Pre-Season Predictions

2021 NFL Honors Winners

By Josh Shippen, Reporter

Let’s be honest, the NFL honors are a bit of a joke. 

Okay, that’s obviously harsh, but hear me out. Many of these awards are often far more narrative driven than they are driven by actual play, the Comeback Player of the Year being by far the worst offender. Other awards seem extremely streamlined as time has gone on. It has become unheard of to think of anyone outside of the quarterback winning the MVP award. The last player to do it was Adrian Peterson in 2012, and he had to rush for over 2,000 yards to do it.

That being said, these awards are still incredibly important both for players, coaches, and for general managers looking to add talent to their team. A nice and shiny MVP plaque, even if unfairly, may attract more interest than a player who has consistently dropped 4,000+ passing yards for ten seasons. So here are my early picks for the recipients of 2022’s NFL Honors.

 

MVP – Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

I have never been more sure of an NFL pick in my life; this simply has to be Josh Allen’s year. From his meager beginnings as one of the most disappointing rookies of 2018 to his near Super Bowl season of 2020, Allen continues to improve by leaps and bounds every single season. For example, his stats skyrocketed from 2019 to 2020. He passed for 1,455 more yards, threw a 37-10 TD-INT ratio as opposed to the 20-9 ratio he set in 2019, and improved his passer rating by over 20 points.

The catalyst for this breakout season has to be Stefon Diggs. Allen and Diggs accounted for almost one third of the team’s total passing yardage. If that’s not an impressive statistic, I’m not sure what is.

While I am very certain that Josh Allen has the best chance of this group, however I would not be shocked to see Dak Prescott get the award. Before Prescott’s devastating injury early last season, the Dallas quarterback was on pace to throw for 7,000 yards on the season, a record that would crush the 5,477 mark set by Payton Manning in 2013.

 

Coach of the Year – Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills

The quarterback is not the only strong position on the Bills. Just about every position on this Buffalo based team looks stacked to the limit, and McDermott’s job as head coach has been incredible even when his roster was a total travesty. We’re looking at you, 2018.

I expect the run game to improve as Devin Singletary looks to come back from a disappointing 2020 and Zack Moss looks to be integrated into more of the offense. The defense returns to its top 3 form with the re-emergence of stars like Tre’Davious White and Matt Milano. This along with Josh Allen’s breakout season should secure an easy Coach of the Year award for McDermott.

 

Assistant Coach of the Year – Wink Martindale, DC, Baltimore Ravens

Surprised? Don’t be. The Ravens have a notoriously tricky defense to deal with and this year will be nasty. The front seven features seasoned veterans like Derek Wolfe, Pernell McPhee and Brandon Williams, an acclaimed superstar in Calais Campbell, and young explosive talent in Patrick Queen, Tyus Bowser, and L.J. Fort.

The secondary is a quarterback’s nightmare. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are both All-Pro talents, and might be the most talented cornerback tandem in the league. Even their backups Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young have had their shining moments. Safety is still a position of need but no team is perfect. I would not be at all surprised to see a defense this jam packed with talent not take home this award for Martindale and the Ravens.

 

Offensive Player of the Year – Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

As badly as I wanted to give this award to Derrick Henry for the second year in a row, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Greatness is scarcely repeated twice in two seasons, especially in running backs;DeMarco Murray being a prime example. That being said, Nick Chubb will be the heart and soul of a rising offense in Cleveland where the running game has already been the shining aspect of the team. As long as Kareem Hunt doesn’t take too many of Chubb’s carries, I expect Chubb to be the top running back of the season.

 

Defensive Player of the Year – T.J. Watt

Did T.J. Watt get robbed last year? My personal opinion is that I’d be perfectly fine with giving Aaron Donald the DPOY every year until he retires, however Watt’s greatness should not be undersold. 

Watt narrowly outperformed Donald in all major stats in 2020, and my guess is that  Watt’s explosiveness is just getting started. Watt should have an especially good shot as more of the load is being put on his shoulders with the absence of standout pass rusher Bud Dupree, who signed with the Tennessee Titans in the offseason.

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Trevor Lawrence

The OROY is a more difficult award to place, especially for someone who is not as well versed in College Football.The last ten winners six have been quarterbacks, and unless Zach Wilson manages to make the best of a very rough situation in New York this award should be a gimmie for Trevor Lawrence.

 

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Micah Parsons

From Leighton Vander-Esch to Jaylon Smith, the Dallas Cowboys have a very good recent track record with linebackers. I would not be surprised to see Micah Parsons get out to a very explosive start as Vander-Esch’s injuries and Smith’s declining play necessitate a new face in Dallas’s defensive limelight.

 

Comeback Player of the Year – Saquon Barkley

I think everybody forgot how amazing Saquon Barkley was. This isn’t without reason, the young running back had a rough second year marred with injuries and poor offensive line, quarterbacking, coaching, etc. Now with Joe Judge at the helm and Daniel Jones hopefully getting the hang of things in his third year, Saquon should finally be able to work as an explosive piece for New York’s offense this season. Even if he rushes for a middling 950 yards, I would expect him to get this award as it seems more based on his story than his skill. Alex Smith’s comeback story may be incredible, but he was not the reason Washington squirmed its way into the playoffs, they have the rest of the NFC East to thank for that.

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