Now that the Seattle Seahawks time in the playoffs is over, and the Northwest's attention is shifted to the NBA (either the Blazers, or the Kings possibly moving to Seattle, your choice), it is as good of time as any for the end of the season NFL awards. Since the awards are supposed to be given out for regular season performance, and because the average football viewer has the attention span of a golden retriever puppy, doing the awards before the views of a particular player become toxic. Who cares if you had 8,000 combined yards during the season if you fumbled away the team's chance of going to the Super Bowl. Awards will be separated by conference.
Rookie of the Year Nominees: Andrew Luck (QB-IND), Trent Richardson (RB-CLE), Justin Blackmon (WR-JAX)
Winner: Luck. Richardson and Luck were neck and neck for this award, and Richardson would have had a tremendous case if it were not for three factors. Firstly, he failed to reach 1,000 yards in a solo role, though injuries contributed to that. Secondly, Luck finished 3rd in the league in passing, and set a rookie record for passing yards in a season. Finally, Luck made it to the promised land, Richardson did not. While Richardson had the tougher role as his offense's sole weapon, Luck's incredible season cannot be understated.
Defensive Player of the Year Nominees: Jerrod Mayo (LB-NE), Von Miller (LB-DEN), J.J. Watt (DE-HOU)
Winner: Watt. 20.5 sacks (best in the NFL). 16 pass deflections (closest non-defensive back had 9 and only two players including defensive backs had more. 81 tackles. Four forced fumbles. While Miller had a sensational year, Watt's performance was domination at its finest.
Offensive Player of the Year Nominees: Tom Brady (QB-NE), Peyton Manning (QB-DEN), Andre Johnson (WR-HOU)
Winner: Manning. The bionic man returned with a vengeance for the Broncos. Second in the league in passing yards (behind Brady), first in QB rating, a sparkling 37-11 TD-INT ratio, and performed so well when many "experts" believed he was finished. While his interception against Baltimore that sent Denver home is fresh in the minds of fans (while Brady continues on towards another super bowl appearance), there is no doubt who the best offensive player in the AFC was this year.
AFC Most Valuable Player Nominees: Tom Brady (QB-NE), Peyton Manning (QB-DEN), J.J. Watt (DE-HOU), Andrew Luck (QB-IND)
Winner: Manning. There is no overstating just how tremendous a story this was. Coming back from a severe, almost career-ending injury, playing in a city that was still upset over the decision to remove Tim Tebow, and he pulled off one of his best seasons. This is what sports movies are made of, and will make a good story during his Hall of Fame speech.
Rookie of the Year Nominees: Robert Griffin III (QB-WSH), Russell Wilson (QB-SEA), Luke Kuechly (LB-CAR)
Winner: Wilson. This was supposed to be a solo act. Griffin would have rivalry with Luck to last the ages, and everyone else would get to sit and watch the show. Russell Wilson rewrote the script, taking the reins before Matt Flynn could even hold them firmly, and led Seattle to a playoff berth and a first round win over his rookie foe. Griffin's numbers were better than Wilson's across the board, but by an extremely small margin in yards (3,200 versus 3,118), Passer Rating (102.4 versus 100) and TD-INT (20-5 versus 26-10). Wilson, however, came through for his team when it mattered most.
Defensive Player of the Year Nominees: Charles Tillman (CB-CHI), Aldon Smith (DE-SF), Daryl Washington (LB-ARZ)
Winner: Tillman. Smith has a brilliant year anchoring the San Francisco defensive line, and Washington carried the front seven for the Cardinals with a 134 tackle, 9 sack line, but Tillman controlled the running game better than any player in the NFL this season, and led a record setting defense that essentially carried the entire Chicago Bears team within a field goal of the postseason. Ten forced fumbles, 3 interceptions returned for touchdowns, Tillman was a force on the defense.
Offensive Player of the Year Nominees: Drew Brees (QB-NO), Adrian Peterson (RB-MIN), Calvin Johnson (WR-DET)
Winner: Peterson. This was the closest category by a wide margin. Both Peterson and Johnson had seasons that will be remembered for years. Johnson set the NFL record for yards receiving, led the closest person in receiving by over 400 yards, and put himself head and shoulders above the other receivers in the NFL. Johnson was the primary beneficiary of Detroit's pass happy offense, and only found the end zone three times, and vanished many times early in the year. On the other side, Peterson dominated the NFL in rushing, had over 2,000 yards, scored 12 rushing touchdowns, and put the entire Vikings team on his surgically repaired body and carried them to the postseason.
NFC Most Valuable Player Nominees: Robert Griffin III (QB-WSH), Adrian Peterson (RB-MIN), Russell Wilson (QB-SEA), Aaron Rodgers (QB-GB)
Winner: Peterson. For both Griffin and Wilson, it is arguable that they were not even the most valuable player on their own offenses, with how well Alfred Morris and Marshawn Lynch carried their teams. Meanwhile, Peterson's offensive weapons were a quarterback with a lifetime 77.2 QB Rating, a series of castoff wide receivers alongside Percy Harvin, and an aging offensive line. Even with those setbacks, and in the winningest division in the NFL, Peterson carried the team to the postseason, exactly what this award should be about.