What’s changed in the NFL in the year since Super Bowl 50
Exactly one year ago Tuesday, Peyton Manning, Gary Kubiak and the Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game to punch their tickets to Super Bowl 50. Hours later, league MVP Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game.
A year later? Well, the Patriots are still good.
Things change in an eyeblink in the NFL, and the number of things that can change in a calendar year is stunning. Neither the Broncos nor the Panthers even made this season’s playoffs. Manning and Kubiak are both retired, and Manning is being talked about as a potential GM. Newton finished this season with a career-low completion percentage, and he threw 14 interceptions, the most since his rookie year (17).
So if you like this year’s Super Bowl matchup and storylines, enjoy them while they last. By this time next year, you’re likely to look back and think: “Wow. Remember Taylor Gabriel?”
In the spirit of change, and specifically the amount of change one NFL year can bring, here’s a look at a few more things that have changed since this time last year:
The league’s star power is in refresh mode
In addition to Manning, well-known NFL stars who have retired in the past calendar year include Marshawn Lynch, Calvin Johnson, Charles Woodson, Jared Allen, Justin Tuck and Steve Smith Sr. There are a lot of jersey sales and a lot of fantasy football titles connected to that list. And while the league has exciting stars to fill the void, those former players were some heavy hitters. Good news: The NFL has a class of fresh, young quarterback faces that looks fuller than expected. A year ago, we had no idea how close Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston were to success. We had no idea that Carson Wentz would be ready so soon, and Dak Prescott wasn’t on anyone’s radar — even the Cowboys’. We still don’t know much about Jared Goff, and the best young QB in the league could be the…