Ahh, what a glorious day! Vance Joseph is gone, and my grandparents got me a Phillip Lindsay jersey. (Let’s hope it ages better than my Brock Osweiler jersey.) I figured it was a mighty fine time to hand out my annual awards. Without further adieu...
Most Valuable Player: Khalil Mack, Linebacker, Chicago Bears
By the plain definition of the award, Khalil Mack is objectively a candidate for this award. He brought more value to his team than arguably any other player, leading the perennially mediocre Bears to the playoffs. In addition, the Oakland Raiders were worse than they have been in years in his absence, getting the fourth pick in the draft just two years removed from Derek Carr’s MVP-deserving 2016 season. Mack is, without a doubt, the Most Valuable Player.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
Many people think this award should be eliminated, but in a world where a defensive player can be the MVP, their argument is invalid. Mahomes faced stiff competition from such playmakers as Lamar Jackson, Todd Gurley and Adam Thielen, but in the end, he is the biggest difference-maker on his side of the football today. While he didn’t break Manning’s rookie record, he did take his team and his offense to new levels. And he scored a good deal, in ways that Alex Smith was unable to score, and an offense’s primary function is to score.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Aaron Donald, Defensive Tackle, “Los Angeles” Rams
The defense has two jobs: stop the pass and stop the run. Donald is the premier play-stopper in the league in the air and on the ground, being both a top run-stuffer and the league’s sack leader. I try not to be obvious, but the pundits are right about this guy. His value to the Rams is immense.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Phillip Lindsay, Running Back, Denver Broncos
Yes, I’m biased. But Lindsay has provided more value to his team than any other rookie, all without being drafted. He brought a young, injury-plagued team with an incompetent coach within a stone’s throw of the postseason. He was among the league’s leaders in yards per carry, and consistently got more yards than he should’ve. He was also arguably the smartest back in the league, seeing holes where players and fans alike saw nothing but tacklers and making the NFL’s finest defenders miss. Despite his small size, he has Hall Of Fame skills.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Darius Leonard, Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
Over the course of one season, the Indianapolis defense has gone from looking like President Trump’s imaginary (and easy to bypass) border wall to the Great Wall Of China. While much of the credit will go to defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Leonard has been a force to be reckoned with this season. He shows signs of being a solid player for years to come.
Comeback Player Of The Year: J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Houston Texans
Shortly after the court of public opinion declared him one of the league’s best men for his above-and-beyond work in Houston, Watt re-established his place as one of the NFL’s most dominant defenders and all but ensured that he will be in Canton as soon as he is eligible. Most prominently, he led the league in forced fumbles, which are, in my opinion, the most valuable defensive play possible, as they have prevented many a score.
Coach Of The Year: Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have finally realized their full potential, and Lynn’s quiet leadership and defensive schemes are a huge part of that transformation. And to think that he was available to the Broncos the year we hired VJ...but I digress.
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