Play Hard, Get Rewarded

Week 11 is on the horizon, and it is an appropriate time to make award predictions. The first ten weeks of the season have seen plenty of success, like the Patriots and 49ers carrying undefeated records into their previous games. Yes, their 16-0 aspirations have been thrown out the window, but they’re having great seasons nonetheless. Some of the other teams in the league haven’t been as lucky. The injury plague is once again very evident, and quarterbacks in particular have been hurt more often than ever before. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, and Cam Newton have all missed games this season due to various injuries, which have given opportunities to other players. Players such as Gardner Minshew, Kyle Allen, and Teddy Bridgewater have made the most of their time on the gridiron. The same has been true amongst other athletes around the league. As we reflect on players’ seasons thus far, here is who I think deserves to be honored for their on field performance.

Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year:

Josh Jacobs (OAK) and Nick Bosa (SF)

The Oakland Raiders selected Jacobs in the 24th pick of the 2019 NFL draft. Jacobs was expected to be the lead backup for the team from the get-go, but not too many people expected this great of an immediate impact. While in Alabama, he didn’t have the work load that Mark Ingram or Derrick Henry had when they played at the collegiate level. Scouts were somewhat worried about his increased snap count. Jacobs, to his credit, has had a great season thus far. He ranks seventh in the league with 811 rushing yards and is top ten in yards per rush amongst running backs at 4.8. This has led him to seven touchdowns on the ground and no fumbles to his name.

Nick Bosa might have had the highest expectations coming into the NFL of any collegiate athlete. Bosa, who went into Ohio State as a five star recruit and has his brother Joey on the Los Angeles Chargers, is already blossoming into a star. After three years as a Buckeye, he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the second pick of the 2019 draft. He has proved to be worth that selection and more. His stat line includes seven sacks and 20 solo tackles to go along with a forced fumble and interception. Bosa’s standout game occurred week eight against Carolina, in which he had three sacks, an interception, and a pass deflected.

Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan (SF)

Kyle Shanahan is coaching in his third year for the San Francisco 49ers since coming over from his offensive coordinator position with the Falcons. The 49ers finished the past two seasons with records of 6-10 and 4-12 respectively. San Francisco currently has eight wins (nearly matching their total of the previous two seasons) with seven games remaining on the schedule. The 49ers are definitely exceeding expectations, considering that they were the consensus third best team within their own division. With a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo back from a torn ACL and an impactful defense led by Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner, San Francisco is a force to be reckoned with.

Offensive Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey (CAR)

When Cam Newton went out with a foot injury, Christian McCaffrey knew that he had to put the offense on his back. McCaffrey took a vast jump from his rookie to sophomore year, but this year is just something else. Through nine games, he has accumulated 1,385 all purpose yards (989 rushing and 396 receiving). This equates to an average of 154 yards per game and 2,462 yards over 16 games, which would tie McCaffrey with Terry Metcalf for 9th all time. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that McCaffrey doesn’t return punts or kicks for the Panthers. If Carolina makes the playoffs it will be due largely in part to Christian McCaffrey.

Defensive Player of the Year: Stephon Gilmore (NE)

Bill Belichick is not one to splurge on free agents and would rather draft young players to replace veterans. In the summer of 2017, Stephon Gilmore was one of the very few exceptions. Gilmore is currently in the midst of his best season as a member of the Patriots. He has three interceptions and ten passes deflected, as well as allowing a quarterback passer rating of only 47.6 for passes thrown his way. Much of the reason as to why Gilmore’s opponent’s QBR (when targeted) is so low is because he has not let anyone catch a touchdown on a ball thrown his way. One last thing that Gilmore has going for him is that he is the best defensive player on the best defensive team in the league.

MVP: Russell Wilson (SEA)

Since Russell Wilson was drafted in the summer of 2012, Seattle has been known for their defense and in particular, the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas made up one of the best defensive backfields in recent history for a number of years. Now that Chancellor has retired and the other two have moved on, the focus has moved to Wilson. Wilson possess a touchdown to interception ratio of 11.5 to one (23 touchdowns and two picks). Additionally, he is first in passer rating, second in quarterback rating, and fourth in total passing yards. The climax of Wilson’s season might have been on Monday Night Football during week 10, going into San Francisco and beating the then undefeated 49ers.

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