2014 WalterFootball.com NFL Awards

The 15th-annual WalterFootball.com Awards are here! Stay tuned for a 2015 NFL Mock Draft update in a couple of days. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

M.V.P. – Aaron Rodgers, Packers.

I usually don’t agree with the true MVP winner, so I anticipated that J.J. Watt would claim the award. Watt was incredible this past season, but he couldn’t have been MVP because he didn’t lead his team to the playoffs. The counter to that is he didn’t have a quarterback, but that’s precisely the point. The quarterback position is so valuable that a signal-caller has to be the MVP almost every year. Watt wasn’t even the MVP of his own division. He was the best player, but he wasn’t the most valuable.

There were two clear-cut MVP candidates: Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. Both carried their teams, both of which would’ve been awful had they been injured. Rodgers was better, so I’ll give the award to him. We all saw what happens to the Packers when he’s not in the lineup when they sputtered without him in 2013. Rodgers was one onside kick recovery away from taking Green Bay to the Super Bowl.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2012: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2011: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2010: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2009: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2008: Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals
2007: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
2005: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2004: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2003: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2002: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2001: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2000: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles

Quarterback of the Year – Aaron Rodgers, Packers.

The best quarterback is usually the MVP, and Aaron Rodgers was the top player at his position. Rodgers, despite playing on one leg during the second half of the year, threw just five interceptions compared to 38 touchdowns. If all the NFL teams were drafting all the league’s players out of a pool, Rodgers would probably be the first player chosen, though Andrew Luck would garner some consideration.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Peyton Manning, Broncos
2012: Peyton Manning, Broncos
2011: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2010: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2009: Peyton Manning, Colts
2008: Drew Brees, Saints
2007: Tom Brady, Patriots
2006: Drew Brees, Saints
2005: Carson Palmer, Bengals
2004: Peyton Manning, Colts
2003: Peyton Manning, Colts
2002: Rich Gannon, Raiders
2001: Kurt Warner, Rams
2000: Peyton Manning, Colts

Running Back of the Year – DeMarco Murray, Cowboys.

Prior to this season, DeMarco Murray was seen as an unreliable player. He got hurt every year, so despite the fact that no one really doubted his talent, it was pretty much seen as a given that he wouldn’t be able to make it through the 2014 season. Murray proved everyone wrong, rushing for 1,845 yards – nearly 500 more than the No. 2 player in that category, Le’Veon Bell. Murray will generate a ton of interest in free agency this offseason.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Jamaal Charlies, Chiefs
2012: Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2011: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
2010: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
2009: Chris Johnson, Titans
2008: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
2007: Brian Westbrook, Eagles
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
2005: Larry Johnson, Chiefs
2004: Curtis Martin, Jets
2003: LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
2002: Priest Holmes, Chiefs
2001: Marshall Faulk, Rams
2000: Marshall Faulk, Rams

Wide Receiver of the Year – Antonio Brown, Steelers.

Odell Beckham received a ton of consideration, but Antonio Brown was the more-consistent player all season. In fact, he’s been the most consistent wideout in the NFL over the past two years. The last time he has caught fewer than five passes in a game was during the 2012 campaign. That’s absolutely insane. Brown produces every single week.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Josh Gordon, Browns
2012: Calvin Johnson, Lions
2011: Calvin Johnson, Lions
2010: Roddy White, Falcons
2009: Andre Johnson, Texans
2008: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
2007: Randy Moss, Patriots
2006: Marvin Harrison, Colts
2005: Steve Smith, Panthers
2004: Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers
2003: Randy Moss, Vikings
2002: Marvin Harrison, Colts
2001: Terrell Owens, 49ers
2000: Randy Moss, Vikings

Tight End of the Year – Rob Gronkowski, Patriots.

The difference between the Patriots’ offense that sputtered in 2013 and the one that dominated this past season was Rob Gronkowski. The Gronk was injured for most of 2013, but he was healthy this year, and he managed to lead all tight ends with 1,124 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Greg Olsen was the only other tight end who eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier, but he scored only six times.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Jimmy Graham, Saints
2012: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2011: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2010: Jason Witten, Cowboys
2009: Dallas Clark, Colts
2008: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2007: Jason Witten, Cowboys
2006: Antonio Gates, Chargers
2005: Antonio Gates, Chargers
2004: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2003: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2002: Todd Heap, Ravens
2001: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
2000: Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs

Offensive Tackle of the Year – Joe Thomas, Browns.

It’s time to stop hogging this award, Joe. Thomas has been named the top player at his position for the fourth year in a row, proving how utterly useless left tackles can be if they don’t have a quality quarterback to protect. It’s a shame for Thomas, who’s the league’s best blind-side protector. He surrendered just two sacks in each of the past couple of seasons.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Joe Thomas, Browns
2012: Joe Thomas, Browns
2011: Joe Thomas, Browns
2010: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets
2009: Joe Thomas, Browns
2008: Michael Roos, Titans
2007: Matt Light, Patriots
2006: Tarik Glenn, Colts
2005: Walter Jones, Seahawks
2004: Walter Jones, Seahawks
2003: Jonathan Ogden, Ravens
2002: Willie Roaf, Chiefs
2001: Orlando Pace, Rams
2000: Jonathan Ogden, Ravens

Offensive Guard of the Year – Marshal Yanda, Ravens.

Marshal Yanda and Evan Mathis were the top two tackles in the NFL, but the latter missed half the season, so Yanda has to win this by default. Yanda was terrific in all regards; he permitted just one sack, and he blasted open huge holes for Justin Forsett.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Josh Sitton, Packers
2012: Evan Mathis, Eagles
2011: Carl Nicks, Saints
2010: Josh Sitton, Packers
2009: Jahri Evans, Saints
2008: Kris Dielman, Chargers
2007: Steve Hutchinson, Vikings
2006: Steve Hutchinson, Vikings
2005: Alan Faneca, Steelers
2004: Alan Faneca, Steelers
2003: Will Shields, Chiefs
2002: Ron Stone, 49ers
2001: Alan Faneca, Steelers
2000: Randall McDaniel, Buccaneers

Center of the Year – Nick Mangold, Jets.

The Jets don’t have much going for them, especially now with Rex Ryan gone, but Nick Mangold is an exception. Mangold, who has won this award for the fourth time, had a dominant 2014 campaign. He allowed only one sack, and he allowed Chris Ivory to look like a pretty competent running back.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Dominic Raiola, Lions
2012: John Sullivan, Vikings
2011: Nick Mangold, Jets
2010: Nick Mangold, Jets
2009: Nick Mangold, Jets
2008: Kevin Mawae, Titans
2007: Jeff Saturday, Colts
2006: Olin Kreutz, Bears
2005: Jeff Hartings, Steelers
2004: Kevin Mawae, Jets
2003: Kevin Mawae, Jets
2002: Kevin Mawae, Jets
2001: Olin Kreutz, Bears
2000: Tom Nalen, Broncos

4-3 Defensive End of the Year – Michael Bennett, Seahawks.

Michael Bennett didn’t have the most sacks of the 4-3 defensive ends, but he generated a tremendous pass rush for a player his size (6-3, 275). He also was a dominant force against the run, as his presence was the main reason why Seattle sported one of the NFL’s top ground defenses.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Robert Quinn, Rams
2012: J.J. Watt, Texans (3-4)
2011: Jared Allen, Vikings
2010: Julius Peppers, Bears
2009: Jared Allen, Vikings
2008: Jared Allen, Vikings
2007: Jared Allen, Chiefs
2006: Jason Taylor, Dolphins
2005: Dwight Freeney, Colts
2004: Julius Peppers, Panthers
2003: Michael Strahan, Giants
2002: Jason Taylor, Dolphins
2001: Michael Strahan, Giants
2000: Jason Taylor, Dolphins

3-4 Defensive End of the Year – J.J. Watt, Texans.

Something tells me J.J. Watt is going to win this award for a very long time. Watt is the best player in the NFL, so he’s obviously the top 3-4 defensive end in the league. He can single-handedly dominate a game, and teams with poor offensive lines don’t stand a chance against him.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: J.J. Watt, Texans
2012: J.J. Watt, Texans

Defensive Tackle of the Year – Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers.

Ndamukong Suh was chosen one pick earlier than Gerald McCoy in the 2010 NFL Draft. Suh gets all of the acclaim, and yet McCoy has been the better player when healthy. McCoy has registered 17.5 sacks over the past two seasons, including eight in 2014. That 17.5 figure is 3.5 more than what Suh has accumulated. Besides, McCoy doesn’t go around stomping on player’s ankles. Suh nearly missed the playoff game because of that, so his attitude definitely has to be factored into this award.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
2012: Geno Atkins, Bengals
2011: Justin Smith, 49ers
2010: Kyle Williams, Bills
2009: Kevin Williams, Vikings
2008: Albert Haynesworth, Titans
2007: Albert Haynesworth, Titans
2006: Tommie Harris, Bears
2005: Casey Hampton, Steelers
2004: Jamal Williams, Chargers
2003: Kris Jenkins, Panthers
2002: Warren Sapp, Buccaneers
2001: Warren Sapp, Buccaneers
2000: Warren Sapp, Buccaneers

3-4 Outside Linebacker of the Year – Justin Houston, Chiefs.

This one wasn’t close. Justin Houston won this by a landslide, much like he dominated the league-leader list in terms of sacks. He came just one shy of breaking Michael Strahan’s record. Unfortunately for Houston, he didn’t have someone like Brett Favre on the other end, who was more than willing to take a dive.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Robert Mathis, Colts
2011: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2010: Clay Matthews, Packers
2009: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2008: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2007: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
2006: Shawne Merriman, Chargers

4-3 Outside Linebacker of the Year – Von Miller, Broncos.

Von Miller won’t win this award next year because he’ll be playing in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. Miller was dominant as ever in 2014, registering 14 sacks. In four NFL seasons, Miller has eclipsed 11.5 sacks on three occasions, and the lone outlier came in 2013 when he missed nine games. It’ll be interesting to see how well he plays in the 3-4. Perhaps he’ll break Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Lavonte David, Buccaneers
2012: Von Miller, Broncos
2005: Cato June, Colts
2004: Takeo Spikes, Bills
2003: Keith Bulluck, Titans
2002: Derrick Brooks, Buccaneers
2001: Jamir Miller, Browns
2000: Derrick Brooks, Buccaneers

Inside Linebacker of the Year – Luke Kuechly, Panthers.

Luke Kuechly didn’t have to contend with either of the San Francisco linebackers, so he was able to win this award pretty easily. Kuechly was exceptional in all regards once again. He was forceful against the run and happened to be even better in coverage. He even chipped in with a few sacks as a blitzer. Kuechly helped carry the Panthers into the divisional round of the playoffs once again.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: NaVorro Bowman, 49ers
2012: Patrick Willis, 49ers
2011: Patrick Willis, 49ers
2010: Lawrence Timmons, Steelers
2009: Patrick Willis, 49ers
2008: Ray Lewis, Ravens
2007: Lofa Tatupu, Seahawks
2006: Brian Urlacher, Bears
2005: Brian Urlacher, Bears
2004: Tedy Bruschi, Patriots
2003: Ray Lewis, Ravens
2002: Zach Thomas, Dolphins
2001: Brian Urlacher, Bears
2000: Ray Lewis, Ravens

Cornerback of the Year – Richard Sherman, Seahawks.

It’s so close between Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis. Let’s break down the numbers:

Sherman: 48.0%, 1 TD, 6 INTs, 13.3 yards per rec., 3 penalties
Revis: 51.8%, 4 TDs, 3 INTs, 13.2 yards per rec., 4 penalties

Hmm… maybe not as close as I thought it would be.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Richard Sherman, Seahawks
2012: Richard Sherman, Seahawks
2011: Darrelle Revis, Jets
2010: Tramon Williams, Packers
2009: Darrelle Revis, Jets
2008: Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders
2007: Antonio Cromartie, Chargers
2006: Champ Bailey, Broncos
2005: Champ Bailey, Broncos
2004: Nate Clements, Bills
2003: Ty Law, Patriots
2002: Bobby Taylor, Eagles
2001: Aeneas Williams, Rams
2000: Samari Rolle, Titans

Free Safety of the Year – Eric Weddle, Chargers.

Earl Thomas gets all the acclaim, and he could have easily won this award, but Eric Weddle was a bit better throughout the 2014 season. Weddle carried an injury-ravaged secondary and was dominant in all facets of the game, playing both the run and the pass extremely well.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Jairus Byrd, Bills
2012: Jairus Byrd, Bills
2011: Eric Weddle, Chargers
2010: Nick Collins, Packers
2009: Darren Sharper, Saints
2008: Ed Reed, Ravens
2007: Sean Taylor, Redskins
2006: Brian Dawkins, Eagles
2005: Bob Sanders, Colts
2004: Brian Dawkins, Eagles
2003: Roy Williams, Cowboys
2002: Rod Woodson, Raiders
2001: Brian Dawkins, Eagles
2000: Darren Sharper, Packers

Strong Safety of the Year – Kam Chancellor, Seahawks.

Kam Chancellor got off to a rough start in his first couple of games, but didn’t surrender a single touchdown after Week 2. Chancellor deserves to win this award for the second year in a row; he did a good job matching up against opposing tight ends, including Rob Gronkowski in the Super Bowl. And let’s not forget what he did versus Carolina in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
2012: Reshad Jones, Dolphins
2011: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2010: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2009: Bernard Pollard, Texans
2008: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2007: Bob Sanders, Colts
2006: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2005: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
2004: Ed Reed, Ravens
2003: Ed Reed, Ravens
2002: Lance Schulters, Titans
2001: Mike Brown, Bears
2000: John Lynch, Buccaneers

Kicker of the Year – Matt Bryant, Falcons.

Stephen Gostkowski hit the most field goals, but he drilled just one from 50-plus. Plus, he screwed me in the Green Bay game. Matt Bryant, on the other hand, was 7-of-10 from beyond 50 yards, which is just incredible. He also once again proved to be extremely clutch.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Justin Tucker, Ravens
2012: Blair Walsh, Vikings
2011: David Akers, 49ers
2010: Matt Bryant, Falcons
2009: Garrett Hartley, Saints
2008: Jason Hanson, Lions
2007: Rob Bironas, Titans
2006: Adam Vinatieri, Colts
2005: Neil Rackers, Cardinals
2004: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots
2003: Mike Vanderjagt, Colts
2002: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots
2001: Adam Vinatieri, Patriots
2000: Matt Stover, Ravens

Special Teams Player of the Year – Darren Sproles, Eagles.

Only punt returners could be looked at. Would you believe that there were just six kickoff return touchdowns in 2014? Roger Goodell has done many dumb things, and one was moving the kickoffs closer to midfield. At any rate, Darren Sproles was only one of two players to score twice on special teams. The other was Micah Hyde, but the Packer defensive back was seldom used, attempting just 14 returns. Sproles had 39 and averaged a terrific 13 yards per attempt.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
2012: Jacoby Jones, Ravens
2011: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
2010: Devin Hester, Bears
2009: Joshua Cribbs, Browns
2008: Johnnie Lee Higgins, Raiders
2007: Devin Hester, Bears
2006: Devin Hester, Bears
2005: Jerome Mathis, Texans
2004: Eddie Drummond, Lions
2003: Dante Hall, Chiefs
2002: Michael Lewis, Saints
2001: Troy Brown, Patriots
2000: Derrick Mason, Titans

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Odell Beckham, WR, Giants.

Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans would’ve been strong candidates any other year, but Odell Beckham dwarfed both of their production – in just two-thirds of a season! Beckham didn’t play until Week 5, and he didn’t see major playing time prior to Week 7, yet he caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. He made awesome catches look routine, and he was unstoppable down the stretch. Look at what he did in his final six games: 60 receptions, 842 yards, nine touchdowns. Extrapolate that over a full 16-game slate, and you’d get 160 catches, 2,245 yards and 24 scores. Holy crap.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers 2012: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
2011: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
2010: Sam Bradford, QB, Rams
2009: Sebastian Vollmer, OT, Patriots
2008: Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
2007: Joe Thomas, OT, Browns
2006: Vince Young, QB, Titans
2005: Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers
2004: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
2003: Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
2002: Clinton Portis, RB, Broncos
2001: Anthony Thomas, RB, Bears
2000: Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Aaron Donald, DT, Rams.

Aaron Donald was a riser during the pre-draft process, and he definitely lived up to the hype. He didn’t start until Week 6, but he overpowered the opposition in the trenches during the second half of the year. Finishing with nine sacks and stopping the run well, Donald could make the case that he was the top 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL last year.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Jets
2012: Bobby Wagner, ILB, Seahawks
2011: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, 49ers
2010: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions
2009: Brian Cushing, OLB, Texans
2008: Jerod Mayo, ILB, Patriots
2007: Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers
2006: Mark Anderson, DE, Bears
2005: Lofa Tatupu, ILB, Seahawks
2004: Jonathan Vilma, ILB, Jets
2003: Terence Newman, CB, Cowboys
2002: Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
2001: Kendrell Bell, ILB, Steelers
2000: Corey Simon, DT, Eagles

Special Teams Rookie of the Year – Josh Huff, Eagles.

Josh Huff was one of the six aforementioned players to score on a kickoff return this past season. He didn’t get many opportunities because he didn’t play in the first four games of the year.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
2012: Blair Walsh, Vikings
2011: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
2010: Jacoby Ford, Raiders
2009: Percy Harvin, Vikings
2008: Clifton Smith, Buccaneers
2007: Yamon Figurs, Ravens
2006: Devin Hester, Bears
2005: Jerome Mathis, Texans
2004: Wes Welker, Dolphins
2003: Bethel Johnson, Patriots
2002: Michael “Beer Man” Lewis, Saints
2001: Steve Smith, Panthers
2000: Ron Dixon, Giants

Most Improved Offensive Player – Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens.

Justin Forsett rushed for 1,266 yards and caught 44 passes in 2014. Not bad for someone who had just six carries the year before. Forsett wasn’t even brought back to the Jaguars, yet he turned into a star running back for Baltimore in the wake of Ray Rice’s suspension.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos
2012: Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers
2011: Fred Jackson, RB, Bills
2010: Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos
2009: Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
2008: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
2007: Wes Welker, WR, Patriots
2006: Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins
2005: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
2004: Drew Brees, QB, Chargers
2003: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
2002: Koren Robinson, WR, Seahawks
2001: Troy Brown, WR, Patriots
2000: Jeff Garcia, QB, 49ers

Most Improved Defensive Player – Brandon Marshall, LB, Broncos.

This Brandon Marshall used to be known as the “other” Brandon Marshall prior to this season. The Bears’ Marshall is still the more-famous one, but the Broncos’ Marshall has transformed into a stellar defender. In fact, when Marshall was knocked out of the lineup with an injury late in the regular season, Denver couldn’t stop the run whatsoever.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, Bills
2012: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Jets
2011: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
2010: Cameron Wake, DE/OLB, Dolphins
2009: Ray Edwards, DE, Vikings
2008: James Harrison, DE/OLB, Steelers
2007: Mario Williams, DE, Texans
2006: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders
2005: Derrick Burgess, DE, Raiders
2004: James Hall, DE, Lions
2003: Brian Russell, S, Vikings
2002: Keith Bulluck, OLB, Titans
2001: Ahmed Plummer, CB, 49ers
2000: La’Roi Glover, DT, Saints

M.U.P. (Most Unimportant Player) – Jay Cutler, QB, Bears.

Quarterbacks are generally the leaders of the team. They’re not supposed to quit on the locker room. Jay Cutler is heartless and doesn’t care whether his team wins or loses. Aside from the defense, Cutler single-handedly capsized the team and ultimately got Marc Trestman fired. The worst part is that the Bears can’t get rid of Cutler; they would take such a big cap hit from cutting him that they have no choice but to deal with his indifference again in 2015.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Trent Richardson, RB, Colts
2012: Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, WRs
2011: Albert Haynesworth, DT, Patriots/Buccaneers
2010: Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals
2009: QB Dog Killer, QB, Eagles
2008: Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants
2007: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2006: Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
2005: Terrell Owens, WR, Eagles
2004: Kevan Barlow, RB, 49ers
2003: Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Buccaneers
2002: Barrett Robbins, C, Raiders
2001: Randy Moss, WR, Vikings
2000: Deion Sanders, CB, Redskins

Comeback Player of the Year – Rolando McClain, LB, Cowboys.

Rob Gronkowski won this award in real life, but unlike the Gronk, Rolando McClain was actually out of the NFL, so I feel like he’s more deserving of Comeback Player of the Year. Here’s what I wrote about McClain in the NFL Free Agent Rankings: “McClain came out of nowhere last year. He failed in Baltimore and was out of the league for a season. Dallas gave him a chance, and it paid off; McClain was tremendous against both the run and the pass, serving as the leader of the defense. There’s a chance he could regress, but perhaps he has truly turned his life around.”

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots
2012: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2011: Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos
2010: Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos
2009: Vince Young, QB, Titans
2008: Kerry Collins, QB, Titans
2007: Todd Collins, QB, Redskins
2006: Jeff Garcia, QB, Eagles
2005: Brad Johnson, QB, Vikings
2004: Mark Fields, LB, Panthers
2003: Marcus Robinson, WR, Ravens
2002: Tommy Maddox, QB, Steelers
2001: Garrison Hearst, RB, 49ers

Blue Collar Player of the Year – Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers.

The 49ers fielded a team full of quitters this past season. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree both gave minimal effort, and the same can be said about Jim Harbaugh. Anquan Boldin, on the other hand, brought it every week. While enduring Colin Kaepernick’s terrible inconsistency, Boldin caught 83 passes for 1,062 yards and five touchdowns – despite being 34 years old.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Josh McCown, QB, Bears
2012: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
2011: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
2010: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2009: Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
2008: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
2007: Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars
2006: Lorenzo Neal, FB, Chargers
2005: Tedy Bruschi, ILB, Patriots
2004: Troy Brown, WR/CB, Patriots
2003: Brett Favre, QB, Packers
2002: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
2001: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers

Perseverance Award – Cam Newton, QB, Panthers.

So many things were stacked against Cam Newton. He had to deal with a horrendous offensive line and a receiving corps completely devoid of talent. Once the games started, Newton suffered multiple injuries, and the team was just 3-8-1 heading into December. A healthy and energized Newton, however, was able to lead the Panthers on a four-game winning streak. Carolina somehow entered the playoffs and beat Arizona before playing a respectable game against Seattle.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos
2012: Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
2011: Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos
2010: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2009: NFL Fans (for Brett Favre coverage)
2008: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2007: Eli Manning, QB, Giants
2006: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
2005: Cincinnati Bengals Fans
2004: John Fox, head coach, Panthers
2003: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles

Celebration Award – Jerry Jones and Chris Christie, Cowboys.

I thought about the Marshawn Lynch crotch grab or the Doug Baldwin fake poop on the football, but the one that stood out to me was the celebration that had all of Twitter buzzing for days. After all, Christie completely ruined his chances of becoming President of the United States by hugging Jones, all while his lard giggled up and down. But Jerry Jones didn’t want Chris Christie there. For proof, check the link.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks (Michael Crabtree taunt)
2012: Ray Lewis, Ravens (Ray Lewis dance)
2011: Tim Tebow, Broncos (Tebowing)
2010: Derek Anderson, Cardinals (press conference meltdown)
2009: Chad Ochocinco, Bengals (salute to Chris Henry)
2008: Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl ball prop)
2007: Jerry Jones, Cowboys (rapture)
2006: None (fine for celebrations)
2005: Chad Johnson, Bengals (many)
2004: Terrell Owens, Eagles (many)
2003: Joe Horn, Saints (cell phone)
2002: Terrell Owens, 49ers (Sharpee)

“I Don’t Belong in the NFL” Award – Johnny Manziel, Browns.

Johnny Manziel told the media that he didn’t belong in the NFL, when he referred to himself as an average 21-year-old kid just living life. Manziel clearly didn’t understand what went into being a professional quarterback, and it showed. In a game and a half of action, Manziel looked completely overmatched. He barely had any positive plays, performing like one of the worst signal-callers in league history. His poor play didn’t serve as a reality check, however, as he foolishly hosted a party a couple of days before Cleveland’s Week 17 game. Manziel has checked himself into rehab, which is probably a PR move to save face. He won’t be in the NFL much longer.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Jonathan Martin, Dolphins
2012: Titus Young, Lions
2011: Caleb Hanie, Bears
2010: Vince Young, Titans
2009: Al Davis, Raiders
2008: Detroit Lions
2007: Randy Mueller, Dolphins
2006: Charley Casserly, Texans
2005: Charley Casserly, Texans
2004: John York, 49ers
2003: Steve Spurrier, Redskins
2002: Marty Mornhinweg, Lions
2001: Daniel Snyder, Redskins

Joe Value Player – Darrell Bovell, OC, Seahawks

This new award, suggested by forum member Clov, is given to the player who provided us with the biggest “what the f*** are you doing” moment of the year.

The Browns probably could’ve won this again when they paired Josh Gordon, a known substance addict, with Johnny Manziel, one of the greatest enablers on this planet. The results were horrendous – but not nearly as bad as Darrell Bovell’s play-call on the final real play of the Super Bowl. The Seahawks had the victory in hand; all they had to do was run the ball with Marshawn Lynch. Even a safe, play-action pass wouldn’t have hurt. Throwing a slant into traffic was insanely stupid. In fact, Wikipedia even said that Bovell was the first clinically brain-dead individual to ever coach a Super Bowl.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Cleveland Browns Front Office
2012: Mark Sanchez (Butt Fumble), Jets

Free Agent Nightmare Award – Jairus Byrd, S, Saints.

This new award, suggested by forum member SirA, is given to the player who was the worst free agent signing of the offseason. There were a number of poor contracts handed out last offseason, as usual. Here are three terrible ones:

DE Michael Johnson: 5 years, $43.75M; $24M guaranteed
S Michael Mitchell: 5 years, $25M; $5.25M guaranteed
OT Anthony Collins: 5 years, $30M; $15M guaranteed

All of these players either did nothing or struggled immensely. However, these were awesome bargain deals compared to this contract:

S Jairus Byrd: 6 years, $54M; $28M guaranteed

Byrd played just four games before suffering a season-ending injury, but he was terrible in those contests. He held up poorly against the run, while quarterbacks who targeted him maintained a rating in the 90s. Not exactly what the Saints thought they were getting when they gave him $28 million guaranteed.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Jeff Ireland, GM, Dolphins
2012: Robert Meachem, WR, Chargers

The Backdoor Bandit Award – Pete Morelli, NFL Official.

This new award, suggested by forum mod VBSiena, is given to the player who cost me the most money because of something bogus. The Backdoor Bandit was the moniker that I gave to Seneca Wallace, who was responsible for putting together a ridiculous amount of backdoor covers.

This didn’t actually cost me money, but it could have. It has to win this award though because it was one of the most crooked moments in all of sports. I’m referring to the overturned pass interference call in the Dallas-Detroit playoff game. It cost the Lions a playoff victory by allowing the Cowboys to take over after a punt. They scored, and they nearly had a front-door field goal following a Matthew Stafford fumble. Fortunately, Detroit recovered the first of Stafford’s cough-ups.

This call was incredible. No one had ever seen the official throw a flag and announce the penalty, and then inexplicably reverse it. I still can’t believe that happened. It allowed the NFL to have a highly rated contest between the Packers and the Cowboys the following week, which had conspiracy theorists like myself wondering if this was orchestrated by Roger Goodell to secure a better TV contract in the future.

As for something that actually did cost me money, the call in the Week 2 Monday nighter between the Eagles and the Colts was brutal. Here’s what I wrote in the recap:

I’m not sure if there’s a point in writing about a game that probably was fixed. If it wasn’t, the officials were biased for some inexplicable reason. The Colts were driving, up seven and in the red zone. Brandon Boykin had one of the most blatant defensive holds you’ll ever see on T.Y. Hilton. The infraction wasn’t called, and Andrew Luck’s interception stood. On the ensuing possession, Indianapolis was whistled for a horse collar that wasn’t even close to being such a penalty. This allowed the Eagles to continue their drive and ultimately score the tying touchdown.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Clete Blakeman, Official
2012: Ray Rice, Ravens
2009: Ted Ginn, Dolphins (retroactively)
2008: Seneca Wallace, Seahawks (retroactively)

Scrub of the Year – Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints.

This award is for the player who was the Scrub of the Week the most times on my NFL Power Rankings page. Only one player held that distinction twice, and that would be Jimmy Graham.

It’s a little unfair that Graham gets this “award” because he labored through an injury in the second half of the season, but I’m kind of glad because it gives me the opportunity to bring up the Saints, who cost me more money than any team this year. The Saints were an ungodly abomination, with their downfall being inexplicable. They held a top-10 defense in 2013, yet maintained one of the worst stop units in the NFL this past season despite spending tons of money on Jairus Byrd. Drew Brees, meanwhile, was downright awful at times. There’s a chance he could be done, though Tom Brady also looked “done” in 2013 and managed to rebound.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
2012: Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets
2011: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers; Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
2010: Randy Moss, WR, Patriots/Vikings/Titans
2009: Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers
2008: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
2007: Brian Griese, QB, Bears
2006: Rex Grossman, QB, Bears
2005: J.P. Losman, QB, Bills; Vinny Testaverde, QB, Jets
2004: Mike Martz, head coach, Rams
2003: Joey Harrington, QB, Lions; Jeff Garcia, QB, 49ers; Drew Bledsoe, QB, Bills
2002: Randy Moss, WR, Vikings
2001: Elvis Grbac, QB, Ravens

Coach of the Year – Bruce Arians, Cardinals.

The NFL got this one right as well. The Cardinals were the final team to be undefeated, yet they had no business having a zero in the loss column, given that Carson Palmer missed some time, while the defense didn’t have several of its key players. Arians got the most out of his team, but unfortunately, it was too taxing toward the end of the year. When Palmer and Drew Stanton went down, Arizona was cooked. It’s a shame, as Arians may have taken his team into the second round of the playoffs with Stanton at the helm.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2012: John Harbaugh, Ravens
2011: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers
2010: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2009: Rex Ryan, Jets
2008: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2007: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2006: Bill Belichick, Patriots
2005: Lovie Smith, Bears
2004: Bill Cowher, Steelers
2003: Bill Parcells, Cowboys
2002: John Gruden, Buccaneers
2001: Bill Belichick, Patriots

Coordinator of the Year – Gary Kubiak, Ravens.

Gary Kubiak wasn’t much of a head coach when he was with the Texans – John Elway, what are you doing? – but he showed that he’s one of the best coordinators in the business. Not only did Kubiak transform Justin Forsett into a star running back; he got the most out of Joe Flacco, as the former Super Bowl champion posted the best stats of his career in 2014.

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: Rob Ryan, Saints
2012: Bruce Arians, Colts
2011: Wade Phillips, Texans
2010: Dom Capers, Packers
2009: Gregg Williams, Saints
2008: Dick LeBeau, Steelers
2007: Steve Spagnulo, Giants
2006: Rex Ryan, Ravens
2005: Dick LeBeau, Steelers
2004: Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, Patriots
2003: Jim Johnson, Eagles
2002: Monte Kiffin, Buccaneers
2001: Mike Mularkey, Steelers

WalterFootball.com Award (Best Player) – J.J. Watt, DE, Texans.

Once again, J.J. Watt is not the most valuable player because quarterbacks hold way more value than any other position in the current state of the NFL. Watt, however, is the best player in the league, and I’m not sure it’s even close. No one else can dominate weak competition like he does; he’s the single reason why the Titans and Jaguars couldn’t beat Houston this year. Watt simply dominated the weak offensive lines and crushed the spirit of the opposing quarterback. Oh, and he also caught several touchdown passes to boot. Unfortunately, he can’t play quarterback for the Texans. Or can he…?

Past Winners of this Award:
2013: J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
2012: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2011: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2010: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2009: Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
2008: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
2007: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
2005: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2004: Ed Reed, S, Ravens
2003: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
2002: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
2001: Marshall Faulk, RB, Rams
2000: Marshall Faulk, RB, Rams

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