Tonight at 9 P.M. (eastern time) is the fourth annual NFL Honors, the NFL’s annual awards show. The major 2014 regular season award winners will be announced, along with the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
Since the league is set to announce their award winners, I thought this would be the perfect time to release our own awards. Below are our award winners, as all of the awards listed below are the same ones that will be announced by host Seth Meyers at the NFL Honors:
AP Most Valuable Player: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
There hasn’t been a defensive player named the league’s MVP since Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor accomplished the feat back in 1986. But if there was ever a time for a defensive player to win the award again, it’s Watt in 2014. He became the first player ever to record 20+ sacks in two different seasons. He finished his ’14 campaign with 78 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, 10 PD, 4 FF, 1 INT (first of his career), 5 FR and five total touchdowns (3 on offense, 2 on defense). It was an incredible season from the 6’6″/290 pound pass-rushing defensive end.
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers is one of three finalists for this award, along with San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin and Carolina’s Thomas Davis. Not only did Rodgers have a spectacular season on the field, but he has also continued his success off the field. He won the Bart Starr Man of the Year award last year.
AP Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
This isn’t even a question, Arians led the Cardinals to the postseason in the NFC West despite devastating injuries to his top two quarterbacks––Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. His defensive unit ranked fifth in scoring and was very stout against the run despite a plethora of injuries on that side of the ball as well.
AP Comeback Player of the Year: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
After starting just six games a season ago (39 catches, 592 yards, 4 TDs in ’13), Gronk is right back to being the most dangerous receiving tight end in the game. He caught 82 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, and now has a shot at capturing his first Super Bowl ring tomorrow night. In his five pro seasons with the Pats, Gronk has double-digit TD totals in four different seasons.
AP Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
While Rodgers may end up being named the league’s MVP tonight, I just have him as my Offensive Player of the Year. It was definitely a tough call, though. Rodgers threw over 4,300 yards and his 38 TDs was just two away from the league-leading 40 (Andrew Luck). He finished with a 112.2 QB rating and just five picks.
AP Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
I usually don’t like giving the off/def Player of the Year award to the same guy who was named MVP (I like to spread the love around), but in this case it’s tough to argue against it after the monstrous season Watt had. I won’t bore you with his stat-line again, but lets just say he’s the most feared pass-rusher in the league.
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year: Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Not only did OBJ Jr. make the catch of the century against Dallas earlier in the season, but he made numerous impressive one-handed grabs both in warm-ups and during game action. It’s been a long time since a rookie wideout has come into the league and had this sort of impact from the very beginning (once he returned from injury, of course). And to think he caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in just TWELVE games. Can you imagine what he could have done had he not missed the first four games of the season?
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams
Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, selected 13th overall in May, had an immediate impact for the St. Louis Rams, recording 47 combined tackles and 9.0 sacks for the Rams. That’s pretty impressive for a rookie defender, let alone a rookie defensive tackle. He was behind only Buffalo’s Marcell Dareus for most sacks from a DT. He turned out to be one of just three rookies selected to the Pro Bowl this year, as well. Baltimore’s C.J. Mosley wasn’t far behind him in the Defensive Rookie of the Year category.
Play of the Year: Beckham’s one-handed grab vs. Dallas
As mentioned above, rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. may the catch of the century against the Dallas Cowboys. Tough to argue against it as play of the year, despite it not having any true impact on the way the Giants’ tough season played out.
FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (Air) and DeMarco Murray, Cowboys (Ground)
Ben Roethlisberger tied the league-lead in passing yards (with Drew Brees, 4,952), and threw 32 touchdowns with only nine picks. It was the most impressive regular season performance of his career. As for the ground award, Steelers’ RB Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers has already been named the NFL’s winner, but Murray’s franchise-record 1,845 yards and 13 TDs gives him our FedEx Ground Player of the Year award. Bell was very reliable in the passing game as well, but this award is strictly for what these backs do on the ground, so Murray gets the nod.
Fantasy Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Packers QB
Rodgers led all players in fantasy points this season, with 406 (according to standard ESPN.com leagues), and averaged 25.4 points per game.
Deacon Jones Award: Justin Houston, Chiefs
The Deacon Jones Award goes to the year’s sack leader, and KC’s Houston finished the season with 22.0, just a half a sack from tying Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record, set in 2001.
Additional Awards Handed out at NFL Honors:
“Greatness on the Road” Award
Salute To Service Award
NFL Sportsmanship Award
Do you agree, disagree, with our awards? Let us know in the comment section below!
Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images