It’s a wrap. The 2016 regular season is over so as “couch potatoes” it’s time and our responsibility to decide who should be taking home the End of Year (EOY) Awards.
Most Valuable Player – Matt Ryan
@cpgm_juice’s take: No change here. Matt Ryan was phenomenal this season from Week 1 thru Week 17. Setting numerous career bests and single season records including throwing touchdown passes (38) to 13 different receivers. Ryan completed damn near 70% of his passes (69.9%) and fell just shy of a 5,000 yard season (4,944) finishing second only to Drew Brees. Ice was remarkably efficient as he only attempted 534 passes (17th most in NFL) despite his gaudy TD and yardage totals which resulted in a sterling 5.43 to 1 TD/INT ratio. Ryan’s robust yardage per attempt average (9.26) was by far the best in the NFL and he led the league in passer rating (117.1). Most importantly he led the Atlanta Falcons to a divisional crown and a first round bye in the playoffs. Honorable mentions go to Aaron Rodgers, Le’Veon Bell, and Derek Carr.
Offensive Player of the Year – Aaron Rodgers
@cpgm_juice’s take: A-a-ron! Before the Packers “ran the table” behind masterful performances by Rodgers, Mr. Discount Double Check had a 25:7 TD/INT ratio and appeared mortal. Mind you most quarterbacks would be thrilled to have a 3.57:1 TD/INT ratio over the course of a full season but Rodgers has set the bar so high that it just didn’t look quite right. It seemed more difficult for Rodgers than usual and the Pack were below .500 thru 10 games. No running game, lingering injury concerns of his own and what appeared to be a fractured relationship with HC and offensive play caller Mike McCarthy, Rodgers and the Packers had many of us scratching our heads. But Rodgers proceeded to eviscerate the competition during the final six weeks of the season throwing 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Green Bay finished the last month and a half with a 6-0 record that led to an NFC North Championship and home playoff game. A-a-ron would finish with 40 TD passes and 4 rushing TDs against just 7 interceptions. Honorable mentions go to Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson.
Defensive Player of the Year – Von Miller
@cpgm_juice’s take: The Super Bowl 50 MVP picked up right where he left of last postseason. He started in the Pole position and never looked back. VP of OPS/GM John Elway had to back the Brinks truck up to keep him in Denver on a long term deal but he was worth the investment. Miller finished second in the NFL in sacks (13.5) and set a career high in tackles (78). So often we see players get paid and mail it in but that wasn’t the case with Miller. Paid to hunt the quarterback but a truly complete defender; at 27-years-old and squarely in his prime Miller should continue to wreak havoc on opposing offenses for years to come. Honorable mentions go to Landon Collins, Khalil Mack, Bobby Wagner and Vic Beasley Jr.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Ezekiel Elliott
@cpgm_juice’s take: He had better!! Dak Prescott was in this spot at the mid-season mark but as I anticipated it was Elliott behind the Dallas Cowboys offensive line that proved more consistent down the stretch. Elliott was as advertised leading the league in rushing attempts (322) and rushing yards (1,631) in 15 games. His 15 rushing touchdowns were good for 3rd most (LeGarrette Blount 18; David Johnson 16) and his pass protection prowess was on display on a weekly basis. The most impressive aspect of Elliott’s game is his superior pad level and the ability to contort his body and fall forward gaining extra/hidden yardage. More often than not life was made easy by a remarkable offensive line but he is an excellent ball-carrier and deserves the workhorse moniker. Honorable mentions go to Dak Prescott, Michael Thomas and Jordan Howard.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Joey Bosa
@cpgm_juice’s take: Also known as Jared Allen 2.0 we at CPGM were concerned about the systemic fit in San Diego. The contract issue and injury threw cold water on the outlook of Bosa’s rookie campaign but his 10.5 sacks (most among rookies) and 41 tackles in only 12 games was very impressive. The Chargers found a way to avoid having Bosa play standing up and out of his comfort zone and it worked beautifully. If the young man wasn’t sacking the quarterback he was being disruptive and harassing the passer at a frenetic pace. His length, functional strength, technique and motor make for a formidable edge rusher. Bosa has a very bright future ahead of him. Honorable mentions go to Jalen Ramsey and Deion Jones.
Offensive Comeback Player of the Year – Jordy Nelson
@cpgm_juice’s take: A year removed from a non-contact knee injury robbing him of his 2015 season the veteran wideout made an impact immediately catching at least one TD in the first four games of the season. There was a little rust during the first couple of weeks and the 31-year-old wide receiver didn’t look quite as explosive as we’ve grown accustomed to but as the season progressed and Nelson got his legs under him he proceeded to make opposing defensive backs pay as per usual. The Green Bay Packers receivers struggled to create consistent separation during the 2015 campaign but with Nelson returning to form and helping stretch the defense Green Bay’s passing offense took off after the first month of the 2016 season. Jordy finished with his second highest single season totals during his career in receptions (97) and touchdowns (14). His touchdown total led the NFL and his 1,257 yards was good for 6th most in 2016. Honorable mentions go to Steve Smith Sr. and DeMarco Murray.
Defensive Comeback Player of the Year – Eric Berry
@cpgm_juice’s take: This selection is a little unorthodox. Eric Berry’s battle with cancer cut his 2014 season campaign short. 2015 marked his return (won this very same award in 2015) but it wasn’t until this season (2016) that Berry truly returned to his stellar form after beating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Considering the circumstances I like Berry as the 2016 Defensive Comeback Player of the Year again! Working under the (one-year) franchise tag Berry’s playmaking in 2016 (4 INTs; 2 TDs; 9 pass breakups) preserved wins in numerous contests and helped the Chiefs lead the NFL in takeaways. His trademark range and open field tackling (77) were on display throughout the season and he reclaimed his elite safety mantle. Now it’s time to pay the man. Honorable mentions go to Cameron Wake, Kiko Alonso, Terrell Suggs, and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Most Improved Offensive Player of the Year – Jay Ajayi
@cpgm_juice’s take: During his rookie season Jay Ajayi struggled to get onto the football field. Between injuries, ineffectiveness and a seeming lack of understanding regarding the playbook Ajayi was a disappointment. The fact that the Dolphins didn’t have much stability within the coaching staff didn’t help the situation either but even with the hiring of HC Adam Gase, Ajayi found himself in the doghouse during the offseason and at the beginning of the regular season. Though his opportunities were scant as the Dolphins were deploying an ineffective three-headed monster at tailback; the “Jay Train” eventually grabbed the reigns as the featured back and Gase wisely took the ball out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands leaning on he 2nd year running back and an improved offensive line (particularly the left side – Albert, Tunsil). Ajayi was a wrecking ball of physical determination posting three 200-yard performances this season including back-to-back 200 yard rushing games, the first of its kind in NFL History. Think a younger Chris Ivory with more opportunity. He needs to improve as a receiver but offers as much early down upside as any young player at the position. Honorable mentions go to Melvin Gordon and Davante Adams.
Most Improved Defensive Player of the Year – Landon Collins
@cpgm_juice’s take: This was a tough one as I could have easily selected Vic Beasley Jr. for Most Improved Defensive Player of the Year. Beasley led the NFL in sacks (15.5) and forced fumbles (6) in just his second pro season. A year stronger, wiser and some hands-on tutelage from Dwight Freeney and the light bulb came on for Beasley. The former Clemson Tiger has become one of the better pass rushers in the NFL but New York Giants safety Landon Collins played himself into the discussion of best all-around defenders this year. Collins flashed during his 2015 rookie season but he was inconsistent in coverage and too frequently found himself out of position. Additionally, there were concerns as to whether or not he could hold up in coverage and a debate ensued regarding if he was better suited to play a nickel/dime hybrid linebacker position as opposed to a traditional safety/last line of defense guy. Fast forward to the end of the 2016 NFL regular season and Collins did it all. Landon was a key cog in the Giants’ defense amassing 100 solo tackles; second only to Tampa Bay’s Kwon Alexander (a linebacker). He led all defensive backs in sacks (4.0) and further demonstrated his ability to play in space/coverage by grabbing five interceptions (only 4 players had more) and broke up 13 passes. Honorable mentions go to Vic Beasley Jr., Jadeveon Clowney, and Dee Ford.
Coach of the Year – Andy Reid
@cpgm_juice’s take: Reid’s ability to fool the masses into believing that Alex Smith is “underrated” is incredible. Keep in mind the aforementioned Smith threw for just over 3500 yards and had a 15:8 TD/INT ratio… pedestrian. Without Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin for extended durations of time Reid maximized the offensive talent on the roster by featuring TE Travis Kelce and WR/RB/Specialist dynamo Tyreek Hill in the offense. It’s no secret that Chiefs’ success is contingent in large part on a strong defense that forces turnovers but you cannot overlook Reid’s creativity on offense particularly in the red-zone. The Chiefs now find themselves in the playoffs as the #2 seed. Honorable mentions go to Bill Belichick, Jack Del Rio, Adam Gase and Jason Garrett.
Executive of the Year – Reggie McKenzie
@cpgm_juice’s take: It’s difficult to view this particular award within the vacuum of one season but you can’t argue with the product Reggie McKenzie has put on the field for the Raiders. Hand picked by Mark Davis and John Madden, McKenzie has stuffed the Raiders’ roster full of talent by drafting very well and during the 2016 offseason adding key contributors in free agency such as: Kelechi Osemele,Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson. I can’t say enough about what McKenzie has done with this roster top to bottom but I am particularly impressed with the offensive line he’s put together. Not to mention the Raiders are a playoff team. Honorable mentions go to Jerry Jones/Stephen Jones and John Dorsey.