Eagles, 49ers Shine in Football Outsiders Awards

San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Welcome to the results of the 20th annual Football Outsiders Awards—the best and worst players of the year, as voted on by you, our readers. For those curious about the FO Award winners in past years, you will find links to each of the previous FO Awards articles on this page. Last year's awards, specifically, are found here.

Who is the 2022 NFL MVP? (Last year's winner: Aaron Rodgers, GB)

77.7% Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
12.5% Jalen Hurts, QB, PHI
3.9% Joe Burrow, QB, CIN
2.9% Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
2.3% Josh Allen, QB, BUF
0.8% Tyreek Hill, WR, MIA

The Chiefs traded away Patrick Mahomes' best wide receiver and he responded by leading the NFL in passing yards, passing touchdowns, QBR, and DYAR, setting a career high in completion rate just to show off. Kansas City went 14-3, losing three games by a combined 10 points, and won a division title and the top seed in the AFC before going on to win the Super Bowl. Mahomes dominated our MVP voting, beating the field by a margin of 3-to-1. Jalen Hurts might have finished a little closer if he had not missed two games, but would certainly have still finished a distant second.

Who is the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year (Non-QB)? (Last year's winner: Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR)

59.1% Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
13.3% Travis Kelce, TE, KC
9.8% Tyreek Hill, WR, MIA
9.2% Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR/SF
3.5% A.J. Brown, WR, PHI
3.3% Josh Jacobs, RB, LV
1.0% Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF
0.8% Nick Chubb, RB, CLE

In his third season, Jefferson caught 128 passes for 1,809 yards, both among the 10 highest single-season totals in league history. He set franchise records in both categories, and keep in mind that the Minnesota Vikings have employed Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Stefon Diggs, among others. His 489 receiving DYAR were first in the league and most for Minnesota since Moss went over 500 in 2003. And he did all of that catching passes from Kirk Cousins, who I assume you're familiar with. Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes' top target, finished second; Tyreek Hill, Mahomes' former top target, finished third.

Who is the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year? (Last year's winner: T.J. Watt, OLB, PIT)

44.9% Nick Bosa, DE, SF
16.5% Micah Parsons, OLB, DAL
15.2% Chris Jones, DT, KC
11.1% Haason Reddick, OLB, PHI
3.3% Ahmad Gardner, CB, NYJ
2.3% Maxx Crosby, DE, LV
2.1% Myles Garrett, DE, CLE
1.9% Matthew Judon, OLB, NE
1.6% Roquan Smith, ILB, CHI/BAL
1.2% Patrick Surtain, CB, DEN

The best player on the NFL's best defense, Nick Bosa led the NFL with 18.5 sacks and finished second with 19 tackles for loss despite missing a game against Atlanta. According to Pro Football Reference, he also led the league with 28 quarterback knockdowns, and his combined total of 56 sacks, knockdowns, and hurries were nine more than anyone else. Bosa is followed in our voting by Dallas' Micah Parsons (one of 10 players last year with double-digit sacks and 60-plus tackles) and Kansas City's Chris Jones (whose 15.5 sacks and 29 quarterback hits were more than double the totals of any of his teammates).

Who is the 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year? (Last year's winner: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, CIN)

30.6% Brock Purdy, QB, SF
20.7% Chris Olave, WR, NO
19.3% Garrett Wilson, WR, NYJ
12.3% Kenneth Walker, RB, SEA
4.9% Tyler Linderbaum, C, BAL
4.9% Christian Watson, WR, GB
3.7% Kenny Pickett, QB, PIT
3.5% Tyler Allgeier, RB, ATL

Here's our first award where the Football Outsiders readers had a different opinion than the Associated Press voters. This outcome would have seemed impossible as recently as Thanksgiving. At that point, Purdy was still living up to the title of Mr. Irrelevant, a little-used rookie with more interceptions thrown (one) than games started (zero). Then Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt and Purdy caught absolute fire down the stretch, with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in San Francisco's six games, each of them a 49ers win. Purdy didn't even qualify for our passing tables, but if he had, he would have made the top five in DVOA. His 397 DYAR were most by a non-qualifier since … Jimmy Garoppolo had 598 in 2017.

If you prefer full-season stars, you were left with a very narrow race between two wide receivers out of Ohio State. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson put up similar basic statlines (72-1,042-4 for Olave, 83-1,103-4 for Wilson), but Olave fared significantly better in our advanced stats, giving him a very slim edge in the voting.

Who is the 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year? (Last year's winner: Micah Parsons, LB, DAL)

73.5% Ahmad Gardner, CB, NYJ
14.9% Aidan Hutchinson, DE, DET
6.2% Tariq Woolen, CB, SEA
2.9% Kayvon Thibodeaux, OLB, NYG
1.2% Jaquan Brisker, SS, CHI
0.8% Devin Lloyd, ILB, JAX
0.4% Kader Kohou, CB, MIA

This one was never really in doubt. Sauce Gardner led the NFL with 20 passes defensed. Per PFR, his 5.3 yards allowed per target put him among the 10 best corners in the league. He's the biggest reason the Jets allowed a league-low 42.5 yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers. A first-team All-Pro, Gardner may have been the NFL's best corner in 2022, veterans included.

In Detroit, Aidan Hutchinson led all rookies with 9.5 sacks. Seattle, meanwhile, found a steal in the fifth round of the draft in Texas-San Antonio corner Tariq Woolen, who led the NFL with six interceptions and had some charting numbers that were even better than Gardner's albeit in a different role.

Who is the 2022 Comeback Player of the Year? (Last year's winner: Joe Burrow, QB, CIN)

57.3% Geno Smith, QB, SEA
16.6% Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR/SF
15.2% Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
8.4% Brandon Graham, DE, PHI
1.4% Nick Gates, G, NYG
1.0% Za'Darius Smith, OLB, MIN

As someone who frequently asked what Geno Smith was supposedly coming back from in 2022, I will now note that the official rules of the award state that the winner will be someone who "shows perseverance in overcoming adversity, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, a severe injury, or simply poor performance" (emphasis added). In that case, Smith certainly qualifies—in the first nine years of his career, he had won only 13 games as a starter, with more interceptions (37) than touchdowns (34). That changed in a big way in 2022 as Smith led the NFL with a 69.8% completion rate and finished eighth or higher in completions, yards, and touchdowns. That was enough to put him over a pair of oft-injured running backs (Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley) whose total yards from scrimmage jumped from 1,641 in 2021 to 3,530 in 2022.

Who was the best offensive lineman of 2022? (Last year's winner: Trent Williams, SF)

33.9% Jason Kelce, C, PHI
24.2% Trent Williams, LT, SF
18.0% Lane Johnson, RT, PHI
7.4% Creed Humphrey, C, KC
5.1% Penei Sewell, RT, DET
2.5% Andrew Thomas, LT, NYG
2.3% Zack Martin, RG, DAL
1.9% Christian Darrisaw, LT, MIN
1.9% Laremy Tunsil, LT, HOU
1.3% Terron Armstead, LT, MIA

Last March, Jason Kelce poured himself a beer and announced that he was not retiring from the NFL. He proceeded to enjoy one of his best seasons, earning his fifth first-team All-Pro selection for an Eagles team that ranked fourth in the league in adjusted line yards on carries between the tackles.

Kelce was followed in the voting by Trent Williams, last year's winner, and his teammate Lane Johnson. That Philadelphia offensive line was a strong unit, deserving of its own recognition. (Experienced readers will recognize this as a literary device known as "foreshadowing." It can be dangerous in the wrong hands and is best left to professionals.)

Note that this year we changed this award from an "open field" asking for two names to a multiple choice question.

Who was the most improved player of 2022? (Last year's winner: Joe Burrow, CIN)

36.6% Geno Smith, SEA
12.7% Jalen Hurts, PHI
11.3% Trevor Lawrence, JAX
7.7% Daniel Jones, NYG
3.5% Justin Fields, CHI
2.8% Jared Goff, DET
2.8% Josh Jacobs, LV
2.8% Tua Tagovailoa, MIA

We already discussed Smith, so let's address Jalen Hurts, who ranked 17th in both DYAR and DVOA in 2021 before improving to 10th in both categories in 2022. He gained three more rushing touchdowns and six more passing touchdowns than he had the year before, while throwing three fewer interceptions. And in Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence finished bottom-six in both DYAR and DVOA as a rookie, but top-seven in both as a sophomore, doubling his touchdown passes (literally) and cutting his interception totals in half (also literally).

What is your choice for Unit of the Year in 2022? (Last year's winner: Los Angeles Rams defensive line)

52.2% PHI offensive line
15.4% MIA wide receivers
12.9% SF linebackers
11.5% CIN wide receivers
3.3% KC offensive line
2.1% NE defensive backs
1.2% NYJ defensive line
0.8% TEN defensive line

The Eagles were first by a healthy margin in rushing DVOA, and keep in mind that's not including Jalen Hurts scrambles (though it does include sneaks and options and other designed quarterback runs). They ran for 32 touchdowns, eight more than anyone else, finishing second in first downs and fifth in yardage gained. Hurts finished fifth at his position in rushing DYAR while Miles Sanders finished third in his, and Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott had their moments in the sun as well. When that many players are that effective rushing the ball, you know they're getting help from the big boys up front.

In Miami, Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill finished third and fourth in DYAR despite a revolving door at quarterback. And in San Francisco, Dre Geenlaw and Fred Warner helped the 49ers finish first in defensive DVOA, second against the run, and first by a mile on passes to opposing running backs.

Who is 2022 NFL Head Coach of the Year? (Last year's winner: Mike Vrabel, TEN)

27.8% Brian Daboll, NYG
17.2% Kyle Shanahan, SF
14.5% Nick Sirianni, PHI
12.7% Doug Pederson, JAX
8.0% Dan Campbell, DET
6.7% Andy Reid, KC
5.3% Pete Carroll, SEA
3.3% Mike Tomlin, PIT

There were a lot of strong candidates for this award, and in the end it may have been decided by preseason expectations. You'll recall that three FO writers picked the New York Giants to get the first pick in April's draft, and we were hardly unique in in our pessimism. But first-year coach Brian Daboll took a New York team that had gone 4-13 in 2021 to a 9-7-1 mark in 2022, then added another win in the playoffs against Minnesota. Kyle Shanahan also got a lot of credit for getting San Francisco into the playoffs with a third-stringer at quarterback, while Nick Sirianni guided the Eagles to a 14-1 record in games when Jalen Hurts was healthy.

Who wins 2022 Bill Arnsparger Award for Coordinator of the Year? (Last year's winner: Dan Quinn, DC, DAL)

35.9% DeMeco Ryans, DC, SF
20.7% Lou Anarumo, DC, CIN
12.1% Ben Johnson, OC, DET
8.2% Shane Steichen, OC, PHI
5.9% Ejiro Evero, DC, DEN
5.5% Mike Kafka, OC, NYG
5.3% Eric Bieniemy, OC, KC
4.9% Dan Quinn, DC, DAL

The 2022 San Francisco 49ers had the league's best defensive player, the league's best linebackers, and apparently the league's best defensive coordinator. In DeMeco Ryans' second season as coordinator, San Francisco allowed the fewest points and yards in the NFL while finishing second in takeaways. He is now the head coach of the Houston Texans, a franchise whose trophy case is not quite as impressive as the one in Santa Clara. In Cincinnati, Lou Anarumo continues to be a constant headache for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, while Detroit's Ben Johnson cobbled together a bunch of spare parts and put together the league's fifth-ranked offense.

Who wins 2022 Art Rooney Jr. Award for Executive of the Year? (Last year's winner: Les Snead, LAR)

59.7% Howie Roseman, PHI
11.4% John Schneider, SEA
8.7% John Lynch, SF
8.1% Brett Veach, KC
4.8% Brad Holmes, DET
2.9% Chris Grier, MIA
2.7% Trent Baalke, JAX
1.9% Brandon Beane, BUF

Howie Roseman's Eagles reached the Super Bowl, and their best receiver (A.J. Brown), pass-rusher (Haason Reddick), safety (C.J. Gardner-Johnson), and arguably even corner (James Bradberry) were all offseason acquisitions. That's not even including rookies Jordan Davis (a run-stuffer who started five games) or Nakobe Dean and Kyron Johnson (two key special teams contributors). And then there's Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, signed during the season to shore up the run defense, which they did. Did we mention that the Eagles are still in the middle of the pack in effective cap space? Or that Philadelphia has two first-round draft picks this year and two second-rounders next year? This Roseman kid, he knows what he's doing.

In Seattle, John Schneider came out of the Russell Wilson trade smelling like roses and had a stellar draft class, with four draft picks earning starting roles as rookies and a fifth (cornerback Coby Bryant) who could be starting in 2023. And in San Francisco, John Lynch has put together one of the NFL's deepest rosters, and he gets bonus points for finding Brock Purdy with the last pick in the draft.

Who is your choice for the 2022 Keep Choppin' Wood Award (player who hurt his team most, on or off the field)? (Last year's winner: Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU)

49.6% Russell Wilson, QB, DEN
32.7% Zach Wilson, QB, NYJ
10.1% Kyler Murray, QB, ARI
3.3% Matt Ryan, QB, IND
2.1% Robbie Anderson, WR, CAR/ARI
1.9% Kenny Golladay, WR, NYG

I'm just going to turn this over to Bryan Knowles who named Russell Wilson the quarterback of his All-Keep Choppin' Wood team a few weeks ago:

Denver paid a king's ransom for their new king—multiple first-round picks, multiple second-round picks, a solid defensive tackle in Shelby Harris, and some assorted spare parts thrown in mostly to make the list of assets acquired in Seattle comically long. They then turned around and signed Wilson to a five-year extension worth $245 million, with $165 million guaranteed, before he played a down for the franchise.

The numbers simultaneously speak for themselves and do not tell the whole story. Wilson's -15.2% passing DVOA was 28th out of 34 qualifiers, and by a wide margin the worst in his career. Wilson set career lows in touchdown rate, completion percentage, QBR, and ANYA as well.

Bryan than went into more detail than we have room for here on Wilson's bizarre behavior on and off the field. There's also a trace of strangeness around the Jets' Zach Wilson and Arizona's Kyler Murray, who allegedly scored more in the bedroom and on the Xbox, respectively, than on the field. But you know what? Last year in this space, I was writing about Deshaun Watson, Antonio Brown, and Henry Ruggs. Wilson, Wilson, and Murray may be a trio of overpaid weirdos coming off bad seasons, but none of them have ever been accused of violent crimes. That's an upgrade, as far as I'm concerned.

Who is your choice for the 2022 Keep Choppin' Game Film Award (most ineffective head coach or coordinator)? (Last year's winner: Urban Meyer, JAX head coach

56.8% Nathaniel Hackett, HC, DEN
18.6% Matt Patricia, OC, NE
9.8% Jeff Saturday, HC, IND
7.0% Kliff Kingsbury, HC, ARI
3.1% Josh McDaniels, HC, LV
3.1% Matt Rhule, HC, CAR

Once more I yield the floor to the esteemed Mr. Knowles:

But I am amazed at how unprepared Hackett was; how even the simplest aspects of head coaching seemed beyond him. By the end of his tenure in Denver, he had outsourced the play-calling and game management decisions, and he mostly ended up standing on the sideline looking befuddled as his team cratered. Hackett became just the fifth coach since the merger to fail to make it through his first full season as a head coach, forever linked with Urban Meyer, Bobby Petrino, Pete McCulley, and Lou Holtz on the list of all-time flops.

In New England, Matt Patricia's offense was so ill-schemed and disorganized that his own quarterback was routinely cursing in frustration. And in just half a season in Indianapolis, Jeff Saturday managed to:

  • Lose 54-19 to the Cowboys, the Colts' worst loss in five seasons.
  • Turn a 36-7 third-quarter advantage into a 39-36 overtime loss to Minnesota, the biggest blown lead in league history.
  • Lose by 17 points to the Chargers.
  • Lose by 28 points to the Giants.
  • Lose the season finale to a Houston team that was looking to clinch the top pick in the draft.

And speaking of the Colts…

Who was the least deserving pick for the Pro Bowl (not including injury replacements)? (Last year's winner: Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL)

24.6% Quenton Nelson, LG, IND
23.8% Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN
12.8% Trevon Diggs, CB, DAL
12.6% Orlando Brown, LT, KC
10.3% Xavien Howard, CB, MIA
7.1% C.J. Mosley, ILB, NYJ
5.6% Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
3.2% Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG

In one of our closest races of awards season, Quenton Nelson of the Colts (next to last in rush offense DVOA) ekes out a dubious victory over Kirk Cousins (-16.3% DVOA on plays where he was not throwing to Justin Jefferson). Trevon Diggs (64.7% completion rate allowed, per PFR) also had his share of critics.

Who is the most deserving offensive player left off the Pro Bowl roster? (Last year's winner: Josh Allen, QB, BUF)

32.2% Christian McCaffrey, SF
15.1% Austin Ekeler, LAC
14.5% Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, DET
8.3% Penei Sewell, DET
8.0% Jared Goff, DET
5.7% Jaylen Waddle, MIA

Christian McCaffrey was third in the NFL and first in the NFC (and both his teams played in the NFC) in yards from scrimmage, and it was his arrival in San Francisco that really turned the 49ers offense around. He also finished first at his position in receiving DYAR, though Austin Ekeler beat him in volume, leading all runners with 107 receptions.

But I want to talk about Detroit. This is a write-in category, with voters free to name any player that comes to mind. And the Lions as a team were so underrated that their top wideout, lineman, and quarterback all received a significant number of votes. That's a lot of under-ratin'.

Who is the most deserving defensive player left off the Pro Bowl roster? (Last year's winner: Micah Hyde, S, BUF)

28.0% Matt Milano, LB, BUF
21.4% Dre Greenlaw, LB, SF
12.6% Javon Hargrave, DT, PHI
10.1% Christian Wilkins, DT, MIA
5.3% Alex Highsmith, ER, PIT
4.7% Tremaine Edmunds, LB, BUF

While the 49ers had the league's best DVOA against passes to running backs, the Bills were third, and they were first against tight ends. That's a credit to Matt Milano, Buffalo's top linebacker in coverage, who gave up only 5.7 yards per target, per PFR. Dre Greenlaw and Javon Hargrave, meanwhile, are a pair of excellent defenders on two of the deepest defenses in the league, which means they are sometimes overshadowed by their teammates.

Who is the most deserving special teams player left off the Pro Bowl roster? (Last year's winner: Braxton Berrios, NYJ)

20.1% Daniel Carlson, LV
19.4% Ryan Stonehouse, TEN
17.0% Marcus Jones, NE
13.8% Keisean Nixon, GB
12.0% Graham Gano, NYG
8.8% Matt Gay, LAR

It was a big year for special teamers! Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson led the league in total points scored in 2020 and 2021. He fell to third place in 2022, but that's mostly due to limited opportunity—he went 35-for-36 on extra points and 34-for-37 on field goals, including an 11-of-13 performance on kicks of 50-plus yards. Ryan Stonehouse averaged an all-time record 53.1 yards per punt, breaking the 82-year-old record of Sammy Baugh my a yard and a half. And New England rookie Marcus Jones led the NFL with 362 yards and a 12.5-yard average on punt returns (not to mention his scores on both offense and defense).

Who is the player most likely to break out in 2023? (Last year's winner: Trevor Lawrence, JAX)

10.5% Justin Fields, CHI
6.7% Trey Lance, SF
6.4% George Pickens, PIT
4.2% Jameson Williams, DET
3.8% Kenny Pickett, PIT
3.2% Trevor Lawrence, JAX
3.2% Christian Watson, GB
2.9% Jordan Love, GB

Well this is interesting. Thanks in part to Jeff Saturday's incompetence, the Chicago Bears hold the top pick in April's draft, and there's some discussion that they could trade Justin Fields and select C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young instead. According to our readers, that would be a mistake—Fields has a lot of room to improve, but he has also shown a rare ability to produce long plays with his arms and legs alike. Players with these gifts don't grow on trees.

Elsewhere, Trey Lance finishes second for the second year in a row as he remains a walking bundle of unfulfilled potential. And Pittsburgh's George Pickens flashed big-play potential down the stretch, averaging 17.8 yards per catch after the Steelers' bye in Week 9.

The Trevor Lawrence votes are interesting. Didn't he already break out this year? That was a good call in the 2021 awards by the readers.

Who is the player most likely to significantly decline in 2023? (Last year's winner: Aaron Rodgers, GB)

17.6% Aaron Rodgers, GB
13.6% Geno Smith, SEA
8.0% Derrick Henry, TEN
6.5% Kirk Cousins, MIN
5.6% Tua Tagovailoa, MIA
4.6% Daniel Jones, NYG
3.7% Josh Jacobs, LV
3.1% Jalen Hurts, PHI

The readers expected Aaron Rodgers to decline, and he did, and now they're predicting him to decline again. Ouch. Geno Smith threw for a career-high 4,282 yards in 2022, but his median season over nine years in the NFL is less than 250 yards; last year's total screams fluke, and Smith is also 33. Derrick Henry isn't quite 30 yet, but he just led the NFL in carries for the third time in four seasons; that workload will eventually break down even the league's toughest runner.

Who do you expect to win Comeback Player of the Year in 2023?(Last year's winner: Lamar Jackson, BAL)

18.8% Russell Wilson, DEN
8.8% Trey Lance, SF
5.7% Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
5.7% Cooper Kupp, LAR
5.7% Kyler Murray, ARI
5.4% Damar Hamlin, BUF
5.0% Lamar Jackson, BAL
5.0% Tua Tagovailoa, MIA

Wilson wasn't horrible at everything in his first season in Denver; he ranked third in DYAR on deep passes, behind only Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa. With Nathaniel Hackett sent packin', it's up to Sean Payton to maintain Wilson's excellence throwing deep while fixing his many, many mistakes throwing short. Trey Lance still remains a walking bundle of unfulfilled potential. And Cooper Kupp averaged over 90 yards per game last season—a steep fall from the 114.5 he averaged in 2021, but still in the top five in the league.

(Ed. Note: This one shocked me. If Damar Hamlin gets on the field for a single snap next year, he will win this award. -- Aaron Schatz)

Which of the following teams is most likely next season's surprise Super Bowl contender? (Last year's winner: Denver Broncos)

25.8% New York Jets
14.6% Pittsburgh
13.3% Denver
10.3% Carolina
9.7% New England
7.5% Cleveland
4.5% Chicago
3.2% Washington

The Jets ranked in the top 10 in defense against both the run and the pass. Breece Hall racked up 109 rushing DYAR in only 80 carries before being injured; only 12 qualifiers had more DYAR, and that's a stat that accumulates with playing time. Garrett Wilson was the AP's (if not FO's) offensive rookie of the year. There's a lot to like here if they can just find a quarterback … and this happens to be an offseason with an unusually high number of quarterbacks available. As for Pittsburgh and Denver, votes for those teams mostly show belief in improvement from Kenny Pickett and Russell Wilson.

Which playoff team is most likely to miss the postseason in 2023? (Last year's winner: Pittsburgh Steelers)

47.8% Tampa Bay
16.1% Minnesota
12.4% New York Giants
6.7% Seattle
3.8% Dallas
3.8% Miami
2.7% Baltimore
2.7% Los Angeles Chargers

Well, they weren't that good before, and now their quarterback's gone. That's a pretty good reason to be skeptical of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lavonte David and Akiem Hicks are about to be free agents. Oh, and they're dead last in effective cap space (yes, behind even the Saints) per Over the Cap. It seems the question in Tampa is not whether the Bucs will decline, but if the Falcons, Saints, or Panthers will improve enough to catch them.

The second- and third-place finishers here are the Vikings and Giants, which is funny since they met in the playoffs. But as we wrote at the time, these were two bad playoff teams, and odds are good that one or both will miss the playoffs in 2023.

Which of these turnaround units is most likely to keep its improvement and fight off regression to the mean in 2023? (Listed with DVOA rank in 2021 and 2022) (Last year's winner: San Francisco offense)

34.7% Jacksonville offense (27/9)
15.8% Detroit offense (29/5)
13.3% New York Jets defense (32/5)
10.9% Miami offense (24/7)
9.7% Baltimore defense (28/7)
9.5% Philadelphia defense (25/6)
4.2% New York Giants offense (32/10)
1.9% Washington defense (27/9)

Trevor Lawrence? Not a fluke. Healthy Travis Etienne? Not a fluke. Brandon Scherff, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones sticking around for another productive year? Probably not flukes. Now add Calvin Ridley to the mix. Yes, there's a lot to like about the Jaguars in the future. There's also a lot to like about the Lions offense (Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams) and the Jets defense (Sauce).

Which ad wins the "Get Your Story Straight" Award for best commercial or ad campaign during NFL games this season? (Last year's winner: Progressive's "Don't Turn into Your Parents")

23.3% Progressive "Challenge Flag"
22.4% State Farm "Andy Reid Mustaches"
12.4% Burger King "Whopper Whopper Whopper Whopper"
9.8% Progressive "Dr. Rick Book Signing"
7.4% Apple iPhone 14 "Leon the Dead Lizard"
7.4% Dr. Pepper "Chaos Comes to Fanville"
7.1% UberEats Sarah Silverman
3.8% Taco Bell Davante Adams

The folks in Progressive's marketing department are really good at their jobs. The "Don't Turn Into Your Parents" campaign had won this award for two years in a row, but this year's installment—"Dr. Rick Book Signing"—dropped to fourth place. That cleared the way for … Progressive, but this time with the "Challenge Flag" series that debuted late in the year. A lot of our readers also enjoy Andy Reid being silly, and some even enjoy quirky songs about burgers.

Which ad wins the "John Mellencamp Must Die" Award for worst commercial or ad campaign during NFL games this season? (Last year's winner: Facebook "Introducing Meta")

27.7% DirecTV "Football Housewives"
20.9% Burger King "Whopper Whopper Whopper Whopper"
18.4% Verizon "Einstein's Network"
10.9% State Farm "Patrick Mahomes Bath Bombs"
9.5% Liberty Mutual "Limu Emu Bowling Alley"
4.2% Jersey Mike's Danny DeVito
4.2% Old Navy Jennifer Coolidge
1.9% Spectrum Mobile "Freeeeee"

I would consider this the biggest upset of these awards. Over the season, I heard and read dozens of complaints about the repetitive nature of Burger King's "Whopper Whopper Whopper Whopper" song, which is either a witty spoof on jingles themselves or just lazy and uninventive songwriting, depending on the ear of the beholder. However, I heard next to nothing about the obnoxious women in garish outfits interrupting a football game to scream "I JUST WANT TO TALK!" This viewpoint may be unenlightened, and I certainly don't mean to speak for everyone, but a lot of us are watching football in the first place specifically because we don't want to talk. I thought I was the only one who hated these ads, which seem designed to irritate the very audience they're being shown to, but apparently I am not alone.

There was an also an ad with an Einstein imitator that wasn't very funny.

Which was the best touchdown celebration of 2022? (Last year's winner: MIA: Christian Wilkins does the worm)

20.5% PHI: DeVonta Smith robs the Salvation Army
19.6% CIN: Joe Mixon's coin flip
14.6% CHI: Slip and slide celebration
13.5% MIN: Bowling celebration
12.1% DAL: Whack-a-Mole
10.7% JAX: Three Spider-Men

It's late. I'm tired. Here's the winner. Congratulations on your award, DeVonta, you Scrooge you.

Thanks to everyone for voting in this year's awards, and thanks for reading Football Outsiders during another season.


74 comments, Last at 26 Feb 2023, 10:08am

#1 by theslothook // Feb 21, 2023 - 10:53am

Surprised Goff wasn't even mentioned for player most likely to decline.

Also surprised Watson wasn't mentioned in the KCW award

Points: 2

#13 by Joey-Harringto… // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:07pm

I'm both surprised by this, and also surprised he wasn't mentioned for comeback player of the year (since we established "poor performance" is something that can be come back from).  

This is also an admission that I still don't know what to make of his 2022 season.

Points: 1

#58 by Noahrk // Feb 21, 2023 - 10:56pm

And unlike Geno, if Watson played at a high level he would actually come back to something he'd done before. Some people don't know what a catch is, I have no idea what this award is. I'm surprised they don't just give it to the best rookie for coming back from not being an NFL star before.

Points: 1

#49 by Theo // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:16pm

I think thats because Watson didnt hurt the Browns. The Browns hurt the Browns.

Points: 0

#2 by Independent George // Feb 21, 2023 - 11:29am

Pat McAfee getting sued for calling Smiths' celebration "The Favre" has to make the final TWIQ. 

Points: 9

#3 by Ryan // Feb 21, 2023 - 11:49am

That worst ad result is a major upset. The Burger King campaign is among the worst ad campaigns of all time. Much like Nigella Lawson and green peppers, I hold this campaign beneath contempt. 

Points: 1

#7 by rh1no // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:39pm

I voted for Burger King as the best AND the worst ad. I hate it. It's annoying. But it gets stuck in my head and makes me think about Burger King.

Points: 2

#9 by theslothook // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:41pm

It got stuck in my head too. The question is, did it sway you into buying a Burger King burger? Or even a burger at all? For me, that's a no, but I am an admitted food snob. 

Points: 1

#20 by rh1no // Feb 21, 2023 - 2:03pm

No, but the ad campaign did convince me that Burger King is a fast food company that is still in business, which I might not have known otherwise.

The last time I had Burger King was 4 or 5 years ago when they debuted the Impossible Burger and a buddy brought some over to my place for a blind taste test. Not bad, but if I'm going to eat a fast food burger, it's going to be In-N-Out or nothing at all.

Points: 2

#21 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 21, 2023 - 2:10pm

I actually did buy a Whopper this year for the first time in probably 20 years. (On the rare occasions I go to Burger King, I usually get the chicken or the Big King.)

And you know what? It was delicious.

Points: 5

#25 by theslothook // Feb 21, 2023 - 2:23pm

What is it's DVOA ranking against other fast food burger shops?

For me, INN N Out and five guys are the Tom Brady and Peyton Manning of fast food hamburgers.

Points: 1

#29 by dmb // Feb 21, 2023 - 3:43pm

This metaphor is particularly apt for Five Guys, since feeding a family there also costs approximately one year of Manning's salary. (Though between their name and their product, shouldn't Five Guys be compared to an offensive line?)

Points: 5

#53 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:34pm

In N Out and Five Guys are both good but also both overrated. I prefer Whataburger. And if you're ever driving I-5 between Portland and Tacoma, stop at Burgerville. They're tremendous. 

Points: 0

#8 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:40pm

It not only failed to win "Worst Ad" it came in 3rd on "Best Ad." We are a doomed species.

Points: 2

#18 by Sixknots // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:42pm

I still say that the Liberty Mutual "Pie Eating Contest" is the worst ad.

Followed by the Liberty Mutual "Limu Emu Bowling Alley" ad.

But then, I just hate most insurance company ads.  Waste of time.

Points: 2

#22 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 21, 2023 - 2:10pm

The alternative for football broadcasts seems to be dick pill commercials, to which I say, "Bring on the emus!"

Points: 1

#41 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:30pm

But then, I just hate most insurance company ads.  Waste of time

It's worn a little thin, but Dean Winters as Allstate's "Mayhem" slayed me for a long while.

Points: 1

#48 by thok // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:15pm

The Liberty Mutual ads aren't even the worst insurance ads this year; that would be NJM's self-defeating "Our advertising gimmick is that we claim to have no advertising gimmick" ads.

Points: 0

#52 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:33pm

I absolutely loved "Young people having a good time with insurance!" but I may be the weird one here. 

Points: 0

#28 by Independent George // Feb 21, 2023 - 3:40pm

I very rarely even see ads anymore. I tend to watch football with a DVR buffer, and will switch games when the buffer runs out rather than watch live even in the middle of the action. 

Points: 3

#31 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 21, 2023 - 4:15pm

My kids were baffled when they encountered ads on live TV.

Points: 2

#54 by Theo // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:44pm

The guy that uploads all the games cuts out most commercials.



Points: 0

#38 by Harris // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:19pm

Speak ill of Nigella again and I'll chain you to the wall and queue up the Whopper ad on repeat.

Points: 2

#44 by Ryan // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:36pm

Oh to be clear, I adore Nigella. She'd turn me straight. She once said she held green peppers "beneath contempt" and I just thought it was such a withering and appropriate stance (green peppers blow) and so well-stated.

Points: 1

#4 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:14pm

Did we mention that the Eagles are still in the middle of the pack in effective cap space? 

Really, one of the remaining statistics that's in need of being fixed in the NFL is figuring out how the hell to evaluate cap space.

Effective 1-year cap space is just nonsensical. The Vikings are $23M over, but can clear practically their entire roster and be under with a stroke of a pen and basically sign whoever they want in free agency because they've got no commitments next year - this is what the Vikings do, they ride close to the cap but maintain massive flexibility. The Browns have more effective cap space but far less flexibility than the Vikings - if they clear everyone cuttable they'll have less space than the Vikings.

The issue with comparing the Eagles to the other teams is that yes, the Bucs and Saints are way over the cap. They're going to have to restructure contracts to push money forward. And the Eagles technically aren't... because they already did restructure them. Philly has exactly two players with paragraph 5 salaries above $5M.

Two. That's it. The Saints have 9. The 49ers, right beside them in cap space, have 7. Washington, also right beside them, has 8.

Philly has the least salary cap flexibility of any team in the league - the least ability to create space by either restructures or cutting players. This isn't a statement by me, it's a statement by the founder of Over the Cap.

It's just math. Philly just "pre-restructured" contracts by setting multiple years of P5 salary to the minimum straight away. Mailata, Reddick, Goedert, Maddox, Barnett.

Saying that the Eagles are in a better cap situation than, say, the Vikings is just nonsense. Different teams just handle things differently. The Vikings have more players under contract that they can cut or restructure: that gives them more leverage to negotiate with those players. Philly has zero leverage to negotiate with practically any of its players.

Again - I'm not saying the Eagles are in as bad a cap situation as the Bucs or Saints. First and foremost, you'd much prefer to be in a bad cap situation with a QB than a bad cap situation without one. But they're absolutely not "middle of the pack." No way.

Points: 5

#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:27pm

Pat, you're about a week away from getting your own FO template.

Points: 6

#6 by whocares4 // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:30pm

Yeah, you think he'd be worn out after a season in which nearly every one of his predictions about how the Eagles season would go turned out to be wrong. I'd go so far as to say that I thought the Eagles were in really bad cap shape... until he started saying they're in a bad spot. 

Points: 2

#15 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:13pm

I don't make predictions. I never have. In fact, I very explicitly said I don't make predictions, because they're always conditional. Every single one of my concerns regarding Philly by the start of the season had to do with health (or age decline, which is the same thing in my mind), and Philly had exceptional health this season by any measure. In fact, by most measures they had the best health in the league. I don't think anyone can predict health or age decline.

I mean, jeez, I started off right after the draft saying "Philly's not going to be as good as anyone thinks, their secondary's terrible." And then they replaced it. So what, that makes the previous statement wrong? It was (implicitly) conditional, and the conditional didn't happen.

edit: I definitely can't predict health, because for years I had thought Philly had a good medical/training staff and they just lost like, a $40+M malpractice judgement against them.

Points: 0

#12 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:07pm

Trust me, I know. I point the same things out to guys on PFF and even Jason at OTC that the simple measures they have are horribly misleading, over and over. The problem is that I have no idea how to present it better in an easy way. Every way I suggest is apparently too complicated and has issues anyway.

Best way I've thought of is showing 3 values: effective cap space, max effective cap space with all non-rookie cuts, and max effective cap space with cuts or restructure. But even that partly stinks because it ignores multi-year effects and does dumb things. And the enormous elephant in the room that is "does the team have a QB under contract or not."

This is less about Philly and more about other teams, though. Current cap situation is just such a terrible way to look at a team. Yes, everyone realizes the Saints and Bucs are in big trouble. But the Vikings are listed as 3rd worst in effective cap space, which is crazy. They're fine. They're not limited at all in free agency. They could go and bring in whomever they wanted. If they wanted to sign Derek Carr and let Cousins go, no problem at all.

I mean, if I made my own list of the teams with the worst cap situations - as in, the ones most likely to be limited in free agency - it'd probably be Saints, Bucs (gap) Rams (gap) Eagles, and then there'd be a much, much bigger gap and I don't even know who I'd put next. Packers, probably.

(note this is cap situation only)

Points: 1

#14 by theslothook // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:10pm

Wouldn't guaranteed dollars committed within the next few years be a decent proxy?

Points: 1

#16 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:36pm

Yeah, I think that'd work too. And you'd always need to special case super-weird teams like the Packers, where literally their biggest issue is that they handed Rodgers the key to the franchise.

There's still always the basic issue is that it's not necessarily a bad thing for a team to have little flexibility if they're already a good team.

Points: 0

#17 by KnotMe // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:36pm

I admit I don't really understand the cap(or want to). I think most people are looking a measure of how constrained a team is in their ability to sign FA and resign their own players.

Something like space vs need seems like what you want but what to put for the needs is kinda difficult, esp bc teams can do all sort of weird things with their own players contracts.  


But that requires some prediction of needs (teams may not want to resign all players, needs can be filled via draft, etc).  There probably isn't a good way to visualize it as you need to predict what moves the team makes in some way since it all seems connected. 

Points: 0

#19 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 1:49pm

 I think most people are looking a measure of how constrained a team is in their ability to sign FA and resign their own players.

I agree! Which is why I think listing the Eagles as middle of the pack is frustrating. Let me quote from Jason at OTC on Twitter:

In terms of cap room that can be created by cutting players the Saints are in the 4th worst position in the NFL. If they cut every player with a positive net cap savings they would create just $23M. The teams worse than them are the Rams ($19M), 49ers ($17M) and Eagles ($13M). Colts would be the top team with around $88M.

(response  - The Eagles can gain around $26 million in extensions/restructures, right?)

Yes. They overall have the least flexibility in the NFL for next year.

That's why I said having a list of effective space, effective space with cuts, effective space with cut/restructures is helpful (the 49ers, for instance, can create huge space with restructures so the limited flexibility above is nothing). But you're totally right in that trying to interpret that for each team is difficult. Every time I bring this up, someone interprets it as me saying the Eagles are screwed, which is totally not what I'm saying, because, of course, they have multiple 1st round picks, and one of them's super-high. All I'm saying is that the Eagles are unlikely to be major free-agent players next year, those 1st round picks are very important, and the defense is likely to look very different next year. They don't have a ton of flexibility if things happen, but that's OK because they're starting off from a good position anyway.

Points: 0

#30 by Independent George // Feb 21, 2023 - 3:44pm

I don't think you can really capture it with a number; I think you need a colored graph showing the overlay of 'official' salaries, cap penalties, and possible restructures. 

Points: 0

#37 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:13pm

I think a range of three numbers really tells you where you're at: current cap space tells you where you are, cap space after all non-rookie cuts that generate space tells you how committed you are to the roster, and cap space after cuts + all restructures tells you how much possible flexibility you have in free agency. But those are all "absolutes," so it's still nuanced.

The Saints, Philly, and the Bucs all have basically the same "space after cuts + restructures," for instance (about ~$35M), but most other teams have dramatically higher numbers (Minnesota's like ~$61M). Obviously Philly's got a better roster so they don't have to be active in free agency, but in the magical world where the Saints were like, still good (say, Taysom Hill actually became a QB or something) they're not far off from Philly in terms of flexibility.

Points: 1

#26 by BSK // Feb 21, 2023 - 2:39pm

"This isn't a statement by me, it's a statement by the founder of Over the Cap."


Where did he say this?  I'm not seeing anything on the site showing anything other than the numbers cited in the OP.

Points: 0

#35 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 4:53pm

See above, it's a quote from him on Twitter. It's not on the site itself. And yeah, I'd love if that list could be automatically calculated and available on the site, too.

Points: 0

#10 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:44pm

I know it appeared too late to be nominated, but I have to nominate the Super Bowl Jesus ad that was just a minute of B&W photos of people fist-fighting and screaming in each other's faces as the worst ad of the season.

Points: 11

#11 by rh1no // Feb 21, 2023 - 12:53pm

Geno Smith threw for a career-high 4,282 yards in 2022, but his median season over nine years in the NFL is less than 250 yards; last year's total screams fluke, and Smith is also 33.

Kinda surprised to see this tidbit on a stats website. His median season is irrelevant because he was a backup for seven of those nine previous seasons, notably spending time behind Eli Manning and Russell Wilson.

This is a dude who threw for 3,000 yards as a rookie and pitched a perfect passer rating game in his sophomore effort. His leap forward in efficiency during the 2022 season was unexpected, and I think it's reasonable to anticipate some regression, but it's just silly to compare his output as a starter to his output as a clean-up guy for two potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

Points: 6

#23 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 21, 2023 - 2:18pm

Wilson's trip across the desert suggests we may want to emphasize the "potential" part of that statement.

Points: 0

#33 by rh1no // Feb 21, 2023 - 4:47pm

How much do you think Wilson's HoF status is *really* at risk?

If he flames out with Payton next year and toils away with the Saints or Colts for a season or two, he starts to look a lot like Carson Palmer or Matt Ryan. I still think his Super Bowl and nine Pro Bowl nods get him in, but I imagine he'd be waiting a few years.

Points: 0

#34 by theslothook // Feb 21, 2023 - 4:53pm

I think if he continues to be unplayable and ends up out of the league after a season or two, then I could easily see his HOF candidacy being in major jeopardy.

I think he could suffer a similar fate as McNabb, where an unceremonious ending becomes the lasting image we are left with. 

As is, I don't think he is a Hall of famer, but most media talking heads disagree.

Points: 4

#39 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:24pm

I think he got put up as a presumptive HoF candidate based on his early SB win.

Since 2nd-goal, he's basically fallen way off that trajectory. He's always had low bulk numbers (but good efficiency) because Seattle was so pass-averse, but this year especially has indicated that perhaps Seattle had a reason for not letting Russ cook. Maybe he couldn't make volume efficient. His college career suggests that may be true.

We joke about Kirk Cousins, but Russ is basically a lower-volume Cousins with a much better defense. He is admittedly a much better runner, but being a good runner doesn't get a QB into the Hall.

A similar sort of thing happened to Phil Rivers, with a different dynamic. He was long a future HoFer until suddenly he wasn't.

Points: 1

#66 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 22, 2023 - 12:22pm

Comparison to Kirk is still extremely awful, no matter how you push it (stylistically, statistically, etc.)

But recency bias is always too strong for facts. Since his 2nd SB visit (which of course Rivers never had even one), he's led the league in passer rating, TD passes and has been top 4 in OPOTY voting, twice, along with being an All Pro closer to now then that 2nd SB trip.

Points: 1

#36 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 21, 2023 - 4:59pm

I mean not being a starter matters.  It's not like he was straight up in the hospital the whole time and turned down starting opportunities

Points: 3

#51 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:31pm

it's just silly to compare his output as a starter to his output as a clean-up guy for two potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

This is significantly more disingenuous than what I said about Smith. The 2017 version of Eli Manning was miles and miles from a Hall of Famer. He played so badly he was benched for Smith -- but Smith was even worse, so he was re-benched for Manning, and the next year Smith was in L.A. with the Chargers because the Giants didn't want him back. This was not "a clean-up guy for a potential Hall of Fame quarterback," this was a bad backup who couldn't beat out a bad starter and was sent packing.

Points: 7

#67 by rh1no // Feb 22, 2023 - 1:56pm

Hey Vince. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment. Here's the point I'm making:

  • It's totally reasonable to say, "We expect Geno Smith to regress from 4,000 passing yards due to the fact that he's a career backup who couldn't outperform mediocre quarterbacks like Fitzmagic and late-stage Eli Manning when given the opportunity."
  • It doesn't make much sense to say, "We expect Geno Smith to regress from 4,000 passing yards as a starting QB because he only averaged 250 yards per year in seven years as a backup." Of course a backup will throw for fewer yards in one game than a starter will throw in seventeen games!

Not much to argue about here. There's no need to use a stat to backup the argument, since it's mostly a qualitative one. But if you use a stat, using a performance-based stat like DVOA is more appropriate than using a volume-based stat.

It's worth arguing about whether or not I was being disingenuous; I was not.

The 2016 Giants went 11-5 and made the playoffs. Coming into 2017, the NY media market hyped this team as a Super Bowl contender. Geno Smith was brought in explicitly to back up the winningest quarterback in Giants history, a guy who also held the longest streak of games played in the NFL. The idea that Geno Smith would start even ONE game for the Giants -- barring an injury to Eli -- was preposterous.

Of course, he did end up starting exactly one game during 2017 after Ben McAdoo benched Eli ... a decision that cost McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese their jobs. Sure, Eli was not playing at a Hall of Fame Level, but he was expected to be treated like a Hall of Fame talent. And Hall of Fame talent doesn't get benched by a coach who is so bad he has to spend 3 years unemployed before someone gives him another job in the NFL.

This context is important because my argument is that "passing yards while acting as a backup is not a good indicator of Geno Smith's capability of passing yards as a starter." Smith was never going to pass for 4,000 yards with the Giants. Or 3,000. Or 2,0000. Or even 1,000. 

Yes, Geno Smith was a bad backup quarterback in 2017. But "backup" is the key word in that sentence. Now he's a starter. He was a good starter in 2022. Will he be a good starter in 2023? Probably not! But even bad starters throw for 3,000 yards ... just look at guys like Gardner Minshew and Andy Dalton. Hell, look at Geno's first two years in the league.

Pointing to Geno's median yards as a backup doesn't really tell us much about his expected passing yards as a starter. It's a completely different situation with a completely different baseline for passing yards.

Tl;dr ... don't ever trust someone who says that In-N-Out is overrated.

Points: 1

#68 by theslothook // Feb 22, 2023 - 2:15pm

I think it's fair to be suspicious about Geno simply for the fact that out of character seasons are often rarely repeated and there are enough historical warnings to give one pause.

Case Keenum being a recent example 

Points: 1

#69 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 22, 2023 - 3:07pm

Pointing to Geno's median yards as a backup doesn't really tell us much about his expected passing yards as a starter. 

I disagree. It tells us a lot. The fact that the Jets, Giants, and Chargers all thought he was a backup, and a disposable backup at that, tells us we should be skeptical. The fact that the Seahawks themselves repeatedly let Smith's contract expire, and even released him once, and then brought in Drew Lock to compete with him, tells us we should be skeptical. 

Mathematically, yes, we should expect a healthy Smith to be closer to 4,000 yards than 200-whatever. But even if "passing yards while acting as a backup is not a good indicator of Geno Smith's capability of passing yards as a starter," I would argue that "being a backup for most of his career IS a good indicator of Geno Smith's capability of passing yards as a starter."

Points: 2

#70 by theslothook // Feb 22, 2023 - 3:17pm

It's a slow day at work, so im going to take up this cause.

I would argue that "being a backup for most of his career IS a good indicator of Geno Smith's capability of passing yards as a starter."

I think this is too coarse a statement. Since teams use 1 QB at a time, backups really can't show their ability outside of practice. And when have teams been able to accurately adduce a QBs quality via practice? If they did, Warner and Romo would have been the starters from the get go. Ditto for Jalen Hurts over Carson Wentz. 

Also, I would submit the reason Geno went straight to being a backup was because he was a 2nd round pick. If he had been a first rounder, he likely would have gotten several years as a starter to prove himself. Instead, he got one real season and then became a bench player/ fringe starter. Imagine if Josh Allen was a second rounder? We probably would never hear from him again.

Points: 1

#71 by BJR // Feb 23, 2023 - 6:00am

Yeah, imagining this is some perfectly efficient ecosystem where QBs receive playing time proportional to their ability/performance in practice is silly. I would also add in Geno's case: he initially bounced between the Jets, Giants & Chargers; three teams hardly renowned for their impeccable management in recent history. When he did finally end up on a team with a coaching staff/front office who have a clue, he got his opportunity. 

Seattle's decision to trade away Russell Wilson and start a career back-up in his stead was one of the ballsier team-building moves in recent history, which attracted a lot of criticism at the time (myself included). But in hindsight it is clear it wasn't just some rash, vindictive decision to trade Wilson. They had clearly seen something they liked in Geno. 

Points: 0

#72 by theslothook // Feb 23, 2023 - 11:17am

I thought Pete Carrol and the front office were committing career suicide.

The trade remains fascinating on multiple levels. Did the Seahawks know from the onset that Russ was about to decline badly? What was it in Geno's tape that they found so compelling? Or was it all purely happenstance and they traded Russ for culture reasons?

Vince wrote the Seahawks chapter in last year's almanac that could best be described as lachrymose. And I agreed with all of it. And yet, it's amazing what one unexpected season can do. I remember being extremely pessimistic about their future coming into the 2011 season. 

Points: 1

#73 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 23, 2023 - 2:22pm

Thank you for teaching me a new word. And it's a spot-on description too.

Points: 0

#24 by theslothook // Feb 21, 2023 - 2:21pm

I wish there was a category for team most likely to disappoint that the public at large doesn't think will. Basically everyone around here knows the Vikings are going to regress badly on their win totals.

My pick a year ago would have been the Rams, though I didn't expect it to get this bad. My choice for next year will probably be Philly, tho I still expect them to make the playoffs.

Points: 0

#42 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:31pm

Basically everyone around here knows the Vikings are going to regress badly on their win totals.

Basically no team ever starts out with an over-under of 13 wins, though. Buffalo/Tampa had over/unders of 11.5 wins this year, and those were the best. So saying "the Vikings are going to regress badly" isn't saying much - even if they had been a true 13-win team, the O/U would still be 11.5 wins. As it is I can't see Vegas putting their O/U at anything outside 7-9 wins assuming Cousins comes back.

But, for instance, I'm not sure I would've picked the Vikings as most likely to miss the playoffs next year. Yeah, sure, they weren't a 13-win team, but they also weren't a 5 win team either, and they've got enough flexibility to keep the core together if they want. In that category I think the Giants are a lot more likely, because a lot of their core from 22's contracts are expiring - even if they get better as a team long term, things could easily struggle next year.

My choice for next year will probably be Philly,

I'd probably go Green Bay, who I think could collapse in epic fashion. Philly could definitely happen but it's just a giant uncertainty bar with no way to know. Until you've got any idea what they're going to do either defensively, with Hurts, or the draft, it's just a gigantic "who knows."

Points: 0

#45 by theslothook // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:36pm

I said philly relative to expectations. I don't know what the expectations for Green Bay are, especially if Rodgers is gone. But Philly will be ear marked as a title contender. I have concerns about their overall ability to withstand injuries to specific units in the way other contenders can. 

Points: 3

#46 by CuseFanInSoCal // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:52pm

I still think "Rodgers is even seriously considering leaving Green Bay" has never been a real thing, just a story invented by ESPN talking heads to drive up ratings (and in fact they've admitted the "breaking news" just before the draft was in fact based on zero new information).

Points: 2

#55 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:51pm

Totally agree. I mean, a lot of it is probably because Rodgers isn't the most stable of people and expecting him to do something weird is, well... normal. But in the end, I doubt any other team's paying him 58M or whatever, which means he's playing for Green Bay or retiring.

Points: 0

#50 by Pat // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:30pm

Do people actually have expectations for Philly right now? How? They literally do not have over half their starting defense at the moment.

It just entirely depends on what they do in the draft and how they handle the Hurts extension and free agency. I could peg their over/under anywhere from 8-11 wins (that's including possible training camp injuries).

Points: 0

#59 by mrh // Feb 21, 2023 - 10:56pm

Assume the Eagles score about the same number of points (477).  Even if the defense gives up a league average 370 points, that would be around 11 Pythagorean wins.  Even allowing 400 points would be 10 P-wins.  I think the expectation is a well-run team with a top QB (i.e. the Eagles) should be relatively stable on offense, and even allowing for some defensive regression that means 10-11 wins, which is a playoff team.

Points: 1

#64 by Pat // Feb 22, 2023 - 10:17am

should be relatively stable on offense, and even allowing for some defensive regression that means 10-11 wins, which is a playoff team.

Yes, that's a decent baseline expectation assuming great health, a good draft, and a Hurts extension. But their health this year was fantastic - the only person they lost for the year was Barnett and that's not a loss. And their depth will likely be worse next year because they can't replace the people leaving with equivalent quality, which means even if the backups step up, you've now got to replace the backups, too.

This is what I meant when I said I don't have expectations for Philly yet at all. They could go crazy and put off the Hurts extension, basically restock and I dunno, go offense in the draft and then even if a few injuries hit they'd still be an 11 win team. But they could also try to go lean for a year, sign Hurts, trade down and sign a bunch of first and second day picks, and let guys walk, and then their overall win range is a lot wider, although the long-term expectation would be better.

I just have no idea what they're going to do yet - this year's a clear transition point for the team.

Points: 0

#43 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:34pm

I wish there was a category for team most likely to disappoint that the public at large doesn't think will. Basically everyone around here knows the Vikings are going to regress badly on their win totals.

Minnesota is at +4000 to win next year's Super Bowl, tied with the Giants, Broncos, and Raiders, and behind the Packers and Lions. Word is out.

Points: 1

#40 by BroncFan07 // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:25pm

I guess I don't quite understand Aaron's shock with Comeback Player of the Year. It asked, "Who do you expect to win Comeback Player of the Year in 2023?" Do we expect Damar Hamlin to play next year? I haven't seen what the long term prognosis is. 

Points: 1

#47 by rh1no // Feb 21, 2023 - 5:56pm

One NFLPA doctor has pubIicly stated that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again, but the doctor made no comment about the timeline and Hamlin himself has been quiet about his return. think the uncertainty of Hamlin's future is built into FO readers' low expectations for him to win the award.

Alex Smith nearly died from an on-field injury and clawed his way back to start 6 games for Washington in 2020, which earned him the CPOTY award, so I understand Aaron's thinking.

Points: 1

#56 by LionInAZ // Feb 21, 2023 - 9:31pm

My opinion is that Hamlin should retire and focus on building his charity, maybe get some athletic gear endorsements and start a business. Honorable, productive, and safe.

Points: 1

#57 by LionInAZ // Feb 21, 2023 - 9:36pm

I find the Progressive 'Don't become your parents' campaign to be very insulting to older people. Your parents are not the ones drinking bleach because of a TikTok challenge or creating dangerous street hazards thanks to #BikeLife.

Points: -4

#62 by John Doe // Feb 22, 2023 - 12:33am

I'm not sure what TikTok challenges have to do with anything. The ads are clearly targeted at middle-aged viewers not gen Z. The parents in question who they are trying not to become are in or nearing retirement age.


Points: 2

#60 by StraightCashHomey // Feb 21, 2023 - 11:05pm

"There was an also an ad with an Einstein imitator that wasn't very funny."

This glosses over the true tragedy of this ad, which is that Einstein is played by Paul Giamatti, an actor far too talented to be wasting his time on a commercial, let alone a terrible commercial. I voted for "Football Housewives" - which I found incredibly annoying the first time and then progressively more annoying every time thereafter (which was a lot) - but the Einstein one arguably causes more pain by showing (vividly, repeatedly) how our culture wastes talent in the service of capital. 

Points: 6

#61 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 22, 2023 - 12:12am

To be a working actor one must work.

Perhaps it bought him a house as nice as the one Jaws 5 bought for Michael Caine.

Points: 2

#65 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 22, 2023 - 12:19pm

Should've been a write in for OL. Chris Lindstrom was certainly worthy of a spot. Especially over Martins worst year, comparing apples to apples. 

Points: 0

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