After Sunday night’s barn-burner between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers, the 2021-22 NFL regular season officially met its conclusion. With that finalization comes the time to look back on all the Pack Pros contributed to their respective teams over the course of the season.
Despite being a down year for some of the most notable former members of the Wolfpack, this past regular season had plenty of action to go around. With that action came the continued production of many former NC State players, increasing the value furthermore on what it means to get a previous member of the Pack on your team in the pros.
Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Of the former representatives of the red and white that underperformed this year, many would agree that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tops the list. In his 10-year career Wilson established himself as an all-time great, and with that comes the expectation of continuous production regardless of circumstance. Unfortunately for the Pack Pro, circumstances got the better of him and his team this year as Wilson went down with the first major injury of his career, likely being the driving factor behind the Seahawks finishing with a losing record for the first time in Wilson’s tenure.
Wilson finished the season with 3,113 passing yards, 183 rushing yards, 27 total touchdowns and six interceptions in 14 games played. He would also finish with a career-low season-long QBR of 53.9 that, in combination with his lack of counting stats, would keep him out of the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2016, making this the second time in his career that he hasn’t been selected to represent the NFC at quarterback in some capacity.
Simply put, the Seahawks are a mess right now as a team and as an organization. Trade rumors began to swirl regarding Wilson’s future in Seattle last offseason and will likely do the same at the conclusion of this year. Whether Wilson ends up actually saying goodbye to the team that drafted him 10 years ago is still far from certain, but with all the trials he’s been put through over the years, especially last season, it’s far from out of the question as well. Despite the lowered production and flashes of looking human as opposed to his normal superhero self, the question of whether Wilson has gas left in the tank is null, and he will certainly see a rise back to prominence no matter what transpires in the offseason.
Jakobi Meyers, wide receiver, New England Patriots
Unlike Wilson, New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers made the best out of uncertain circumstances coming into the season. Many questions surrounded how this new-look Patriots offense would perform, especially in the passing game, under rookie quarterback Mac Jones in the preseason. While Jones has certainly looked the part of a first-year quarterback in one of the league’s most complicated systems, he still provided enough to allow Meyers to shine.
Meyers finished the regular season with 83 receptions for 866 yards and two touchdowns on 126 targets, all of which are career highs for the three-year veteran. With his 2021-22 stat line, Meyers established himself as WR1 for Mac Jones in New England, leading the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards and receiving yards per game. Meyers continues to be the perfect compliment for his teammate Kendrick Bourne at wideout, who poses as the deep threat while Meyers provides Jones with the utility required to continuously move the chains through the air.
While Meyers’ utility hadn’t resulted in any professional touchdowns for the NC State product prior to this season, he managed to find the endzone for the first time in his career in 2021 resulting in an extremely heartwarming moment for all those invested in his success. In Week 10’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns, Meyers found paydirt in garbage time — leading to a swarm of congratulations from his teammates. The game against the Browns broke Meyers’ curse as the wideout with the most receiving yards (1,522 prior to the Week-10 matchup) without a receiving touchdown in NFL history, and by the looks of things, he isn’t planning on getting anywhere close to that point again any time soon.
Mike Glennon, quarterback, New York Giants
Yikes, where does one even start with this one? In short, New York Giants quarterback Mike Glennon was bad, like really bad, in relief of an injured Daniel Jones throughout the year. Glennon appeared in six games (starting in four of those) this season for the G Men, amassing 790 passing yards, four touchdown passes and 10 interceptions on a horrific 53.9% completion rate. If the completion rate isn’t bad enough, Glennon’s season-long QBR of 12.1 is sure to make anyone wince at the thought of such unbearable quarterback play.
Granted that Glennon was never supposed to be put in a situation to win games for a team that is certainly lacking at areas outside of quarterback as well, he at least gets half of a pass for his lackluster performance. Unfortunately for the eight-year veteran, half of a pass likely won’t be enough to secure his spot in New York for another season, even as a backup. Glennon’s future in the league as a whole is far from guaranteed, but the NC State faithful will likely hope to see him in a true backup role in new pastures next season.
Jacoby Brissett, quarterback, Miami Dolphins
Another quarterback who was cast into a starting role with the loss of his team’s usual starter to injury was Jacoby Brissett of the Miami Dolphins, who certainly fared better in this position than Glennon did. Brissett made five starts for the Dolphins this season, appearing in 11 games total, and went 2-3 as the No. 1 man under center. In his first year with Miami, Brissett totaled 1,283 passing yards, six total touchdowns and four interceptions on a 62.7% completion rate.
It wasn’t as far-fetched that Brissett would see the field in some capacity this year for his team as it was for Glennon in New York, and the six-year veteran did his best to put the Dolphins in a position to win football games. Fans of the league know that Miami played as two very different teams in each half of the season, starting the year out 1-7 before turning things around to finish at 9-8.
Unfortunately, the majority of Brissett’s time came in the first half of the year, and while the lack of results doesn’t fall on his shoulders alone, he certainly played a part in the hardships Miami faced as a team. Regardless, Brissett has likely locked in his spot on the roster for another season where he may be called on again if starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continues to struggle with injuries.
A.J. Cole III, punter, Las Vegas Raiders
As crazy as it sounds to hear that a punter may have been the best Pack Pro this season in professional football, it may just be the case. It certainly isn’t a dig either, with Las Vegas Raiders punter A.J. Cole III putting on an absolute masterclass in punting throughout the regular season.
Cole finished the regular season with the league’s highest yards per punt at 50, ninth in the league in total punt yards with 3,202, fifth in the league in punts downed in the 20 at 28 and finished the season without a single punt being blocked. In a year for the Raiders that was as volatile as a singular season can be, Cole did extremely well to establish himself as a constant factor to the team’s success and has likely set himself up to remain in Las Vegas for the foreseeable future.
Nyheim Hines, running back, Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines received a massive contract extension in the offseason worth up to $18.6 million over the next three years, leading many to believe that he could see an increased role from that of his usual utility as a Swiss-Army knife in the Colts’ offense. Unfortunately for Hines, starting running back Jonathan Taylor returned to the form he saw at the end of the 2020-21 NFL season and then some, establishing himself as one of the league’s premier running backs while earning a spot in the MVP discussion.
The Colts paid to keep Hines around for the four-year veteran to continue to add an extra dimension to the Indianapolis backfield, and despite the lack of increased production, Hines has certainly provided that for one of the league’s best running offenses. Hines finished the year with 56 rushes for 276 yards and two touchdowns as well as adding in 40 receptions on 57 targets for 310 yards, another touchdown and some amazing touchdown celebrations.
Bradley Chubb, linebacker, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb faced another major setback in his professional career with an ankle injury suffered earlier in the season, forcing the 2020 Pro Bowler to undergo an ankle surgery that would see him only start in seven games this season. The ankle injury marks the second time in the four-year veteran’s career that he has missed significant time in a single season, with Chubb only making four starts in 2019 due to a different injury.
In his seven starts, Chubb only totaled 21 total tackles, four QB hits and a single tackle for loss, which is an extreme fall from grace for an individual who was deemed one of the premier linebackers in the AFC just a season ago. Hopefully a restful offseason will help Chubb find his way back to the superstardom he held in 2020, which could be exactly what Denver needs to fill the gap left behind with the removal of undisputed Hall-of-Famer Von Miller from the roster.
Germaine Pratt, linebacker, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt built on his performance from a season ago in the 2021-22 NFL season, amassing 91 total tackles, two QB hits, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and fumble recoveries and an interception — the first of his now three-year career. Pratt was an integral component of a resurgent Cincinnati defense that has helped propel the once laughing stock of the AFC North into the playoffs where the team will hope to win its first playoff game in 31 years.