The annual NFL Honors Award show was held last night in Las Vegas Nevada where hundreds of current and former players, along with celebrities and media members came together to recognize the accomplishments of players and coaches during the regular season. The awards do not take into consideration anything done after the end of the regular season. There are a total of nine awards that are voted on by the panel of voters.
While many of these awards are predictable leading up to the show itself, there are always some toss-up awards and snubs that are subject to debate. With so many deserving candidates in every category, it is important to break down why each player stood out to the voters. The awards are voted on by a nationwide panel consisting of 50 media members who are very familiar with the ins and outs of the league.
Most Valuable Player: QB Lamar Jackson
The Most Valuable Player Award went to the now two-time MVP Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. Jackson had previously won the award in 2019 and now lands himself on a short list of 11 players who have ever been multiple-time MVP winners.
Jackson led the Ravens to the AFC's number-one seed with a record of 13-4. Jackson accounted for right under 4,500 yards of total offense (4,499) and added 29 total touchdowns as well. With only one voter giving the nod to Josh Allen, Jackson was a mere 1 vote away from being the only two-time unanimous MVP in league history.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffery wins his first Offensive Player of the Year award while having a historic season for the NFC's number one seed. He is now only the second 49er running back to ever win the award joining Roger Craig in the late 80s.
McCaffery led the league in multiple categories such as scrimmage yards, rushing yards, and finished tied for scrimmage touchdowns. His total yards accounted for 30% of the entire offense for San Francisco, while the 49ers finished second in total yards in the regular season. McCaffery received 39 of the 50 first-place votes, while Tyreek Hill placed second.
Defensive Player of the Year: EDGE Myles Garrett
As I mentioned at the top, most awards are fairly predictable. However, some subs are subject to debate, and the Defensive Player of the Year was no different. While Myles Garrett ultimately won the award finishing with 23 of the 50 first-place votes, T.J Watt who was very deserving finished short with 19.
Garrett ended his regular season campaign with 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 33 solo tackles. None of these categories led the NFL. However, Garrett did anchor the league's number one total defense allowing a mere 270 yards per game. This marks Garett's first DPOY and Clevland's' first DPOY winner in franchise history.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: QB C.J. Stroud
C.J Stroud takes home the Offensive Rookie of the Year finishing with 48 of the 50 first-place votes. While I personally previously thought the voting would be much closer with the Rams rookie Puka Nacua having an amazing year, the vote was a landslide victory for the breakout quarterback.
Stroud completely transformed the Texans franchise leading them to a playoff berth and division title in his rookie campaign. He also threw for over 4,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, and a mere 5 interceptions. It is safe to say the future is very bright in Houston.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
Joining his fellow rookie teammate C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson wins the Defensive Player of the Year. The duo joins only four other teams that have produced both OROY and DROY in the same season, most recently done by the Jets with Sauce Garder and Garett Wilson. The former third overall pick from Alabama had an incredible rookie season finishing with 45 tackles, 10 TFL, 22 QB hits, and 64 QB pressures.
Comeback Player of the Year: QB Joe Flacco
The most surprising winner of the awards went to Browns Quarterback Joe Flacco. Surprising in the fact the award did not go to Bills defensive back Demar Hamlin who came back this year from a devasting life-altering injury the year before. While Hamlin finished with more first-place votes than Flacco (21-13), Flacco received more 2nd and 3rd-place votes giving him the most total points.
Flacco who came out of retirement this year helped the Browns get into the playoffs throwing for 1,616 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. While the numbers won't jump off the page, it's important to remember Flacco was called up off the couch (literally) and only played in 5 games winning 4 of 5.
Coach of the Year: DeMeco Ryans
In the closest award of all, Browns' Kevin Stefanski edged out Texans' DeMeco Ryans with 21 first-place votes while Ryans finished with 20. Both coaches tallied 165 points in the point system, so it came down to first-place votes.
While both were very deserving, Stefanski led an injury-killed team to just their second playoff birth in the past 10 years. This while losing starting quarterback Deshaun Watson and All-Pro running back Nick Chubb to season-ending injuries. They also started five QBs this season finishing with previously retired Joe Flacco at the realm.
Assistant Coach of the Year: Jim Schwartz
The Assistant Coach of the Year went to outstanding defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns had a great night as their organization racked up three awards, (DPOY, COTY, ACOTY.) In Schwartz's first year as the signal caller of the defensive side of the ball, his group finished first in total defense while also highlighting the DPOY as well. His defense also only allowed 270 yards a game, the fewest in the NFL since the 2014 Seahawks, and the least amount by a Browns group in nearly 70 years.
Walter Peyton Man of the Year: Cameron Heyward
Cam Heyward finally wins the NFL's most prestigious honor that recognizes a player's efforts on and off the field such as programs that will make a lasting effort in the community. Each team has its nominee for the award and this now marks the sixth time Heyward was a finalist.
Heyward works in numerous programs highlighted by the Caring Place, which is designed to help grieving families after a family member's passing. Heyward lost his father as a teenager at 16 years old. Heyward also holds his annual Kindness Week, where he connects with local foundations to make a difference.