Final Thoughts from the 2012 NFL Awards

With the NFL’s official AP awards being announced on Saturday, all of our speculating and debating comes to a close. Each winner was deserving with multiple fantastic and historic seasons throughout the league.

The winners were as follows:

MVP/Offensive Player of the Year- Adrian Peterson

Defensive Player of the Year- J.J. Watt

Comeback Player of the Year- Peyton Manning

Offensive Rookie of the Year- Robert Griffin III

Defensive Rookie of the Year- Luke Kuechly

Coach of the Year- Bruce Arians

As I stated before, each of these individuals had fantastic seasons, and I applaud each of them. They all had very good arguments for the final result.

That being said, I still have a few thoughts on the final results.

Coach of the Year- Bruce Arians

It seemed like Arians began to pull away with this one down the stretch, when it was apparent that the Colts would make the playoffs and a few of the top teams around the league faltered. Really the only person who could have challenged him for this, at least in my opinion, was Jim Harbaugh, whose argument was largely dependent on the 49ers’ playoff run.

Arians is the perfect example of a poor in-game coach who still manages to be a good/very good coach overall. His poor decisions, via playcalling, challenges, or whatever else, cost the Colts in games all season, but his direction, keeping players focused and on target, and his overall offensive philosophy served the Colts well and got them to a playoff game.

Arians likely never will be a great head coach unless he drastically improves his in-game strategy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good head coach. Coaching is so much more than just in-game performance, and it’s important that we remember that when evaluating them.

Verdict- Correct

Defensive Rookie of the Year- Luke Kuechly

I have no qualms about this award. The defensive rookies weren’t nearly as impactful as the offensive ones, but Kuechly’s season was the most noticeable. He finished with over 160 tackles, and looks to be the future for Carolina at linebacker. You can make a case for others, but Kuechly isn’t a controversial call here.

Verdict- Correct

Rookie of the Year- Robert Griffin III

I’m not going to beat this dead horse, as there has been plenty of said on this topic. That being said, I do have a few notes.

  • RG3 may have been the least deserving of this award of the three quarterbacks, so for him to run away with the voting is surprising to me (29 votes, to Luck’s 11 and Wilson’s 10). Perhaps it hints at an east coast media bias.
  • Russell Wilson had a great year, but he also had the most help, by far. Wilson had the best defense, the best group of wide receivers, the best running back, and arguably the best offensive line among the three quarterbacks. He was also sheltered for nearly half the season by his coaches.
  • The biggest negative for Luck in his case for ROY was his turnovers. His 18 interceptions looks like a lot when compared to Wilson’s 10 interceptions, or Griffin’s five. But if you compare total turnover percentage (interceptions plus fumbles divided by attempts, sacks, and rushing attempts), it’s a much different picture. Luck finished the regular season at 3.8% and Griffin and Wilson both finished at 3.3%. When you factor in offensive styles, help, and the responsibility Luck shouldered, it’s a negligible difference at worst.
  • Anybody who bases their arguments on the numbers without taking them into context doesn’t deserve a vote. You can still differ in opinion, based on what you think is more valuable, how you define the ROY award, etc. However, to simply ignore context is completely irresponsible.

Verdict- Deserving, but I disagree with the vote spread and winner

Defensive Player of the Year- J.J. Watt

As much of a lock as there was this season, the fact that even one vote was for another player is a joke. Von Miller is possibly my favorite defensive player right now, but Watt was in a historic class this season. I have no doubt we’ll see both these players in the mix for the award in the future.

Verdict- Correct

MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, and Comeback Player of the Year- Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning

All three of these awards had just two competitors, and it was a close call for all three of them. Here’s my take.

Comeback Player of the Year

Look, both players had a good case for this award, but it comes down to one thing for me.

Generally, when you think comeback player you’re thinking of coming back from something that occurred the previous year, whether it was an injury, extenuating circumstances, or just a bad year. Manning was out for the entire year, contemplated retirement, and moved across the country. Peterson recovered from an injury that he sustained during the LAST game of the 2011 season.

Peterson had an incredible recovery, and a great year, but he’s not coming back from last season like Manning was.

Verdict- Correct

Offensive Player of the Year

Peterson taking this award home was the right call. Sure, Manning had a very good year, one of the best in his career (and the best by a QB this season), but Peterson’s year was historic. It was a year that we’ll look back on and remember in 20 years. Manning’s wasn’t even his best year, while Peterson’s was the best since Dickerson set the record.

Verdict- Correct

Most Valuable Player

This one I have issue with for several reasons.

  • If you’re not already aware, use Google and find the plethora of articles and studies discussing the relative value of a QB compared to a RB. You would have to have a transcendent season as a RB in today’s league to come anywhere near an elite quarterback’s value. Peterson’s season is close, but still not enough, for reasons I’ll explain.
  • First, Peterson wasn’t even his own team’s MVP for the first half of the season. That award goes to Percy Harvin. So, when people say “Adrian Peterson dragged the Vikings to the playoffs,” remember that they started 5-2 largely because of Harvin.
  • Second, the value of Peterson relative to his own quarterback was evident at the end of the season. During Week 17, with Christian Ponder at the helm, the Vikings scored 37 points and beat the Packers to get into the playoffs. Peterson was dominant, running for nearly 200 yards and a touchdown. Just tone week later, with Joe Webb at quarterback, Peterson ran for just 99 yards and the Packers limited the Vikings to 10 points (and about 150 less total yards).

Look, if you’re bound and determined to give the award to someone not named Peyton Manning, I get it, this as good of a year as you’re going to get. But it doesn’t change the fact that Manning is going to be more valuable to any team than any running back will be in today’s NFL.

Verdict- Heck of a year for Peterson, but the award should have been Manning’s.

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.