by NFL Gimpy
It’s time to give out some awards and superlatives. Feel free to reference my Season Predictions column to see how wrong I was with some with some of these players and teams. (Ed. note – Gimpy wrong? As Homer Simpson would say, “That’s unpossible.”)
I’m not a big fan of giving awards out before the playoffs are over. The overall season a player had can be drastically affected by the playoffs. Is Peyton Manning’s first year in Denver MVP worthy if his team managed the exact same result as last season, a 2nd round playoff exit? It just doesn’t make sense to me to only judge the regular season for awards when every team wants to win the Super Bowl. Shouldn’t we allow the ultimate goal of every player to determine whether or not he was successful that season?
Yes, it’s a team game and postseason success is more indicative of the overall team than one individual player. But, the extra games give us an indication of how that player will perform against their toughest challenges. Joe Flacco stepped up. Peyton Manning did not. Russell Wilson stepped up. Andrew Luck did not. That isn’t to say Flacco deserves MVP over Peyton, Flacco was very mediocre in the regular season and doesn’t deserve an overall season MVP. It’s to say Peyton doesn’t deserve it because he shrank on the biggest stage. Some of my awards will match consensus because they’re just too obvious. I’ll throw a few shockers in there too.
MVP: Adrian Peterson. While postseason success is important, losing your starting QB for a road playoff game is a recipe for failure. Without Peterson, there is absolutely no way the Vikings make the playoffs. None. No player meant more to his team’s success than Adrian. To top it off, we now found out the latter portion of the season Peterson had a painful sports hernia. While I’m on the topic of Adrian…
Comeback Player: Adrian Peterson. A lot of people gave this award to Peyton. Peyton did have an incredible regular season but the difference between Peyton and Adrian is that Peyton had the entire 2011 season off. Peterson tore his ACL in the 12th game of the season. He missed 4 regular season games. That’s it. Peyton missed 16. While a neck injury can be more severe, the entire extra year of recovery time leads me to give Adrian the nod.
Offensive Player of the Year: Calvin Johnson. CJ’s season was sadly ignored because the Lions quite frankly sucked. When you break a WR record owned by Jerry Rice, you did something incredible. Calvin finished with 1,964 receiving yards. What’s odd is that he only had 5 touchdowns. I guess when you have 2 guys on you at all times, it’s difficult to catch the ball, break 2 tackles, then score a touchdown. Geez Calvin, step up your game. I’m giving this away to Calvin over Adrian because Calvin broke Jerry Rice’s single season record, while Adrian was a few yards shy of Eric Dickerson. Adrian will have to settle for MVP and Comeback Player. I’m sure he’s devastated.
Offensive Rookie of the Year that isn’t a QB: Doug Martin. It came down to the wire between Martin and Alfred Morris, but total yards from scrimmage (1,926 to 1,690) and fumbles lost (1 by Martin, 3 by Morris) outweighed Morris’ narrow touchdown margin (1). If you reference my Season Preview column linked above, I predicted Martin for ROY that isn’t a QB. I was wrong that he would lead the rookies in rushing yards (in my defense, Albert Morris himself and his mom probably didn’t think that would happen) but hey, I got one right!
MAQB Rookie QB of the Year: Russell Wilson. This isn’t just about one playoff win, (in reality, he won 2, but his defense choked it away) but what Wilson had to do to get where he ended up. Wilson was a 3rd round pick and had to beat out Matt Flynn, who got $10M guaranteed only a few weeks before he was drafted. From Day 1, Wilson had to steal the job. RG3 and Andrew Luck were starters the second they were drafted. Heck, you could easily argue both were starters the second the Redskins traded up before the draft. Then Wilson turns around and plays his best football in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, Luck and RG3 had great seasons and anyone who disagrees has every reason to, but for Wilson to pretty much steal the starting job and lead his team to a playoff win, that gives him the nod in my mind.
Breakout Player of the Year: Colin Kaepernick. Any regular reader of the column saw this coming.
MVP: Geno Atkins. This may seem like an odd pick, especially over JJ Watt and his insane stats, but find me a player who meant more to his defense than Geno Atkins. Geno was a beast at DT for the Bengals and he opened up things for the rest of the defense.
DPOY: JJ Watt. Watt’s season had numbers so absurd for a 3-4 DE that I can’t even list them all without doing him injustice. Numbers are a way to analyze things, but Watt’s presence on the field completely changed the way teams played the Texans.
DROY: Luke Kuechly. There’s really nothing to add here that hasn’t been said already. Kuechly led the NFL in tackles as a rookie. He was instantly a pivotal player on a Panthers D that hasn’t been very good the past few seasons. If he stays healthy, Kuechly is going to have a very long, Pro Bowl filled NFL career.
Breakout Player: Daryl Washington. Washington had a solid rookie season and followed it up with a very good sophomore season. This year, Washington took it to a new level and was a playmaker all across the field. He had 9 sacks as an ILB. That’s pretty impressive. When he wasn’t sacking QBs, he was stuffing RBs, flying across the field in coverage, and just making plays. Anyone who watched Washington saw a dominant LB.
Overpaid Offensive (literally) Player of the Year: Mark Sanchez. Is there a single player in the NFL who embodies overpaid more than Mark Sanchez? Sanchez made critical mistake after critical mistake in 2012 and even worse, the Jets are stuck with millions of dollars that he is guaranteed to receive in 2013 because of his awful contract. No one is going to pay Mark that contract, so the Jets are stuck with him. Mark earns this award not only for his poor play, but for a contract that ensures he’ll still haunt them.
Overpaid Defensive Player of the Year: Nnamdi Asomugha. When the Dream Team signed Nnamdi to a huge contract before the 2011 season, they did so anticipating one of the best CBs in the game. Not only was Nnamdi an awful player in 2012, he was a selfish player. Nnamdi is a player who was always seen pointing the finger at others when the Eagles secondary got beat (which was often). No matter who was at fault, Nnamdi clearly deflected blame for his poor play on others and it will earn him at best a drastically reduced 2013 paycheck.
Underpaid Offensive Player of the Year: Reggie Wayne. I did a double take during my research at his contract: 3 years, $17.5M. Wayne finished the season 7th in receiving yards and 6th in receptions. Wayne was a free agent who didn’t get much interest in the 2012 offseason and most said he made a mistake re-signing with the now Peyton-less Colts. All Pro Numbers, not offered much by anyone as a free agent, re-signs with a team most assume will be a joke. To put that in perspective, Vincent Jackson got over $11M per year and had a whopping 29 more receiving yards. Yup, Underpaid OPOY.
Underpaid Defensive Player of the Year: Tim Jennings. The Bears re-signed free agent Tim Jennings to a 2-year deal that is now a total of about $7.6M and that’s only because Jennings reached contract escalators that puts his 2013 salary at $4.25M. So an unrestricted free agent, re-signed for a 2-year, $6.6M deal, who ended up leading the NFL in interceptions and making his first Pro Bowl? Not only that, if Jennings didn’t meet the contract escalators, he would have lost $1.6M on his 2013 salary. So instead of getting a $1M bump, he’d lose $1.6M. That’s $2.6M Jennings gambled (and the Bears are happily paying now) that he would meet those numbers. If Jennings sucks, the Bears pay 2-years and $5M. Mark Sanchez’s 2013 guarantee is much, much higher than that.
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh. He’s the only coach who achieved his goal to win the Super Bowl. Firing OC Cam Cameron with a few weeks to go in the regular season is one of the boldest moves you’ll ever see a team make and it paid off. John’s team routinely outsmarted their opponents in the playoffs, including the safety in the Super Bowl where his entire special teams unit was holding because they had nothing to lose by holding and precious seconds to gain.
Miscellaneous thoughts on 2012-13 season and my preseason predictions
-I was 6/12 in my preseason column as to who would make the playoffs. My biggest wrong was definitely the Chiefs. Oh man did I miss on them. I thought the single season sack record would go down. I was close, but Aldon Smith couldn’t close the deal.
-I nailed the Steelers and Lions missing the playoffs. Out of my breakout players, I was 4/5 (Torrey Smith, Vikings OL, Bobby Wagner, and CJ Spiller). I was 3.5/5 on disappointing players (nailed Jake Locker, Tyron Smith, and Mario Williams, half credit on DeMeco Ryans).
-When I started the rookie QB stats and analysis in Week 1, I had no idea how good those guys were going to play. I thought we’d be looking at the ups and downs, the big mistakes, and finding hope for the future when they completely suck. What happened? Russell Wilson and RG3 had 2 of the highest QB ratings in the NFL. Those two and Andrew Luck led their team to the playoffs. The Seahawks were a legitimate Super Bowl contender and were a last second FG away from making the NFC Championship Game. The Seahawks and Redskins appear ready to be contenders for a long time. The Colts still need a little bit more work before I’m willing to call them that. I sincerely hope there’s a story line as interesting as 5 (and what ended up at a total of 8) rookie QBs starting in one season. It’s kind of cool knowing I got to cover NFL history, something that may never happen again.
-As I edit, Mike Vick has his contract renegotiated. Interesting. I guess he’ll stick around for one more season. I think the Eagles should give Foles a real shot and if he’s not the guy, you can fall back on Vick in 2013 and make a move for a QB in the 2014 draft. Tajh Boyd and Teddy Bridgewater would be my top 2 QBs if they were in the 2013 draft.
-I had to postpone a few things regarding a new project I’m working on sadly, but hopefully it’ll all be ready by mid-March or early April. Unfortunately for Tommy and Matt, I’ll still be writing here. (Ed. note – requesting parole is now considered a project?)