NFL midseason awards – MVP, Rookie of the year, etc.
NFL midseason awards races for MVP, rookie of the year, coach and executive of the year, etc.. The NFC currently dominating in awards races.
The 2016 NFL season has reached its halfway point for ever team, regardless of bye weeks. That means that it is time to check in on races for the league’s individual awards.
There are some close races for the NFL midseason awards, while others aren’t close at all. In both cases, the second half of the season will undoubtably change many of these races.
Nevertheless, here are my choices for the NFL midseason awards:
Coach of the Year
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
There are a few good candidates so far this season, with Atlanta’s Dan Quinn leading the back. Quinn has the Falcons playing dominating football, and they currently have the second-best record in the NFC.
The Falcons have the NFL’s best offense by a wide margin. They’ve scored 37 more points than any other team in the league.
It is on the defensive side of the ball that is Quinn’s specialty, and it is also where he deserves the most credit. That is a unit that is mostly without stars, except for perhaps Desmond Trufant.
Others deserving votes: Jack Del Rio, Pete Carroll
Executive of the Year
Reggie McKenzie, Oakland Raiders
It wasn’t long ago that Oakland fans were clamoring for McKenzie to be fired. Ownership resisted, and that patience has finally paid off this season.
Oakland sits at 7-2 and are atop the AFC West. This is a young team that is good and very fun to watch. They’re likely a year away from being a Super Bowl contender because of some defensive issues, but they’ve very close.
McKenzie deserves credit for rebuilding what was a terrible roster when he arrived. It was ugly at times along the way, but the results we’re seeing right now speak for themselves.
Others deserving votes: Thomas Dimitroff, Howie Roseman
Comeback Player of the Year
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks
When Jimmy Graham tore his Patellar tendon last year, his 2016 season was supposed to be destroyed. The injury takes a year to recover from, and then it takes more time to get 100% back to full speed.
That Graham was ready to play in Week 1 was downright remarkable, even if he was limited. Graham started the season slowly as he worked himself back onto the field. Since then he’s been an almost unstoppable force for the Seahawks.
Graham is on pace for 1090 yards this season, which would be 2nd amongst all tight ends. For a guy that people think the Seahawks don’t know how to use, they’re getting tremendous production from their All-Pro.
Others deserving votes: DeMarco Murray, Andrew Luck
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The numbers speak for themselves: 891 yards, 7 touchdowns, a 5 yards per carry average.
Dallas’ rookie runner leads the NFL in rushing, and has powered the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC. Playing behind a great offensive line helps, but the tape shows that he’s a special talent in his own right.
It will be interesting to see if Elliot can keep up this pace statistically once (if) Romo returns as the starting QB. The Cowboys will likely open up the offense and throw more, which will restrict Elliots carries somewhat.
Others deserving votes: Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Kenny Clark, NT, Green Bay Packers
Lost in story of the offensive collapse of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers has been that their defense is greatly improved this season. They have the best rush defense in the NFL, and are statistically the 6th-best defense overall.
A big piece of the improvement has come from rookie 5-tech Kenny Clark. Clark demands a double team on each and every play. That frees up other players to run uncontested at the ball carrier.
Clark has natural lateral agility uncommon for a guy his size. He gets off blocks well, and does a good job of getting to the ball carrier in the backfield.
Others deserving votes: Vernon Hargraves, Joey Bosa
Offensive Player of the Year
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s star receiver is on pace for 1940 yards this season. Julio leads the NFL is both yards and big plays as a receiver.
Interestingly, he’s managed to do both of those things despite having fewer targets than other top receivers. Jones is the league’s most productive receiver, even though he’s 11th in the league in targets.
Jones is clearly the focus of defensive game plans each and every week. That opens up opportunities for his teammates. That’s great, but he’s been much more than just a decoy. He’s having on pace to have the 2nd-most receiving yards all-time in a single season.
Others deserving votes: Melvin Gordon, David Johnson
Defensive Player of the Year
Von Miller, Edge, Denver Broncos
Wasn’t the narrative in April was that free agency had gutted the dominant Denver defense? It seems the rumors of their demise were a bit premature.
A lot of that is because of Von Miller. The super productive linebacker has been unblockable so far this season. As teams try, and fail, to slow him down they’re leaving other players unaccounted for to make plays.
Miller’s contribution is much larger than his 9.5 sacks (2nd in the NFL). He is one of those players that makes everyone else on his team better.
Others deserving votes: Marcus Peters, Khalil Mack
Most Valuable Player
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Leading the nation in passing yards? yep. Touchdowns? yep. Completion percentage? yep. Passer rating? you know it. Yards per attempt? yep, that too.
That’s the type of season Matt Ryan is having in 2016. He leads the NFL in ever single major passing stat. Tom Brady might have something to say about that once he has enough pass attempts to qualify, but right now it is a statistical sweep for Matt Ryan.
The Falcons benefit from playing in the 2nd-weakenst division in the NFL. An easy schedule against some bad defenses will help Ryan and their offense keep up their torrid pace on offense.
Others deserving votes: Derek Carr, Matt Stafford