26 January 2012

2011 NFL Season Awards

For some reason the NFL decided to make an awards show of its own (like we needed another) and it will air on NBC the night before the Super Bowl. I see why they would do it; draw nice ratings for NBC, which desperately needs it, and it makes it more exciting than a simple press release. Of course I always enjoyed the press releases because it's better than, in my opinion, a drawn-out awards show. But I digress.
Here are my awards for the 2011 NFL season.
Preseason predictions
Midseason awards

Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
I found this to be a very tough decision between Rodgers and Drew Brees with Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning getting a little consideration as well (yes all quarterbacks, I apologize for being that guy). Both put up mind-boggling, record breaking seasons for two great teams. While both had their seasons end a little earlier than hoped, both in the divisional round, both can hang their heads high for having two marvelous seasons. I give the slight edge to Rodgers because his team came very close to having an undefeated season while Rodgers was awesome as the team's leader.
Runner-Up: Brees
Also in Consideration: Brady, Stafford, Manning

Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Just as the first choice was tough, this was not easy with tremendous seasons by Brees, Brady and Calvin Johnson. But I had to go with Brees, when you break records, it cannot be ignored. And Brees set the record for most passing yards in a season, led the league with passing touchdowns in 46 and completion percentage with an absurd 71.2 completion percentage.
Runner-Up: Johnson
Also in Consideration: Brady, Rob Gronkowski

Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Smith, DE/DT, San Francisco 49ers
Smith is not the flashiest defensive player. He didn't lead the league in sacks, for example, like Jared Allen. What without question was the most important player on any defense this year. He did have 7.5 sacks, very good for a 3-4 end, 18.5 QB knockdowns, and commanded many double teams, which allowed Aldon Smith to have a huge year with 14 sacks. He played all over the field, wherever defensive coordinator Vic Fangio asked, and his relentless effort had impacts on some many games this year.
Runner-Up: Jared Allen
Also in Consideration: Jason Pierre-Paul, DeMarcus Ware

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Even though I did pick Andy Dalton at midseason, this is an obvious selection. Newton single-handedly saved Steve Smith's career and gave life to this team and made them really exciting. Newton threw for over 4,000 yards, threw 21 touchdowns and rushed for a record breaking 14 touchdowns on 700 yards. He was a freak and proved all the talent and ability he showed at Auburn while winning the Heisman was legitimate. If this team had a defense, they would be a playoff contender.
Runner-Up: A.J. Green
Also in Consideration: Dalton

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers
Von Miller had a tremendous year and has a higher profile than Smith but Smith was a more feared pass rusher all year. Thanks to the work of Justin Smith, as mentioned above, this athletic freak was able to rush the passer with much ease and was dominant for much of the year, particularly against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football in December.
Runner-Up: Miller
Also in Consideration: None

Comeback Player of the Year: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
This may have been the toughest decision with four deserving candidates in Stafford, Reggie Bush, Plaxico Burress and Elvis Dumervil. Stafford came back from an injury riddled first couple of seasons to have a truly dominant 2011. Bush resurrected his career by flashing his ol' speed and proved himself to be an everydown back with a strong 1,000 yard campaign. Burress got out of jail in June and, despite not having played since the 2008 season, shook off the rust and had a solid season in which he proved himself to be a sure handed red zone threat with eight touchdown passes despite mediocre play. Dumervil came back from a torn pectoral msucle that killed his 2010 campaign, changed back to being a 4-3 end and had almost 10 sacks. I'll give Steve Smith a nod as well. But I had to go with Stafford, he was the biggest reason why Detroit was in the playoffs and bring back hope to that city.
Runner-Up: Bush
Also in Consideration: Burress; Dumervil, Steve Smith

Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
The effect of Harbaugh's crossing the bay to coach the 49ers cannot be measured. He turned that dysfunctional franchise into a tough and physical club that came very close to a Super Bowl berth. Harbaugh made this a feared franchise with a kickass defense, a strong running game, and a very efficient season from one-time bust Alex Smith.
Runner-Up: John Fox, Denver Broncos
Also in Consideration: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals; Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

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