By Kevin York
In December, I wrote a post previewing the NFL season awards, going division by division and highlighting the best players of the year and the potential candidates for our year end awards. Today we’re ready to reveal the best of the best, our choices for MVP, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, and Coach of the Year.
I’m not going to go through our winners and highlight a lot of stats. If you want that, check out all the other sports sites. We’re Couchletes. We don’t have the time or means to do all the research to show why a quarterback is more valuable than a running back, so I’m not going to approach this like that. I’m just going to talk, like Couchletes do.
MVP – Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning showed us what he’s worth this year. Six wins. This year’s Denver team wasn’t much different than last year’s – except at quarterback. Exchanging Tim Tebow for Peyton Manning gave them six additional wins and the top seed in the AFC. Ironically, in the playoffs the two quarterbacks reached the exact same point. We’re not going to focus on that though since this is a regular season award.
Why Manning over Adrian Peterson? Manning was playing the most crucial position on the football field and led an entirely new offense for Denver. He brought it all together. Yes, Peterson was the entire offense for Minnesota, but a quarterback has more responsibilities.
Others considered: Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady
Offensive Player of the Year – Adrian Peterson
Peterson very nearly had an all-time great season, as in better than anyone else – ever. He missed attaining that status by only nine yards. Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson actually did have an all-time great year, breaking Jerry Rice’s single season receiving yards record. So why Peterson over Johnson? It was a tough decision, but ultimately, Peterson carried more of his team’s offensive load. He needed people to block for him, but did the rest himself. Johnson needed someone to throw him the ball and people to give that person time to get him the ball. We found Peterson’s year slightly more spectacular than Johnson’s.
Others considered: Calvin Johnson, Tom Brady, Brandon Marshall
Defensive Player of the Year – J.J. Watt
J.J. Watt redefined the way not only defensive linemen play the game but also the way offensive linemen play it. It’s mind-blowing how quickly a man that big can move. Equally impressive is how great he is at defending both the run and the pass. Rarely do you find a lineman that excels so much at both. A lot of attention went to Aldon Smith and his quest to break the single-season sack record. Lost in all of that attention was the fact that Watt was just as close to breaking it.
Others considered: Von Miller, Aldon Smith, Geno Atkins
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Andrew Luck
This was a strong category, but we ultimately decided that Andrew Luck stood out more than the other contenders. Luck put up great numbers for a rookie and did it without much help around him, not nearly as much as Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III had to work with. Those two had great running games and great offensive lines to take the pressure off of them a bit. Luck didn’t have either of those and had a receiving corps comprised of Reggie Wayne and a number of no-names. Additionally, Luck was handed the entire playbook from day one. Wilson and RG3 were allowed to gradually assume more of the offense each week. That’s why we saw the Redskins running Baylor’s offense near the beginning of the year. Luck didn’t get that luxury and proved he could handle it.
Others considered: Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Luke Kuechly
This is the award that goes largely unnoticed. The general public doesn’t know the defensive rookies nearly as well as the offensive rookies. Those people missed the play of Carolina’s Luke Kuechly, a middle linebacker who should soon be finding himself appearing in Pro Bowls alongside the likes of Patrick Willis. Kueckly anchored that defense, a unit that didn’t have a lot of talent, and played superbly.
Others considered: Casey Hayward, Janoris Jenkins, Bobby Wagner
Coach of the Year – Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians
No one expected the Indianapolis Colts to be very good this year. After news surfaced that Head Coach Chuck Pagano would miss much of the season due to treatment for leukemia, the expectations fell even more. The job that Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians did this year given the circumstances was extraordinary. Arians certainly proved he deserved a head coaching job, which he received in Arizona, and I’m excited to see what Pagano can do given a full season next year. This combination overachieved with a team that didn’t have a ton of talent. Getting the kind of results they did make it hard to argue with giving them this recognition over any other.
Others considered: Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh, Leslie Frazier