2008 NFL Awards
COACH OF THE YEAR
Last year the Miami Dolphins were 1-15, that one win was an overtime win, that they were lucky to have. This year they are heading to the playoffs with a division championship. That is all you need to know, it is the greatest single season turnaround in NFL history. Prior to this, the best a 1-15 team had done was 9-7. For that and his innovative play calling make Tony Sparano the obvious choice for coach of the year. The key stat in the turnaround is the Dolphins NFL best +12 turnover ratio; that is great coaching that creates those numbers.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE of the YEAR
New England Patriots
The Patriots have missed the playoffs for the first time in six years, but it is not the fault of anyone on their team after an 11-5 record, after losing 2007 MVP Tom Brady. On defense they were stronger up the middle and it was thanks to Jered Mayo, who the Patriots took with the tenth overall pick that they acquired from the San Francisco 49ers. In a year with no real stand out rookie on defense Mayo’s 121 tackles make him the most logical choice.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER of theYEAR
Linebacker James Harrison is the leader of what is the best defense in the NFL. The Steelers, whose offense at times seemed stuck in the mud, need their defense to be stronger then ever, and thanks to Harrison it was, as they were the top defense against the pass most of the season and the top defense against the run. Harrison was able to both provide pressure on the QB with 16 sacks, while collecting over 100 tackles, as the Steelers defense reminded fans of the Steel Curtain.
COMEBACK PLAYER of the YEAR
Chad Pennington has won this award before, after coming back from injury. However, to comeback and beat his old team to get to the playoffs is the type of stories that are usually made into cheesy movies. The Jets had gotten rid of him because he could not make the deep passes, but his efficient passing would have likely suited them better, as it did for the Dolphins, who as a team committed just 13 turnovers, setting a new NFL record for ball control, and for that you need a solid QB.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE of the YEAR
Who was handed the starting QB job right out of training camp, after being chosen third overall in the NFL draft made an immediate impact connecting with Michael Jenkins on a 62-yard TD pass on his first completion, as the Falcons, completed a turnaround almost as impressive as the Dolphins, going from 4-12 to the playoffs. Ryan passed for 3,280 yards with 15 touchdown passes, and an 89.7 QB raiting for one of the best seasons by a rookie Quarterback ever. It won’t be his last award, but Matt Ryan is the best rookie in the league.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER of theYEAR
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are not going to playoffs, if they were they would be no doubt that Drew Brees would be the NFL MVP, as he fell just 17 yards short of break Dan Marino’s iconic passing yards record. However, by becoming just the second player in NFL history to 5,000 yards in a single season and his 30 touchdown passes make Brees the obvious choice for the best offensive player, it is not his fault his team did not have a defense and this award is not for the players on the best team, but the player who had the best year.
Peyton Manning has had more impressive statistical seasons, but he may never of had a season where he was more of a leader as he single handily brought the Colts back into the playoffs after a mediocre start. The Colts ended the season with a nine game winning streak to finish 12-4, with Manning’s heroics providing the difference several times, as he had 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions during the final nine weeks. In addition he led the Colts on two big comeback wins, that were important in the AFC where a 11-5 team missed the playoffs.