Monday, July 4, 2022

Ranking NFL’s top 10 running backs heading into 2022, plus Patrick Mahomes reacts to Tyreek Hill comments

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

As someone who writes an NFL newsletter for a living, I would be a horrible son if I didn’t start things off here by wishing Happy Father’s Day to my dad, who played 14 years in the NFL. If you’ve ever wondered how I became a huge Bengals homer, it’s because I didn’t have any choice, I was born into it. My dad (Jim Breech) spent 13 years with the team (1980-1992) and 30 years after his retirement, he’s still the Bengals’ all-time leading scorer. 

That’s right, this year is the 30th anniversary of his retirement from the NFL. I should probably make him a cake. Before this year, the last time the Bengals played in a Super Bowl came in January 1989 and he played in that game. He scored 10 of the Bengals’ 16 points in a 20-16 loss to the 49ers

As someone who loves both placekicking and the Bengals, I think I can unequivocally say that there might not be anyone out there who was more excited than my dad to see Evan McPherson kick the Bengals to the Super Bowl.  

Here are a few nuggets about his career: 

  • He holds the NFL record for most overtime kicks without a miss (9-for-9). 
  • He led the AFC in scoring twice. 
  • He scored at least one point in 186 consecutive games, which is the third-longest streak in NFL history.
  • One of only four kickers in NFL history with multiple field goals of 40 yards or more in a single Super Bowl.
  • Second-highest scoring game by a losing kicker in Super Bowl history (10 points in Super Bowl XXIII).

He’s also the reason I have a weird obsession with knowing everything there is to know about kicking, so Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to every dad who’s reading this. 

Alright, let’s get to the rundown. 

As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link

1. Today’s show: Predicting who will win every QB competition

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Most NFL teams know who their starting quarterback will be this year, but that statement definitely doesn’t apply to every team. Once training camp kicks off in late July, there are multiple teams who will be holding a QB competition to figure out who their starter is going to be. 

Since there is nothing I love doing more than predicting who is going to win a QB competition, I jumped on today’s episode of the Pick Six Podcast with Will Brinson and we made some predictions. One of the biggest QB battles in the NFL will be going on in Seattle where Drew Lock and Geno Smith will be competing to earn the starting spot. 

Brinson and I don’t agree on much, but we do both think that Smith will ultimately earn the starting job. 

Here was what I had to say on the podcast: 

“Geno Smith actually looked decent when Russell Wilson was out last season. He’s got a good understanding of what the Seahawks want to do on offense [because he’s been there for two years]. If I had to put a percentage on it right now, I’d go 55-45 in favor of Geno winning the job.”

Brinson also thinks the Smith’s familiarity with Pete Carroll will help him win the job. 

“I think Pete wants to have the most boring, bland offense on the planet, where they run the ball, grind the clock down and just try to win some really close games by not making mistakes,” Brinson said. “While Drew Lock has more upside than Geno Smith, Geno is the veteran who you feel like you can trust to not do something crazy outside the scope of what you want your offense to be.”

Last year, Russell Wilson got frustrated because the Seahawks wouldn’t let him cook (LET RUSS COOK). Smith is the opposite, he probably won’t even care if they don’t let him in the kitchen. 

If you want to listen to Brinson and myself break down each QB competition around the NFL, then be sure to click here so you can listen to today’s episode. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here

2. Ranking the top 10 running backs heading into the 2022 season 

As you may or may not have noticed, we love to rank things here at CBSSports.com and because of that, we thought we would spend the next few weeks ranking every position group heading into the 2022 season. 

After ranking the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks yesterday, we’re going to move on to running backs for today.  

Top 10 running backs for 2022

1. Derrick Henry, Titans

2. Jonathan Taylor, Colts

3. Nick Chubb, Browns

4. Alvin Kamara, Saints

5. Dalvin Cook, Vikings

6. Joe Mixon, Bengals

7. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys

8. Austin Ekeler, Chargers

9. Aaron Jones, Packers

10. David Montgomery, Bears

This list was put together by Patrik Walker and if you’d like to tell him how perfect it is, or if you’d like to argue with him, you can do that by clicking here.

One interesting thing about this group is that seven of the 10 guys on the list played on a team last year that finished with a winning record. In the modern NFL, there’s a thought that running backs don’t matter, but this group proves that a great running back can go a long way to helping your team be successful. If you want a detailed explanation of this top 10 ranking, then be sure to click here so you can check out Walker’s entire story.

3. Patrick Mahomes responds to Tyreek Hill’s complaints about playing for the Chiefs 

If you were surprised to hear Tyreek Hill complain about his time with the Chiefs, you weren’t the only one. So was Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs quarterbacks admitted this week that he was definitely caught off-guard by what his former teammate had to say about his time in Kansas City. 

If you missed Hill’s comments, he made them on the debut episode of his podcast last weekend. During the show, Hill said his relationship with the Chiefs started to fall apart because he wasn’t getting the ball enough

Mahomes had a chance to respond to those comments on Thursday and here’s what he had to say: 

  • Chiefs QB admits he was surprised to hear Hill’s complaints. “I’m surprised a little just because I felt like we love Tyreek here,” Mahomes told reporters Thursday. “We’ve always loved him, we still love him.” The most hilarious part here is that Mahomes shook off the complaints and viewed them as Hill trying to make a name for his new podcast. “I saw him out at Formula 1 in Miami and everything like that, but I’m sure it had something to do with trying to get his podcast some stuff and get it rolling. But definitely, I still love Tyreek. He’s a one-of-a-kind player.”
  • Mahomes responds directly to Hill’s biggest criticism. Hill was apparently mad because he wasn’t getting the ball enough in Kansas City. According to Mahomes, that was happening because defenses were doing their best to take Hill out of the game, which meant Mahomes had to go elsewhere with the ball. “I feel like with the coverages that we were getting, defenses were really accounting for him, so we had to go other places,” Mahomes said. “But when he’s a competitor like that, you want to have a chance to impact the game. So I know he wanted to get the ball as much as possible so he could help us win. It wasn’t a selfish thing.”
  • Mahomes pointed out that the Chiefs’ offense should be able to survive without Hill. “As you know in Coach Reid’s offense, it takes the whole team,” Mahomes said. “This offense was rolling before I got here. This offense was rolling when I was a young Cowboy fan watching the Eagles beat up on the Cowboys. It’s an offense that’s more than one player and that includes myself.”

The one odd thing about Hill’s complaints is that things might not get any better in Miami. Hill finished with 111 receptions in 2021, and it’s not going to be easy to top that number considering he’ll be playing in an offense with Jaylen Waddle, who caught 104 passes in 2021. 

Only two teams over the past 10 years (2014 Broncos, 2018 Steelers) have produced two receivers who both finished the year with at least 100 receptions in the same season, which means it’s highly likely that either Waddle or Hill will see their production decline in 2022. Basically, the same complaints Hill has made about the Chiefs could soon be complaints he’s also making about the Dolphins.  

4. Lamar Jackson holds his first interview of the offseason

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One of the more bizarre situations happening in the NFL this offseason has been Lamar Jackson’s situation in Baltimore. The Ravens quarterback is headed into the final year of his rookie deal, which is slightly odd, because good quarterbacks almost never make it to the final year of their contracts because they usually get extended long before that. For instance, just look at the Kyler Murray situation in Arizona. Murray is unhappy with his rookie contract and he still has TWO years left on his deal. On the other hand, Jackson only has ONE year left on his contract. 

The bizarre part of this situation is that the two sides haven’t done a lot of negotiating this offseason. Another bizarre part of this situation is that Jackson serves as his own agent, which means it’s going to be on him to negotiate one of the biggest contracts in NFL history. 

Following Thursday’s minicamp practice, Jackson met with the media for the first time this offseason and he shed some light on his situation, but not much. 

  • Jackson expects to stay in Baltimore. The former NFL MVP was asked if he thought he would spend the rest of his career with the Ravens, “I expect so,” Jackson said, via ESPN.com. “So, yes, I do.”
  • Jackson went full Marshawn Lynch. It wasn’t quite a “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” moment, but Jackson did use the same answer nearly 10 times during his press conference. That answer? “We’re having a conversation about it.” Jackson gave that answer when asked if he would play in Week 1 if he didn’t have a new contract by then. He also gave the answer when asked if he would show up for training camp with no new deal in place. 
  • Jackson shoots down holdout possibility. Although he was vague about whether he would show up for training camp without a contract, he was more clear when he was asked if he would practice without a new contract, “I play football,” Jackson said. “That’s what I’m here for.” That sounds like a guy who will be on the field when training camp starts.  
  • Deshaun Watson’s contract won’t impact his negotiations. Since he’s serving as his own agent, Jackson is almost certainly well aware of what other quarterbacks are making. However, he said he’s not going to let Watson’s fully guaranteed $230 million deal have any impact on his negotiations. “I’m a man of my own,” Jackson said. “I don’t worry about what those guys get.” That seems like a good thing for Baltimore. 

My take on Jackson’s situation is that he wants to play for the Ravens and a deal is likely going to get done, but he’s doing his best to keep his negotiations private. When things leak out, it’s usually because an agent is doing the leaking. In Jackson’s case, there’s no agent, which makes it much easier to keep things private between him and the Ravens. I’m guessing a deal will likely get done before the start of the season and it won’t be surprising at all to see it happen before training camp. 

5. Saints unveil black helmet for 2022

For the first time in franchise history, the Saints will be dumping their gold helmets for at least one regular-season game. In a surprising announcement on Thursday, the Saints revealed that they’ll be wearing a black helmet at some point during the 2022 season.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Saints’ new helmet (You can see several pictures of the black helmet by clicking here): 

  • It marks the the first time the Saints have worn a black helmet in a regular-season game. The franchise has existed since 1967 and in the 54 years since then, the Saints have worn a gold helmet in every single game.
  • The helmet will be worn at least once during the 2022 season. Although we know the Saints will definitely be wearing the helmet at some point during the upcoming season, we don’t know when and we don’t know how many times. The Saints noted that they’ll definitely be wearing the helmet at least once, which means they could decide to wear it for one game or multiple games.
  • It’s not the first time the Saints have worn a black helmet. The Saints have actually worn a black helmet before, but they’ve never worn one during the regular season. The one and only time the Saints have worn a black helmet came in a 1969 preseason game and you can see photos of the helmet by clicking here

The good news for the Saints — and every other team in the league — is that the NFL rescinded the one-helmet rule in 2021. When that happened, the league announced that teams would be free to wear an alternate helmet starting with the 2022 season, which is why the Saints are now allowed to wear a black helmet to go along with their gold helmet. 

In other exciting news, the Eagles unveiled a new word mark on Thursday. It’s a huge change from what they previously had and after staring at it for 24 straight hours, I’m still not sure how I feel. You can see the old word mark and the new one by clicking here

6. Rapid-fire roundup: NFL doles out a total of $250,000 in fines to three teams

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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. 

  • Mike McCarthy fined for physical practices, Cowboys get docked an OTA. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has been fined $100,000 for holding OTA practices that were too physical. The team has also been docked an OTA for 2023. 
  • Ron Rivera also fined $100,000. The NFL is definitely going hard after the NFC East this week. Not only did McCarthy get fined, but Rivera also got docked $100,000 for the same issue. The Commanders got a slightly harsher team punishment though: They’ve been docked two OTAs for 2023, according to ESPN.com
  • Lovie Smith fined. The NFL has handed out a fine to Texans coach Lovie Smith, who will have to write a $50,000 check to the league. According to ESPN.com, Smith was fined for running a prohibited one-on-one drill during practice that involved offensive linemen going up against defensive linemen. 
  • Taylor Heinicke doesn’t think he’ll be able to unseat Carson Wentz. There’s not going to be a QB competition in Washington, at least according to Heinicke. The Commanders backup says that Carson Wentz’s huge contract is going to make it impossible for Heinicke to win the job. 

  • Jadeveon Clowney was going to sign wherever Deshaun Watson ended up. The only reason Clowney signed with the Browns is because they made a trade for Watson. The Browns pass-rusher revealed on Thursday that he was going to try to sign with whatever team ended up landing Watson. 
  • 11 NFL stadiums picked to help host the 2026 World Cup. FIFA announced the host stadiums for the 2026 World Cup on Thursday and 11 NFL stadium made the cut. Atlanta, Boston, Dallas Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Kansas City will all be hosting World Cup games in an NFL stadium. 

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