Here is your roundup of the yearly NFL awards and my take on every decision.
MVP: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings:
This is something I argued against all season long until Week 17 when, like he had done all year long, Adrian Peterson carried the Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs by beating their division rivals the Green Bay Packers. Peterson finished the regular season with 2,097 yds on 348 attempts while playing behind a quarterback who threw for only 900 yds more than him during the regular season. Even more impressive is the fact that Peterson faced 8 and 9 man boxes almost every play (because Ponder was averaging a whopping 6.08 yds per attempt) and still managed to average 6 yds every time he ran the ball. Peterson season was littered with phenomenal highlights as he racked up 27 carries of 20 or more yds. Just a beast and great to see him come back from a terrible knee injury in better shape than before.
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings:
Watch Christian Ponder highlights. Clean the vomit off the floor. Realize the Vikes made the playoffs. Hope all your breakfast already hit the floor. Hand Adrian Peterson all the awards.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans:
This guy was a beast all season long. Finishing with 20.5 sacks, Watt quickly established himself as one of the most disruptive pass-rushers in the game today. With the forward pass already running scared, JJ Watt decided to devour it like a Ray Rice sized burrito by adding in 16 passes defended. Good enough to be tied for 10th in the league and the only non-defensive back in the top 35 in that category. Watt also added 81 Combined tackles, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 23 tackles for loss. This guy will be a game planners nightmare for years to come.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins:
I feel like for this category the NFL cloned Anderson Silva three times, put each clone in an NFL jersey of RG3, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson then entered them in a MMA fight to the death. Winner: The clone wearing RG3’s jersey. How else does one decide between 3 of the most exciting rookies we’ve seen in a long time who all led their teams to the playoffs? Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson may be feeling a bit snubbed right now but RG3 took the NFL by storm like no other. His loveable and humble image off the field was catapulted into the spotlight after week 1 when he led his Redskins into New Oreleans and torched the Saints defence going 19 of 26 for 320 yds with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He also added 44 yds on the ground on rout to a 40-32 win on the road. RG3 continued his dominant play by finishing with 3,200 yds passing with 20 tds and only 5 interceptions. He set the NFL’s Rookie Rushing record with 815 yds and added 7 tds. RG3 will need to protect himself more if he wishes to turn his rookie success into NFL longetivity. He missed one game this season with a knee injury and is now in rehab for the knee he destroyed on the awful surface at Fedex Field in their playoff loss to Seattle.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Luke Kuechly, MLB, Carolina Panthers:
Here is one name that many people probably don’t know. Unfortunately i did not have the opportunity (or the desire) to watch many Carolina Panthers games this season but when I did, this kid stood out. The 21 year old from Boston College was an absolute force for the Panthers from the start of the season. He began the season at outside linebacker, but after 5 games moved into the middle of the defence and helped the Panthers D become 10th best in the league. His 164 combined tackles led the NFL and he was easily the biggest snub of the annual popularity contest called the Pro Bowl. Carolina could have a very bright future with back to back Rookie of the Year honours on different sides of the ball with Cam Newton winning OROY last year.
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Interim Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts:
In one of the best stories of the year Bruce Arians became the first interim head coach in the NFL to win this award. Perhaps an award Arians wishes he wasn’t eligible for this season as he acquired the position while head coach Chuck Pagano underwent therapy for leukaemia. Nevertheless Arians took to his new roll and led the Colts to a 9-3 record during Pagano’s absence before handing the reigns back to Pagano in week 17. Arians work was recognized by many teams around the league and he became one of the hottest coaching candidates this offseason. The Arizona Cardinals signed him to be their head coach for the next 4 seasons. Great story there and glad to see Arians getting his dues.
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos:
No disrespect to Adrian Peterson and his miraculous recovery for ACL surgery but it isn’t every year that a player comes back from multiple neck surgeries. Peyton Manning missed all of last season while recovering and re-recovering from 4 procedures on his neck. He was cut by the Colts and signed by the Broncos and after a slow start (while his teammates realized they were playing with a QB and not a punt protector) they won their last 11 games, finishing 13-3 and were the top seed in the AFC. Manning threw for 4,695 yds and 37 tds with 11 interceptions. He was voted runner up in the MVP race aswell.
Walter Peyton NFL Man of the Year Award: Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys:
This award is given each year to the player determined to have done the most charitable work in the NFL. A great award that for so many years has had no shortage of deserving winners. Not to take away from Witten, but I always feel as if the other two nominees also deserve recognition. Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and Cleveland’s Joe Thomas were the other 2 finalists this year. Witten’s work with the SCORE Foundation, which helps victims of abuse and helps to educate and break the cycle of domestic violence, and NFL PLAY60 stand out. He also funded an emergency waiting room in The Children’s Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center. Easily the best award of the night in my opinion. Always great to see NFL players giving back to their community.