By Jacob Malik
Before Super Bowl LIV, the annual NFL honors were held on Feb. 1, with the main highlighted awards being Most Valuable Player (MVP), Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.
The most coveted award is the league’s MVP, and many believed the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson deserved it. In just his second year Jackson led the league with 36 passing touchdowns while only throwing six interceptions; he threw for 3,127 yards with a passer rating of 113.3, which made him the third best.
Despite being third in the league in this category, it was only behind Ryan Tannehill and Drew Brees, who played in less games this season than Jackson. However, the most impressive statistic that cemented Jackson’s case for MVP was his 1,206 rushing yards, which broke Michael Vick's single-season record. Jackson also had seven rushing touchdowns. This, combined with his passing stats, made him the second unanimous MVP in NFL history.
Another player who had an outstanding offensive season was Michael Thomas, a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. Thomas set a single-season record for receptions of 149, beating the previous mark of 143, set by Marvin Harrison in 2002.
Thomas also led the league with 1,725 receiving yards, which is the seventh best of all time for a single season, while averaging 11.57 yards per reception. There was no surprise that Thomas won offensive player of the year (OPOY), as he set his mark as one of the best wide receivers in the league at only 26 years old.
Stephon Gilmore was as dominant as a cornerback has ever been for the New England Patriots, making him defensive player of the year (DPOY). Gilmore racked up six interceptions this year, two of which he returned for touchdowns; he did this while letting up zero touchdowns to opposing receivers.
Gilmore only allowed a 36.4 completion percentage, as well as a 12.2 passer rating when targeted. If that wasn't enough, in 11 of 16 games he allowed two or fewer receptions.
For Arizona Cardinals’ rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, there's been debate as to whether he actually deserved offensive rookie of the year. According to his rookie numbers, Murray was not in the top 10 for most major statistics. Meanwhile, many would argue that the Oakland Raiders rookie running back was much better overall.
Jacobs was seventh overall in rush yards, top five in yards per attempt, top three in rush yards per game and top 10 in touchdowns at his position. Not to say that Murray didn’t live up to his hype, but Jacobs was arguably far more dominant this season.
While the offensive rookie of the year may have been controversial, the defensive rookie was a no-brainer with defensive end Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers taking home the hardware. While Bosa was third in sacks for rookies with nine, he was undoubtedly the most dominant rookie on the field. Bosa had the most quarterback hits and tackles by any rookie, with 25 and 47, respectively, and looked impossible to stop when he was on the field.
For the Titans, Ryan Tannehill seemingly revived his career this season when he took over for Marcus Mariota and went on to win the Comeback Player of the Year award. In just 10 starts Tannehill threw for 2,742 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions as the team went 7-3 in those starts.
If he played in all 16 games at the pace he was playing at, he would have had 4,387 yards, 35 touchdowns and about 10 interceptions. These would all have been career highs for Tannehill, and if this is a sign of his future, he could help to make the Titans a force to be reckoned with.
The six major awards above were won by players aged 29 or below, with the exception of Tannehill, who is 31. The young ages of the players make for a promising future in the talent of the NFL seasons to come.