Much like I did earlier this week with changing my preseason playoff picks, I am taking a look at who I had winning various awards across the NFL and making some edits.
I think I did much better on this than I did initially on my preseason picks, but there were still plenty of changes to be made. Half of the season has already gone by for at least every team. Some teams have played only eight games while others have played nine so I will stick to per game averages when comparing stats.
Preseason pick: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Mid-season pick: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Runner up: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
For everyone who really wants to see Cam Newton here, sorry. He is not an MVP candidate. Yes he has provided a ridiculous chunk of his team’s offensive production but his completion percentage and interception numbers are far from MVP-caliber. No, instead we have to give the award to the no-brainer on the list. Tom Brady has picked up right where he left off last season and dominated the league. He leads the league in touchdown passes and ranks second in yards per game. He has thrown an interception on only 0.6 percent of his throws, which is the best mark in the league by a considerable margin. He has posted a healthy 8.3 yards per attempt average, not to mention that he is undefeated this season. This conversation is not completely wrapped up yet, as there are a couple of people who could outperform Brady down the stretch, but that is unlikely.
Offensive Player of the Year
Preseason pick: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
Mid-season pick: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Runner up: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
I thought that McCoy would seamlessly transition into the stout Buffalo running game and I think he has. However, hamstring injuries have limited his effectiveness all season and the emergence of Karlos Williams has stolen much of his scoring production. Instead, we now shift our attention to Atlanta, where Julio Jones has simply torn it up this season. Jones leads the league in receptions and receiving yards. He is second in yards per game only behind the oft-injured Alshon Jeffrey. He is second in yards after the catch, only behind Danny Woodhead. And he is second to only DeAndre Hopkins in first downs. Jones continues to be the most reliable target in the league, picking up big chunks of yardage and catching the majority of balls thrown his way. He is explosive as well, with 13 receptions of 20 yards or more. He may not lead the league in touchdowns (he has six), but he scores enough to be considered the best offensive weapon we have seen this season.
Defensive Player of the Year
Preseason pick: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Mid-season pick: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Runner up: Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers
I honestly think that if he had stayed healthy, Cameron Wake would have won this award in 2015. But he didn’t so I must consider other candidates. Josh Norman has evolved into a shutdown corner. He is second in the league with four interceptions and he brought two of them to the house. His 13 pass deflections are good for third in the league as well. However, Watt has been nothing short of remarkable. He is second in the league with 8.5 sacks and leads all defensive linemen with five pass deflections. He has racked up 40 tackles to this point, which is a good season for some linemen. In addition to his pass rushing abilities, he has excelled at stopping the run, with nine run stuffs on the year. Watt hasn’t been the same flashy, touchdown scoring machine he was last year but he still having a major impact on the Texans defense. It will be a much closer race than last season, but as of right now, Watt is still my pick for defensive player of the year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Preseason pick: Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
Mid-season pick: Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams
Runner up: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
Once again Amari Cooper finds himself the runner up to a running back in my selections. Although, I wish I had never put Melvin Gordon in as my selection. As soon as I watched him play this preseason, I knew he was in for a rough year. But I digress. Instead, Cooper finds himself behind the phenom that is Todd Gurley. Gurley has easily been the most dominant rookie back to this point, despite only playing in six games. Gurley leads the league in yards per game and yards per carry among all backs to touch the ball at least 75 times. He hasn’t been much of an asset in the passing game but right now, Gurley is the source of the Rams offense. St. Louis has the league’s worst passing offense in terms of yards per game. Opposing teams know that Gurley is going to be getting the ball and they still can’t stop him.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Preseason pick: Leonard Williams, New York Jets
Mid-season pick: Leonard Williams, New York Jets
Runner up: Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs
I nailed this one. I am keeping both my preseason pick and runner up selection the same. Peters is having a great rookie campaign, with three interceptions, including a pick-six, to his name already. The man they call Big Cat is proving to be a lot to handle though. Williams has been the most dominant defensive lineman to this point in the season in terms of rookies. He might not be much of a pass rusher but he has been a mammoth in run defense. He has 32 tackles already and six run stuffs on the year. If Peters ends up snagging a couple of more passes this season then he might be in line for the award but for right now the dominant run stuffer is my pick going forward.
Comeback Player of the Year
Preseason pick: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Mid-season pick: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Runner up: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
I went into the season expecting AP to dominate the league. He has played very well up to this point but he hasn’t made his return quite like I thought. In any other year, I think he would be a lock to win the award but Carson Palmer is coming off a major ACL injury and has been phenomenal in his return. As I mentioned before, Palmer is definitely in the MVP conversation. He has the second most touchdowns and the best yards per attempt average in the league. His completion percentage is only average but he ranks fifth in yards per game. Palmer has also thrown a touchdown on 7.7 percent of his passes, which is the best mark in the NFL. His six interceptions are roughly average as well. After we saw how quickly Arizona fell apart last season without Palmer at the helm, it is clear that his value to this team is immense and he absolutely deserves this award.
Coach of the Year
Preseason pick: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Mid-season pick: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Runner up: Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
I understand that the Panthers are undefeated and that Ron Rivera has coached his butt off to get his team to where they are now. However, Mike Zimmer has taken one of the youngest teams and turned them into a top four team in the conference. Getting Adrian Peterson back certainly helps but managing to find a balance between run and pass for a second-year quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater has been extremely difficult. Yet, Zimmer has accomplished that and constructed one of the best defenses in the league. Minnesota ranks seventh in yards per game against and second in points allowed per game. Zimmer has done an extraordinary job turning the Vikings into a playoff contender one year after finishing under .500.