An extremely long 2021-22 NFL season has come to a close. And it was... kind of awesome?? ESPECIALLY for LSU fans. Obviously we all watched the game this past Sunday, but there were big plays and performances all season long. We’ll start the recap off with the the All-NFLSU Team.
QB: Joe Burrow (CIN)
Duh (More on him in a minute)
RB: Leonard Fournette (TB)
Despite all the hype around that dude playing QB for Tampa, Fournette was that offense’ engine for most of the year. He finished with 812 yards and eight TDs on the ground, and added 454 yards and two TDs catching out the backfield. His four TD game against the Colts in Week 12 was one of the best RB performances in the whole NFL in 2021. He was unquestionably the best LSU back in the league last year.
WR: Ja’Marr Chase (CIN), Justin Jefferson (MIN), Odell Beckham Jr. (LAR)
What else needs to be said? Ja’Marr ran away with OROY honors, racking up 1,455 yards on 83 catches and 13 TDs despite a rough stretch in early December. His 2019 partner Justin Jefferson followed up his phenomenal rookie year with an equally explosive 2021, catching 108 passes for 1,616 yards and 10 TDs. As for the elder of the trio, OBJ’s rocky 2021 ended with him doing what he does best: torching defenses. Though his 537 yards and five TDs seem pedestrian, the fact that it was almost all in the second half of the season makes it really impressive. He was equally huge for the Rams in the playoffs. With all due respect to Russell Gage, Odell belongs on here.
TE: Foster Moreau (LV)
30 receptions and three TDs are decent numbers for a backup tight end. But Moreau is more than a backup and played a large share of snaps primarily blocking for the Raiders last year. Even if the numbers aren’t gaudy, he was critical to that team’s success.
LT: Andrew Whitworth (LAR)
This wasn’t even a question. Even if he played like shit for most of the year, the fact he played almost every snap at the age of 40 is an improbable feat. The 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year has represented LSU very well for a long time.
LG: Damien Lewis (SEA)
So this is our first conundrum where Lewis was really the only NFLSU guy who played significant minutes at left guard this year. He was promising as a rookie last year at his natural RG position, but he primarily played LG in 2021 and struggled, as did much of Seattle’s O-line. Still... he’s all we got!
C: Lloyd Cushenberry III (DEN)
Cush had some rookie struggles last year, but Broncos fans say he showed improvement in 2021. He played every snap except for a game he missed due to COVID protocols, and the Broncos offense mildly improved.
RG: Trai Turner (PIT)
The former Pro Bowler has struggled with injuries the last few years, and only became a Steeler because of an injury to their starter. Turner was excellent, starting every game and leading all Steelers offensive players in total snaps.
RT: La’el Collins (DAL)
Though Collins was once a dominant force for Dallas, he is also only on this list because of a lack of other options. Between suspensions and injuries, Collins didn’t stay on the field much in 2021, and his replacements filled in capably. There’s a possibility he won’t be a Cowboy next year, but he’s talented enough to start somewhere else.
EDGE: Danielle Hunter (MIN), Arden Key (SF)
Danielle Hunter once again suffered a season-ending injury after only seven games. He still managed to get 38 tackles and 6.5 sacks. I’m sorry but he’s far and away the best LSU edge rusher in the league and I’m not leaving him off this list because he missed some games. He averaged a sack per game, he belongs here. Arden Key was just a rotational piece for the 49ers, but he was still able to equal Hunter’s 6.5 sack total. Not a lot of other options so he’s here.
INTERIOR: Davon Godchaux (NE), Michael Brockers (DET)
Godcahux’s first year up north was solid with 65 tackles and a sack. Brockers’ numbers were slightly lower with 52 tackles and a sack, but he was a respected leader in a young and struggling locker room.
LB: Devin White (TB), Kwon Alexander (NO), Deion Jones (ATL)
Hey so the NFC South has pretty good linebackers eh? White was once again a tackling machine, accruing 128 and 3.5 sacks. Deion Jones was not the force he once was, but he tried his damn hardest to hold and awful Falcons roster together with 137 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, The third pick was hard. Patrick Queen had WAY more tackles than Alexander, but was exposed as a coverage liability a lot last year, where Kwon was very solid against the pass. What made me give Kwon the nod was the fact that he RECOVERED FROM A TORN ACHILLES IN EIGHT MONTHS! Not only was he back, he was BETTER!
CB: Kristian Fulton (TEN), Greedy Williams (CLE)
Fulton was a no-brainer. The second-year corner was the best DB on a 12-win Titans squad and was key to the defense’s run with 14 pass breakups and two picks. The second pick might be surprising but Greedy Williams had a renaissance year in 2021. After two years of injuries, Greedy knocked away ten passes and intercepted two more. Donte Jackson and Patrick Peterson made solid cases to be here, but missed some games with injuries.
S: Tyrann Mathieu (KC), Grant Delpit (CLE)
When he wasn’t asking what his teammates were doing on blown coverages, Tyrann Mathieu was making tackles and forcing turnovers. The Honey Badger was responsible for three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, 76 tackles and sack. He even scored a defensive touchdown, something he did almost weekly at LSU! And speaking of Browns DBs who missed all of 2020 with injuries, Grant Delpit’s NFL debut season was very solid. The Thorpe winner had 62 tackles, a sack, an INT and a forced fumble. Most of hose numbers came in the latter part of the season when he was finally used to the NFL. His 2022 should be even more prolific.
K: Cade York (LSU)
Yeah he’s not technically in the NFL yet, but he’s better than most of their kickers.
GAMES OF THE YEAR
5. Week 4: Browns 14 at Vikings 7
While this was a bit of a snoozer for casual football fans, it had some of everything for LSU fans.
-Justin Jefferson TD and Griddy
-Greedy Williams’ first career INT
-Two OBJ catches for 27 yards
-Danielle Hunter sack
-Three Grant Delpit tackles plus what should have been a game-sealing INT that was wiped out by penalty
4. AFC Championship: Bengals 27 at Chiefs 24 (OT)
While this wasn’t the gaudiest game for Burrow and Chase, it was the most significant. To go into Arrowhead and take down the NFL’s premier team for the second time after being down 21-3, it’s more than just physical talent. It’s an “it” factor. Burrow went 23-38 for 250 yards, two TDs, an INT and five rushes for 25 yards. It’s not a lot but almost all of them were clutch firs downs. Ja’Marr caught six passes for 54 yards and a TD despite the whole Chiefs defense focusing on shutting him down. We’ll get to why they did that in a minute.
3. Week 1: Vikings 24 at Bengals 27 (OT)
There was a time only a few months ago where we felt nervous watching Joe Burrow on the football field. And when you go back and watch the highlights from this game, it’s noticeable how little he moves in the pocket due to recovery from his devastating knee injury. Despite that, Burrow shined, completing 20 of 27 passes for 261 yards and two TDs. Ja’Marr Chase entered this game coming off a rocky preseason filled with drops and social media ire. He responded by catching five passes for 101 yards and a TD in his first football game in 20 months. What made this game extra special was the dominance of Tigers in both jerseys. Justin Jefferson caught five passes for 71 yards, came up just short of a TD and threw a pass for an 11-yard first down. Danielle Hunter had six tackles and a sack in his return from injury, and Patrick Peterson made his Vikings debut. There was plenty to enjoy here.
2. Super Bowl LVI: Rams 23 vs Bengals 20
I said going in that as long as the game was competitive, there would be Tigers to celebrate and I believe the game lived up to that. The scoring was kicked off by our beloved Odell Beckham Jr catching a 17-yard TD pass. He was on pace for a massive game with 52 receiving yards on only two catches, before he suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter. It’s gutting to see this happen to him for a second year in a row, but we can still celebrate the fact he was finally part of a championship team. As predicted, Joe Burrow had a long day against the Rams pass rush, but also predictably battled until the very end, going 22-33 for 263 yards and a TD. Ja’Marr Chase caught five passes for 89 yards against an elite corner in Jalen Ramsey. The Bengals’ flaws were obvious, but they’re still a special team with a bright future. We also have to celebrate Andrew Whitworth, who after SIXTEEN seasons finally won a Super Bowl ring, against his former team no less. He is officially the oldest tackle to ever win a Super Bowl, and for about two weeks he was the oldest player in the NFL. He hasn’t officially retired, but he’s hinted at it. Hopefully he finds time to visit Tiger Stadium and get a long-deserved ovation this Fall.
1. Week 17: Chiefs 31 at Bengals 34
Despite all the great narratives on most of this list, this game is No. 1 because it was nothing but NFLSU guys doing what they do best: making plays.
After Patrick Mahomes threw two TDs to give Kansas City a 14-0 lead, Joe and Ja’Marr suddenly looked like they were playing Clemson again. Burrow was an astounding 30-39 for 446 yards with four TDs and no INTs. Ja’Marr Chase caught 11 passes for 261 yards and three TDs. Chase had more receiving yards than Patrick Mahomes had passing yards.
The reason the Bengals offense needed to stay in high gear all four quarters was because the Chiefs kept extending the lead. Who was responsible for that? Darrel Williams who ran for for two TDs and had 107 total yards. The game ended with Joe Burrow leading the Bengals down the field and into position for a game-winning field goal that secured the team’s first AFC North title in six years. And unlike those past Bengals teams, they actually made these playoffs count. If all goes right, the Bengals offense we saw against the Chiefs and Ravens is what we’ll see every week the next few years.
NFLSU 2021 MVP: QB Joe Burrow (CIN)
Joe Burrow’s last 14+ months— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) February 11, 2022
11/23/20: Suffers torn ACL, MCL
9/12/21: Returns to start in Week 1
1/30/22: Leads Bengals to AFC Championship
2/10/22: Wins Comeback Player of the Year
2/13/22: Will start in Super Bowl LVI
An amazing road back for the @Bengals QB. pic.twitter.com/YnlgeOsGgB
As if there was any doubt.
Thank you NFLSU for a fun 2021. Let’s hope 2022 brings us more jaw-dropping rookies, fewer injuries, representation on all 32 rosters and a better Bengals O-line.