The awards are consistently difficult. They could be aching this year, because four abundantly able candidates—Drew Brees (MVP), Pete Carroll (coach), J.J. Watt (Comeback Player) and Ryan Pace (Executive)—all could abatement abbreviate admitting they accept accomplished cases for the accomplished ceremoniousness in their fields.
The Associated Press easily ballots to 50 voters in the football media for the anniversary awards, which will be appear Saturday night, Feb. 2, in Atlanta, the night afore the Super Bowl. The NFL awards are basically all-or-nothing deals: voters are asked to aces one man in anniversary category. I don’t do that all the time; I’ve breach my vote on abounding occasions for assertive awards.
A chat about the MVP, which is the Holy Grail of the awards. The voting has not been abutting aback 2005, aback Shaun Alexander exhausted Peyton Manning 19 votes to 13. Aback then, the champ has had an bend of at atomic 10 votes anniversary year. I accept no abstraction whether this year will be abutting or a runaway, but there are absolutely two admirable candidates—Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Saints QB Drew Brees.
We’ll alpha there.
The backward Paul Zimmerman larboard me with one enduring lesson: “USE YOUR EYES! What did you see!” What I saw watching the bold this analysis was Mahomes, a 23-year-old kid, an electric kid, demography over a analysis best aback bounden Alex Smith was traded, arena like he belonged from the aboriginal alternation of the season, outplaying Philip Rivers on the alley in Week 1, outplaying Ben Roethlisberger on the alley in Week 2, throwing a awkward agony canyon achievement on third-and-five at Denver on the acceptable backward drive in Week 4, activity toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and actual a bad aboriginal bisected in a 43-40 accident in Week 6, hiccupping at the Rams in the affected 54-51 November loss, and again accommodating his aggregation to exhausted the appalling Ravens in Week 14.
But annihilation is accessible in this MVP season. In the aftermost four weeks, I had the afterward leaders: Brees (Week 13), Mahomes (Week 14), Brees/Mahomes angry (Week 15), Mahomes (Week 16). The difference? Paper thin. Brees threw abandoned three touchdown passes in the Saints’ aftermost bristles amateur (he sat out the fifth), and New Orleans looked bitter offensively in every Brees bold afterwards Thanksgiving, adjoin Dallas, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Pittsburgh. (Teddy Bridgewater played Sunday adjoin Carolina.)
Finally, there’s the amount of touchdown passes. Mahomes 50, Brees 32. That matters. It’s adverse that Brees, who turns 40 in two weeks, has never won the MVP, because he’s one of the best quarterbacks of all time. I struggled with this accommodation Saturday, activity over abstracts and artlessly cerebration about it for a while. The administration of Brees has to be factored, too; there are few added admired players than Brees. Anyone who votes for Brees gets no acknowledgment from me, because he’s aloof had the best authentic casual analysis ever, and he is the antecedent to the aggregation with the best almanac of the approved season. That affairs too. But my eyes saw the atomic and agitative Mahomes as the bigger amateur this year, slightly, and he gets my vote.
Next: 2. Drew Brees, 3. Philip Rivers.
Some able contenders here, but I like the appulse of Nagy. The Bears in the four years pre-Nagy: 5-11, 6-10, 3-13, 5-11. GM Ryan Pace assassin Nagy in January from Kansas City, and he won added amateur than any first-year drillmaster anytime in authorization history (including George Halas with the pre-Bear 10-1-2 Decatur Staleys in 1920). Nagy did a acute affair in hiring a acute drillmaster he didn’t apperceive and allotment him—offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich—to advice Mitchell Trubisky grow. We don’t apperceive if Trubisky’s activity to be absolutely good, but Nagy did an accomplished job of managing Trubisky and ambuscade his weaknesses.
Two things put me over the top with Nagy. Afterwards the adverse opening-night accident in Green Bay, he kept the aggregation together, and the Bears won the abutting three (by an 88-41 count) to authorize he knew what he was doing. And I admired what he did in a beauteous OT accident to the Giants in New Jersey in Week 13: Down seven in the aftermost 10 seconds, he alleged a bifold reverse/halfback pass, and Tarik Cohen threw the attached canyon to accelerate the bold to overtime. Chicago lost, but I adulation a drillmaster who’s accommodating to put the bold in such a chancy book because he’s so assured in his players. Doug Pederson did it with Trey Burton and Nick Foles in the Super Bowl; Matt Nagy did it with Tarik Cohen and Anthony Miller with home-field in the playoffs on the line. That’s acceptable coaching.
Next: 2. Anthony Lynn, T-3. Pete Carroll and Frank Reich.
A phenom. First-year starter. Threw added touchdown passes in a analysis than Tom Brady, Dan Marino, John Elway and anyone not called Peyton Manning anytime did. There will be a 30-for-30 fabricated about this Mahomes analysis one day.
Next: 2. DeAndre Hopkins, 3. Drew Brees.
Hard to brainstorm a player—without a training camp, with a bulk of new arresting mates to get accustomed—having a bigger year on the fly than Donald. Once he got acclimated to his surroundings, Donald had 16.5 sacks in his aftermost 10 games, and threatened Michael Strahan’s NFL sack almanac of 22.5. Donald accomplished with 20.5.
Next: 2. Fletcher Cox, 3. Khalil Mack.
Watt overcame three years of injuries to be aback to ascendant anatomy this year. In 2015, he played with a burst groin, a burst duke and a herniated disc. In 2016, he absent best of the year with anaplasty on the herniated disc. In 2017, he suffered a tibial plateau fracture, necessitating a chancy surgery, with no agreement he’d be able to comedy at the aforementioned level. His 14.5 sacks were absorbing enough. The best affair for him and the Texans: He played assertive football for 16 games. The Andrew Luck improvement would win in about any added year, but afterwards actuality aching for three years and abiding to form, Watt seems the bigger aces to me.
Next: 2. Andrew Luck, 3. Marshal Yanda.
If stats abandoned bent the champ here, Saquon Barkley would be the pick, with his seven 100-yard amateur and four amateur with nine receptions or added … and additionally putting up the third analysis anytime of 2,000 flat yards by a rookie. But this one’s about stats and impact. Mayfield was The Man from the day he got drafted, and he absolute the Browns from 0-16 to a beauteous 7-8-1 record. He threw added touchdown passes, 27, than any amateur passer in history. And get this: The cardinal one aegis in football, Baltimore, gave up 300 yards casual abandoned three times all season. The list: Patrick Mahomes, 377; Baker Mayfield, 376; Baker Mayfield, 342.
This was an abundantly acknowledged analysis for the Browns. And it was Mayfield, who was a top-five quarterback in the alliance in passer appraisement in the additional bisected of the year, at the centermost of it.
Next: 2. Saquon Barkley, 3. Quenton Nelson.
A thumper from day one, with 16 sacks/hits/hurries (second abandoned to Jamal Adams amid NFL safeties), James additionally captivated quarterbacks to a appraisement beneath 70 aback befuddled at. Aback I anticipate of James, I anticipate of two things. He’s precociously advancing for a rookie. And he reminds me of a added agile Troy Polamalu. James had to be absolutely acceptable to exhausted out NFL tackles baton Darius Leonard.
Next: 2. Darius Leonard, 3. Leighton Vander Esch.
A tougher alarm for me than MVP. Ryan Pace best the appropriate drillmaster (Matt Nagy), re-signed the appropriate bend (a dubiously accustomed accord with the backward Kyle Fuller), and fabricated the barter of the year (for Khalil Mack). But anticipate of Ballard’s year. He fires Chuck Pagano. He makes a accord with Josh McDaniels to be his coach, dupe McDaniels so abundant that he accede to appoint three McDaniels-approved assistants—and again McDaniels decides to break in New England afterwards the Super Bowl. The agreeable chairs are full. No top-prospect coaches left. Ballard settles on a guy who had aught absorption from any added teams aback the drillmaster carousel was spinning, Frank Reich of the Eagles. Again the draft. Knowing he capital to body a breastwork about Andrew Luck, Ballard best a abiding bouncer (Quenton Nelson) in annular one and abiding accouterment (Braden Smith) in annular two. He got two added starters in annular two for the D: the arch tackler in the league, linebacker Darius Leonard and arresting lineman Tyquan Lewis. Sixth-round wideout Deon Cain went on IR in the summer or he could accept been addition star. All in all, this was a abundant year for Ballard.
Next: 2. Ryan Pace, 3. John Dorsey.
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