The pads are creaking. Spray sprinklers. The training camp is here. And with that, we look at the 10 most important numbers of the 2022 NFL season, in no particular order.
1) Trey Lance, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
It’s Lance Time in San Francisco. Everyone loves the idea of a young quarterback watching the game from the sideline and learning, taking his time, honing his craft away from the spotlight and pressure. But, at some point, it’s time.
Nines embrace infidelity. Lance was drafted to solve a specific schematic problem that Jimmy Garoppolo couldn’t solve. Garoppolo was part of a team that made a run to the Super Bowl and returned to the NFC championship game. But his mistakes were constantly exposed. Lance may not be as consistent as Garoppolo, but he elevates the team.
No team in the league has as much upside in 2022 as the Niners. Sitting here in early August, you can convince yourself they’ll win it all, thanks to the combination of Kyle Shanahan’s reworked offense, a streamlined defensive line, a rebuilt middle and Lance. As much as they’re supposed to win six games: That Lance isn’t ready; that the line of defense returns to the medium. The most defining factor between the two: the new starting quarterback.
2) Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner
Two important things weigh on Goodell heading into the season. He will serve as chief appeals officer for Deshaun Watson’s early appeal. Among the fine print of the latest CBA is the ability for the commissioner, or his attorney, to appeal any decision from the league’s newly appointed disciplinary officer, who handed down a six-game suspension on Monday.
Then there is the small matter of Daniel Snyder and the Washington Commanders. Snyder, the league’s most abusive owner, continues to drag the Washington franchise and the league into a hole of his own making. Snyder finally answered questions from the House oversight committee under oath last Thursday. The congressional committee continues to investigate the Washington franchise and allegations that Snyder presided over a toxic workplace culture.
Other owners are reportedly fed up with Snyder’s actions, possibly forcing him out of the league. Snyder is notoriously litigious, which has served as a shield for him and the franchise throughout his volatile career. But as accusations mount — including that he provided a set of false books to his league partners — Goodell may be forced to take action to try to get rid of him.
3) Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
A second-half collapse in the AFC championship game last season cost the Chiefs a second title. Now there’s a new look in Kansas City: Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu, the stars of the team’s recent success, are out. Hill was a once-in-a-lifetime field tilter that made life easier for his quarterback and the linebackers on his side. He handled the entire offense with a sense that there was no flaw that was insurmountable.
Mahomes will have to form an immediate connection with his new supporting cast to lead to another postseason push. He lived a happy life at the beginning of his career – ideal coach, franchise and supporting cast. The Chiefs roster remains one of the most talented in the league, but now it’s up to Mahomes to raise the bar for those around him.
4) Sean McVay, head coach, LA Rams
McVay is looking to become the first head coach to lead a team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles since Bill Belichick in 2003-04. He will also become the highest-paid coach in the league, with reports suggesting his new contract will eclipse Belichick’s.
Yet while the Rams look to sign McVay long-term, whispers persist that McVay would be happy to step away from the Rams — whether for another job or TV work — once the season ends. sin the past years. start the team.
5) Dr. Alex Steinforth, NFL Germany
The NFL has entered a new phase of its international expansion. While there used to be a heavy emphasis on London (with games in Canada and Mexico), the league is now going global. The NFL has awarded Special International Market Regions to 18 teams in 26 markets in eight countries. Because the NFL holds the broadcast rights under its umbrella, they focus on securing as many eyes as possible on the games, regardless of location. Eyes are eyes; dollars are dollars.
Another major border: Germany. For the first time, the NFL is bringing a regular season game to Munich. More than three million people lined up to secure tickets to the Bucs-Seahawks game in November. The demand for tickets for the initial game will certainly lead to a second game in 2023 with the hope of future games in different German markets – Frankfurt, Düsseldorf – in the coming years.
6) Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers
The Packers were finally able to put an end to the Aaron Rodgers-he-didn’t-want-it saga over the season. Rodgers signed a massive three-year, $151 million contract. Does that mean Rodgers will play every three years? Who knows? Does that mean it’s fun? Pfft.
What we do know: Rodgers’ new contract made it difficult for the Packers to improve on the offseason. The team was able to secure enough money behind the sofa to keep most of its foundation intact. But the cap cut meant Green Bay had to say goodbye to valuable contributors. Biggest loss: Davante Adams, a one-man offense that looks like a receiver.
The Packers are still one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but it’s hard to pinpoint more than one area where they’ve decidedly improved this season. Rodgers is still at the peak of his powers, gunning for a third straight MVP award, but he’s proven he can’t single-handedly lead a team to a championship.
7) Jerry Jones, owner, Dallas Cowboys
Jones has already talked about his president’s chair heat. Mike McCarthy is in no trouble, he says. But Jones does has options, he wants to pay attention. Jones will help determine whether or not the Cowboys can make a serious championship run — something that could mean an offseason change from McCarthy to one of his coordinators.
As one of the league’s powerhouses, Jones will also be heavily involved in any decision as it relates to Daniel Snyder’s ownership of the Chiefs and approval of the Walton family’s takeover of the Broncos.
8) Josh McDaniels, head coach, Las Vegas Raiders
Drop the Raiders into any other NFL division and they would be an incredible contender. More often than not, they will be the preseason favorite. Follow them in the AFC West, however, and you’re looking at a team that can arguably finish first or last.
In his second stint as a head coach, McDaniels has moved into a team that may have the finest talent position group anywhere in football. In Adams, he has the game’s top receiver. In Darren Waller, he has one of the top tight ends. In Hunter Renfrow, the duo has a talented third banana. Securing Derek Carr to a new contract guarantees the Raiders a quarterback — and one that continues to improve.
The Raiders should be good. The other AFC West teams look more complete. McDaniels et al. will likely have to play the role of spoiler: stopping the Chargers’ rush; makes life uncomfortable for Mahomes and Chiefs; the beginning of the Walton-Wilson-Hackett era in Denver on its knees.
9) Ken Dorsey, offensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills
There is no obvious wrongdoing in the Bills. They have the deepest and most talented roster in the NFL. They have an elite squad. There are players all over the field. They have a good offensive line. Their defensive front is loaded. Their secondary features the best safety tandem in the league. They are deep in the corner. The only reasonable cause for concern: The move from Brian Daboll to Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator. Daboll runs a special system with Allen. And while Dorsey will likely look to repeat that success, it’s possible (though unlikely) that there will be some teething problems.
10) Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brady’s retirement-retirement was the dominant story of the season. A trip to Salford, and Brady decided he wasn’t ready to give up this whole football thing. Whether or not this is his last season, it remains to be seen before he lands a lucrative job with FOX. He is still at the peak of his powers at the age of 44. At this point, another MVP-caliber season is more of a prospect than a prospect. And with reinforcements on offense — on the line and at the skill positions — the Bucs enter the year with the Rams as neck-and-neck favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.