Most Valuable Player: Tie (Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers; Carson Palmer – Arizona Cardinals)
I’m not taking the easy way out here. How do you choose between Newton and Palmer? Sure the Panthers are 15-1, but as an individual, I cannot and will not say that Cam outplayed Palmer. Both have great statistics that also speak to how differently the two quarterbacks play the position.
Cam Newton: 3,837 passing yards, 59.8 completion percentage, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 636 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns
Carson Palmer: 4,681 passing yards, 63.7 completion percentage, 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions
Others Considered: Russell Wilson (SEA), Kirk Cousins (WAS), Tom Brady (NE)
Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown finished 2015 with 136 catches (tied for 2nd most in a single season – Julio Jones 2015) 1,834 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. Some of Brown’s top games this year include a 17 catches for 284 yards against the Raiders, 16 catches for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Broncos, 9 catches for 195 yards and 1 touchdown against the 49ers and he finished off the season with 13 catches for 187 yards and 1 touchdowns against the Browns.
Keep in mind that Brown only played in 12 games (11 and 1\2) depending on how you look at it) with Roethlisberger. In those games he averaged 9.9 receptions and 133.3 receiving yards and scored all 10 of his touchdowns with with his quarterback. Over a full 16 games, those numbers would be 158 catches, 2,132 receiving yard and 13 touchdowns.
Others Considered: Julio Jones (ATL), Carson Palmer (ARI), DeAndre Hopkins (HST)
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald – St. Louis Rams
Aaron Donald might be the best defensive player in the NFL folks.
And yes, that includes JJ Watt.
Yes they both play defensive line, but Watt gets more opportunities to rush from the outside, as opposed to Donald who logged the vast majority of his snaps from the interior.
According to Pro Football Focus, Donald finalized the season with 79 total pressures (11 sacks), he ranked 5th in run stop percentage among defensive tackles with a run stop on 10.9% of any run snap he played. He finished the season with a 99.9 perfect rating by PFF and his season grade was 99.2, over 20 points higher than JJ Watt’s 78.8 grade. Did I mention it’s only his second year?
Others Considered: Tyrann Mathieu (ARI), Josh Norman (CAR), JJ Watt (HST)
Most Improved Player: Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
I haven’t been a fan of Kirk Cousins throughout his time in the NFL. Some of that isn’t his fault but nonetheless, I still don’t care for him but he did win me over a lot in 2015.
Cousins threw for over 4000 yards and had 29 touchdowns to 11 picks. He also led the Redskins to an NFC East title. And we bet you Redskins fans like that, huh?
(By the way, leave that annoying ass catchphrase in 2015)
Others Considered: Russell Wilson (SEA), Derek Carr (OAK)
Comeback Player of the Year: Tie (Eric Berry – Kansas City Chiefs; Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I couldn’t decide between these two guys so we have another tie.
As a rookie, Doug Martin ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns, which earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. The next 2 years he ran for 950 yards and 3 touchdowns and averaged less than 4 yards a carry. In 2015 not only were the numbers better but he played better. He looked healthy. He finished 2nd in rushing yards with 1,402 and he scored 6 times. He was also named First Team All-Pro and he’ll be in his 2nd Pro Bowl. Doug Martin is an easy choice because many folks already gave up on him. The last 2 seasons we’ve heard the same things in the offseason, how Martin was healthy and ready to explode again but it didn’t come true until 2015.
But as easy a choice as Martin is, Eric Berry was easier. Berry spent much of the 2014 season and this past offseason fighting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer. He returned and played at a high level all year, earning First team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
Offensive Rookie Of the Year: Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The future for Tampa Bay looks bright and it’s all because of this guy. Despite an awful Week 1 performance against the Titans, Jameis rebounded leading the Bucs to a 6-10 record (they won 2 games in’14). At one point they were 6-6 and competing for a wild card spot. He finished the season with 4,042 yards passing (3rd all time for rookies) and 22 touchdowns.
Against the Eagles in Week 11, Winston became the 2nd rookie to ever throw 5 touchdowns in a game. He also threw for 246 yards and no interceptions en route to a 45-17 victory.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Peters – Kansas City Chiefs
Marcus Peters was the first rookie since Jarous Byrd in 2009 to grab at least 8 interceptions. Peters also returned 2 of them for touchdowns. He seemed to really hit his stride over the 2nd half of the season. Opposing quarterbacks targeting Peters from Week 10 on completed 39.4% of their passes for 1 touchdown, 5 interceptions and a passer rating of 31.3.
Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera – Carolina Panthers
This was one of the hardest to pick because there are 3 other candidates who have a very deserving case for this award. Prior to the season, most were skeptical about the Panthers and that was before Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL. But personally, that didn’t change my mind about who would win the division
The Panthers won their first 14 games and finished 15-1. I’m not sure that this needs further justification.
Others in consideration: Todd Bowles (NYJ), Bruce Arians (AZ), Andy Reid (KC)
Assistant Coach of the Year: Hue Jackson (OC) – Cincinnati Bengals
So this was another tough award to pick because I contradict per myself in my reasoning for choosing Hue Jackson over Wade Phillips. Despite the fact Phillips turned the Broncos defense from pretty good to fucking amazing, he also had a ton of talent at damn near every single position.
But on the other hand, Andy Dalton had been surrounded by talented players yet he just hadn’t lived up to the numbers he was posting in his career.
Until 2015. Jackson impacted Dalton not just as a quarterback, but as a leader. Far better than what Jay Grudem did for Dalton. Hue Jackson will more than likely be hired to biome someone’s head coach this offseason. It’s rather unfortunate we didn’t get to see a full season with Dalton and Jackson, but Jackson did help AJ McCarron become solid enough to help them go 2-1 in Dalton’sabsence to close out the year.
Opposing defense’s had to be prepared for everything including the kitchen sink when playing this Bengals offense. Jackson was very creative play calling and he knew how to attack defense’s in multiple ways.
(Dave Shula is the wrong Shula. My mistake)
General Manager of the Year: Steve Keim (GM) – Arizona Cardinals
Keim has done a supreme of building this roster from the moment he took over the job a few years ago, but some of the moves made in the offseason and throughout the season has the Cardinals in prime position to contend for a Super Bowl.
Many of the key moves Keim pulled off for the 2015 season include signing G Mile Iupati, his 2015 draft picks which includes JJ Nelson and David Johnson. He was also able to restructure Larry Fitzgeralds contract to keep him in Arizona for the rest of his career. Fitzgerald finished the season with 109 catches and over 1200 yards and 9 touchdowns. But I think 2 of his best moves also show how in tune he is with head coach Bruce Arians. Signing Chris Johnson, who was shot in the shoulder in the offseason and would go on to lead the team in rushing, and signing Dwight Freeney mid season and he would go on to lead the team in sacks at the end of the season. Keim is a a perennial candidate.
The 2015 All-OTFYL Team:
Quarterback: Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Running Backs: Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings; Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fullback: Mike Tolbert – Carolina Panthers
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers; Odell Beckham Jr. – New York Giants
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
Tackles: Tyron Smith – Dallas Cowboys; Joe Thomas – Cleveland Browns
Guards: Marshall Yanda – Baltimore Ravens; Zach Martin – Dallas Cowboys
Center: Ryan Kalil – Carolina Panthers
Defensive End: JJ Watt – Houston Texans; Khalil Mack – Oakland Raiders
Defensive Tackle : Aaron Donald – St. Louis Rams*; Geno Atkins – Cincinnati Bengals
(1 voter left 2 defensive tackles off of his ballot)
Outside Linebacker: Von Miller – Denver Broncos; Khalil Mack – Oakland Raiders; Thomas Davis – Carolina Panthers
Inside Linebacker: Luke Keuchly – Carolina Panthers*; Navarro Bowman – San Francisco
Cornerback: Josh Norman – Carolina Panthers; Patrick Peterson – Arizona Cardinals
Safety: Reshad Jones – Miami Dolphins; Tyrann Mathieu – Arizona Cardinals
Place Kicker: Dan Bailey – Dallas Cowboys; Stephen Gostkowski – New England Patriots
Punter: Johnnie Hekker – St. Louis Rams
Kick Returner: Cordarelle Patterson – Minnesota Vikings
Punter Returner – Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks
Special Teams Player: Justin Bethel – Arizona Cardinals
(1 voter did not pick a special teams player)