NFL season preview: Buffalo Bills hype, Jonathan Taylor praise and Tom Brady's unfinished business
Now that the NFL is officially back for another season, here are a few storylines within the league to keep tabs on as we embark on the journey to Super Bowl 57, in Arizona.
The launch of the 2022 NFL season was marked by the NFL kick-off game on Thursday Night Football. The Buffalo Bills defeated the L.A. Rams, the defending Super Bowl champions, in SoFi Stadium.
The Bills were triumphant in a 31-10 victory over the Rams in which Bills quarterback Josh Allen was playing some of the best football of his career.
The major action unravels this Sunday as the majority of teams will play their first game of the 2022 season. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will have to wait until Monday Night Football for their moment in the spotlight.
The best of the best: Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor was unstoppable last season. Taylor led all running backs in rushing attempts (332), rushing yards (1,811) and touchdowns (18).
Scott McCabe, of The Irish Punt, discussed Taylor’s success with Adam Boily, the owner and founder of The System 8, an elite athletic training brand located in Florida. Boily has trained Taylor on several occasions and has conducted workouts with some of the top athletes in the NFL such as Odell Beckham Jr., Rob Gronkowski, Jarvis Landry and Melvin Gordon.
"Jonathan Taylor always means business," said Boily. "When I first started training Taylor, I went to Melvin [Gordon III] and I said, 'This dude right here is different'. I could just tell because I've trained hundreds of high-level running backs. Taylor was fast, he was quick in his brakes, and he picked things up fast.
“He was bio-mechanically athlete perfect. When I look at an athlete, I can pretty much tell by the way their feet, ankles, knees and hips are set up that I know they’re most likely very athletic. What was surprising was that training was so easy for Taylor, it was effortless,” Boily said. "The future is really bright for Taylor."
If you’re looking to watch some elite athletes perform in the NFL this season, Taylor should be on your watchlist. Taylor enters his third year with the Colts and with one of the best offensive lines in football, there’s no reason why Taylor can’t replicate his success of last season.
Tom Brady and 'unfinished business'
In February, Tom Brady announced his decision to step away from the NFL after 22 seasons and seven Super Bowl victories.
It took less than two months for Brady to change his mind and declare to the world via
These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG pic.twitter.com/U0yhRKVKVm — Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 13, 2022 that he would be returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd season in the NFL. The three-time AP MVP stated he had ‘unfinished business’ in his tweet announcing his comeback.
These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG pic.twitter.com/U0yhRKVKVm
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 13, 2022
that he would be returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd season in the NFL. The three-time AP MVP stated he had ‘unfinished business’ in his tweet announcing his comeback.
Brady adds an aura of excellence to any franchise he joins. The veteran quarterback demands the best from his teammates and has gained a level of respect in the NFL amongst fans, players and coaches that we may never see again.
Although Brady is back, there’s been a few changes in Tampa. Former Bucs’ head coach Bruce Arians stepped down from head coaching duties in the offseason. Former Bucs’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is now the new head coach. Rob Gronkowski also announced his retirement from football in
These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG pic.twitter.com/U0yhRKVKVm — Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 13, 2022
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 13, 2022
2022 NFL breakout candidates
Each season, several players make the leap from a mediocre player to an exceptional player. Last year, Cooper Kupp of the Rams was the star of the 2021 season.
Kupp was always considered a solid option at wide receiver, but the addition of Matthew Stafford at quarterback resulted in one of the greatest seasons the NFL has ever seen from a receiver. Kupp became only the third wide receiver to ever win AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Jerry Rice and Michael Thomas are the only other wide receivers to have won the award.
Here’s a few potential breakout candidates to look at this season:
- Kyle Pitts: Tight end, Atlanta Falcons
- Jalen Hurts: Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
- Trey Lance: Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
- CeeDee Lamb: Wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
- Chase Young: Defensive end, Washington Commanders
- Pete Werner: Linebacker, New Orleans Saints
Rookie to watch: George Pickens
George Pickens has been one of the most talked about rookies in the offseason. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected the Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver in the second-round of the 2022 NFL Draft with the 52nd pick.
At 6-foot-3, Pickens is a big-bodied wide receiver who has the athletic ability to dominate in contested catches. Staying healthy will play a pivotal factor in determining just how explosive Pickens will be in his rookie year with the Steelers.
Coach on the hot seat: Mike McCarthy
The Dallas Cowboys announced Mike McCarthy as their new head coach back in 2020. McCarthy has a win/loss record of 18-15-0 with the Cowboys. It’s not like McCarthy doesn’t know how to win big games. He was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers when they won Super Bowl XLV in 2010.
The Cowboys are the wealthiest sporting organisation in the world with an estimated value of $7.64 billion, and with that comes high expectations. The Cowboys of late have struggled to replicate the success of the high-flying Cowboys teams of the 90’s. The Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the 90’s and since then, the Cowboys have failed to replicate that success in over a decade.
McCarthy could be the first coach to be fired in the NFL if the Cowboys fail to produce a strong outing this season. Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, will only put up with mediocre seasons for so long. This is a vital season for McCarthy and the Cowboys, and anything less than a deep playoff run will be viewed as a failure.
Sleeper team to watch: Miami Dolphins
Their biggest threat to success will likely be the Buffalo Bills as they operate within the same division [AFC East]. If the Dolphins can beat the Bills in their head-to-head matchups, the sky is the limit for this new-look Dolphins squad.
Super Bowl favourites: Bills and Bucs
As we enter the new season, the current favourites to play in Arizona at Super Bowl LVII are the Buffalo Bills [AFC] and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers [NFC].
Leinster and Ireland star Will Connors on his rugby journey