The NFL is a fascinating league. Every year there are surprises. There is a team that was predicted to be a bottom dweller that shocks the world and makes a run at the playoffs. Another team, predicted to be contenders, quickly hits rock bottom. A late-round pick turns into an immediate Pro-Bowl talent while a first-round pick struggles in practice and fails to find first-team reps.
The past two NFL seasons have been no different. Even the wisest sports prognosticators made seemingly safe calls last season that have ended up falling flat. Casual fans, meanwhile, made completely outlandish demands of their franchises that, thank God, went unanswered.
With that said, let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and remember some of the hottest takes from the 2021 NFL Season that look absolutely hilarious in retrospect:
Trevor Lawrence Is A Bust
Urban Meyer really had us all fooled. He made last season’s Jacksonville Jaguars look like the worst team in the league, and made Trevor Lawrence, previously believed to be a generational talent and a sure-fire superstar, look like a massive bust.
Lawrence had a brutal rookie campaign under Meyer’s tutelage (for the first 13 games, anyway, before Meyer was fired for cause). He finished his rookie campaign with a 3-14 record, completing less than 60% of his passes for 12 passing touchdowns and 17 picks, averaging an abysmal 6.0 yards per attempt. He looked completely lost at times and did not resemble to the massively hyped prospect we all thought we saw coming.
Meyer has truly cemented himself as the worst NFL coach of all time, particularly as Doug Pederson has orchestrated an immediate turnaround of the franchise’s culture in just the first four weeks of his first season in Duval County.
However, let’s not forget, there was a vocal percentage of the NFL fandom that was thriving on not only criticizing Meyer but calling out Trevor Lawrence as potentially one of the biggest draft busts of our time. I guarantee at least some of you reading this were in that crowd, whether you choose to admit it or not.
Under the new Pederson regime, Lawrence has been a completely different player. We are seeing flashes of the elite quarterback we all expected him to become. Through his first four games of 2022, Lawrence has improved his completion percentage to just under 66%, increased his yards per attempt to 7.1, and has thrown eight touchdowns to two interceptions.
The Jaguars are 2-2, which while not an eye-popping record in most cases, is a massive step in the right direction. Trevor Lawrence has skyrocketed to the top of his quarterback class and has proven his number-one pick status to have been deserved.
May the Lawrence haters of yesteryear feel silly for doubting this phenom. He is the elite quarterback prospect we knew he was, he just needed to escape the shadow of the worst NFL coach of our time.
Gardner Minshew Should Start In Philly (If Not Carson Wentz)
Jalen Hurts deserves our respect not only for his massively improved play on the field but for the incredible mental toughness he has shown throughout his career.
After losing his starting gig in college to Tua, he went on to have an outstanding season in Oklahoma. After winning a horribly mismanaged quarterback battle during his rookie year in Philadelphia, he was bombarded with criticism from a brutal Philly sports media and an even more brutal fanbase.
When Philly cut ties with former franchise QB Carson Wentz in favor of Hurts, it bitterly divided the fanbase. When Wentz got off to a decent start in his new digs with the Colts, the frustration from the fans was palpable.
To add to the drama surrounding Hurts, the Eagles brought in one of the best young backup quarterbacks (and beloved characters) in the league in Gardner Minshew. Believed to be the superior passer, Minshew had his share of supporters who waited for every Hurts mistake to cry for his replacement. To make matters worse, Minshew played quite well when filling in for Hurts, starting two games, completing 68.3% of his passes, and tossing four touchdowns to just one pick.
However, Hurts kept his head down and willed the Eagles to a dominant finish to the season (while Wentz simultaneously led a collapse in Indianapolis). Hurts willed the Eagles into the playoffs just one year after one of the most epic franchise meltdowns in recent memory. This should have been enough to silence the critics.
But, just in case it wasn’t, Hurts has hit the ground running in 2022, and is an early leader in the MVP conversation. The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the NFL at 4-0. He has accounted for eight total touchdowns (four through the air and four on the ground) while throwing just two interceptions and completing 66.7% of his passes.
Hey, Philly fans. For those of you who still need to hear it, Jalen Hurts is your franchise quarterback. He is better than Gardner Minshew. He is better than Carson Wentz. Accept it and enjoy the ride.
The Seahawks’ Struggles Were All Pete Carroll’s Fault
Last year marked the end of an era in Seattle. Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll had teamed up for a full decade of successful football, including two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory.
Unfortunately, the gradual decline in their relationship came to a breaking point last season. The dynamic duo finished with their first losing record together at 7-10 (Wilson was 6-8 in his starts), and it became clear by season’s end that either Wilson or Carroll was on their way out of town. To the surprise of many, the franchise stayed loyal to their 71-year-old head coach, keeping Carrol, and Russell Wilson was moved to the Denver Broncos.
Let’s face it, a majority of fans and TV pundits alike thought this was a terrible decision by the franchise. Carroll was in his early 70s and couldn’t possibly have much more football left in him. Wilson was just 33 years old, and, with the way modern quarterbacks are protected, could have a decade of productive play left in him. Many expected the Broncos to be contenders and the Seahawks to be one of the worst teams in the NFL.
To make matters worse for Carroll, they opted not to bring in only Drew Lock, fresh off losing the starting job in Denver, to compete with journeyman Geno Smith for the starting gig. A disaster was on the horizon.
Fast forward to Week Five of the 2022 season, and the two teams have identical records at 2-2. Russell Wilson has struggled to find his footing in Denver, throwing just four touchdowns through his first four games with the worst completion percentage of his career.
Geno Smith, meanwhile, under the watchful eye of Coach Carroll is having a career renaissance in his ninth professional season. Smith is completing an incredible 77.3% of his passes, thrown for over 1,000 yards, and accounted for seven touchdowns (six passing, one rushing). He has statistically been the superior quarterback, despite not being a regular starter for nearly a decade.
So, what do you know? Russell Wilson forced his way out of Seattle, and the franchise hasn’t missed a beat, despite having one of the league’s weakest rosters on paper. Maybe Pete Carroll can still coach after all?