Yesterday evening prior to kickoff I laid out where I believed each team would finish for the 2012-13 NFL Season. Dallas impressed last night and only verified where I believe they are as a team and that they will move ahead of the Giants in the NFC East. Today we look at individual players and see what the postseason award picture will look like. While I knew all of these picks on Tuesday, this is my first chance to write them down. Last night’s game solidified my belief in one of my picks.
Offensive Rookie of the Year -
Doug Martin, RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
More often than not, the offensive rookie of the year has been a running back. While we’ve had a few young quarterbacks receive the award in recent years, I foresee a return to the running back trend. The Boise State product has great vision and is a threat running the ball as well as catching out of the backfield. He has already secured a starting position on a talented roster that considers itself a playoff team this year. While I don’t see Tampa making their playoff return quite yet, I’m expecting great things from Martin.
Others that will be considered: Andrew Luck, QB – Indianapolis Colts, Robert Griffin III, QB – Washington Redskins, Trent Richardson, RB – Cleveland Browns, Kendall Wright, WR – Tennessee Titans, Alshon Jeffrey, WR – Chicago Bears, Coby Fleener, TE – Indianapolis Colts, & Matt Kalil, OT – Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Rookie of the Year -
Luke Kuechly, LB – Carolina Panthers
Going into this year’s draft, I thought that – outside of Vikings OT Matt Kalil – Kuechly was the rookie most prepared for the NFL. The young star from Boston College has great vision and leadership qualities and he has been thrust into a talented defense that fits his talents perfectly. I am a big believer that linebacker is the easiest defensive position for a rookie to have success in and I believe that given his talent, situation, and position that Kuechly will be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Others that will be considered: Morris Claiborne, CB – Dallas Cowboys; Harrison Smith, S – Minnesota Vikings; Stephon Gilmore, CB – Buffalo Bills; Janorris Jenkins, CB – St. Louis Rams; Mychal Kendricks, LB – Philadelphia Eagles; Dont’a Hightower, LB – Houston Texans; & Fletcher Cox, DT – Philadelphia Eagles
Offensive Player of the Year –
Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans
There is a very good reason that most fantasy football experts listed Foster at the top of their draft boards this season. It is because, in my opinion, the Houston Texans are the most talented and most complete team in the NFL. On a team that I expect to have the NFL’s best regular season record in 2012, Foster is the best player. He is a threat on the ground and in the receiving game. If he can stay healthy, I fully expect Foster to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark.
Others that will be considered: Calvin Johnson, WR – Detroit Lions; Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens; Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; & Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons
Defensive Player of the Year –
DeMarcus Ware, LB – Dallas Cowboys
Last year I mentioned on multiple occasions that I believed 2011 would finally be the year that Jared Allen broke through and won his 1st NFL Defensive Player of the Year award after being such a force for so many years in the League (and let’s face it – not giving the award to Allen was a travesty). Well this year I believe that Ware will finally get his due. I see Ware getting a minimum of 15.5 sacks this year (and last night’s 2 sack performance making him the 2nd fastest player ever to record 100 sacks) doesn’t hurt matters. I believe that Dallas wins the East this year and Ware is going to be a big part of that.
Others that will be considered: Jared Allen, DE – Minnesota Vikings; Aldon Smith, OLB – San Francisco 49ers; Von Miller, LB – Denver Broncos; J.J. Watt, DL – Houston Texans; Patrick Willis, LB – San Francisco 49ers; Patrick Peterson, CB – Arizona Cardinals; & Mario Williams, OLB – Buffalo Bills
NFL MVP –
Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers
Only two quarterbacks have ever won back-to-back MVP awards, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, but there is no reason to believe that Rodgers can’t duplicate this feat. The Packers were far and away the best offense in the NFL last season but at the same time, if something were to happen to Rodgers, the Packers would fall off pretty drastically. I really believe the Packers without Rodgers would be close to the 2011 Colts without Manning. The Packers figure to be in the thick of things this year and it’s Aaron Rodgers who is going to get them there.
Others that will be considered: Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans; Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons; Tony Romo, QB – Dallas Cowboys; & Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens
Comeback Player of the Year -
Peyton Manning, QB – Denver Broncos
I’m more than aware that this is an extremely popular pick for this award and while I gave it a lot of thought I came to the conclusion (that like Brett Favre when he went to the Vikings) you can never count Peyton Manning out. I find it so hard to pick against Peyton Manning that I chose the Broncos to get into the postseason over the Steelers, Bengals, Jets, Chargers, Titans, & Raiders. There are concerns now but Peyton Manning is going to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker into household names. After everything he has gone through if he can get the Broncos to the playoffs there is no doubt this award will belong to him.
Others that will be considered: Randy Moss, WR – San Francisco 49ers; Eric Berry, S – Kansas City Chiefs; Jamaal Charles, RB – Kansas City Chiefs; Adrian Peterson, RB – Minnesota Vikings; & Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans
Coach of the Year -
Romeo Crennel – Kansas City Chiefs
Now if the carousel of New Orleans Saints coaches can get that team to the playoffs they may be considered but let’s look at the facts: the NFL loves to give this award to rookie head coaches who have success. Secondly, a team either has to be extremely dominant or go from worst to first (a la a San Francisco 49ers transformation) for a coach to get this award. While this is Crennel’s 2nd go-around as a head coach, I believe that he will win. His team finished in last place in the AFC West last year (though they only finished a game behind champion Denver) and the roster is much improved. On top of that this team is getting Matt Cassel, Tony Moeak, Jamaal Charles, and Eric Berry all back from injury. I believe that the Chiefs can make some noise in the AFC this year and when they do, Romeo will receive his first Coach of the Year award.
Others that will be considered: Gary Kubiak – Houston Texans; Chan Gailey – Buffalo Bills; Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks; Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys; Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers; & Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons
Executive of the Year -
John Elway, Executive VP of Football Operations – Denver Broncos
Let’s look at everything this guy has done in the last two years. He took a team that had the #2 overall pick in last year’s draft and got them to the playoffs by playing a running back at QB. That player started a media blitz that could fill the hole in ESPN programming left behind by Brett Favre’s 17th retirement. In the process that running back turned QB became the most popular athlete in the Mile High City since well… John Elway. And then Elway was actually cheered for shipping that QB off to New York (ask the Nuggets how hard it is to ship a beloved Denver athlete to New York) because he brought in the man who in my estimation will one day be, statistically, the best QB of all-time. He had another great draft and surrounded Manning with young and veteran talent alike. If the Broncos get back to the playoffs, there is no doubt that Elway should be the Executive of the Year.
Others that will be considered: Ryan Grigson, GM – Indianapolis Colts; John Schneider, GM – Seattle Seahawks; & Les Snead, GM – St. Louis Rams