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Predicting the Eagles’ chances at NFL Honors

There can only be 1?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and Associated Press announced the finalists for this year’s end of season awards. Some Eagles were named and aren’t going to win, some were named and might win, and some were outright snubbed.

Executive of the Year

This is not an official NFL or AP award, so it won’t be given out at NFL Honors the night before the Super Bowl. But various media outlets, most notably the Pro Football Writers of America and the Sporting News give out their own and their history of doing so give it an unofficial status. And we can’t ignore it with the season Howie Roseman had.

His worst signing was… Kyzir White? Who has not been really that bad and is on a one year contract anyway. There’s no immediate albatross contract that the team has to live with for the next few seasons. There’s no free agent signing or trade that is a bust and is actively hurting the team on the field. The in-season acquisitions of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh were impactful, immediately boosting the run defense.

AJ Brown was such a successful trade that the Titans fired the GM after they lost to the Eagles. The draft pick swaps with the Saints has given them the 10th overall pick. The CJ Gardner-Johnson trade gave them the league’s leader in interceptions. In a series of separate trades in August he gave up JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, and a 7th round pick to acquire a 5th, 6th, and 7th round pick. The worst thing you can say is he gave up a 4th round pick for Robert Quinn, who led the league in sacks last year. Is anyone in the entire NFL having as good of a season as Howie Roseman?

Coach of the Year

Finalists: Brian Daboll, Doug Pederson, Kyle Shanahan

Snubbed: Andy Reid, Nick Sirianni

Nick Sirianni is not even a finalist. That’s just fine. Coach of the Year is worthless. It used to be about the actual best coach, in the 60s and 70s there was a ten year stretch where everyone who won it was an eventual Hall of Famer. Somewhere in the 90s it turned into a participation award for “team that was unexpectedly good.” Since Jimmy Johnson won it in 1990 with a 7-9 record no coach has won it with single digit wins over a full season (Bruce Arians went 9-3 in place of Chuck Pagano). Since then, 26 coaches have won the award 31 times. 11 of them were rookie head coaches. 10 of them won the award 11 times after having a losing season with that team the year before. How good of a coaching job can you be doing if the year before you stunk? Jason Garrett and Matt Nagy are recent winners. Ron Rivera has won it twice, Andy Reid only once.

Who should win: Pederson, for taking the Jaguars from laughing stock to division winners; or Shanahan, who went 13-4 with three different QBs due to injury, would be fine choices.

Assistant Coach of the Year

Finalists: Lions OC Ben Johnson, 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans, Shane Steichen

Snubbed: All three are worthy finalists, and Dan Quinn would have been too.

This is a relatively new award, debuting in 2014, the winners have been evenly split among defensive and offensive coordinators, so there’s no bias here like there are for some player awards. And every winner has been from the opposite side of the ball that their head coach is from, so Steichen would buck a trend if he were to win.

Who should win: Johnson. The Lions finished 4th in yards and 5th in points scored with a roster that had no business being that productive.

Comeback Player of the Year

Finalists: Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Geno Smith

Snubbed: Brandon Graham and Za’Darius Smith

This award has no true definition. Most winners have returned from season long injuries. Usually these are “run of the mill” season ending injuries like an ACL tear, but they occasionally cross over to inspiring human interest stories such as Alex Smith being able to walk again or Eric Berry returning to play after Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There’s also been a handful of players who were out of the game for non-health reasons and returned to starting roles: Doug Flutie, Tommy Maddox, and Michael Vick.

When lacking such options voters settle on players who simply had what was perceived to be a bad year. Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Greg Ellis are notable examples, and all each received less than a third of votes, which reflects the weak pool of candidates.

McCaffrey is the only finalist who fits the spirit of the award. He played in only 10 games over the previous two seasons and this year was third in yards from scrimmage, made even more impressive when you consider he was traded midseason and had to be incorporated into a new team on the fly.

Graham, who missed 15 games last year and finished 14th in the league in sacks; and Smith, who missed 16 games and finished 19th in sacks, should have also been nominated. Barkley, who played 13 games last year and only had a good half season this year; and Smith, who didn’t have anywhere to come back from because he was never any good or out of the league, were poor choices.

Who should win: McCaffrey

Defensive Player of the Year

Finalists: Nick Bosa, Micah Parsons, Chris Jones

Snubs: Fred Warner, Haason Reddick

Bosa gets the nomination due to leading the league in sacks, but teammate Warner is arguably better. Parsons is going to be a finalist pretty much every year for the near future. Jones’ 15.5 sacks as an interior lineman got him the nomination. Reddick had more games with multiple sacks, 6, than games with no sacks, 5, he was consistently dominant.

Who should win: Take your pick, no one has had a can’t miss season.

Offensive Player of the Year

Finalists: Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts

This award is basically just MVP runner up or, if applicable, WR Who Put Up Historic Numbers. Michael Thomas and Cooper Kupp each won after Kupp set the single season record for catches and then Thomas had the second most. Jefferson led the league in receptions and yards but neither was top 5 all time, which is not quite good enough for this award. Hill transformed the Dolphins offense, but that two WRs made a four man group of three finalists could indicate that the QBs finished 1-2 in the voting and the WRs tied for third.

Who should win: Hurts

Most Valuable Player

Finalists: Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts

Jefferson has no chance to win, a non-QB or RB has won the award only three times, and the most recent of those was in 1986. Neither does Hurts, and not just because he missed time.

MVP voters don’t give this award to young QBs who aren’t league leaders in passing touchdowns or yards. At 24 and not leading the league in any passing category even if he had been healthy all year, Hurts had no chance to win this even if he was healthy all year. Since the merger, here is every QB who won MVP for the first time.

First Time MVPs

Year QB Age Leader?
Year QB Age Leader?
2019 Lamar Jackson 22 Touchdowns
2018 Patrick Mahomes 23 Touchdowns
2016 Matt Ryan 31
2015 Cam Newton 26
2011 Aaron Rodgers 28
2007 Tom Brady 30 Yards and touchdowns
2003 Steve McNair 30
2003 Peyton Manning 27 Yards
2002 Rich Gannon 37 Yards
1999 Kurt Warner 28 Touchdowns
1995 Brett Favre 26 Yards and touchdowns
1992 Steve Young 31 Touchdowns
1989 Joe Montana 33
1988 Boomer Esiason 27
1987 John Elway 27
1984 Dan Marino 23 Yards and touchdowns
1983 Joe Theismann 34
1981 Ken Anderson 32
1980 Brian Sipe 31
1978 Terry Bradshaw 30 Touchdowns
1976 Bert Jones 25 Yards
1975 Fran Tarkenton 35 Touchdowns
1974 Ken Stabler 29 Touchdowns
1970 John Brodie 35 Yards and touchdowns

The closest comparison for Hurts is Cam Newton, except he isn’t. Newton was 26, had been Rookie of the Year four years prior, so he was an established star, and he finished one passing TD shy of the lead. His team went 15-1 with a poor supporting cast after Greg Olsen: Ted Ginn was his most productive WR. He also won Offensive Player of the Year, voters recognized that this was a special year by a special player.

That could also eliminate Burrow, but leading his team to the Super Bowl last year turned him into a superstar, which could give him exception to the unofficial rule credentials for a player his age. Allen is here on name recognition, he was third in both interceptions and fumbles this year. Mahomes led the league in passing yards and TDs by significant margins with a skill position supporting cast that outside of Travis Kelce was made up of cast offs.

Who should win: Mahomes

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