Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I don’t want to make it sound like football season is almost here, but football season is almost here. Next week will likely be the final dead week on the offseason calendar, and it might not even be a dead week because there’s a chance the Deshaun Watson decision could come down.
Once next Friday hits, the chaos is going to start. Next Friday (July 15) is the deadline to sign players who have been hit with the franchise tag, so that will definitely add some drama to the offseason. Five days after that (July 20), the Raiders will be reporting to training camp. Three days later (July 23), the Rams and Bills will be reporting to training camp. And then three days after that (July 26), every other team will be reporting to training camp. Also, the first game of the season kicks off EXACTLY two months from today (Sept. 8).
Basically, it’s all downhill from here. You just have to make it through the next seven days. That being said, I might not make it through the next three days because my wife is going out of town and I will be spending the next 72 straight hours with our 2-year-old. Godspeed to me.
Anyway, let’s get to the rundown.
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1. Today’s show: Ranking the top 10 kickers and punters heading into the 2022 season
I don’t want to say that today’s episode of the Pick Six Podcast was the biggest show of the year, but I’m going to go ahead and say it was the biggest show of the year, and that’s mainly because it involved me spending nearly 45 minutes talking about nothing but kickers and punters.
Last week, I ranked both the top 10 kickers and the top 10 punters in the NFL. And this week, I jumped on the podcast with Will Brinson to explain my rankings. I think Brinson fell asleep halfway through my punter rankings, but that’s what happens when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t appreciate the fine art of punting.
We spent a good chunk of the podcast talking about the kickers list, so here’s a quick refresher on who I had in the top 10.
Top 10 kickers for 2022
1. Justin Tucker, Ravens
2. Chris Boswell, Steelers
3. Harrison Butker, Chiefs
4. Younghoe Koo, Falcons
5. Daniel Carlson, Raiders
6. Matt Gay, Rams
7. Jake Elliott, Eagles
8. Evan McPherson, Bengals
9. Robbie Gould, 49ers
10. Nick Folk, Patriots
Just missed: Graham Gano (Giants), Tyler Bass (Bills), Jason Sanders (Dolphins)
One of the biggest questions Brinson had for me was why I ranked Evan McPherson so low. As a Bengals homer, Brinson thought for sure I would have him higher, but I only had him at eight.
My explanation? McPherson had one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history, but he only made it to the eighth spot on the list for two reasons: The first one is that there was a little bit of inconsistency to his game. Although he was an amazing 14-of-14 on field goals in the playoffs, he hit just 66.7% of his kicks between 40 and 49 yards in the regular season. Of the 17 kickers who attempted at least nine field goals from that range, McPherson had the second-worst accuracy rate.
Also, McPherson is coming off his rookie season, and if a kicker needs to prove one thing, it’s that he’s consistently good. For instance, Jason Sanders was one of best kickers in the NFL during his rookie year with the Dolphins. He hit 90% of his field goals, which made him the ninth-most accurate kicker in the NFL in 2018. In his second year, though, Sanders bombed, hitting just 76.7% of his field goals. Basically, it’s difficult to rank a kicker coming off his rookie year because you have no idea if his first year was a fluke. I don’t think McPherson’s rookie year was a fluke and I absolutely think he’ll be climbing up this list over the course of his career. But for now, he’s at eight.
Anyway, if you want to hear me blab on about kickers, then be sure to listen to today’s episode, which you can do by clicking here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here. It’s worth watching if only so you can see Brinson’s ridiculous background.
2. Pro Football Hall of Fame announces semifinalists
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2022 hasn’t even been inducted yet, but that didn’t keep the Hall from announcing a few semifinalists for the class of 2023. Although we won’t know the identities of the modern semifinalists until November, the Hall did reveal the semifinalists from the seniors, coaches and contributors categories. From those three categories, there are a total of 54 semifinalists.
Here’s a look at 10 of the 25 semifinalists from the seniors category, which includes players who played their final season prior to 1996:
- QB Ken Anderson
- CB Ken Riley
- LB Maxie Baughan
- WR Mark Clayton
- RB Roger Craig
- TE LaVern Dilweg
- LB Randy Gradishar
- CB Lester Hayes
- OT Chris Hinton
- LB Chuck Howley
Now, here’s a look at 10 of the 29 semifinalists from the coaches/contributors category.
- Robert Kraft
- Rich McKay
- John McVay
- Art Modell
- Carl Peterson
- Dan Reeves
- Art Rooney Jr.
- Marty Schottenheimer
- Mike Shanahan
- Amy Trask
The list of 54 semifinalists will be trimmed down to 24 finalists on July 27. Out of that total, up to four could be selected into the Hall of Fame’s class of 2023. The class will include up to three inductees from the seniors list and one inductee from the coaches/contributors list. This is only part of the 2023 class. The modern players to be inducted will be revealed a few days before Super Bowl LVII in February 2023.
If you want to see the full list of semifinalists, then be sure to check out our story on the Hall of Fame’s big announcement by clicking here.
3. Raiders make historic hire: Vegas brings on first Black female team president in NFL history
The Raiders have a long track record of breaking down hiring barriers, and that track record continued Thursday when they hired Sandra Douglass Morgan as team president. The hiring of Morgan makes her the first Black female team president of any team in NFL history. There have been three female team presidents in NFL history and three Black team presidents, but never a Black female.
- Morgan is known for breaking down barriers. Before joining the Raiders, Morgan was the executive director of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. When she was hired for that job, she became the first minority ever to get the position. She was also the first African-American city attorney in the state of Nevada.
- She has definitely been keeping busy in her professional career. Morgan probably doesn’t have a lot of free time and that’s because she sits on multiple boards. According to The New York Times, Morgan is on the board of directors for both Caesars Entertainment and Allegiant Travel.
- Morgan has prior NFL ties. This is actually the second NFL job she’s landed in the past 12 months. Before taking the Raiders job, she served as the vice chair for the Las Vegas Super Bowl host committee. (The city will be hosting the game in February 2024.) Morgan is also married to former NFL player Don Morgan, who spent four seasons in the NFL (1999-2002) while playing for the Vikings (1999-2001) and Cardinals (2002).
- Morgan will be attempting to clean things up. Morgan will be the team’s third president in less than 12 months, and a big reason there’s been so much turnover is because the Raiders are dealing with some serious allegations that accuse the team of workplace misconduct. Morgan made it clear she won’t be shying away from looking into any and all allegations against the team, “It’s no secret that this organization has faced some recent challenges, but I want to be clear, I am not here to sweep anything under the rug or avoid problems or concerns that need to be addressed,” Morgan said Thursday. “It is not lost on me that this is a critical and defining moment in the NFL. It’s important to me and it is my intention to make a meaningful contribution well beyond the Raiders family.”
- Raiders have a track record of breaking down hiring barriers. It’s no surprise the Raiders hired the NFL’s first Black female team president, and that’s because they have been regularly breaking down barriers. The Raiders hired the NFL’s first Black head coach (Art Shell) and had the NFL’s first female CEO (Amy Trask). They also hired Tom Flores, who was the first Latino head coach to win a Super Bowl. Flores was also the NFL’s first Latino starting quarterback when he won the Raiders’ job in 1960.
It has definitely been an offseason of change for the Raiders. Not only do they have a new team president, but they also have a new head coach (Josh McDaniels) and new general manager (Dave Ziegler).
4. Predicting five teams that will take a step back in 2022
If there’s one guarantee in the NFL every season, it’s that some teams are going to be better than they were last year and some teams are going to be worse. Earlier this week, we tried to predict the teams that will be better in 2022, so today, we’re going to do the opposite.
CBSSports.com’s Tyler Sullivan came up with his list of teams he thinks will be worse than they were in 2022. This doesn’t necessarily mean the team is going to be bad; it just means he expects them to be worse than they were last year. Or in the Bears‘ case, he does actually expect them to be bad.
With that in mind, let’s check out Tyler’s list:
- 1. Titans (2021 record: 12-5): “The Titans were the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season, and it’s hard to see a scenario where that comes to fruition again in 2022.”
- 2. Chiefs (2021 record: 12-5): “The entire AFC West went through an arms race this offseason that now makes it the consensus toughest division in the NFL. I’m not saying the Chiefs will be on the outside looking in on the playoffs with this take. However, their road to the postseason will be more difficult than it’s ever been in the Patrick Mahomes era.”
- 3. Browns (2021 record: 8-9): “The Browns are the biggest wild card on this list. They made one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the offseason by landing former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, but there’s still no clarity on whether or not he’ll actually play for them this season. If Judge Sue Robinson rules in favor of the NFL, Watson could face an indefinite suspension that lasts at least a full season.”
- 4. Seahawks (2021 record: 7-10): “The Seahawks finished last in the NFC West in 2021, so there isn’t much lower they can fall in that regard. However, they still were able to win seven games, which likely won’t be the case this season. The biggest reason for that is the massive drop-off in talent at quarterback.”
- 5. Bears (2021 record: 6-11): “Last season, Chicago had the sixth lowest-scoring offense in the NFL, averaging just 18.3 points per game. Those totals were even worse in Justin Fields‘ 10 starts (16.8 points per game). While it’ll be fascinating to see how Fields improves as he heads into Year 2 and his first season as the full-time starter, there’s not much around him to feel optimistic about this unit as a whole.”
If you want to check out Tyler’s full explanation for each team’s ranking, be sure to click here.
5. Ranking divisions by quarterback
After the arms race that went on in the AFC West this offseason, it definitely now feels like that division will be toughest one in football in 2022. Not only do the four AFC West teams have the best overall rosters, but that division also has the best set of quarterbacks. At least that’s the conclusion Cody Benjamin came to today when he ranked all eight divisions by quarterback play.
Here’s a look at how his ranking broke down:
1. AFC West (Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr)
2. AFC North (Joe Burrow, Mitchell Trubisky, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson/Jacoby Brissett)
3. NFC North (Aaron Rodgers, Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff)
4. AFC East (Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, Zach Wilson)
5. NFC West (Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, Trey Lance, Geno Smith)
6. NFC East (Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones, Carson Wentz)
7. AFC South (Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, Davis Mills, Trevor Lawrence)
8. NFC South (Tom Brady, Baker Mayfield, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston)
Not even Tom Brady could save the NFC South.
If you want a full explanation for the rankings, be sure to click here so you can check out Cody’s entire story.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Ravens sign Justin Houston
It’s been a wild 24 hours in the NFL, and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Justin Houston returning to Baltimore for another year. The veteran pass-rusher will be staying in Baltimore after agreeing to terms on a one-year deal. Houston, who had 4.5 sacks for the Ravens last season, is going into his 12th NFL season.
- Daniel Snyder offers to testify on video in front of House Oversight committee. After ducking the House Oversight committee for the past month, it appears the Commanders owner is now willing to testify in front of them. According to ESPN, Snyder’s lawyer has let the committee know he’d be willing to testify via video feed on either July 28 or 29.
- Sunday Ticket likely headed to a streaming service in 2023. Sunday Ticket has been on DirecTV since 1994, but that will likely be changing starting in 2023. During an interview on CNBC, Roger Goodell said a streaming service will likely be getting Sunday Ticket rights in 2023. (DirecTV has the rights through the 2022 season.) The finalists for Sunday Ticket are believed to be Apple, Disney, and Amazon.
- Bears receiver arrested. David Moore was arrested in Texas on Sunday night after allegedly falling asleep at a Taco Bell drive-thru. The 27-year-old was arrested on drug and weapon charges. For more details on this story, be sure to click here.
- NFL wants flag football at the 2028 Olympics. The NFL has decided the best way to grow its game around the world is to start embracing flag football, which is why the league is now pushing to get the sport added to the Olympics by 2028. Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, explained to the Associated Press last week why the league is embracing the sport. “When we talk about the future of the game of football, it is, no question, flag,” Vincent said, per the AP. “When I’ve been asked over the last 24 months, in particular, what does the next 100 years look like when you look at football, not professional football, it’s flag.” The 2028 Olympics will be in Los Angeles, so it would be a fitting year to get the sport added to the Olympic line-up.