Why Pennington over Manning? Easy, Chad won his division. Chad brought a team that was the joke of the league last year to a division title. Adrian Peterson also got consideration for carrying his team to the division title, but I give the nod to Pennington on this one.
John’s choice: Philip Rivers (QB- S.D.)
With all due respect to Manning and Pennington, neither were even in my top 3. Rivers gets the nod for getting his team into the post-season despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Although the Broncos’ collapse played a major role in the Chargers’ march into the playoffs, it was Rivers who kept his team breathing without much semblance of a running game by tossing a league high 34 TD’s and only 11 INT’s. Kurt Warner and Drew Brees come up just short.
Offensive Player of the Year
Brees almost broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing record. Even though the Saints finished in last in the NFC South, Brees still had a heck of a year. This team would be dangerous if they had a defense.
John’s choice: Michael Turner (RB-Atl.)
Matt Ryan was superb as a rookie, but Turner was downright sensational in his first year as a starter, especially considering it came on a new team against primarily new competition (NFC). Turner made the Falcons’ offense go with 1,700 yards and 17 TD’s. He ran for over 100 yards eights times, including two performances of over 200 yards. DeAngelo Williams also got consideration.
Defensive Player of the Year
DeMarcus Ware had more sacks, but Harrison made plays when the team needed it. Ed Reed also got some consideration because of his playmaking ability, but I’m a homer and give the nod to Harrison.
John’s choice: James Harrison (LB-Pit.)
Harrison was simply the best overall player in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball. His lone interception of the year against S.D. was one of the most important plays in that game. No other player truly came close to providing the impact that Harrison had. Also, no other player was held as often as the Steelers’ linebacker was.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
This could have gone to any number of people, including Flacco, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, or Steve Slaton, but like Pennington for MVP, Ryan took the helm of a team that was an utter disaster last year and brought them to prominence.
John’s choice: Chris Johnson (RB-Tenn.)
Johnson made an impact beginning in week 1. The little-known back from East Carolina finished the year with over 1,200 yards and 9 TD’s while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also added 260 receiving yards and another score. All this in a platoon situation with LenDale White make Johnson the pick for the best offensive rookie on the best team in the NFL.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
He recorded 128 tackles (10th in the league) as a rookie, but failed to make “splash” plays, finishing with only 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 0 sacks, and 0 INTs.
John’s choice: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB-Ari.)
There was no defensive rookie that absolutely “wowed” during the entire year. I go with DRC because he led this rookie class with 23 passes defensed, as well as 4 INT’s, in helping lead his team to the post-season.
Comeback Player of the Year
After sharing time with Kellen Clemens last year in New York, Pennington directed an 11-5 season for Miami, tying the biggest turnaround by a team in NFL history.
John’s choice: Ronnie Brown (RB-Mia.)
I’m choosing to shy away from the blatantly obvious (and correct choice) Pennington and going with his backfield teammate Brown. Brown returned from a 2007 season-ending injury and was a vital part of the Dolphins’ “wildcat” offense, finishing with 916 rushing yards, 254 receiving yards, and 10 TD’s.
Coach of the Year
John’s choice: Mike Smith (Atl.)
Assistant Coach of the Year
John’s choice: Josh McDaniels (Off. Coordinator/Quarterbacks-N.E.)
John’s choice: Troy Polamalu
Steelers Offensive POY
John’s choice: Hines Ward
Steelers Defensive POY
John’s choice: James Harrison (Yes, I know my MVP and POY are different)
Rookie of the Year
John’s choice: Patrick Bailey
John’s choice: William Gay
Best Off-season Pickup
John’s choice: Keyaron Fox