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2019 Midseason Special: NFL Honors

Written by Sam DeCoste

This has been the busiest week of the year at Franchise Quarterback, with three articles written in four days, including the Week 10 Predix, and midseason playoff predictions. The capstone to the midseason mark to the 2019 NFL season has to be the midseason awards! 

While players and coaches all say that they are playing for team success and they just want to win, only one team can win a championship every year. But players and coaches have the opportunity to be recognized by their peers and win individual silverware signifying they  are the best at their position. This year may be as wide open as we have seen for a long time in the NFL, especially for Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. So who is going to win these awards when it's all said and done? Let's find out!

Defensive Rookie of the Year
Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers

Nick Bosa's instant impact for the league's number one defense at the midseason mark makes him the unquestioned favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bosa has become a building block, and the face of the 49ers defense which has taken the league by storm in 2019. He already has 7 sacks on the season, which is tied for 10th in the NFL. While Bosa is tied with Josh Allen, another rookie pass rusher, for sacks on the season, Bosa has what all the other candidates do not, and that is the Bosa name. Nick's brother, Joey, won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 with the San Diego Chargers, and Nick is on pace to shatter Bosa's production in his rookie season. 

Considering the impressive performances from the San Francisco 49ers this season, and how Nick Bosa has become the face for their defense, this is the easiest choice to make on the list of midseason awards.

Other Candidates:

  • Josh Allen, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Ed Oliver, DT, Buffalo Bills

Offensive Rookie of the Year
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

The former Oklahoma quarterback became the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year ever since being selected first overall. While Murray has not taken the league by storm with his play, he has been the best quarterback of his draft class, and the most productive rookie. Murray is averaging 248 passing yards per game and has 9 touchdown passes on the year to just 4 picks, posting a quarterback rating of 89.2. Murray's standout performance came in his last game against the San Francisco 49ers, in which he led the Cardinals to the most threatening fourth quarter of San Francisco's undefeated season. Murray threw for 241 yards and 2 touchdown passes, including an 88 yard touchdown pass to Andy Isabella in the fourth quarter. 

While Murray may not be the completed product, or as impactful as a rookie like Cam Newton or Andrew Luck, he is making an immediate impact to what was the bottom ranked offense of the Arizona Cardinals a year ago. Murray will win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award because his production will carry on throughout the season, while Gardner Minshew is on the bench, Josh Jacobs has work to do to steal the award as a running back, and Daniel Jones does not provide the dual threat dimension to his game which Murray does.

Other Candidates:

  • Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
  • Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
  • AJ Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Comeback Player of the Year
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

As last year's Super Bowl showed, Cooper Kupp is the glue which holds the Los Angeles Rams offense together. Kupp went out for the season with a torn ACL in Week 10, and the Rams were not able to recover. With Kupp back, the Rams offense is better than ever, and Kupp has been the standout receiver.

Through eight games, Kupp ranks first among receivers in receiving yards, first in 20+ yard catches, and sixth in total receptions. Kupp has 58 catches on the season for 792 yards and 5 scores, and that includes his most recent performance against the Bengals in which he carved the defense to pieces for 7 catches and 220 yards.

Recovering from a torn ACL as a receiver is one of the most difficult positions to do so, and Kupp has done so and is playing at even higher level than he did last year. Kupp is on pace for 116 catches, 1,584 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches this season, which has only been done seven times in the history of the league. Kupp deserves the award because he is closer to the best player at his position than any other player in contention for Comeback Player of the Year this season. 

Other Candidates:

  • Jimmy Garappolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
  • Teddy Bridgewater, QB, New Orleans Saints

Coach of the Year
Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts

Coach of the Year is one of the most competitive awards every year, and this year is no different. I am going to go outside the box big time for this one, and pick Colts head coach Frank Reich.

Reich's preparations for the 2019 season spiraled just two weeks before the beginning of the regular season when his face of the franchise, his star quarterback, Andrew Luck, shockingly announced his retirement from football. Despite the monkey wrench thrown into the season, Reich did not that ruin the Colts season before it started. The Colts started 5-2 without Luck, and they remain in first place of the AFC South in the same division as Deshaun Watson. Marlon Mack is emerging as a top running back in the league, Darius Leonard is developing into a formidable defensive playmaker, and the Colts are winning. The 2019 Colts may be the best version of the Colts this decade, with Andrew Luck running the show. But somehow, Frank Reich has his team in contention playing the most complete football we have seen at Lucas Oil Stadium since the days of Peyton Manning.

There are a lot of deserving candidates for Coach of the Year, and Frank Reich may not be the favorite by any means, but he has had to overcome the most adversity of the other candidates, and he certainly has a case to win the award.

Other Candidates:
  • Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
  • Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
  • Matt LeFleur, Green Bay Packers
  • Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
  • Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

Offensive Player of the Year
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers 

For McCaffrey, the chances he wins MVP can only go as far as the Panthers 2019 season. An early playoff exit or even missing the playoffs entirely virtually wipes his MVP case out of the question, but there is no doubting he is the Offensive Player of the Year.

McCaffrey leads the league for all ball carriers in total scrimmage yards with 1,244 and touchdowns with 13. The next closest player to McCaffrey for total scrimmage yards this season is Dalvin Cook, and McCaffrey has played one game fewer than Cook this season. McCaffrey is on pace to finish the season with 2,488 scrimmage yards and 26 total touchdowns, which is production we have not seen from a running back since Adrian Peterson in 2007. 

McCaffrey is the ultimate Swiss army knife for an offense, and he has taken his play up another level this season. MVP may be out of his reach despite his high levels of production, but nobody comes close to him for this award.

Other Candidates:

  • Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
  • Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  • Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
  • Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Defensive Player of the Year
Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots 

This award is unequivocally the most wide open of all the superlatives, and you could argue that the entire Patriots defense deserves the award this year, but I am going to pick a dark horse candidate in Stephon Gilmore to win Defensive Player of the Year.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Gilmore is allowing a passer rating of 39.3 when the ball is thrown his way, and he has only been targeted an astonishing 55 times this season. Gilmore is always the man that shadows the opponent's best receiver, which has included players like Juju Smith Schuster, Golden Tate, and Odell Beckham, Jr. this season. Gilmore is the dictionary definition of a lockdown cornerback in a league which is more pass heavy than before, and he is the best player on the most dominant defense we have seen in years. Stephon Gilmore is the best defensive player in football. 

Other Candidates:

  • Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
  • Shaquil Barrett, LOLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots

Most Valuable Player
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

It's time that Russell Wilson wins his first MVP Award, because he is earning it on the field. He is delivering on the field this season for the Seattle Seahawks and is playing the best football in his career.

According to Pro Football Focus, the glorified nerd football database, Russell Wilson is snapping the football behind the 28th ranked passing offensive line in the league. Despite his weak offensive line, Wilson ranks first in touchdown passes with 22, first in total touchdowns scored with 25, lowest in interceptions with 1, and first in passer rating at 118.2, and first in QBR at 75.8. Wilson is also the first and only quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw for 22 or more touchdown passes with 1 or fewer interceptions through his first nine games in the season. Not to mention Wilson already has four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime this season, including his most recent performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which he threw for 5 touchdown passes in an overtime win.

Wilson is producing Big 12 numbers in the NFL. He is the best player in the NFL, and he is elevating the Seattle Seahawks to Super Bowl contenders because of his individual play. Russell Wilson will win the Most Valuable Player Award.

Other Candidates:

  • Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
  • Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
  • Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers


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