Predictions & Thoughts for NFL 2022

We're on the eve of the 2022 NFL season (well, OK, it actually started on Thursday, but we all know Sunday is the REAL start of the NFL season) and there are 2 teams I'm interested in following—besides the Bears of course—and I have a couple of other thoughts to share.

The Las Vegas Raiders

Is one of the teams I'll be watching this season due to their hiring of Josh McDaniels as their new head coach. He famously became the coach of the Broncos in 2009 and quickly flamed out. His tenure there was not good and he himself admits he was too new, too controlling, too young, and wasn't very good. He goes back to New England and in 2018 accepts the head coaching job of the Indianapolis Colts but bails on them leaving them, coaches and coordinators in a lurch. Some thought he burned all his bridges and would never get another head coaching offer again, but along come the Raiders in 2022 and off he goes. I'm interested to see what he does there. How he coaches, how much he's learned and grown over the years since Denver. He's not lacking in talent there but that division is full of good teams. I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The Miami Dolphins

Are the other team I'm watching this season because they seem to have done what just about all of Bears fandom and media wanted the Bears to do: they've gone all in on Tua. They went out and spent a lot on high-priced veterans to surround Tua with the talent he needs to succeed. This is what most people wanted the Bears to do with Justin Fields. However, there are still questions as to whether Tua really is a franchise quarterback just like there are questions as to whether Fields can be a franchise QB. So this is an interesting experiment. Let's say by the end of the 2022 season it's clear Tua isn't—where does that leave the Dolphins? They'll be in a position where they need to go get a new QB high in the 2023 draft who will take at least a year or two to be really ready to lead the team, assuming the pick works out. Meanwhile all those expensive veterans they went out and got will be eating up cap space, getting older and their deals will be running out by the time the new guy is ready to lead the team. I don't know that's a good plan. The Bears, on the other hand, are taking a different approach. They didn't surround Fields with proven talent because Fields hasn't proven he's "the guy". Their plan is to find that out this year. If he is, then next season they will have plenty of cap space and draft picks to surround him with the talent he needs to succeed. If it turns out he's not, they go draft a new QB and it's rebuild all over again, but with a more or less clean slate. This will be fun to watch.

Two other thoughts

Aside from those two teams, there are two coaches that I find intriguing right now: Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers and Sean McVay of the Rams.

Having lived in Wisconsin most of my adult life, I've been exposed to plenty of Packers media coverage. Watching the LaFleur tenure has been interesting. He came in as the new head coach and had to deal with the the notoriously prickly and sensitive Aaron Rodgers. By drafting Jordan Love, it seems clear the Packers were ready to move on from Rodgers if things didn't work out between him and LaFleur. But LaFleur was able to win over Rodgers, install a whole new offensive scheme, one Rodgers admittedly doesn't like as much, and keep him playing at a high level. When he was hired, I didn't think LaFleur would last. I thought the Packers were joining the pack in hiring any young guy who may have been somewhat influenced by McVay in the hopes he'd bring some of that Rams magic to the Packers. Now, I think he has shown himself to be a really good head coach who may just be in Green Bay for a long time.

As for Sean McVay, I'm beginning to think he may end up being known as one of the best head coaches in NFL history. He and the Rams GM, Les Snead, are doing things differently and succeeding at it. McVay isn't afraid to swap out players, define unconventional roles for them, find ways to get the most out of them, and work around their deficiencies. All the hallmarks of a good coach. Many coaches say they do that, or at least try to do that, I think few succeed. McVay is one that really does that. He's not afraid to try new things, and to change things up based on how the players and the league changes around him. As for the Rams organization, they've completely upended the way they go about acquiring players. They toss around draft picks like they're nothing, pay free agents tons of money to come there, and aren't afraid to let talented players go to other teams. I think in several years we'll look back and see that the Rams organization has changed the way many teams operate.

That's it for me for today. The NFL season is about to start for me and I'm excited to watch the Bears play the 49ers.

Go Bears!