WITH the 53rd edition of the Super Bowl only a few days away, NFL honours are nearly set to be announced. While everyone has their picks for MVP, Coach of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, I’ve opted for a slightly different approach for 2019. You can still find the picks for all the mainstream awards below, but I’ve also included seven ‘informal’ awards to make the SBF NFL Honours a bit more of a viewing spectacle.
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THE ‘REAL MVP’ (MOST VALUABLE PUNTER)
Winner: Tress Way, Washington Redskins
PUNTERS are people too and for that reason, the often forgotten men will be awarded the first SBF NFL award. Aussie born Seahawk, Michael Dickerson polled some votes and was tough to avoid, but I opted for Tress Way as this year’s winner. He was one of two NFL punter’s who sent over 50% of their kicks inside the opponents 20-yard line and impressively recorded no touchbacks from 79 attempts. I can’t believe I spent 10-13 minutes looking this up.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Winner: George Kittle, San Fransisco 49ers
WHILE it’s no surprise to see a second-year NFL player have a breakout season, George Kittle went to a record-breaking level in 2019. His 1,377 receiving yards this season are the most recorded by a tight end over a single season in NFL history, with Kittle forced to catch passes from three different QB’s this year. Considering he chalked up most of that yardage after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an ACL injury, forcing Kittle to rely on the likes of C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens, only makes it that much more impressive.
Image from ninerswire.usatoday.com
Winner: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
FULL credit to Christian McCaffrey and his impressive box scores, but Patrick Mahomes deserves the nod here. With an average draft position of 105.5, Mahomes rewarded his owners with an unexpected season for the ages, likely proving to be the difference maker in multiple leagues this season. He didn’t slow down in the playoffs either, throwing 13 TD’s with just two interceptions and averaging a shade under 250 passing yards over his last five contests.
WTF MOMENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: NFC Championship Game No-Call
WE are a week removed from the blasphemous no-call in the NFC Championship game and it still seems to be making more headlines than the upcoming Super Bowl. Some have labelled it the worst non-call in NFL history and after watching the replay, it’s hard to argue. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman took a chance and pulverised Tommy-Lee Lewis with a helmet to helmet hit before Drew Brees could get the ball to his receiver. Robey-Coleman admitted himself that he expected a flag to be thrown, so can you really blame the devastated New Orleans fan base?
Winner: David Njoku & David Fells’ Fusion Dance
HOMAGE to Markelle Fultz and Allen Iverson, Tarik Cohen in a Thanksgiving food coma and Michael Thomas calling Joe Horn were just some of the epic ways we saw players celebrate putting six points on the board this season. With such a wide variety to choose from, I’m happy to listen to the case for multiple touchdown celebrations to be acknowledged as the best from the 2018 NFL season. However, my personal favourite came from a pair of Cleveland Browns tight ends in Week 9 against the Raiders. The Dragon Ball Z fan in me couldn’t help but smile.
PLAY OF THE YEAR
Winner: Miami Dolphins Walk-Off Touchdown
PUTTING Gronk deep on a potential hail mary play is a good move…in most cases. Unfortunately for the Patriots their Week 14 game against the Miami Dolphins was not one of those cases. As the clock hit triple zeroes Miami was floundering with the ball in their own half and we all assumed New England had sewn up a 33-28 win. Two lateral’s and one Kenyan Drake 52-yard run later however, Miami stole victory from the jaws of defeat. Not only did it give the Dolphins a stunning win, but if it wasn’t for this play, New England would have secured the top seed in the AFC! Turns out it didn’t matter anyway. Dubbed the ‘Drake Escape’, ‘Miami Miracle’ and 2-101 other labels, ‘this’ Dolphins play will be talked about for years to come.
GAME OF THE YEAR
Winner: Week 11 Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs (54-51)
IT’S hard to ignore the Week 11 spectacle between L.A. and Kansas City as the best game from 2018. The first time two teams scored 50+ points in the same contest is just one record to come out of the offensive showcase that resembled a basketball score by the time it was done. With 35 points scored in the final quarter and both quarterbacks combing for over 900 yards of offense and 10 touchdowns, offensive fans will be hoping other teams can copy the Rams/Chiefs blueprint and create more high-octane spectacles next year.
WITH some of the unofficial awards in the books it’s time to get down to business.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Runner-Up: Adrian Peterson, Redskins
WHILE Peterson and J.J. Watt’s return to form might have been greater stories, there was no better comeback performer than Andrew Luck this season. How quickly we forget that in Week 3 the health of Luck’s shoulder was still a talking point forcing Jacoby Brissett to come in and throw an end of game hail-mary attempt. Still, Luck managed to finish as a top-5 QB for most major statistical categories and only Pat Mahomes threw more TD passes this season, making Indianapolis’ signal caller a more than deserving winner.
Image from reviewjournal.com
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
Runner-Up: Derwin James, Chargers
THIS one could go either way with Derwin James and Darius Leonard both worthy winners. That being said, Leonard led the entire NFL in tackles (163) recording nearly 20 more than the next closest player, while adding twice as many sacks as James, helping to revitalise the Colts defense. They both deserve recognition, yet it was quite the season from Indianapolis’ new star in his first 15 pro starts.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Runner-Up: Saquon Barkley, Giants
I expect this award to be the closest of the bunch, with the first two selections in the 2018 NFL Draft helping to breathe life into their respective franchises. Both Saquon Barkley and Baker Mayfield had historic statistical seasons, but the Browns QB gets my vote after 13 dominant starts in his first pro campaign. There’s no denying Barkley was as good as advertised, although I believe Mayfield was better, living up to the No. 1 pick label and transforming the laughing stock Browns into a near playoff team over less than a full season.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Winner: Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
Runner-Up: Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
STARTING 1-5 and earning a playoff berth means Frank Reich warrants special mention and he might walk away with the actual trophy on Sunday night. However. What Nagy was able to do with Mitchell Trubisky and the rest of the Bears’ offense, arguably, made them the most surprising team of 2018, even if you take the Khalil Mack trade into account. Chicago became just the 9th team in the last decade to go from worst to first in their tough NFC North, a division that boasts the likes of Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit. No further questions your honour.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
Runner-Up: Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
ON track to be just the 2nd consecutive winner in the 21st century, there’s Aaron Donald and then daylight in this award race. No disrespect to the likes of Mack and Watt, but this season made Donald convince non-believers that he is the greatest player in the NFL. Period. The perceived pressure from Donald alone is enough to keep quarterbacks awake at night in a cold sweat and he is more than worthy of his second DPOY trophy.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Runner-Up: Todd Gurley, Rams
GOD I hate this award. Given the offensive flavour in today’s NFL, by default, the best offensive player from 2018 should probably be the MVP right? Well, I hate to give my vote away early, but Mahomes fits both bills, become just the second player in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 TD’s in the same year.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Winner: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Runner-Up: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
I was all aboard the ‘Drew Brees for MVP’ train, but unfortunately, Sean Payton and the rest of his clan failed to keep fueling the fire. If this award was handed out in Week 11, I had Brees running away with the trophy, but a few lacklustre performances and ‘team-first’ stat lines probably cost NOLA’s quarterbacking Messiah the NFL’s highest individual honour. Should the panel determine that Brees is the winner, I won’t be stunned, however, Patrick Mahomes is the sexy pick as an up and coming sensation. The Chiefs prodigy under center aided his cause with weekly viral highlights/box scores/wow moments while Drew Brees flat out did not. Does it mean it’s right? No. Does it mean Brees deserves the MVP? Also no.
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