Another football season is in the books. Here are some of our biggest takeaways and what we’re looking forward to in 2023.
The 2022 NFL season has come to a close following a thrilling Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, that had just about everything. Well, everything except defense, of course. Some of the biggest stars in the league were on display for a competitive game that came down to the last drive, all capped off with Andy Reid and the Chiefs winning their second title in four years. So, at the end point of the season, let’s go over some of the year’s most compelling storylines as well as our biggest questions in a very murky offseason.
Patrick Mahomes Ends the QB Debate
Coming into the year, it seemed as though football fans and experts forgot just how spectacular Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes truly is. Well, in a year full of disagreements about whether he was even the best quarterback in his own division, he seems to have slammed the door on all challengers. After losing one of the best receivers in the NFL in Tyreek Hill, Mahomes still topped 40 touchdowns through the air as he led his team to another No. 1 seed and a fifth consecutive year of hosting the AFC Championship game. He also became the first player since Kurt Warner in 1999 to win both the regular season MVP award and the Super Bowl, taking his second title on a sprained ankle. Throughout the past few years, players like Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts and more have thrown their hats in the ring for the title of “Best Quarterback,” but Mahomes has outlasted and outperformed each of them.
Brotherly Love Isn’t Quite Enough
The Philadelphia Eagles came up just a bit short in this year’s Super Bowl, but they have nothing to hang their heads about. Just five years removed from their first championship in franchise history, they completely rebuilt their team with a combination of savvy veterans and exceptional draft picks. They seem to have shored up all of their shortcomings of the past few years by building an elite receiving corps, adding All-Pro defensive talent and finding their quarterback of the future. Led by breakout star Jalen Hurts, the Eagles marched their way to a 13-1 start to the season before finishing 14-3 with the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They proceeded to stomp both the Giants and the 49ers before returning to the Super Bowl, and they put on a fantastic show in the big game. Eagles fans have plenty to be proud of and even more to look forward to in the future.
The GOAT Hangs ‘Em Up
There are very few definitive GOATs in North American professional sports. Challengers to the throne always seem to rise, but very few actually take over the mantle and achieve “greatest of all time” status in their respective sports. The list is short, limited to the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and now, Tom Brady. In fact, he may have cemented his legacy in 2020 when he proved the only thing he had left to prove in his career: he could win a title without Bill Belichick. The 45-year-old QB retires with the personal all-time records for games started, wins, completions, touchdowns, passing yards and more. Perhaps most importantly, however, he holds the record for most Super Bowl wins with seven, which is more than any single franchise. Though there’s no telling how the next two decades will play out with the NFL’s current slate of talent, it’s difficult to argue with the sustained track record of success and longevity Brady brings to the table, and the landscape of the league will certainly look different without the surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The Rising Stars Shine
Every year, the NFL seems to get younger, further proving how important it is to draft and develop quality players. 2022 NFL draftees made an immediate impact, with cornerback Sauce Garner taking home All-Pro honors in a year that primed Jets fans for an exciting future. On the defensive side of the ball, Aidan Hutchinson, Tariq Woolen and Kayvon Thibodeaux all had their chances to shine, and safeties like Jalen Pitre of the Texans and Kyle Hamilton of the Ravens will look to anchor secondaries for years to come. Much of the offensive highlights came from the wide receiver position, with Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Drake London and Christian Watson showing promise. These rookies were all just icing on the cake in a league already full of talented young players who took the next step like Micah Parsons, Justin Jefferson, Justin Herbert, Patrick Surtain II and Nick Bosa. The future is bright for this league, and the NFL certainly looks forward to these talented young players continuing to excel on the field as well as in the team shop.
The QB Conundrum
Yes, Patrick Mahomes has separated himself from the pack, but every team figures to continue to the search for their own signal caller with the potential to lead them to the coveted Lombardi Trophy. From veterans to draft prospects, the quarterback landscape has never been more uncertain despite the staggering amount of talent at the position around the league. For example, the Packers seem ready to part with their longtime leader Aaron Rodgers, and the Ravens have been unable to meet Lamar Jackson’s contractual demands. Both former MVPs could be donning different colors next season. Additionally, this draft is loaded with quarterback talent with four college studs projected to come off the board in the first ten picks, and the Bears appear to have a major decision ahead of them. Will they roll with Justin Fields who has had sparkles of unbelievable athletic ability, or will they part with him in favor of the possible consensus No. 1 prospect Bryce Young? Furthermore, the 2020-draftees are due for major extensions. While the future could be uncertain for Tua Tagovailoa, it seems like the answer should be obvious for Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts. Will their teams still offer up potentially record-breaking deals? It’s shaping up to be an exciting and pricy offseason for the most important position in sports.