NFL Halfway Point: Who are the Front Runners for End-of-Year Awards?

  • aaron donald
  • Antoine Winfield Jr
  • Derrick Henry
  • Jason Verrett
  • Justin Herbert
  • Mike Tomlin
  • russell wilson
By Tyler Lawrence November 5, 2020 0 Comment
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With Week 8 in the books, its time to review Player of the Year candidates. The following is a list of front-runners for the NFL’s end-of year awards.

Coach of the Year: Mike Tomlin

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If you take a look at the job Mike Tomlin did last year, it’s a surprise that he didn’t win the award last season. After the injury to Ben Roethlisberger in the second game of the season, the Steelers flip-flopped between Mason Rudolph and Develin “Duck” Hodges for much of the year. In the end, the Steelers finished (8-8) just outside the playoffs, with six Pro Bowlers and five AP All-Pros.

This season, the Steelers are the NFL’s only undefeated team. Offensively, the Steelers are ranked 5th in points with the emergence of a young receiving core in Juju Smith-Schuster, Dionte Johnson and rookie, Chase Claypool. Defensively, the Steelers are 4th in points against with what might be the strongest interior line and T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree coming off the edge. Tomlin’s leadership and control of the Steelers cannot be minimized. The Steelers look like the best team in the NFL on both sides of the ball.

Comeback Player of the Year: Jason Verrett

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Many believe Alex Smith should be the recipient of this award, but Comeback Player of the Year should be a performance-based award. Granted, Alex Smith not only nearly lost his leg, but he almost lost his life. The fact that he was able to walk again, let alone ever play again is nothing short of miraculous. The fact remains though that Alex Smith has only played in one game this season, where he has thrown for a total of 37 yards. Nothing about his performance is worthy of an award.

Jason Verrett on the other hand has dealt with his own injuries that has seen him only play a total of 12 games from 2015 to 2019. Furthermore, Verrett looks like the best player in the entire league at his position. From Weeks 2-6, Verrett has allowed a passer rating of 7.8 when targeted. Verrett has also been a reliable tackler in space with seven stops credited and only one missed tackle. There might not be a player quite as talented with as bad of luck in the entire NFL. Its good to see Verrett back to his play-making self.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Justin Herbert

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Justin Herbert wasn’t even supposed to see the field this season. After a freak accident to Tyrod Taylor, where a team doctor literally punctured his lung, Herbert was thrust into game action with only minutes notice. This was against Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl Champs no less. Through only 6 games, Herbert has thrown for 1,820 yards, completing over 67% of his passes. He has a 15-touchdown to 5-interception ratio. While he has only won one game this season, he has already taken home Rookie of the Week honors in weeks 2, 4, 5, 7 and is on the ballot for week 8. He is overwhelmingly the favorite to win the award and played much better then anyone anticipated. Charger fans got a good one here.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Antoine Winfield Jr

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Antoine Winfield Jr. wasn’t a realistic option for Defensive Rookie of the Year to start the season, but he has been one of the most consistent players for the Buccaneers. The favorite is Chase Young, and Patrick Queen is in the mix to be sure, but Winfield has seen the most success. Winfield is undersized at only 5’9, but he plays all over the field, very similar to Tyrann Mathieu in Kansas City. He has been a reliable tackler, able to rush the passer and performed admirably in coverage. He has 44 total tackles, two sacks, an interception and forced fumble with 4 pass deflections. Many thought the secondary would be the weakness for the Buccaneers and Winfield has helped turn it into a strength.

Offensive Player of the Year: Derrick Henry

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Derrick Henry has 775 total rushing yards, which leads the entire NFL by over 100 yards. Due to a Covid outbreak, he also has played in one less game then most of the other players on the list. He has eight touchdowns to go with 4.8 yards-per-carry when defenses are stacking the box against the Titans. NFL teams key on stopping the run when they play the Titans, but Henry somehow manages to win these matchups anyways. The Titans are (5-2) on the season and they are riding Derrick Henry on the way to another successful season. He’s a primary reason why the Titans played in the AFC Championship last year.

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald

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It’s no surprise that Aaron Donald is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year. Donald has 48 total pressures to go with 10 total sacks. For reference, the next closest player on the list is T.J. Watt at 39 pressures. The production that Donald has from the interior of the defense is unlike any other player who has ever played his position. He has already won the award twice in 2017 and 2018 and he’s well on his way to a third Defensive Player of the Year award. Something you don’t typically see from a defensive player are MVP votes, but Donald is so great, that he typically will earn a few votes there as well.

Most Valuable Player: Russell Wilson

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Of any player to any team team, Russell Wilson is this years Most Valuable Player. To think that Wilson has yet to ever receive a single vote for an MVP award should bring shame to voters. The things that Wilson has accomplished in his short career puts him on the path of a Hall of Fame career. In fact, a bold take is that Russell Wilson will eventually end his career and enter as a First Ballot Hall of Famer. The next step to this path is winning this years MVP.

In seven games, Wilson leads the league in passing touchdowns at 26 and is on his way to surpassing the record of 55 set by Peyton Manning in 2013. The Seahawks sit atop the NFC with a (6-1) record and hold PFF’s number one offense with a score of 88.7. Wilson has helped turn D.K. Metcalf into the next NFL superstar with pinpoint accuracy on throws deep down the field. If Wilson can continue to drive this offense and keep the Seahawks winning big games, he will end the year on top of the NFL’s most prestigious personal award.

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I am an editor for the Brawl Network. I also write for Chargers Brawl and cover the NFL Draft.


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