prescott back in hopefully full swing after an ankle injury, the second-year Lamb could change the dynamic of that entire offense and a playoff appearance. With flashes of brilliance and speed, his dropped balls materialized as important ones in the outcome of a game.  Can Prescott change the dropped ball issue for Lamb? There’s no correct answer for that. With any ball catcher in the league, it will take the off-season and reps with Dak to know that.

Believe it or not, the key to Lamb’s success will come from the Cowboy’s new defensive coordinator

The ability for Dallas’ offense to stay on the field will be the one of the key factors in Lambs success.

The biggest prize to a team was Joe Burrow. His health is paramount to the Bengals having any success offensively. However, they did go out and draft a playmaker in this year’s draft from LSU, Ja’Marr Chase, Burrows teammate on the greatest football team in NCAA history. No matter how many balls Marr catches, if Burrow can’t get the ball there, it’s all for nothing.

Burrow’s significant knee injury last year proved that. The key to his injury was it happened behind the line of scrimmage and not downfield. So the Bengals opted to get flash in the first round than protection? Cincinnati picked up one player in the off-season to help Burrow upfront, right tackle Riley Reiff and that is a one-year deal.

Herbert had the highest rating in the NFL for completions under pressure. In essence, he was running for his life all year which seems to be the M.O. of the Chargers and protecting quarterbacks, especially the great Philip Rivers.

Herbert will probably have the most up-swing, but he also has the most to lose. His new coaching staff went out and got help to protect their quarterback upfront. He has an offensive line that is talented and experienced, and he has the best three-receiver tandem corps in the league.

Chase Young will continue to improve, and under head coach Ron Rivera, he has a chance to be the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Simply put, Burrow will need to run for his life again and hopefully stay healthy

CeeDee Lamb will have the most significant second-year-player impact on his team more than any other player.

Just catch the ball, man!

Tim Daniel

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