With the end of the regular season, it’s time to give out the major awards for the 2021-22 NFL Seaseon
The 2021-2022 NFL regular season ended last night with a fantastic game between the Raiders and Chargers with the Raiders kicking a field goal with time expiring in overtime to win 35-32 and sent the Chargers home. Now that we got to the last game of the season and we are heading into the postseason it is time to take a look back at this past year and think of who was deserving of the awards.
This is my personal list of who I think should win each award and I even made some awards for team performances. If you agree or disagree let me know in the comments on the Arrowhead Live social media feeds.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ja’Marr Chase
Honorable Mentions: Creed Humphrey, Najee Harris, Rashon Slater, and Devonta Smith
If you thought Justin Jefferson was impressive his rookie year, Ja’Marr Chase is the second coming. When Chase was selected fifth out in the draft ahead of Penei Swell, it was seen as a huge mistake due to the lack of depth and talent along the offensive line in Cincy. To top it all off for the Bengals, Chase had one of the worst preseasons in the history of football and looked like a bust. He had 8 drops in the preseason and it was taking time for him to adjust to the speed and physicality of the game as he had missed a year due to COVID.
Then Ja’Marr Chase exploded, catching 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns, for the second-best rookie receiving season in the history of the NFL. Chase really exploded for long touchdowns and for spectacular catches throughout the year, and he shined against the Chiefs in Week 17.
Ja’Marr Chase easily won this award this year not only because of the viral plays he was making but for the statistics and helping his team turn into an AFC North Champion. I would have liked to have given this award to Creed Humphrey, who is in line to get an All-Pro spot, but I think Chase really has the narrative going into the postseason and offensive linemen aren’t sexy enough to win this award sadly.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Micah Parsons
Honorable Mentions: Nick Bolton, Jeremiah Osusu-Koramoah, Patrick Surtain II
This was the easiest award to choose, Micah Parsons has been dominant from the jump and was probably one of the steals of the draft. Parsons came out of Penn State as a 6-foot-4 monster in the middle and was seen to be the best linebacker prospect in a generation. Not only were those predictions correct but he’s better than expected.
Parsons was the best linebacker, edge rusher, and tackler on the Cowboys, a team that really needed him to play multiple positions on a given night. Parsons was able to use his frame when it came to swatting away passes as well as trying to shed offensive linemen to get to the quarterback. There was one point in the season where he was looking like he could be the defensive player of the year as a rookie, only Lawrence Taylor has been able to win it as a rookie, so you see the impact Parsons is bringing. It’s really telling when the second-place player on my list is leading the league in tackles for loss and is a distant second place player.
Parsons deserves a lot of credit for the defensive turnaround in Dallas and should win this award unanimously.
Coach of the Year: Mike Vrabel
Honorable Mentions: Matt LaFleur, Zac Taylor, Mike Tomlin
This was a difficult decision honestly, Matt LaFleur has made the Packers the toughest team to play all year, Zac Taylor turned the worst team in the AFC North to its champion, and Mike Tomlin somehow was able to get his team to the playoffs yet again. But Vrabel was able to keep the Titans at the top of the AFC South and the top seed in the AFC without his star running back for the last half of the season.
When Derrick Henry had his foot injury in Week 8 and was going to miss the rest of the regular season, most people thought the Titans were done. They were a run-first team with good weapons and a porous defense that hung its hat on winning games by the time of possession rather than winning by scoring a lot of points. But that all changed once Henry got hurt and the Titans never looked back. Vrabel turned the defense around and made them one of the best units against the run and have been able to create turnovers.
Vrabel deserves a lot of credit for making sure they were competitive in every game and they had the tiebreakers over every AFC contender. With a record of 12-5 and the one seed, Vrabel deserves to get a shot at competing for a Super Bowl and he deserves this award.
Comeback Player of the Year: Joe Burrow
This is a no-brainer. Burrow had a catastrophic knee injury that required a bunch of surgeries and extensive rehab, there was no guarantee he was going to play in the first month of this season. Not only did he start 16 of the 17 games this season he finished in the top five in passing yards, TD’s, and QBR.
Burrow has been a revelation with the added presence of Ja’Marr Chase and the receivers were also able to thrive with Burrow throwing them the football. Burrow really deserves all the credit in the world for helping his team get back to the playoffs and he deserves this award hands down.
Most Surprising Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Honorable Mentions: Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals
For a team that has finished at the bottom of the AFC North in back-to-back seasons and was looking like the third-best team in the division, the Bengals came out of nowhere. They had two “Super Bowl Contenders” in front of them in the Browns and Ravens and still had problems facing the Steelers. Not only did they only lose two games in the division, not only did they dismantle the Steelers and Ravens, but they also beat the Chiefs to win their division outright.
Taylor impressed through the dramatic change in the offense with a healthy offensive core and a fairly stout defense. They went out and spent the money to turn into a fairly solid team and probably the most explosive offense in the league outside of Kansas City.
Most Disappointing Team: Cleveland Browns
Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Football Team, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens
The Super Bowl contender to last place in the AFC North. The Browns on paper were the odds-on favorite to be one of the best teams in the AFC next to the Kansas City Chiefs and they floundered it like the Browns always do. They had everything in place to be really solid, a decent QB, one of the best O-lines in the league, a great back, and good receivers, and a bunch of really good defensive players. To top it all off, they had the reigning coach of the year in Kevin Stefanski who helped them get to the divisional playoffs.
But the Browns were not the team they were on paper, Baker Mayfield looked so bad this year that many are questioning if they should draft his replacement this season. Odell Beckham Jr. got cut and immediately played better in another spot and the offensive line started to get hurt as the year went on. The Browns only won 3 games in the division this year and two of those came against backup quarterbacks, they were the most disappointing team because they had a team that seemed hard to stop, but turned out to be extremely stoppable.
I was tempted to give this award to the Chargers and their analytics-driven head coach, but the Chargers seem to do this more often than any team in the league. They have the most talented team on paper in the division and they cannot get out of their own way.
Front Office of the Year: New England Patriots
Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys.
This was a coin flip honestly, the Rams made nothing but big move after big move to help their team get to another Super Bowl appearance. But the Patriots turned back into the Patriots and you could argue that all of the moves they made were better than any other team.
They turned their defense around by signing Matthew Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Henry Anderson, Jalen Mills, and Montravisu Adams. They made the weapons on offense better by signing Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Jonnu Smith, and Trent Brown. All before they drafted Mac Jones who turned into the QB they need to have to be successful. Bill Belichick found the pieces which fit and have turned a floundering team looking for their savior post-Brady into a possible contender for the next decade.
I also wanted to shout out the Chiefs who made the offensive line a priority and drafted future All-Pro Players in the draft along with helping keep the core of the Chiefs together for another season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Cooper Kupp
Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Taylor, Deebo Samuel
This race was pretty close for most of the way, Jonathan Taylor was on pace to get over 1900 yards and 20 touchdowns but ran into a buzz saw in Jacksonville on Sunday. Whereas Cooper Kupp put up his usual 100+ receiving day and yet another touchdown and secured the triple crown of receiving (receptions, receiving yards, and TD’s).
Cooper Kupp was in line to break Calvin Johnson’s records for receptions and yards but came up short and he probably had the most consistent receiving season in a long time, he’s in line to be in the same company as Jerry Rice, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, and Randy Moss for being consistently good. He deserves this award hands down and should get it unanimously.
Defensive Player of the Year: TJ Watt
Honorable Mentions: Micah Parsons, Aaron Donald, Myles Garrett
Trent Jordan Watt tied the single-season sack record (and could possibly have broken it if the stats people change their mind) on Sunday. For a guy who missed two games and wasn’t fully healthy for two others, he had multiple sacks in 8 of the 9 wins for the Steelers, including four sacks against the Browns in Week 17.
Watt has been otherworldly this season, there was never a point in this season where he didn’t either have the most sacks in the league or was tied for most sacks in the league. There were points in the season where it was more advantageous for your QB to just throw the ball back to the center after the snap than to allow Watt to come off of the edge and hit your QB. Watt had one of the most dominant defensive seasons for an edge rusher since Derrick Thomas, Bruce Smith, and Reggie White.
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers
Honorable Mentions: Tom Brady, Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp, TJ Watt.
At one point, there was no clear-cut MVP due to the lackluster performances by every single front-runner this season. At one point it was Tom Brady and then he had horrible performances against the Buccaneers and Washington Football Team. Then it was Matthew Stafford who then had three straight multiple interception games, and they lost the best record in football. Then it was Kylar Murray, who got hurt, and finally, it was Jonathan Taylor who had a bad end to the season.
Rodgers has been consistent outside of two games this season, those being the first game of the season and the game he missed due to COVID. Rodgers has had yet another incredible season and it should be no surprise as he’s always been the most consistent quarterback year-in and year-out. I would have loved to have given it to anybody besides Rodgers but he’s too good and no one really comes close to his production in this decade.