2015 WalterFootball.com NFL Awards: 16th Annual

The 16th-annual WalterFootball.com Awards are here! Stay tuned for a 2016 NFL Mock Draft update in a couple of days. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

M.V.P. – Cam Newton, Panthers.

In case you missed it, Cam Newton let the entire world know that he was the MVP by wearing snazzy gold shoes prior to the Super Bowl. That arrogance may have cost him the game, as the Panthers appeared to think they were invincible. Despite that, however, Newton was the obvious MVP for the 2015 campaign. If there’s any doubt about that, ask yourself this: Did you think the Panthers could make any sort of deep playoff push when Kelvin Benjamin was knocked out for the year before the season even began? No one gave Carolina any sort of chance, yet Newton put the team on his back and led them to a 15-1 record.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
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 – Cam Newton, Panthers.

The best quarterback is usually the MVP, and Cam Newton was the top player at his position. Again, Newton was missing his top receiver, so besides Greg Olsen, he really didn’t have anyone to throw to. His “weapons,” aside from Olsen, were the unreliable Ted Ginn, the drop-prone Philly Brown, the pedestrian Jerricho Cotchery, and the inexperienced Devin Funchess. Despite this, Newton threw for 35 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He also ran in 10 extra scores.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
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 – Adrian Peterson, Vikings.

Adrian Peterson was forced to sit out most of the 2014 campaign, so there was some question about whether he’d be just as effective after a layoff. The answer was a resounding yes, as Peterson won the 2015 rushing title. He gained 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns, helping the Vikings win the NFC North. It’s hard to believe that this is only the second time Peterson has claimed this award, but he definitely deserved it.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
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.

Antonio Brown has been the most-consistent receiver in the NFL over the past three years. He has also improved over each of the past three seasons, and he was downright unstoppable in 2015. Despite missing Ben Roethlisberger for a handful of games, Brown logged 136 catches, 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brown surely would’ve eclipsed the 2,000-yard barrier had Roethlisberger been on the field for all 16 contests.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Antonio Brown, Steelers
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 the past two seasons was Rob Gronkowski. The Gronk was injured for most of 2013, but he was healthy the past two years. He managed to lead all tight ends with 1,176 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns despite missing a game late in the season.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
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.” I wrote this last year, and yet Thomas was once again the left tackle in the business – and sadly, he still couldn’t get his team into the playoffs, though that’s not his fault in the slightest.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Joe Thomas, Browns
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 was the top guard in the NFL for the second season in a row. The Ravens had numerous injuries all year, but Yanda was the one player who was a constant force. Zack Martin was a close second.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Marshal Yanda, Ravens
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 – Travis Frederick, Cowboys.

Man, I was wrong on Travis Frederick. The Cowboys still could’ve obtained him later than they did in the draft, but they shouldn’t have any regrets about “reaching” for him just a bit because he has emerged as the top center in the NFL. He’s equally proficient in pass and run blocking.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Nick Mangold, Jets
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 has won this award for the second year in a row. Once again, he generated a tremendous pass rush for a player his size (6-3, 275), collecting 10 sacks. 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:
2014: Michael Bennett, Seahawks
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.

What I wrote last year is still very applicable: “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.” Watt was once again tremendous in 2015, so unless he’s hurt, he’ll continue to win this award.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: J.J. Watt, Texans
2013: J.J. Watt, Texans
2012: J.J. Watt, Texans

Defensive Tackle of the Year – Aaron Donald, Rams.

Like J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald stands a great chance of repeatedly winning the award for top player at his position. Donald is an absolute force at defensive tackle. He notched 11 sacks in 2015, a very high number for an interior lineman, and he also stuffed the run exceptionally well. Donald has shown the ability to single-handedly dominate a game. Not many defensive players can do that.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
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 – Von Miller, Broncos.

Khalil Mack was probably a bit better in the regular season, but the playoffs are taken account into these awards, and rightfully so. I really don’t understand why the NFL doesn’t do this. At any rate, Von Miller had one of the all-time Super Bowl performances, single-handedly dismantling the No. 1 offense in the NFL.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Justin Houston, Chiefs
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 – Jamie Collins, Patriots.

Jamie Collins did everything Bill Belichick needed him to do and more. Collins was an effective blitzer, notching 5.5 sacks. He was a great run defender, and he also did exceptionally well when dropping into coverage. Collins had an amazing playoff run, too, and he’s set to earn a mammoth contract soon.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Von Miller, Broncos
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.

If Luke Kuechly didn’t take a pick-six back to the house in a big contest, you were almost shocked. Kuechly is the best non-pass-rushing linebacker in the game right now, and I don’t think any sane person would argue otherwise. There really isn’t any other inside linebacker who is remotely close to him.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Luke Kuechly, Panthers
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 – Josh Norman, Panthers.

With Richard Sherman dealing with a down year and Darrelle Revis apparently declining, someone had to swoop in and steal this award. Josh Norman did so easily, routinely locking down opposing No. 1 receivers. Josh Norman wasn’t a very good tackler, but Deion Sanders was criticized for the same flaw, and I think we can all agree that Sanders is one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Richard Sherman, Seahawks
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 Berry, Chiefs.

This was a close call between three players: Harrison Smith, Earl Thomas and Eric Berry. Any one of them could’ve been named top free safety, but only one of them was recovering from freaking cancer. It wasn’t known how Berry would play this year, yet he performed on a Pro Bowl level.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Eric Weddle, Chargers
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 – T.J. Ward, Broncos.

There weren’t really any great candidates for the top strong safety award. Don’t get me wrong – T.J. Ward had a great year – but the three free safeties I mentioned, as well as some I didn’t, such as Devin McCourty, were better than Ward. I doubt Ward cares too much about that, given that he was the only one of them to walk away with a Super Bowl ring this year.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
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 – Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots.

I know, I know, Stephen Gostkowski whiffed on an extra point in the AFC Championship, but that was his first post-touchdown miss in 2015, and he was one of the few kickers who didn’t have one in the regular season, nailing all 52 tries. Gostkowski was also 33-of-36 on regular field goals.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Matt Bryant, Falcons
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 – Tyler Lockett, Seahawks.

Tyler Lockett was one of four players who scored two return touchdowns in 2015. Of those, he was just one of two who took back both punts and kickoffs. Dwayne Harris was the other, but Lockett wins the tie-breaker based on what he did on offense. Lockett was highly productive at times during the second half of the season, showcasing his amazing potential.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Darren Sproles, Eagles
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 – Todd Gurley, RB, Rams.

Jameis Winston, Amari Cooper and David Johnson all deserve consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Todd Gurley was the best first-year player of the bunch. Gurley entered his rookie campaign coming off a knee injury, and there was no clear target date for his return. Gurley ended up missing a few games and received just 229 carries in the process, yet he still somehow finished third in rushing yards, thanks to his excellent 4.8 average. Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, one team said Gurley would be the next Jim Brown. Gurley is certainly off to a Hall of Fame start to his career.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Odell Beckham, WR, Giants
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 – Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs.

While you could make a case for a handful of players for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, there was only one clear candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. That would be Marcus Peters, who won the award in real life, and for good reason. Peters was exceptional in coverage in his initial NFL campaign, recording eight interceptions. This was not a surprise, as Peters probably would’ve been a top-five selection had he not entered the NFL with off-the-field issues.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
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 – Tyler Lockett, Seahawks.

Tyler Lockett won the Special Teams Player of the Year award, so it would be quite silly not to award him for the same award in the rookie category.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Josh Huff, Eagles
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 – Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns.

Kirk Cousins immediately popped into my head when thinking about who should win this award, but then I remembered Gary Barnidge. It’s amazing what Barnidge did in 2015, as he was a career journeyman backup since he entered the league in 2008. Barnidge’s career-high figure for receptions in a season prior to 2015 was 13. That’s now 79, as Barnidge tallied 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens 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 – David Amerson, CB, Raiders.

David Amerson was once projected to be a first-round pick, but his final year at N.C. State was so brutal that he slipped to the end of the second frame. The Redskins took a chance on him, but he was so awful that they waived him in September. The Raiders took a shot on him, and the move turned out to be one of the best transactions of the year. Amerson finally lived up to his potential and served as an exceptional starter.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Brandon Marshall, LB, Broncos
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) – Robert Griffin, QB, Redskins.

Robert Griffin was projected to be Washington’s starting quarterback heading into the preseason, but he was so bad in the exhibition contests that Jay Gruden went against the wishes of his employer, Daniel Snyder, and opted to start Kirk Cousins instead. The move panned out brilliantly, as the Redskins were able to win the NFC East. Thus, after a 2-year absence from the postseason, Washington finally made it back – without the help of the quarterback they spent so many resources to acquire. It would’ve been extremely difficult imagining it playing out this way back in 2012, but Griffin is now completely irrelevant.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
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 – Eric Berry, S, Chiefs.

Is there any doubt who should win this award? I mean, Carson Palmer or someone like that could win it in a normal year, but Eric Berry beat cancer and returned to the field to be one of the NFL’s most-dominant defenders. And people want to call Caitlyn Jenner a hero. Unlike Jenner, Berry actually epitomizes that word.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Rolando McClain, LB, Cowboys
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 – Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins.

Jordan Reed? This may seem odd at first, as Reed isn’t exactly synonymous with a blue-collar player. However, the work Reed put into this past offseason to make sure he’d stay healthy for once needs to be mentioned. Reed fixed his entire workout regimen and began eating healthily just so he’d be able to remain on the field. It all paid off, as Reed was one of the top three players at his position in 2015.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers
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 – Tom Brady, QB, Patriots.

Tom Brady obviously used a competitive advantage in 2014 to help him win his fourth Super Bowl. There’s no doubt about that. Forget all of the tells he was guilty of in his press conferences that psychologists broke down rather easily; innocent people simply don’t destroy evidence. That has never happened in the history of humanity. Having said that, Brady was facing a maelstrom of legal BS throughout the entire offseason, and he looked like hot garbage in the preseason as a result. I even thought he was done, which turned out to be quite foolish. Brady somehow brushed all of the distractions aside and performed like one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Brady then had to deal with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, yet he survived and led his team to the AFC Championship, where he was one two-point conversion away from perhaps reaching the Super Bowl again.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
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 – Carolina Panthers.

No, I’m not talking about that stupid dabbing thing, whatever the hell that is. I still don’t really know, nor do I ever want to. It’s been described as the “new Macarena” to me, which just seems ridiculous and moronic. And now I sound like an 80-year-old man, but whatever. I don’t care. Now, get off my damn lawn!

This award is more about the Panthers giving footballs to kids. Though the fat collectible guys are hurt by this – myself included – it’s actually a nice gesture.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Jerry Jones and Chris Christie, Cowboys (GoP candidacy ruined)
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.

Congratulations to Johnny Manziel, who won this award for the second year in a row. Great going, Johnny. I still remember when Manziel was hounded by the media prior to training camp in his rookie year for partying too much, to which he replied, “I’m just a regular kid.” So, regular kids show up high to work, fly out to Vegas and pretend to be someone else while wearing a blond wig, and (allegedly) beat up their girlfriends, huh? That doesn’t exactly sound like my childhood. Then again, maybe I can’t remember anything because I’m a grumpy old man.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Johnny Manziel, Browns
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 – Vontaze Burfict, LB, Bengals

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 Bengals had the game in hand. They were finally going to win a playoff contest for the first time in nearly two decades. They impressively came back from being down 15-0 despite having their backup quarterback on the field. And then Vontaze Burfict happened. Burfict nearly decapitated Antonio Brown on Pittsburgh’s last-second drive, putting the Steelers into field-goal range. As a consolation prize, Burfict did knock Brown out for the divisional round; otherwise, Pittsburgh would’ve beaten Denver and advanced to the AFC Championship.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Darrell Bovell, Seahawks 2013: Cleveland Browns Front Office
2012: Mark Sanchez (Butt Fumble), Jets

Free Agent Nightmare Award – Nate Allen, S, Raiders.

There are three obvious choices for this one:

Eagles sign CB Byron Maxwell (6 years, $63M; $25M guaranteed)
49ers sign WR Torrey Smith (5 years, $40M; $22M guaranteed)
Raiders sign S Nate Allen (4 years, $23M; $11.8M guaranteed)

All three were horrible signings, and I have an urge to nominate Byron Maxwell for the award just so I can bash Chip Kelly some more. Kelly single-handedly ruined the Eagles, but the good thing for him is that he can’t ruin the 49ers because Jed York has ruined them already.

Nate Allen is the easy winner. Why? Because he’s not even on the team any longer! The Eagles and 49ers will give Maxwell and Torrey Smith, respectively, another chance. The Raiders, on the other hand, have already cut Allen, whose deal would’ve made more sense at the time if it were $2.3 million over four years rather than $23 million.

(Edit: I wrote this right when Allen was cut. The Raiders re-signed him to a 1-year, $3 million deal. Still too much)

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Jairus Byrd, S, Saints
2013: Jeff Ireland, GM, Dolphins
2012: Robert Meachem, WR, Chargers

The Backdoor Bandit Award – Me.

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.

Yes, me. I’m giving this dubious award to myself based on how poorly I’ve been handicapping this decade. I’ve been lazy and complacent, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’ve been way too reliant on trends because picking games that way was just so much easier. Instead, I should’ve been focusing on actually handicapping the games.

The good news is that I’ve finally realized that trends should not be considered very much when handicapping, and thanks to my new methods, I had my best 5-week stretch ever in the regular season. Add a strong playoff run, and I nearly broke even if the preseason was excluded. I still finished in the red, but I have to say that I’m very excited for 2016. I haven’t been this stoked for a season in a very long time.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Pete Morelli, Official
2013: Clete Blakeman, Official
2012: Ray Rice, Ravens
2009: Ted Ginn, Dolphins (retroactively)
2008: Seneca Wallace, Seahawks (retroactively)

Scrub of the Year – Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers.

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 thrice, and that would be Eddie Lacy.

I don’t think there’s ever been a player more deserving of this dubious award than Lacy. The formerly talented back ballooned 30 pounds this offseason, and it showed in his running. He was extremely slow and sluggish, and his lethargy even prompted someone to retweet all of his Twitter posts about food over the past several years. Lacy is a man who loves to eat, and if he’s not careful, he won’t have any NFL money remaining to pay for all of his cuisines in the near future.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
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.

I have to say that I was going to give this to Ron Rivera prior to the Super Bowl, but he was so awful in the final game that I can’t stomach calling him the best coach in 2015. Thus, the award should be given to Bruce Arians again, who once again did a fantastic job of getting the most out of his players. Unfortunately for Arians, he can’t seem to have a healthy team entering the playoffs. He endured the quarterbacking issues in 2014, and this year it was Carson Palmer’s finger and Tyrann Mathieu’s knee that did the Cardinals in.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Bruce Arians, Cardinals
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 – Wade Phillips, Broncos.

How can this not be Wade Phillips? He’s the best defensive coordinator in the business, and the game plan he put together in the Super Bowl was truly remarkable. Phillips’ defense was ranked No. 1 in so many categories this past season that it’s impossible to list all of them without running out of room. Oh, and to top it off, Phillips drunkenly went savage on Cam Newton on Twitter following the Super Bowl victory, which was pretty epic.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: Gary Kubiak, Ravens
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.

How did the Texans even reach the playoffs? I mean, sure they played in a weak division, but they still put together a winning record. So, I ask again, how did they do this? It certainly wasn’t Brian Hoyer. There was no running game to speak of. DeAndre Hopkins was exceptional, but he was the only offensive player who did anything. It was almost all about J.J. Watt, who dominated the trenches yet again in 2015. Watt continues to show why he’s the best player in the NFL, and it was not a surprise at all to see Houston completely unravel in the playoffs once he left with an injury.

Past Winners of this Award:
2014: J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
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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