As is tradition, at the end of each regular season, 50 sportswriters vote on who they think deserve each NFL Award. While the Awards are more for show than anything-- though an incentive on some contracts-- a lot of pride goes into winning these awards year-after-year. When players win Offensive or Defensive Rookie of the Year, it's likely that their next goal is Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year. Then, the next time, MVP.
And while it doesn't often happen like that, every year, NFL fans do their best to guess who wins each award. Whether it's their favorite player of their team or just respecting a player for their greatness, winning one of the NFL Awards is an impressive feat. The awards could be seen as irrelevant by the player themselves, but it has to feel good to put in a year of hard work and be awarded as one of the best in the league.
So, without further ado, let's see which players were successful in wooing their peers for the 2022 NFL Awards.
AP Most Valuable Player: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Yeah, this was one of the more obvious winners of an award this season. There's very small doubt that anyone truly believes Patrick Mahomes didn't deserve this award.
Of the finalists, Mahomes earned 48 of the 50 possible first-place MVP votes. The only other players to get a first-place vote included Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen, both of whom receiving only one vote a piece. Mahomes finished the regular season with 5,250 yards (1st), 41 TDs (1st), 12 INTs (T-26th), and had a starting record of 14-3 (1st in AFC and AFC West).
While win-loss record shouldn't be seen as a quarterback stat, it's hard to argue that Mahomes wasn't the reason for most of the success this team had-- especially considering their lack of star power outside Travis Kelce. After losing Tyreek Hill in the off season, plenty of people wrote the Chiefs off as potentially not even winning their division. And they were wrong. Very, very wrong.
AP Coach of the Year: Brian Daboll, New York Giants
There's a little bit more controversy over this award, as this season, there were a handful of good coaches who could've likely won this award.
The ranking of first-place Coach of the Year votes go as follows:
- Brian Daboll (16 votes)
- Kyle Shanahan (12 votes)
- Sean McDermott (7 votes)
- Nick Sirianni (6 votes)
- Doug Pederson (5 votes)
There's a case for Shanahan, given he had four total quarterbacks play in a game this season, one of which being Mr. Irrelevant.
That said, what Brian Daboll was able to do with the Giants is hard to argue as anything other than award-winning. The Giants, prior to this year, were 4-13, had a point-differential of -158, and had a nearly bottom-ranked offense and defense.
This year, Daboll comes in and leads the Giants to a 9-7-1 record with a point differential of only -6, and brought the team to a middle-of-the-road team in terms of offensive and defensive ranking. Oh, and they made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The two biggest cases for Coach of the Years were Daboll and Shanahan, and while some could argue it should've gone to Shanahan, the people voted Daboll.
AP Comeback Player of the Year: Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Here's another award that was somewhat in the air between a couple of guys.
The first player to come to mind was Saquon Barkley, given his return after a slew of injuries. But, at the same time, Geno Smith made an arguably greater return from being written out of the league by fans. As said by Smith in an emotional victory over Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos, "They wrote me off; I ain't write back, though."
Smith, throughout the year, was a potential MVP candidate. That said, eventually, the shine wore off, and it was Mahomes' award to lose. However, Smith had no ordinary season with Seattle. Geno Smith led the league in completion percentage (69.8%), threw for 4,282 yards, 30 TDs, and had 11 INTs. So, while Saquon Barkley had an incredible year, too, it's hard to argue Geno Smith wasn't more deserving.
AP Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Another award where, it was pretty obvious who was winning this one for a while. Justin Jefferson was the clear voter's favorite. The only other player to get double-digit votes was the MVP, Patrick Mahomes.
This season, while it started off shaky, was another dominant year by the young superstar. Jefferson ranked first in both receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809), while tying for 11th in receiving TDs (8). Having a receiver get almost 2,000 yards is crazy in its own regard, even if there's an extra game now with the 17-game season. Jefferson, averaged-- yes, averaged-- 106.4 yards per game and 13.4 yards per touch.
Not much else needs to be said here. Justin Jefferson is an absolute problem for everyone other than the Minnesota Vikings, and that's going to be the case until he puts the golden jacket on.
AP Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers
Now, this award got some people upset online. Not necessarily because Nick Bosa won the award, but because Micah Parsons didn't receive a single first-place vote. Of the 50 voters, 46 of them voted Nick Bosa, while the other four were split between Haason Reddick (2), Chris Jones (1), and Quinnen Williams (1).
Nick Bosa led the league in sacks (18.5), while also being second in the league in tackles for loss (19), so it's not too surprising to see him win this award.
Similarly to the MVP being seen as a quarterback award, Defensive Player of the Years seems to now go to the sack leader each year. That's not actually the case, but three of the last four DPoYs were also the sack leader-- though Aaron Donald was second in sacks and TFLs his most recent DPoY year.
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year: Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets
In all honesty, while Garrett Wilson was probably the best offensive rookie, the committee didn't do a good job with their votes. To have Chris Olave ranked fourth is incredibly odd, especially since Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave had very similar stats in their rookie seasons.
Garrett Wilson 2022 stats: 83 receptions, 1,103 yards, 4 TDs (17 games, 12 starts)
Chris Olave 2022 stats: 72 receptions, 1,042 yards, 4 TDs (15 games, nine starts)
Now, Garrett Wilson still probably should be the Offensive Rookie of the Year, as missing games shouldn't hurt a different player's odds, but the fact that Olave was fourth in rankings is the issue. Both of the Ohio State receivers had incredible rookie campaigns, and they'll hope to continue producing big numbers each season from here on out.
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets
RELATED: The Dip Behind the Drip: The True Story of How Sauce Gardner Got His Nickname
Maybe there wasn't actual controversy on this one, but personally, I wouldn't have voted Sauce Gardner as the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Now, maybe that's harsh, but to be a rookie and be named first-team All-Pro was a bit of an over-exaggeration for Sauce Gardner. Is Sauce a good corner? Yeah, even a really good corner. But, his interception numbers were rather low for someone who won not only Defensive Rookie of the Year, but was also voted as one of the two-best corner backs in the entire NFL.
Blind resume time, let's go. (Don't cheat, please.)
- Corner Back A: 75 tackles, 2 INTs, 20 passes defended
- Corner Back B: 63 tackles, 6 INTs, 16 passes defended
One of these corners was a first-team All-Pro, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and was voted into the Pro Bowl, while the other corner just got voted into the Pro Bowl. Now, one had more total tackles and passes defended, but was the gap big enough to warrant such a lack of respect to the other player?
Corner Back A was Sauce Gardner, and Corner Back B was Tariq Woolen.
To me, it doesn't make sense that Gardner is a first-team All-Pro and Woolen isn't an All-Pro corner at all. That's not what this award is about, but since it's a hot topic with Sauce Gardner winning, it had to be brought up. Congrats to Sauce; he deserved DRoY. However, that All-Pro, nah.
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year: Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
RELATED: "I Have the Obligation to Carry On Another Legacy.": Dak Prescott's Brother's Death Changed Everything
Last but certainly not least, Walter Payton Man of the Year. As a die hard Bears fan, it's cool to have someone from the team I root for representing what's noted as the NFL's most prestigious honor. This year's winner? Dak Prescott.
Prescott formed the Faith Fight Finish Foundation, which focuses on its four main incentives: colon cancer research, mental health and suicide prevention, bridging the gap between law enforcement, youth, and the communities they serve, and offering assistance to those facing life-challenging hardships. The foundation started in Prescott's late mother's honor in 2017 for cancer research, but then began focusing more on mental health in 2020 when Prescott lost his brother Jace to suicide. Since then, Prescott has been one of the more vocal figures in the league, advocating for mental health to be seen and heard by all.
NFL fans can poke fun at Dak Prescott for his play on the field, but something that could never be questioned is Prescott's off-the-field efforts as being among the best in the league. And this year, it was recognized.
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