Saturday, February 2, 2013

Who Deserves to Win the Major NFL Awards

by John Huffstetler

With the NFL Honors Awards tonight, much debate surrounds the top awards to be presented. With that in mind, here's who deserves to win (not who will win) the major awards that will be given out tonight from New Orleans.


Tom Brady- Choosing between Brady and Peyton Manning this season is almost impossible. They have incredibly similar statistics in yards (4,827 to 4,659 Brady), TD's (37 to 34 Manning), and INT's (8 to 11 Brady), but I will give the slight edge to Brady because the Patriots played a more difficult schedule than the Broncos this year. Manning's Broncos had the 2nd worst strength of victory (.385) among all playoff teams this season. In fact, only 6 teams in the entire league had a worse SOV, meaning Manning was beating up on mainly inept bottom-feeding teams. So what about Adrian Peterson? No chance. As I wrote in a previous article, a running back should never win MVP because it is not a valuable position. Running Backs are largely the product of an effective offensive line, and the Vikings offensive line was ranked 3rd in the league (according to Pro Football Focus). I would vote for Brady, Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, and Matt Ryan over Peterson without hesitation. His remarkable rehab deserves attention (he should win Comeback Player of the Year), but awarding him MVP because of his amazing story would be a travesty.

Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt- There are several worthy candidates here, but no one had a disruptive effect comparable to Watt. Despite critical injuries to the LB corps, the Texans finished in the top 10 in both yards and points allowed in large part because of his ability to disrupt the QB. He led the league in sacks with 20.5, followed closely behind by fellow contenders Aldon Smith (19.5) and Von Miller (18.5). What dramatically separates Watt from Smith and Miller, however, is his uncanny ability to deflect pass attempts at the line. He was tied for 10th in the league with 16 passes defensed, which is absurd for a defensive lineman. In fact, he's the only non-secondary player in the top 30 in the league. By comparison, Smith had 1 and Miller had 2. He also recorded more tackles than both Miller and Smith, despite the fact that LB's typically record more tackles than lineman. The only other worthy candidate is Charles Tillman because of his amazing ability to separate runners from the football this year. His 10 forced fumbles easily led the league, and he also recorded 3 Ints, 85 tackles, and 16 passes defensed. He would be my second choice for DPOY, but Watt's sack and passes defensed numbers are too impressive to ignore.

Rookie of the Year

Robert Griffin III- When was the last time there were 3 rookies so deserving of this award all from the QB position? It is a shame that of Wilson, Luck, and Griffin, 2 must lose this award. All 3 players turned around their teams in leading them to the playoffs while putting up terrific numbers. Griffin, however, separated himself from Luck and Wilson in several key ways. First, one would expect a rookie QB to make mistakes and throw several ints, but Griffin rarely did. His 5 Ints led the entire league among QB's with more than 2,000 yards. Wilson had a respectable 10 Ints, but Luck tied for 3rd in the league in most Ints with 18. Griffin's 65.6 comp pct was 4th in the NFL and Wilson was 8th at 64.1, while Luck completed a routine 54.1% of passes. These two stats alone eliminate Luck. When then taken head-to-head, Griffin edges Wilson in every major passing category while also gaining more yards on the ground (815 to 489) and scoring more rushing TD's (7 to 4). This award should be a no-brainer. Griffin had the best rookie campaign for a QB in my lifetime and deserves to hoist the trophy.

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