NFL trends heading into the 2023 season: Invest heavily in offensive line, be aggressive and more

NFL trends heading into the 2023 season: Invest heavily in offensive line, be aggressive and more

Bias is a huge drug lately. And conference title games and the Super Bowl always shape how to build a team, what offensive and defensive styles to include, what the rest of the league should prioritize in the team building process, etc. It happens every year. After the eagles‘first Super Bowl win The use of the “Run-Pass Option” became RPO vernacular overnight. Mahomes’ Super Bowl victory pushed the new mold of the prototypical franchise quarterback the following year.

Last year, I pointed out the league’s growing tendency to prioritize fourth downs, first down passing and YAC. These trends are not going anywhere. Just to touch on it briefly here — teams are still more aggressive on fourth downs than they were five to 10 years ago. That’s good.

The flares and The leaders they finished third and fourth, respectively, in the first relegation division during the regular season. Eight of the 14 playoff teams ranked in the top 10 in first-down passing rate and one-score game scenarios. if NFL It’s a cup league, other teams have to emulate what the top teams do, and one of those things is to pass more often than they run on first down, even if it’s a close game.

And YAC is here to stay for a while. The Chiefs had the most total YAC during the regular season. The the 49 He averaged YAC per reception. The Chiefs were ranked second in that category, despite the Eagles being fifth and the Bengals 11th. Ja’Marr Chase there are four competitions left.

Sometimes these trends come right out of the regular season. But mostly they come out of the playoffs.

Let’s identify those trends before Super Bowl LVII.

Invest heavily in the offensive line

The 49ers made the Super Bowl after the 2019 season, eventually losing to Mahomes and the Chiefs. Less than two months later, they traded a fifth and a future third baseman for the future first-ballot Hall of Fame left fielder. Trent Williams. Big swing

While they supported the emerging guard Laken Tomlinson In order to enter free agency after the 2021 season, they were drafted Aaron Banks He gave up a second-round pick in 2021 and a fourth-round pick at guard Spencer Burford last April, two players became starters at guard for the 2022 season.

After Burrow led the NFL in sacks (51) in 2022, the Bengals spent a total of $22 million in the 2022 season on the collective average annual salary of three blockers — La’el Collins, Ted Karras and Alex Capp. They did so despite drafting four offensive linemen since Burrow was drafted No. 1 overall in 2020, and picking up another blocker in the fourth round. Cordell Volson last April

Unsurprisingly, Burrow’s sacks (51 to 41) and sack rate (8.9% to 6.3%) dropped from 2021 to 2022. His interception rate also dropped from 2.7% to 2.0%.

After a cataclysmic development of the Super Bowl loss the buccaneers — In a game without multiple starting offensive linemen — Kansas City knows the pitfalls of that development now: The Chiefs didn’t sit on their hands. Brett Veach signed top free agent guard Joe Thuney to a five-year, $80 million deal with nearly $32 million fully guaranteed, and traded numerous options for the left tackle Orlando Brown from rival AFC the crowsbut the reconstruction of the lock was not completed.

In the draft, Veach selected the longtime Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey in the second round and took a plane on guard Trey Smith In the sixth round, the big, talented SEC blocker battled blood clots in college.

Now, Kansas City has probably the best blocking unit in the AFC.

The Eagles and GM Howie Roseman have long prioritized the trenches and have had one of the most devastating offensive lines in the league for some time. It’s a team mostly run by veterans Jason Kelce and direct advance Lane Johnson. But Roseman’s persistence in building a blocking unit has once again paid big dividends.

After Jordan Level He was a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft, picked by Roseman Andre Dillard In the 1st round of 2019. Dillard has not become the stud many thought he would be in the NFL. Mailata has become a giant road grader. The arrow up front didn’t stop Roseman from picking the all-out blocker Landon Dickerson In the 2nd round of the 2021 draft — who is now the starting left guard — as well as taking the uber-talented center Cam Jurgens To replace Kelce in the second round of the 2022 draft.

The Eagles have the best offensive line in football and for the most part they manhandled the 49ers’ best defense in the NFC title game.

During the regular season, only 12 quarterbacks managed a passer rating of over 75 while under pressure. When kept clean, 39 passers had a quarterback rating above 75.

When in doubt, take flights on quarterbacks

After selecting five quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, No. 53, the Eagles selected him. It hurts to eat He continued his exceptional career at Alabama after a very productive season at Oklahoma. This pick came less than four months after the Eagles won the division title and star quarterback Carson Wentz he missed the playoff due to a concussion. Before that season Wentz got a massive $128 million extension with the Eagles that had $100 million guaranteed.

Wentz threw for over 4,000 yards that season with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The Eagles could have gone in many other directions with that pick. But they understood the added value of picking a quarterback there and did so. Wentz fell in 2020 and was then traded. Hurts was then the quarterback of a seven-team Philadelphia team that lost in the first round of the 2021 playoffs and will now start in the Super Bowl.

The 49ers reached the Super Bowl and the NFC title game Jimmy Garoppolo then he decided to trade a litany of early picks for picks to move up the draft board Trey Lance. Last April, of course, they used their last pick in the draft Brock Purdy.

Be aggressive… be, be aggressive

From the most ubiquitous sideline animation for high school games in America to the NFL app. This is a combination of the two points above, but… be aggressive. And I’m not suggesting any more blitz. I’m talking about aggressiveness with list building. What an extension this really can be the rams He did it before his Super Bowl-winning season a year ago.

Consider Roseman’s example of this idea last season. Traded a first round pick AJ Brown during Day 1 of the draft. If that wasn’t enough — and it usually would be enough — he collected it James Bradberry nine days after his release the giants in may Then, to really hammer home his aggressive style — Roseman traded a fifth and sixth pick in the 2024 draft for awkward safeties/slot corners. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and the seventh in 2025 in August.

Let’s not forget – and you’ll hear plenty of warnings in the next two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl – Chiefs GM Brett Veach TRADE TYREEK HILL out of season, an idea that previously seemed unbelievable, a complete non-starter.

The leaders networked:

  • Part of the compensation package in exchange for choosing CB Trent McDuffie
  • WR Skye Moore
  • Contract avoidance for Hill at an average of $30 million per year and $52.5 million in total guarantees
  • 2024 fourth round pick
  • 2024 sixth round pick

Kansas City had the money to sign the likes back then Justin Reid, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Carlos Dunlap in July It will also give the Chiefs flexibility to sign him in the offseason.

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