The NFL is a copycat, reactionary league. Any time a team has any sort of success, we tend to crown it as a trend that will take over the league, or at the very least, it will be a trait that many will try to replicate in some way. It’s a chain reaction of ripple effects. As we closed the book on the 2022 season, let’s see what trends could continue around the league moving forward.
The Joe Burrow Effect
Joe Burrow, in his second year coming off of a devastating injury, took a disastrous Bengal franchise with a coach that was the odds-on favorite to be fired from 6 wins over the previous two seasons combined to the Super Bowl. Obviously, the addition of Offensive Rookie of the Year, Ja’Marr Chase, and an improved defense helped the team tremendously, but Burrow almost single-handedly put the team on his back in his rookie-contract-window to the mountaintop.
With Burrow’s unreal ascension to the top so early into his career, we’re going to see more teams go all-in and believe they can reach unreal heights right out of the gate with quarterbacks on rookie deals, potentially to a fault.
Jacksonville has been a complete disaster that has won 10 games in 3 years. Now that Urban Meyer is out of the building, they’re probably talking themselves into Super Bowl MVP Trevor Lawrence as we speak if they go out and spend in free agency. The same may go for Justin Fields in Chicago, Trey Lance in San Francisco, or even Mac Jones in New England. Some irrational thinking and spending could be on the rise with cheap quarterbacks. Expect to hear things along the lines of “Well if Joe Burrow took the Bengals, why can’t Fields take us?”
The Les Snead Effect
During the Rams’ Super Bowl parade, General Manager Les Snead was seen wearing a shirt that said in meme fashion, “F— them picks.” He was the man who went out and traded essentially the Rams entire future over the past several seasons- they haven’t made a first round selection since 2016 and won’t have another one until 2024. The critics said going all-in on superstars in the short-term was foolish if they didn’t get a Super Bowl ring out of it- that eventually all of the big name players that would need big salaries and having a lack of depth would catch up to them. Well, they went out and got Jalen Ramsey, Matthew Stafford, Von Miller, Odell Beckham Jr., and have a Super Bowl ring to show for it now.
Obviously, there are more levels to going all-in on superstars and abandoning investing into rookies through the draft that you have to luck out on, such as the Rams finding exceptional depth with their later picks. Look at the Seattle Seahawk- they gave up a haul of picks for Jamal Adams thinking they were one piece away from being a Super Bowl contender, and now they’re coming off a BAD season with no picks or assets to get better and younger. You have to have a lot of luck go your way when building a roster on a shortened timeline for success, but now, if teams feel ever-so-close to reaching the glorious mountaintop that is the Lombardi Trophy, they may be more inclined to push their chips into the middle of the table as opposed to valuing their draft capital.
The Sean Payton Effect
Sean Payton is the best coach in New Orleans Saints history. He’d been with the team the entirety of the Drew Brees era and coached the franchise to their first Super Bowl title in 2010. He is regarded as one of the best coaches in football over the past two decades.
After the first season without Drew Brees in which the Saints had to use four different milquetoast options at quarterback throughout their 9-8 season and missed the playoffs, Sean Payton announced his retirement. However, he’s only 58 years old and still at the top of his game. The rumor going around the ether is that Payton will step away from the franchise that he invested so much in to go into broadcasting until another prominent coaching opportunity comes up that he would be interested in. With so much money being shelled out to broadcasters now, one can’t blame Payton- Bill Belichick is the highest-paid coach at $12.5 million per year and probably sleeps approximately 45 minutes per day in order to game plan each week. Tony Romo will make $17.5 million per year from CBS to call a game in a booth with Jim Nantz and golf when he’s not taking occasional notes.
During the Super Bowl, there was an odd rumor that Rams head coach Sean McVay may step away from football to call games, and he’s only 36 years old. While McVay addressed that he’s sticking with the Rams to defend their title, this simply being out there was a profound headline. With Payton taking a break to get a huge contract and potentially come back into coaching later, it wouldn’t be too out of the question for more coaches to follow this path as the NFL’s media rights continue to be a flourishing bag of cash.
The Odell Beckham Jr. Effect
Odell Beckham Jr. was INCREDIBLY unhappy being in Cleveland with the way he was being used in the Kevin Stefanski offense and, more importantly, the lack of targets he was getting from Baker Mayfield. So, what did he do? He directly asked out and got a Super Bowl! His dad of the year, Odell Beckham Sr., flooded social media putting Baker and the Browns on blast, and it made the situation so awkward and uncomfortable that they had to get rid of him due to the massive elephant in the room. He got released, and proved his value by being an essential part of the team that won a Super Bowl.
If you’re another player with talent comparable to Odell Beckham on a suffering team, you’re probably thinking, “Is that all it takes?? I just have to ask out and say I don’t want to be there??” Odell Beckham Jr. looked a lot happier being the setup man on a winning team as opposed to being a well-paid first option on a suffering team. Odell’s best friend and former Browns teammate, Jarvis Landry, is probably as jealous as anyone right now seeing his buddy leave their situation and get a ring. Justin Jefferson might be the best receiver in football on some Sundays and has had to suffer through the agony of having Kirk Cousins as his quarterback. Odell may have opened the floodgates for guys to throw up the deuces and take a pay cut to join a winning team in a limited role elsewhere.
The Jimmy Garoppolo Effect
The San Francisco 49ers were conceivably a dropped interception in the 4th quarter away from defeating the Rams and going to the Super Bowl. They also, for the past 3 years, have been regarded as a contending team with a “Jimmy G problem” as he was the weak link at the most critical position in team sports. His teammates didn’t see it that way, though. Why? Because Jimmy is a cool guy! They loved Jimmy on the sidelines. Sure, he might not be able to throw the ball efficiently down the field whatsoever in comparison to other franchise guys, but you have all these 49ers players willing to lay it all on the line for him and compete for him because he’s a good leader and teammate that the locker room rallied around; people like Deebo Samuel who would kill to have a top-tier quarterback throwing him the ball are Tweeting
out “Check his win percentage… I’ll wait. Pure Winner” and standing up for the perception of him.
Meanwhile, look at the dysfunction of teams with comparable talented rosters- the Indianapolis Colts had the most Pro Bowlers of any team in the NFL this year, but they missed the postseason and the rumor is that they’re already looking to move on from Carson Wentz after one year because he couldn’t rally the team together and put them on his back. The Browns had a team many projected to be contenders, but Baker Mayfield might have some of the most passive-aggressive press conferences amongst the league due to his contract situation and the critics of his play to the point where Odell Beckham Jr. is getting highlight reels into the ether to get out of town.
Jimmy G might not even be as talented of a quarterback as Carson Wentz or Baker Mayfield, but the reality is that having a COOL GUY might mean more to a team. There are positive vibes throughout the locker room. More players are willing to step up in times of adversity and play different roles, like Deebo Samuel becoming essentially a running back as opposed to a receiver towards the end of the season. Jimmy G and Joe Burrow being seen as two of the coolest guys in the NFL at the quarterback position might mean more teams take the social perception of the position into account when evaluating their options.