The 5th annual NFL Honors will take place the night before Super Bowl 50, and this is a night to applaud the NFL’s best from this past season. So I’ve chosen to do something special apart of “Super Bowl Week” on the site, and I’m going to give you my own awards list for the 2015 NFL Season. This will not be what you see on other sites, them giving you their predictions, but who I think truly deserves the awards I’ll touch on. There’s always room for disagreement, which makes this so much fun.
Before I get started, I must let it be known that I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan. Despite this not being an award-worthy year, I’ll let it be known for future reference that I will not award any Cowboys player or coach any of these honors, so nobody can charge me for biased journalism.
So with that out of the way, let’s begin!
FedEx Air Player of the Year
I’m going to give this award to Patriots QB Tom Brady, who had 36 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions, as well as 4770 yards passing to go along with a 64.4% completion percentage. I’d see Drew Brees as possibly the runner-up, but I hand it to Brady slightly. Terrific Tom had more touchdowns, less interceptions, and a higher passer rating than Brees. Plus, Brady did this with a worse offensive line, like probably the worst he’s had to deal with in his career, and it only became too much against the Denver Broncos, the best pass rush in the league.
FedAx Ground Player of the Year
In a run with the new regime, I’ll say Rams RB Todd Gurley deserves this award. Many will give it to Adrian Peterson, and I can understand doing so with Peterson leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, but he’s not my pick here. Peterson had nearly 100 carries (98 to be exact) more than Gurley this past season, but if that difference was made up, Gurley would be sitting as the league-leading rusher and possibly, more touchdowns too. Gurley had 1106 rushing yards (4.8 yards per carry) and he also had 10 touchdowns, one less than Peterson. You can’t go wrong either way here, and I wouldn’t hate on anyone who gave the FedEx awards to Brees and Peterson, but Gurley’s just my pick.
NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year
I could easily be biased here and say Antonio Brown, because he was always reliable for me in route to my Consolation Championship in my first real year of Fantasy Football, but I’ll actually give this to Panthers QB Cam Newton, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. According to NFL.com, he had the most fantasy points accumulated of all players, second-best being Brady behind by about 40 points, and Newton was a beast plenty of times this season. His worst game all year was 12.50 fantasy points in Week 1 against the Jaguars, and made up for it the following week against the Texans, racking up 27.40 points. He went over thirty fantasy points in four games this season, including a season-best 41.60 point game in Week 15 at the Giants, on the road.
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
There’s a clear-cut favorite for this award, and it’s Chiefs CB Marcus Peters. He shared with Bengals safety Reggie Nelson the league-high interceptions total with 8 on the year, and Peters solely had the league-best 26 passes defended on his rookie season. Marcus Peters also was provided a difficult task after his veteran corner Sean Smith was popped with a four-game suspension to begin the season, in which Peters began his career with an interception in each of his first two games. If Peters can keep the ball rolling in his career, he’ll have a long, successful one, and he’ll make a lot of offensive coordinators lose sleep over him.
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
This is really tough for me, but I’m tempted to give it to Raiders WR Amari Cooper for his work, mainly because I was skeptical headed into the year of Amari Cooper, and now I can’t remember why. Though the Pro Bowl means nothing, he was in it his rookie season, which is an accomplishment for a rookie considering you have to establish yourself in the league, as for veterans it’s just a reputation they’re living off of once they’ve made it 3 or 4 years. Amari Cooper caught 72 passes this year for over 1000 yards in his rookie year, six touchdowns, and he was able to move the chains 45 times. If it wasn’t Cooper, it’d likely go to Jameis Winston, but I felt Winston had much more to work with around him.
Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Year
So I didn’t want to award this to Peters or Cooper, given they won their respective awards, so I’m handing it out to a person who will earn their second award of the year, Rams RB Todd Gurley! Again, if Gurley was giving the reps that Adrian Peterson did, he would’ve been statistically the best running back in the National Football League his rookie season, one coming off of a torn ACL. I remember sitting here a year ago, arguing with my dad about taking Gurley, as I was stubborn and didn’t want Gurley if he fell to the Cowboys at 27, while Dad was okay if Jerry Jones traded up for the guy! Todd Gurley was a success without a stable quarterback and a poorly-functioning offensive line, as much like Peterson in Minnesota for a few seasons, he was the only legitimate offensive threat. Gurley will never get this award again in his career, but if he can stay healthy, he might be off to much bigger things.
AP Comeback Player of the Year
So there were plenty of players who could have won this award, and maybe even Gurley returning from his ACL injury suffered in college, but this award will be bigger than football itself. I’ll send this award to Chiefs S Eric Berry, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on December 8, 2014. This diagnosis happened after Berry had come back from a high ankle sprain that landed him out over a month, but he reached 37 tackles over the 6 games he was able to play in 2014. On July 28, 2015, Berry was cleared to return to football and he went on to 61 tackles and 2 interceptions this season, and definitely a huge lift for the Chiefs’ ride into the playoffs. He’s one man who never lost sight of the game, and knew he’d come back better than ever.
AP Defensive Player of the Year
So this is the first award I’ve considered two players for on the same team, the 15-1 Carolina Panthers. Instead of giving it to Josh Norman, who shut down any star receiver he wanted to, I’m giving it to “The Lukeness Monster”, Panthers LB Luke Kuechly. Kuechly was able to tally 118 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles in the 2015 season, and his play was huge in getting the Panthers to where they are today. Luke Kuechly also worked in the offseason to expand his coverage range on the field, and his coverage skills were fantastic this season.
AP Offensive Player of the Year
In today’s NFL, it seems as if twenty men could make the case for this award, just how many great offensively-specialized talent we have in this NFL, we should be grateful to watch it on a weekly basis. With that said, I’m giving some love, and this award, to Steelers WR Antonio Brown. Brown’s hard work from being the undersized dog in the fight to the man gameplanned for on Mondays, it’s paid off! He caught 136 balls for 1,834 yards, and he found the endzone ten times this year. He would end up gaining 84 first downs through the air this season, and he did all of this with quarterback drama. Whether future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or peaked-in-college Landry Jones was throwing to him, Brown came down with the ball nearly 70% of the time and made big play after big play.
AP Coach of the Year
This is one of the easier awards I’ve handed out all year, and the best coach this year was clear Panthers HC Ron Rivera. Rivera was the ultimate motivator to get this team from a 7-8-1 record and barely making ends meet, to a dominating 15-1 record and now in Super Bowl 50. Despite losing their franchise cornerstones at running back (DeAngelo Williams) and receiver (Steve Smith) the past couple of years, and to even lose Kelvin Benjamin in the summer, he’s been able to make things work offensively, and not to mention how spectacular this defense has been. Many will give the credit to Cam Newton, but I give credit to Ron Rivera for taking the media criticism and using it for the team’s good and getting this team to the 15-1 mark. And let’s remember, most fans wanted Rivera gone two years ago. You know you’ve done your job when fans will come out and deny saying as such now.
AP Most Valuable Player
Now many of you should remember a piece I did earlier for Super Bowl Week, an article titled “Is Cam Newton MVP Worthy?”. Many believe he’s the obvious choice for the MVP award this season, but I said in that article I don’t believe so, and I tell you why in case you’re wondering and you can click on that to find out… Anyway, I believe Seahawks QB Russell Wilson should be named the league’s MVP, and nobody will say it, and I may be the only one to believe it. Wilson had a league-best 110.1 passer rating this year, and the next closest is Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton at 106.3. Wilson had a third-best completion percentage at 68.1%, to go along with 4,024 yards. Russell Wilson actually had 34 passing touchdowns and only 8 interceptions, which is incredible for someone only four years in the league. With a worse offensive line, after the departure of Max Unger, his numbers actually increased and got significantly better. And with the Unger trade, he had to take on the task of pre-snap calls, and he handled it better than anyone I’ve ever seen. And the trade that sent Unger out, they received Jimmy Graham, who only contributed 48 catches, 605 yards, and 2 touchdowns, so Wilson’s best option was Doug Baldwin. So yes, I believe Russell Wilson is this year’s MVP, or should be.
Once again, I love these type of articles to see where people agree/disagree, and there’s a comment section below, so use it! I hope everyone enjoyed the first annual “The Iron Jaw NFL Season Awards”, and are around to read them next year.