An NFL Honor Roll

http://www.thechiefly.com/features/nfl-honor-roll-2014/

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After making up our own highly acclaimed awards for the 2013 college football season, The Chiefly will be following the NFL’s protocol and handing out their traditional accolades* (the NFL likes suing people, and we don’t feel like taking our chances).

Let’s start with the Best Quarterback or Running Back, I mean, Most Valuable Player (the last person to win MVP that didn’t play either position was Lawrence Taylor in 1986).

*The 2014 NFL Honors Awards Show will take place Feb. 1 at 8PM ET on FOX.

MVP: Peyton Manning

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Peyton Manning did his best “El Barto” impression in 2013, plastering his name all over the record books.

  • He kicked off the season by tying the NFL record for most touchdowns in one game, torching the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens for 7 touchdowns.
  • Peyton set the single season record for touchdown passes with 55, needing only 15 games to break Tom Brady’s record of 50.
  • He set the single season record for passing yards with 5,477, breaking the mark set by Drew Brees in 2011.
  • He shattered Dan Marino’s 1984 record of 6 games with 4+ touchdown passes, attaining this feat nine times.
  • Manning tied Marino’s record for most games with 2+ touchdown passes (15).
  • He tied Marino’s record for most 400 yard passing games (4).
  • Manning tied his own NFL record for posting the most games with a 90+ passer rating (15).

Not surprisingly, Manning and the rest of the offense set numerous team and NFL records as well.

  • The Broncos scored 606 points, breaking the NFL record of 589 set by the 2007 Patriots.
  • Denver scored more touchdowns than anyone, besting the 2007 Pats 76 to 75.
  • The previous record for most players with 10 or more TD’s was 3. The Broncos had 5 players accomplish this feat.
  • Denver set the record for passing first downs with 293.
  • The Broncos tied the record for most games with 50+ points (3).

I think it’s safe to say that Peyton Manning also set an NFL record for setting the most records in 2013. He should be a near-unanimous pick to win MVP.

Apologies to: Jamaal Charles, Andrew Luck, Phillip Rivers, Nick Foles, Drew Brees, the Patriots offensive line, Richard Sherman, Lesean McCoy

No apologies to: Eli Manning

Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick

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Coach of the year in any sport is always a subjective pick. We set our expectations for teams at the beginning of the season, then judge coaches based off of this initial bias. If teams surpass our suppositions, we figure that the coach must have had a good season. It’s a fairly arbitrary path of logic and takes little account as to what actually goes into coaching, but hey, it’s how we’ve been taught to look at sports.

Andy Reid will probably win this award, and he is a deserving candidate, but frankly speaking, this isn’t close (Reid was carried by the best all around back in the league and a healthy, stout defense filled with players he neither drafted nor developed), and Belichick is the premier coach in the NFL, with 2013 being his finest season yet.

The Patriots lost nearly every important player on their team not named Tom Brady, and still managed to finish 12-4, never relinquishing their spot as one of the two best teams in the AFC.

The coaches had to reinvent both the offense and defense on the fly.

Initially designed to take advantage of two gigantic tight ends, the offense evolved into a run-first attack, with a passing game oriented around the diminutive statures of Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman.

The defense lost its anchor, Vince Wilfork, their best linebacker in Jerod Mayo, and had to manage without Aqib Talib for half the season, the best player in their secondary and the lynchpin of their post-Wilfork defense.

Belichick usually cobbles together a good defense using a bunch of castoffs and underachievers to play specific roles around a few elite players. This year, those castoffs were forced to do the heavy lifting and the Patriots barely missed a beat. Fill-ins like Alfonso Dennard should be commended for stepping their game up, and a lot of credit for this successful Patriots season must go to the defensive guru currently in possession of a handful of sour grapes.

Apologies to: Chip Kelly, Andy Reid, Ron Rivera, Chuck Pagano, Mike McCoy, Sean Payton

No apologies to: Greg Schiano

Offensive Player of the Year: Peyton Manning

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This award is the patronizing pat on the head from sportswriters. Typically the MVP is given to the person who had the best offensive season, and the offensive player of the year is given to the dude that put up big numbers, but still didn’t have enough “oomph” in his candidacy to put him over the top (we should call it the Drew Brees award).

Considering that Peyton Manning nearly broke the new scoreboard at Mile High several times this season, I think it’s safe to hand him this award too. Hey, unifying the top two belts worked to put Randy Orton over the top in the WWE, why shouldn’t the NFL try it with their version of John Cena?

Apologies to: Everyone from the MVP section, save for Richard Sherman

No apologies to: Matt Schaub

Defensive Player of the Year: Robert Quinn

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Quinn is the lynchpin of arguably the best front seven in the league (no defensive line had a more effective balance this year, St. Louis finished 5th against the run and 1st against the pass). His 19 sacks were second only to Robert Mathis’ 19.5, and he finished second in the NFL in total hurries with 21 (Brian Robison lead the pack with 27). His week 12 demolition of the Bears rates as the highest score Pro Football Focus has ever given out for a 4-3 DE (surpassing Osi Umenyiora’s destruction of Winston Justice). Without Quinn wreaking havoc anywhere and everywhere, the Rams would have never come close to winning 7 games with Kellen Clemens navigating them through the best division in the NFL.

Apologies to: J.J. Watt, Luke Kuechly, Robert Mathis, Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, Lavonte David, Calais Campbell, Earl Thomas, Navarro Bowman, Vontaze Burfict

No apologies to: Nearly every defensive player in the NFC East

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Keenan Allen

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After starting the season with three catches in two games and nearly quitting football, Allen emerged as Phillip Rivers’ favorite target, recording only one more game in which he saw less than six passes travel his direction; a 37-14 blowout win against the Giants where the Chargers ran the ball 40 times, and Allen still managed to score two touchdowns on three catches. Four days later, he caught two more touchdowns to help upset the Broncos in Denver. You can’t help but wonder how different this season would have been for New England and San Diego if the Pats had taken Allen (pick #76) instead of Aaron Dobson (pick #59) back in April.

Apologies to: Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard, Larry Warford, Mike Glennon

No apologies to: Geno Smith

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sheldon Richardson

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Most people are handing this award to Kiko Alonso because he put up gaudy numbers in Buffalo (137 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions), but the Jets were one of the best teams in the NFL at stopping the run, and Richardson was a central piece of that attack. They finished first in Power Success*, allowing a conversion 39% of the time.

*The percentage of runs that are successful on third or fourth down with two or less yards to go, it also includes all goal-to-go situations from the two yard line and in.

Muhammad Wilkerson gets the most publicity in New York for being their star pass rusher, but Richardson is the guy that clogs everything up, allowing Wilkerson to play on an island more often than he should be allowed to. That skill is remarkably undervalued in our perception of what makes a good player.

Apologies to: Kiko Alonso, Star Lotulelei, Kenny Vaccaro

No apologies to: Dion Jordan

Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith

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Thrown on the scrap heap by Jim Harbaugh and with few starting jobs available to him, Smith found a new home in Kansas City, and managed Jamaal Charles’ offense with the deftness and efficiency that we have come to expect from Alex Smith. Even though this is a regular season award, you cannot mention Smith’s season without highlighting his playoff game in Indianapolis.

Throwing to a bunch of nobodies and Dwayne Bowe, he put on a clinic without Jamaal Charles while the remainder of his team disintegrated around him (Smith’s final line: 30/46 for 378 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions). If Bowe is one inch to his left when he comes down with this catch, the Chiefs probably win, and we might be talking about Alex Smith as a semi-elite quarterback again. Football is weird.

Apologies to: Knowshon Moreno, Ryan Mathews, Fred Jackson, Brent Grimes, Terrell Suggs, Darelle Revis

No apologies to: Aaron Hernandez

Jacob Weindling
Pure bred Coloradan with a dash of Masshole (go UMass). Sports and politics junkie. If I've learned one thing in life to this point, it's that stupid loses more games than smart wins.
Jacob Weindling
Jacob Weindling

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