The football season is over, and you know what that means.
It’s time to hand out awards before the playoffs so that we can all look back and question ourselves in a month and a half when Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady ends up showing us all who was really the MVP.
Regardless, this year’s award races are among the tightest and most interesting in recent memory.
- For the first time since 2006, a non-QB has busted into the MVP conversation.
- For the first time ever, three rookie QBs have had not just Rookie of the Year caliber seasons, but could make solid cases for MVP consideration.
- And for maybe the only time ever, an assistant coach just might be the Coach of the Year.
So who really deserves each award?
Offensive Rookie of the Year
The most important thing to remember here is that it’s not an “MVP” award – rather, this award was created to reward the most statistically impressive rookie from a given year.
Rookies, generally, are not expected to come in and make a season-changing difference from year one.
Remember, the Panthers only won six games last year, with only one of those wins coming against a team with a winning record. It didn’t matter – Cam Newton was the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and it was no contest. He was easily the most impressive rookie in 2011.
With that criteria in mind, RG3 is the clear choice for the award.
Now before Colts’ fans lose their minds, let me just pose one question: “Does Larry Fitzgerald deserve to be a Pro Bowler this year?”
The obvious answer is NO. That doesn’t mean he’s NOT one of the best 3 WRs alive. All of us watched as he ran route after route in vain this season while he watched pass after pass hit the turf or fly over his head. Unfortunately for Larry, awards aren’t awarded because of talent or circumstances.
I firmly believe that a healthy Trent Richardson is better than Alfred Morris. That a Larry Fitzgerald with a competent QB is every bit as good as nearly any other WR in the game. But again, we don’t hand out awards based on sheer individual talent. If we did, Vince Carter would have won 8 MVPs.
This season, Andrew Luck has been unbelievable, and if the award was given to the most VALUABLE rookie, I think he would be the choice. From day one, the Colts placed more on his shoulders than any other team did on any other rookie.
Luck could not lean on his running game the way the Seahawks and Redskins were able to with Marshawn Lynch and Alfred Morris (another rookie who probably deserves consideration but definitely won’t crack the top three). Morris and Lynch finished 2-3 this season in rushing, while the Colts’ leading rusher, Vick Ballard, didn’t even crack 900 yards.
The Colts’ offensive line was atrocious, and Colts’ fans rarely saw Luck with any time in the pocket. Luck was not able to come out and throw 9 screens in a row a la RG3 or trust his defense to win games like Russell Wilson.
And despite all of that, he led the Colts to a 9-win turnaround and a playoff berth.
Most NFL analysts believe he will be the best of the three when it’s all said and done, and he broke Cam Newton’s record for rookie yardage two weeks ago. However, the rest of Luck’s stats have been very rookie-esque:
- His completion percentage is on par with (gulp) Brandon Weeden.
- He has thrown more INTs than any other QB in the league.
- And while he is an above average runner of the football, he’s nowhere near Wilson or Griffin.
Again, RG3 is the clear choice.
As good as Wilson and the Seahawks have been recently, he really played downright poorly the first month of the season. In that month, Wilson never passed for more than 160 yards and had 4 TDs/4 INTs as the Seahawks opened 2-2.
Of course he’s played better recently, but again, this award goes to the most impressive statistical player – and RG3 beats Wilson in nearly every category.
In six fewer quarters than Wilson, RG3 has more yards, more completions, a higher completion percentage, and nearly twice as many rushing yards. The reality is that RG3 not only had one of the greatest seasons for a rookie QB in NFL history, but he actually makes a pretty good case for one of the better overall seasons that any QB has ever had. Wilson did tie a rookie record with 26 passing TDs this season, but RG3 had 20 – again in 1 1/2 fewer games. RG3 had a better QB Rating and QBR than Wilson while both led their teams to the playoffs.
It’s hard to make an argument that either of these guys was more valuable than the other, and since RG3’s stats are better, he deserves the Rookie of the Year award.
MVP, Comeback Player of the Year, and Offensive Player of the Year
As good as Tom Brady has been this year, he will probably not get any consideration for the MVP award – and that’s okay. Peyton Manning has simply been better than him this season (more TDs, higher completion percentage, more yards per attempt, higher QB Rating and QBR with fewer receiving weapons than Brady has in New England).
The debate really comes down to Peyton versus AD/AP/Adrian Peterson. And the winner deserves to get all three of the aforementioned awards.
As much as I love Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson deserves the 2012 MVP trophy for the following reasons:
1. Overall, his level of difficulty was simply higher than Manning’s.
Not only do the Vikings play in a much more difficult division than the Broncos (the AFC West was atrocious this season), but Peterson’s teammates were also far worse than Manning’s.
We are all very well acquainted with Christian Ponder’s resume, and the loss of Percy Harvin halfway through the year not only killed my fantasy team, but also threatened to derail the Vikings’ season. Fans saw opposing defenses pack the box with 8 and 9 guys in order to stop the Vikings’ sole offensive threat – and yet, Peterson actually got better as the year went on. Peterson ran for 866 yards (50 yards more than the Colts’ leading rusher Vick Ballard) in his last five games.
Plus, Peterson is running behind an ordinary offensive line (no Pro Bowlers). This isn’t the 90s Cowboys clearing holes for him. This year more than any other has revealed Peterson’s incredible ability to make something out of seemingly nothing.
2. Peterson was far better compared to his peers than Peyton Manning was.
As good as Manning was this season, if you switched him out with Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or even Drew Brees, the Broncos would easily be a playoff team and might also earn the #1 seed again. Statistically, he had fewer yards than Brady, Brees, and Matt Stafford while not blowing away the field in any other category.
Peterson, on the other hand, simply wasn’t human this year.
His 2,097 rushing yards were almost 30% more than second place! Let’s say you replaced him with Marshawn Lynch – the guy that finished third in rushing this season and might be the second best RB in the league. Do the Vikings even go .500? I don’t think so.
Read my bio. You know how much of a Peyton Manning homer I am. It doesn’t matter. What Peterson accomplished this year was MVP-worthy.
And by the way, Peterson deserved this award whether or not he broke Dickerson’s record OR whether or not his team made the playoffs.
Let’s say Blair Walsh pulls yesterday’s game-winning FG two feet more to the left and the Packers win in OT. Does that all of the sudden make Peterson LESS valuable? Peterson took over yesterday’s game like few non-QBs are ever able to do in a football game. The idea that a missed FG or 9 more yard should determine an MVP is ridiculous – almost as ridiculous as people saying that 3 less hits in May that would have swung the batting average title would have and should have kept Miguel Cabrera from winning the MVP.
Coach of the Year
A two-horse race between Bruce Arians and Pete Carroll should wind up in the first ever assistant coach winning the award.
As good as Carroll was this year – drafting Bruce Irvin, starting Russell Wilson, closing with a flourish – once again, the level of difficulty was much higher in Indy.
In case you didn’t remember, the Colts were 2-14 last season. What changed? They got Andrew Luck and a whole lot of cap fodder and rookies.
If that wasn’t difficult enough, their coach acquired leukemia and missed the majority of the season. There is no human on earth that would have blamed anyone in the organization for a 4-12 season – but Bruce Arians wouldn’t let it happen. Arians trusted Andrew Luck with the entire playbook, and routinely asked his players to do difficult things. He was rarely let down.
The presence of Chuck Pagano and the entire #Chuckstrong movement seemed to permeate not just the organization, and not just Indianapolis, but the entire league. What the Colts and Bruce Arians have done this year deserves recognition.
In any season, the coach of a team with a 9-game turnaround would be an automatic selection for Coach of the Year. Once you add in all of the variables that the Colts had to deal with this season, it’s not even close.
Bruce Arians and #Chuckstrong win the Coach of the Year Award going away.
Happy New Year!
There will be plenty of healthy debate about each of these awards in the coming days and weeks.
Do you agree or disagree with my selections? Chime in below. Let’s discuss.