In case you missed it, Super Bowl LVI is happening this Sunday. It’s almost here, we have nearly reached the end of the season, and we are finishing it off in epic fashion between two teams who have incredible storylines.
Even though it may feel like the super bowl is the only thing happening, there are some interesting headlines like recent coaching updates and the NFL Honors award show that took place on Thursday.
Part of the offseason drama includes the analysis of the carousel of coaching changes throughout the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about the ongoing issue of inclusion in the coaching ranks including the class-action lawsuit filed by Brian Flores in a recent news conference this week. I won’t go into that lawsuit here, but it is important to have an understanding of what that entails. You can learn more about that suit in our latest Dose by Jack Miller.
The most recent hiring and news dropped on Thursday for both the Jaguars and the Texans. Jacksonville recently named Doug Pederson as their new head coach to work on fixing the culture in the locker room and developing first-round draft pick, Trevor Lawrence. After being fired by the Eagles, Pederson was out of the league for an entire season and now has his work cut out for him. To help in his quest to create something out of almost nothing, the Jaguars agreed to terms with Press Taylor as their offensive coordinator.
Taylor’s hiring shouldn’t come as a surprise considering his history with Pederson. Taylor was part of the Eagles’ staff with the head coach during their Super Bowl victory season. During that time, Pederson promoted Taylor twice from offensive quality control to the quarterbacks’ coach. If you are a fan of Hard Knocks, you may already know that Taylor spent his 2021 season as the senior offensive assistant for the Indianapolis Colts with HC Frank Reich.
Oh yeah, he is also Zach Taylor’s brother, the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. No big deal.
Considering Lawrence’s rookie season was a disaster, Pederson and Taylor make sense for the franchise. Both coaches were integral to a young Carson Wentz’ MVP opportunity in 2017 with a team who had struggled in the past yet won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback after Wentz suffered a season-ending injury. We’ll see how long it will take for the duo to right the ship in Jacksonville if it can be done.
You may already know that the Texans have named Lovie Smith as their head coach after a lengthy interview process with other candidates. The hire reminded me of the Taylor Swift song You Belong With Me with Smith starring as the forlorn best friend who is secretly in love with the Houston Texans’ head coaching job. It took the team a while to figure out that instead of consulting with Smith on who they should hire and vetting potential candidates, they should probably stick with the one who has been with them the whole time. In addition to being the teams' defensive coordinator, Smith was also the associate head coach.
Aside from his fabulous beard, Smith brings an array of expertise to the table including inside knowledge of the Texans’ issues, which are many. He was the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2014 - 2015. During his tenure with the Bears, he took the team to the Super Bowl but was defeated 29-17 by the Indianapolis Colts. He was then fired by the Bears after a 10-6 record, which is a head-scratcher. His stint as the head coach for the University of Illinois was less than desirable, but Smith has a strong background as an NFL head coach to help get the program on the right track. Of course, if he has enough time to do so.
That isn’t breaking news, but the newest development to drop on Thursday was the Texans’ reluctance to hire a defensive coordinator. According to Ian Rappaport, the organization is unlikely to hire a DC since the defense is Smith’s and he will be calling the defensive plays.
Whether this proves to be too much for Smith to take on during his first season as the Texans’ head coach remains to be seen. Either way, there is an outpouring of support for the Smith from Bears fans and faith in the new head coach from the Texans’ squad.
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NFL Honors Award Show Recap
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Watt
Keegan Michael-Key’s opening act was a hilarious song that included a few players and even Goodell getting in on the fun. Right off the bat, the first award was Defensive Player of the Year. Nominees included Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, and Micah Parsons. The award, presented by Katy Perry and J.J. Watt went (adorably) to Watt’s brother T.J. with whom he shared a warm embrace on stage.
Watt also won the Deacon Jones Award for leading the league in sacks with 22.5.
NFL Moment of the Year: Justin Tucker’s Longest Field Goal in NFL History
Sorry, Lions fans (also for many other reasons), but Tucker’s record-breaking field goal for the walk-off win won this year’s NFL Moment of the Year.
FedEx Air & Ground Award: Tom Brady and Jonathan Taylor
FedEx will donate $20,000 each to a Historically Black College of their choice. Brady had the highest completions, passing yards, and second-highest touchdown passes of his career in 2021 while leading the leading in all three categories. Taylor rushed 332 times for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns with 106.5 yards per game.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ja’Marr Chase
I don’t think anyone is surprised by this award. Watching and participating remotely, Chase had his moment to step up to a microphone at his location to give his acceptance speech. The other nominees included Mac Jones and Jalen Waddle.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Micah Parsons
There were no other nominations for this award other than Micah Parsons. Kelly Clarkson announced him as the DROY by unanimous decision followed by an impressive highlight reel from the season.
Comeback Player of the Year: Joe Burrow
Also up for the award was Dallas QB Dak Prescott and both overcame horrendous injuries from the 2020 season. Burrow was announced as the winner, and like Chase, got his chance at the remote microphone with an on-brand, short thank-you.
2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class
Sam Mills (represented by his widow Melanie Mills)
Cliff Branch (represented by his sister Elaine Anderson)
Art McNally (represented by son Tom McNaly) first ever official in Canton
Coach Dick Vermeil
NFL Fan of the Year: Henry Ison
Veteran and Falcons super-fan, Ison came on stage with Cedric the Entertainer to introduce coach of the year.
Coach of the Year: Mike Vrabel
Somehow, some way, Vrable was able to get his team to the playoffs despite the loss of their stud running back (and possible MVP) Derrick Henry. Not only did he have to deal with that injury, but the Titans persevered despite missing WRs A.J. Brown and Julio Jones for stretches at a time. Other nominees included Sean McVay, Rich Bisaccia, Mike Vrabel, Zach Taylor, and Matt LaFleur.
A Special Presentation to Carl Nassib
Carl Nassib was recognized for his Instagram post where he shared a heartfelt narrative and came out as a proud gay man in the NFL. It was a powerful segment that was both tragic and truly inspirational. Numerous individuals, including players, told their stories and expressed just how important it is to be heard and accepted. Nassib is a supporter of The Trevor Project which is a foundation that provides help and support for the LGBTQ+ community among many other services. Check out their website at The Trevor Project to learn more.
Offensive Player of the Year: Cooper Kupp
Unlike the Bengals remote access, Kupp was there in person to accept his award as the OPOY. His competition was fierce against Tom Brady, Jonathan Taylor, and Aaron Rodgers but his triple-crown achievement was undeniable.
Kupp was also the winner of Fantasy Player of the Year.
John Madden Tribute
Michael-Key introduced a touching tribute to John Madden who passed away this year. That was followed by an In Memoriam of the players, coaches, broadcasters, and greats that we lost this past season.
Bud Light Celly of the Year: Christian Wilkins (The Worm)
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers was all grace accepting his award, thanking both Peyton Manning who presented the award, HC LaFleur, teammates, and those who have passed on. One takeaway I noticed was he alluded several times to memories he has created with his teammates. It was just enough of a hint to keep us all talking this offseason about his potential landing spot outside of Green Bay. The other nominees were Rodgers, Kupp, and Brady.
Walter Payton Man of the Year Award: Andrew Whitworth|
Arguably the most prestigious award a player can get, the Man of the Year award is about far more than just a trophy. Each player nominated went above and beyond to give back to their community in their own ways. It’s a touching award and one that is celebrated above all others.
Andrew Whitworth’s efforts across his different communities for various charities is beyond words.
Nominees from all 32 teams:
Arizona Cardinals: Kelvin Beachum (T)
Atlanta Falcons: Mike Davis (RB)
Baltimore Ravens: Bradley Bozeman (C)
Buffalo Bills: Harrison Phillips (DT)
Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore (WR)
Chicago Bears: Jimmy Graham (TE)
Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Hubbard (DE)
Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward (CB)
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott (QB)
Denver Broncos: Justin Simmons (LB)
Detroit Lions: Jason Cabinda (FB)
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Jones (RB)
Houston Texans: Justin Reid (S)
Indianapolis Colts: Kenny Moore II (S)
Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack (LB)
Kansas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu (S)
Las Vegas Raiders: Darren Waller (TE)
Los Angeles Chargers: Corey Linsley (C)
Los Angeles Rams: Andrew Whitworth (T)
Miami Dolphins: Jerome Baker (LB)
Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr (LB)
New England Patriots: Lawrence Guy (DT)
New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan (DE)
New York Giants: Logan Ryan (S)
New York Jets: Quinnen Williams (DT)
Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Kelce (T)
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward (DE)
San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead (DE)
Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Lockett (WR)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans (WR)
Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry (RB)
Washington Football Team: Jonathan Allen (DT)
All nominees took the stage to a standing ovation in the middle of the show in anticipation of the final award.
Super Bowl LVI Betting References
I won’t beat you over the head with even more narrative or breakdowns of Super Bowl LVI. That has been the prevailing topic for the last two weeks in the world of football. I will say that I am incredibly excited to watch this game. It’s not just about the Cinderella stories on both sides but, as a 38-year-old, I am also excited for the halftime show and to be transported back in time.
Of course, getting immersed in the Super Bowl isn’t just about watching an iconic matchup or the halftime show but also about betting. I am no expert, so I will refer you to those here at NBCSportsEdge who are. Check out our NFL columns loaded with betting content to make the most out of Super Bowl LVI.