By: Lucas Kochevar
The Kansas City Chiefs are the champions of the world. They conquered the Eagles in route to their second title in five years. An unbelievable game that ended in the final seconds once Eagles cornerback James Bradberry held Juju Smith-Schuster to draw a penalty. Despite the ending, the game did truly live up to expectations as these two teams were the best in league. Patrick Mahomes captures his second MVP, Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP in the same week and he's quickly jumping up people's all-time list as one of the best quarterbacks ever. I agree with the sentiment as his accomplishments in five years passes by many players entire career. Travis Kelce adds to his resume as an all-time tight end. Lastly, head coach Andy Reid also stamps his ticket as one of the greatest offensive minds ever as he had a masterclass in the second half. Now that the season is over, lets look back at this year and look forward to what happens next in the NFL.
The 2022 NFL Season In-Review
A bunch of different storylines came out of this year as we saw the beginning of a new era of quarterbacks, first year coaching successes and the failure of living up to expectations for a number of teams. The Eagles took advantage of being underestimated, while the spotlight was far too bright for the Colts. People were too low on the Chiefs coming into the year, while the Rams had one of the worst campaigns for a reigning Super Bowl champion in history. The Bills had a turbulent season, despite boasting a 13-3 record. The adversities they faced throughout the year took a clear emotional toll on them until they ran out of gas against the Bengals.
The league is sprinkled with young quarterbacks making a name for themselves. A few of the guys around the league turning the corner include Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Daniel Jones. They're all at different roads in their respective careers, but they all took leaps in their abilities to prove they can stick around. The phrase "Out with the old, in with the new" could very well describe this year and next year's quarterback landscape. Tom Brady retired. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan struggled. Russell Wilson and Derek Carr looked lost among their peers. The era of 2000's and 2010's are nearing an end with these quarterbacks slowing down towards retirement.
Outside of Brady, the other notable players to retire are defensive end J.J. Watt and wide receiver A.J. Green. Watt had an unbelievable career as he won three defensive player of the year awards along with 114.5 career sacks. His peak was one of the most dominant stretches a player has ever had in the NFL. Green was one of the more consistent recievers in the league as he started off his career with seven straight Pro Bowls. Before injuries derailed his career, Green had six seasons over 1,000 yards. One day, I hope to see Green in the Hall of Fame alongside Watt and Brady.
This season also showed the emergence of many young first year coaches. The coach of the year was awarded to one of them in Giants head coach Brian Daboll. Coming over from Buffalo, Daboll immediately rose the level of play for quarterback Daniel Jones and took the Giants to the playoffs, where they defeated the 13-4 Vikings. Speaking of the Vikings, Kevin O'Connell helped Minnesota turn it up a notch. They had a number of flaws, but O'Connell managed to elevate the talent to 13 wins, including 11 one-score wins. They had a some of the most entertaining games with the largest comeback in NFL history and a thriller against the Bills. Mike McDaniel of the Dolphins had a tough year with Tua Tagovailoa being hurt with three concussions, but he still managed to lead his team into the playoffs. Bears coach Matt Eberflus ended up with the worst record in the league, but Chicago showed a lot of promise. The only one that failed was former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who didn't even make it to the end of the season.
There were a number of teams that couldn't live up to expectations at all and that included the Packers, Rams and Buccaneers. Even though the Chargers and Buccaneers made the playoffs, I still think their seasons ended in disappointment. On the other side of the spectrum, The Lions, Jaguars and Giants flew past their projections for the year and look to build upon their success. All in all, the season was a blast to watch with some very difficult moments in there. Hopefully, the quality of play will rise up with more young superstars making a name for themselves and a new crop of young rookies.
What to Look Forward To
With the NFL season over, the common football fan will be scrambling to get their fix of pigskin. The senior bowl in Mobile has already passed and a couple other college all-star games have also been played, but the next slate of draft related events will be coming up in the following weeks. The NFL combine is everyone's favorite workout to watch and it'll be coming up soon towards the end of this month. Starting Feb. 28 held in Indianapolis, the combine will run until March 6 and the combine participants have slowly started to be announced. After that, the college pro days will start happening and players will be working out back at their respective schools. After that one of my favorite times of the year will happen, the NFL draft starts on April 27 and runs through April 29.
That's all the dates for the NFL draft related events. Outside of this, the NFL free agency will start on March 15. If you're really craving football, there will also be TWO Spring football leagues with the USFL and the XFL continuing their attempts at comebacks. If those are the games you want to put on, make sure to remember there is a significant drop in quality. After the Spring, there'll be the long wait for training camp and the hope for NFL fan bases will build slowly.
Sources: Image via Abbie Parr, Associated Press. Stats via pro-football-reference.com