Five NFL Players That Might Be Household Names By The End Of 2023

Let’s talk about five players that might be household names by the end of the 2023 season

Sam Howell

The Washington Commanders are coming into 2023 with more hope for the future that they’ve had in two decades thanks to a change in ownership, but let’s focus on what they’re putting on the field.

From 2019 to 2022, Washington has started ten different quarterbacks, and has had a different player lead them in pass attempts for four consecutive seasons. They haven’t had a quarterback start and finish the season since Kirk Cousins in 2017.

Sam Howell might be ready to break that streak. 

I’ve heard people call Sam Howell a great value Baker Mayfield. I’ve heard people say that even though he threw for 10,000 yards in the ACC, he fell off in his junior year. 

What people don’t point out is that his offensive line didn’t hold up as a junior, and he so he took it upon himself to go from a pure pocket passer with 181 rushing yards in 25 combined games as a freshman and sophomore, to rushing for almost 850 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. And he STILL threw for over 3,000 yards. This man is what uncreative sports analysts might call a “sneaky” athlete.

Sneaky means white.

Howell has an extremely solid young group of receivers led by Terry McLaurin, who has three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, and if Jahan Dotson progresses, you better watch out. 

With the NFC East up for grabs, you might be hearing Sam Howell’s name quite a bit come December.

Desmond Ridder

Has there ever been a young QB more set up for success than Desmond Ridder is in Atlanta? 

Three former first round picks on the offensive line, including Jake Matthews. Kyle Pitts, the #4 overall pick in 2021 at TE. Drake London, the #8 overall pick at WR. A returning 1,000 yard rusher in Tyson Allgeier. One of the best college running backs we’ve ever seen in Bijan Robinson. And they STILL have Cordarrelle Patterson.

For anyone saying that I’m overhyping a 24-year-old quarterback with only four career starts, you have to remember that Ridder started 50 games in college, and took Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff. 

Atlanta has as much of an opportunity to win the NFC South as New Orleans, Carolina, and Tampa Bay- and if they pull that off, this young roster in the playoffs is going to energize the Falcons fanbase for years to come. 

Brian Burns

Do you know the name Brian Burns? If not, you’re about to. 

The Carolina Panthers defensive end and former 16th overall pick out of Florida State seems to have just ended his brief holdout, and is about to become one of the highest paid defensive ends in NFL history.

Why? Well, he has 38 sacks in four seasons, has improved every single year, is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowls, and has only missed two games over that span. Only three players over the last three seasons have more total QB pressures than Burns.

Burns isn’t the best at getting off blocks, and he’s also not considered a top tier edge rusher against the run, but if he improves in either of those areas this season, we’re no longer talking about a top-10 pass rusher. We’re talking about a top-10 defensive player, regardless of position.

And if you’re getting Myles Garrett or Maxx Crosby money, you deserve Myles Garrett and Maxx Crosby’s name recognition. 

Jahmyr Gibbs

The Detroit Lions have had three 1,000 yard rushers in the last 20 seasons. They haven’t had an 1,100 yard rusher in 18 years.

That streak might end. 

Jahmyr Gibbs started his college career at Georgia Tech, and finished at Alabama, and despite splitting reps in a crowded backfield, Gibbs displayed a skillset that might be the closest thing we have to Christian McCaffrey. 

He’s an elite runner, and an elite receiver. There’s never a reason to take this man off the field. 

Anyone in a points-per-reception fantasy football league probably already has a Jahmyr Gibbs jersey, but the casual NFL fan might be learning this young man’s name for giving Detroit a backfield threat they’ve been missing since the 1990’s.

Travis Etienne

I get that it’s a QB league. I get that Trevor Lawrence deserves all the hype he’s getting heading into the 2023 season. I get that the return of Calvin Ridley is a big storyline as well. 

But the man y’all need to be talking about is Travis Etienne. 

The one place Etienne needs to improve, and it has to be a team effort, is against the NFL’s best run defense- the Tennessee Titans. Etienne’s awesome 2022 campaign included two absolute stinker games against their division foe, where he had 24 carries for 49 yards.

Without those games, his per carry average goes from 5.1 to 5.5.

5+ yards a carry over a full season is insane. Fred Taylor did it in his final two seasons, but there was a 14-year gap before Etienne pulled it off last year. And he duplicated that effort in the playoffs as well.

The only reason Etienne isn’t getting more hype is that he wasn’t their primary short yardage option in the red zone.

The Panthers’ Choice at #1 is Clear- Bryce Young No Matter What.

bryce young

We need to talk about what the Carolina Panthers should do with the #1 pick.

Last week the Carolina Panthers made sure that absolutely zero fans of their team own a current player’s jersey by sending wide receiver DJ Moore and several draft picks to Chicago for the #1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Panthers need help. Owner David Tepper pulled the plug on Head Coach Matt Rhule last year just 38 games into a seven year contract. They traded Christian McCaffrey last year. They gave up on trying to make both Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield their quarterback of the future. 

Things are so bad for the Panthers that they even bailed out of plans to build an $800 million practice facility in nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, with Tepper’s real estate company declaring bankruptcy in the middle of construction.

Now, after deciding to hire Frank Reich to lead the team moving forward, both Reich and the Panthers are in desperate need of the one thing that has kept them from having consistent success in this league over the last few years- a franchise quarterback.

But which one?

Look guys, don’t overthink this. Yeah, you had lightning in a bottle with Cam Newton, but you’re not going to recreate it with Anthony Richardson out of Florida.

You could have gotten that Cam Newton feeling back by pursuing Lamar Jackson, but you wanted a fresh start. It’s not what I would have done, but I respect it. 

And I know that there are some people that believe Panthers QB coach Josh McCown is the next Bill Belichick, but even old Bill is looking mighty human without a Hall of Fame quarterback under center. 

Rumor has it that Frank Reich believes Ohio State’s CJ Stroud should be the Panthers QB of the future, while owner David Tepper is trending more toward selecting Alabama’s¬†Bryce¬†Young.

I haven’t said this often, but this time I’m going to say it loudly and say it with my chest. 

David Tepper is right. 

The Panthers need someone low maintenance. Someone that won’t run into danger. Someone that makes all the right reads, and gets the ball out quickly. 

This is simple, Carolina.

All Bryce Young needs to be an NFL star is time and patience. I know Josh McCown is in the building, but he’s not going to suit up if Young isn’t ready to compete on day 1. 

So I want to applaud the Panthers for going out and getting Andy DaltonРSomeone that can give you 8-10 solid starts while showing Bryce the ropes of what it takes on a day-to-day basis to be a successful quarterback in this league. 

And when Dalton has given you everything they have left in the tank, let Bryce loose, and give your fan base some things to look forward to as you head into the next offseason. 

I don’t begrudge the Panthers if they kick the tires on CJ Stroud. He’s an elite prospect, and he has the one thing Bryce Young doesn’t- size.

But on Draft Day, you better pull that post-it out of your pocket like Kevin Costner and take the one player that can give your franchise and its fans hope for the next decade plus.

Bryce Young no matter what. 

Let that sink in.

Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 8 Offensive Standouts

Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 7 Offensive Standouts

It’s a Good Day to Be a Pac-12 NFL Fan

This weekend, Pac-12 football fans got it all. Oregon and Washington State certainly lit up the field offensively. The Ducks are currently ranked 6th in Unafraidshow’s College Football Rankings. Likewise, many Pac-12 NFL players gave us memorable performances in week 8. Here they are!

Best Quarterback Performance

Gardner Minshew II – Washington State – Jacksonville Jaguars

Minshew magic is back! Let’s go!

Unlike the rest of football fans, Pac-12 NFL fans knew that Minshew was for real. We knew a long time ago. It’s just great to see everyone else accept it.

Against a competent New York Jets defense, Minshew didn’t flinch. He compiled 279 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. He also let the Jets sack him twice. But, for those who watched the game, his pocket-presence is next level. Minshew’s movement in the pocket and ability to extend plays is incredible.

Last, and definitely important, Minshew threw zero interceptions. Again. Overall, he has just 2 interceptions and 13 touchdowns this season. The sixth-round rookie is playing far above any expectation.

Gardner Minshew for Rookie of the Year!

Best Running Back Performance

Christian McCaffrey – Stanford – Carolina Panthers

Against the league’s second-best defense (New England Patriots are clear first), the Carolina Panthers flopped. They only scored 13 points, while the 49ers rolled through 51 points. However, that didn’t stop all-star, Pac-12 NFL running back Christian McCaffrey from creating highlights.

This season, McCaffrey’s durability and production is incredible. His 2019 stats include:

Keep rolling RUN-CMC.

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Best Wide Receiver Performance

Juju Smith-Schuster – USC – Pittsburgh Steelers

To say that this season has been rough for the Pittsburgh Steelers is to say the least. After a promising 2017 season and a breakout 2018 season, everyone was ready for Juju Smith-Schuster to keep the hype train going. With the departure of Antonio Brown (to mental illness?), Smith-Schuster was primed for an elite 2019 campaign.

But, all hope went down with Ben Roethlisberger. However, Smith-Schuster still has the ability to pop on the field. In week 8, he cleared the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. Granted, this week he played the Miami Dolphins (#tankfortua), but he’s a good wide receiver.

https://twitter.com/JimmyClarke/status/1189005033653882882

His plus-16.5 (No. 20) Production Premium and plus-39.2-percent Target Premium (No. 10) show that he still has talent, but he’s just trapped on an anemic offense.

Best Tight End Performance

Austin Hooper – Stanford – Atlanta Falcons

Even with Matt Schaub under center, Austin Hooper was a baller. He reeled in 6 of 7 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. He was one reason why the Pac-12 NFL fans didn’t switch channels. Hooper’s late score helped the Falcons attempt a last-minute comeback (or at least cover the a plus-7.5 spread).

Honestly, look at those stats. Among tight ends, Hooper is:

Miss Last Week’s Pac-12 NFL Best Performances?

https://unafraidshow.com/best-pac-12-nfl-players-week-7-offensive-standouts/

Hot Take House: Game 163, Brees GOAT, Jimbo Fisher Fail, CFB Worst Calls Ever

Game 163

These are hot takes and fun from the weekend. Send us your hot takes to ImMad@unafraidshow.com, and they may make the next week Hot Takes House. Do not read any further if you are easily offended. If you do, share with a friend.

Game #163

If the NFL can figure out the field playoff in 16 games, NHL and NBA in 82, why can’t the MLB figure it out in 162? How on earth do they play 162 games in the MLB, but still need one game tie-breakers to decide who wins the division? Game 163?

There are about 62 meaningless games in baseball. Teams and players are going through the motions. If those games were more important, we wouldn’t need a 163rd before playoffs.

NFL

1. All the garbage roughing the passer penalties are actually increasing the NFL fan experience. They add one more thing for you to talk smack talk about in your fantasy leagues, with your friends, and be outraged about. We love outrage.

2. My question is why won’t they just put flags on the QBs? They would rarely hit the ground then. Guys would be able to grab the flags, and that would be a sack. Guys are losing thousands of dollars just doing their job. Something has to change.- Richard Sherman

3. The Khalil Mack trade looks worse and worse every week. Mack is the runaway NFL defensive MVP at this point. The Raiders have no pass rush, and the two first rounders they get from the Bears will be 12-16 because the bears no longer suck.

4. Josh Allen is back being to who we thought he was. Don’t be mad Bills fans; facts are facts. Swing and a miss

5. #FitzMagic is dead, and VF Castro doesn’t like it. LOL

6. Drew Brees will need 201 passing yards next Monday night at home against Washington to become the NFL‚Äôs all-time passing yards leader. Why is he not in your top 10 quarterbacks of All-Time? I’ll wait…

7. Remember a long time ago last week when Tom Brady was old and the Patriots sucked? They are bullies for what they did to the Dolphins.

8. The Steelers will cave in on LeVeon Bell. James Connor is a good back, but he’s the FitzMagic of running backs. It was fun for a little while, but it’s a novelty.

9. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper May Change the NFL by signing Eric Reid.

College Football

1. “Kelly Bryant has an opportunity to extend his football life & actually control his own future… and you think it’s selfish??? Give me a break.” – Joel Klatt

2. Holding on the running back? WTH!

 

3. The original worst football call of the day was Louisville up by 3 with 1:56 left in the 4th quarter on the Florida State 21 yard line calling a pass play instead of a run. The pass was intercepted, and Louisville lost in regulation.

4. The actual worst football call of the day belongs to James Franklin and Penn State. They had two timeouts on 4th and 5 to run this play:

5. Jimbo Fisher needs to be suspended. If the player were to do this to Jimbo, he would be finished in college football!  There is no reason any coach should be getting physical with a player to get his point across.

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Send us your hot takes to ImMad@unafraidshow.com, and they may make the next week post.

Eric Reid: Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper May Change the NFL

Eric Reid

David Tepper is the key to making the NFL a¬†progressive league. ¬†On Thursday, David Tepper and the Carolina Panthers made a bold move to be on the right side of history when they signed free-agent safety Eric Reid. ¬†David Tepper¬†is the new owner of the Panthers, who took ownership in May of this year. ¬†Eric Reid was Colin Kaepernick’s teammate on the San Francisco 49ers. ¬†He was the first football player to join¬†Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality. ¬†Once Reid’s rookie contract expired, he was not re-signed by the 49ers or any other team. ¬†This left many to question why no team had picked him up.

Reid was a 2013 first round draft pick who lived up to the¬†expectations and became a Pro-Bowl safety. ¬†He dominated his position each season he played and was injury free. There was no football-related reason for Reid not be signed. Since there was no football-related reason, many believed that Reid’s continued free-agency was due to his activism. ¬†Kaepernick had already been “blackballed” from the league for his protest. ¬† It appeared that Reid was suffering the same consequence. ¬†Reid, like Kaepernick, filed a grievance against the¬†NFL for collusion. ¬†The grievance alleged that the league and/or the team owners conspired to keep Reid out of the league.

All of this changed on Thursday when the Panther’s announced that they signed Eric Reid. ¬†In the midst of his grievance against the NFL, Reid’s signing came as a shock to many. ¬†Reid was overlooked the entire summer and preseason. This leaves one question. ¬†What changed to lead to Reid’s signing on Thursday?

David Tepper is What Changed to lead to Eric Reid’s Signing

In just these short months since taking over the Panthers in May, David Tepper has already asserted himself as probably the most progressive NFL owner. ¬†From the beginning, Tepper¬†made small changes that he knew Panther’s fans had long awaited. ¬†He removed the NFL shield at center-field and changed the logo to a panther. ¬†Also under Tepper, the team unveiled a new uniform. ¬†With these changes, Tepper alerted everyone to the fact that change was afoot in the Panthers organization.

While those changes were bold statements, Tepper took it a step further early in September when he stood up for players who participate in the national anthem protest in an¬†interview¬†on CNBC. ¬†Tepper called the players patriotic and acknowledged that the protest was an effort to seek “justice for all.”

On Thursday, Tepper put those words into action when he signed Eric Reid to replace the recently injured¬†Da’Norris Searcy. ¬†Instead of overlooking a clearly qualified Eric Reid and attempting to make unfounded football-related excuses not to sign him, Tepper and the Panthers did the right and most sensible thing and hired the best man for the job.

Moves such as speaking out in support of the players right to protest and signing a player who was arguably being “blackballed” by the rest of the teams and the league are what makes Tepper the league’s most progressive owner. ¬†Tepper may be just what the league needs to finally become a more progressive and inclusive entity. ¬†He listened to the wants of the players and fans when he changed the center-field logo and unveiled new uniforms. Accordingly, Tepper showed the ability to put football first when he signed Eric Reid.

Was Reid Signed as a Defense to the Collusion Grievance?

Some may argue that Reid was signed to help the NFL battle their collusion grievance against him and Kaepernick. However, Reid being signed is not likely to help the NFL’s defense in the grievances. To be successful Reid only has to show “that there was an agreement or formal understanding between at least two teams or the NFL and one team not to sign him.”[i]¬†Therefore, the Panthers signing him does not negate the possibility that other teams and/or the NFL may have agreed not to sign him.

The Future of Athlete Activism and the NFL

Tepper is just the kind of owner that the NFL needs moving forward. ¬†In this new wave of athlete activism and athletes seeking to establish an identity separate from their athletic prowess, the NFL has to decide how to adjust to these trends while maintaining viewership (which should not be a huge problem if willing; the¬†NBA has somehow figured it out). ¬†With¬†LeBron James‘ success with the I Promise School, and as a film producer and the reverence of NFL Players like¬†Kenny Stills¬†to continue to kneel in spite of what happened to Kaepernick, it seems that the “more than an athlete” movement is here to stay.¬†Tepper’s actions so far have shown that he embraces these trends and is just what the NFL needs to become more progressive.

 

[i] Michael McCann, How Eric Reid Can Win His Collusion Grievance Against the NFL…and How the NFL Can Win, Sports Illustrated (May 2, 2018), https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/05/02/eric-reid-nfl-collusion-grievance.