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MVP: Derek Carr
Derek Carr should be the MVP. Matt Ryan will probably end up winning, and is definitely deserving, but if we are to pick the “most valuable” player to their team, it is Carr. While playing in less than 15 games, Carr won 12 of them. He earned Oakland their first winning season and playoff appearance since the 2002 season. They looked prime to win the AFC West and were considered the “only” team that had a shot to beat New England in the AFC. They were one of the best teams in the league with him, but without, they looked like the Cleveland Browns. When Carr went out against Indianapolis, they didn’t score for the rest of the game. They only scored 6 points against Denver and 14 against Houston. The team went from being one of the most explosive in the league to struggling to pick up first downs. Furthermore, Oakland had one of the worst defenses in the league. They were historically bad the first few months of the season, but that didn’t stop Derek Carr from winning games. In comparison to other MVP candidates, their defense was by far the worst.
If the voters treat the award like the name suggests, then Derek Carr is your 2016 MVP.
“Matt Ryan is the only player to put up big numbers without a blemish on his 2016 resume.”
Offensive Player of the Year: Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan has put up some of the best numbers in the league along with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. However, Matt Ryan is the only player to put up big numbers without a blemish on his 2016 resume. For example, Brady was suspended for the first 4 games of the season and Aaron Rodgers was horrible for the first 6 games, but led a historic stretch from week 10 and on. Ryan played every game this season and has played consistently well for the whole year. He lead an offense that averaged 34 points per game and could be considered one of the best in league history. He also threw for 4,944 yards, 38 TD’s and just 7 INT’s. He posted incredible stats, played every game, and played consistently throughout the year. He deserves the honor of offensive player of the year.
Matt Ryan is heading to the Super Bowl in Houston and is the leading candidate for the 2016 MVP award. (Getty Images)
Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack was the only bright spot on a horrid Raider’s defense. He didn’t sack the quarterback as many times this season as he did last season (15 vs. 11), but he had many more game changing plays. He had a sack in 8 straight games, which ties an all-time NFL record. In addition, Khalil seemed to always force a fumble when he was near the QB, forcing 5 fumbles this season, always in big moments. He had the game-winning strip sack against Cam Newton, a strip sack to close the deal against Buffalo, and grabbed Tyrod Taylor’s arm which forced the ball to pop up straight into the air leading to a Nate Allen interception. Mack didn’t get any stats for that last play, but it was a huge play in the game. He also stripped Alex Smith on Thursday Night Football to bring the Raiders back into the game down multiple scores. He also had a pick-six of the former MVP, Cam Newton. Besides his highlight plays, Mack continued to be among the league’s best stopping the run with 9 run stuffs and creating pressure with 25 hurries (according to Sporting Charts). He looks like he will be adding Defensive Player of the Year to his already impressive resume with many pro bowls and all-pro selections.
Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott
This is the easiest pick of the year. Ezekiel Elliott was labeled as a guaranteed great player coming out of the draft and has lived up to those expectations. Without playing the last game of the season, he ran for 1,631 yards (108.7 yards per game), 15 touchdowns and averaged over 5 yards a carry. He was also a threat out of the backfield with 363 yards receiving and a TD to add his already large total of 15 TD’s. All in all, his stats are amazing and he did it on the best team in the NFC. He made it an easy choice for rookie of the year.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Joey Bosa
After the long hold out and an early season injury, Joey Bosa proved to be a huge difference maker for the Chargers. His presence was noticed immediately. In his first NFL game, against a top offensive line in the NFL (Oakland), he sacked Derek Carr twice and recorded two run stuffs. Despite missing the first 4 games of the season, he recorded 10.5 sacks, ranked in the top 25 in run stuffs and in the top 20 in pressures on the quarterback.
Joey Bosa sacks Matt Ryan (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Coach of the Year: Jason Garrett
Jason Garrett lost his starting quarterback before the season even started. For most NFL teams, that would have been their season. Garrett then turned to their 4th round pick, Dak Prescott. With the injury, Garrett had to put most of the offensive responsibilities on two rookies, Prescott and Elliott. Garrett created great gameplans each week to make Prescott and Elliot both look like MVP candidates. Personally, I believe Elliot is every bit an MVP candidate, but I don’t think Prescott is. The great coaching, offensive line, and Elliot helped make Prescott look a lot better than he was. He is going to be a great quarterback down the line, but no quarterbacks start out as good as Prescott looked this season as a rookie. That is a credit to Garrett. His success with Prescott led the Cowboys to become the number 1 seed in the NFC and major Super Bowl contenders for years to come.
“[Shanahan] has been the mastermind of one of the most successful offenses in NFL history.”
Assistant of the Year: Kyle Shanahan
There is no doubt in my mind. Kyle Shanahan is the runaway assistant of the year. He has been the mastermind of one of the most successful offenses in NFL history. They averaged over 34 points per game during the regular season, and have dropped 44 and 36 points in their two playoff games. Shanahan has turned Matt Ryan’s career around, who is having probably the best season of any quarterback in the league and has completely turned around his playoff struggles, all thanks to Shanahan.
Executive of the Year: Reggie McKenzie
Reggie McKenzie has brought the Raiders their first winning season and playoff berth since 2002. The main cause of the turnaround was Derek Carr, but McKenzie was the one who drafted Derek. However, the 2014 draft was one of the best drafts in recent memory. He got MVP candidate, Derek Carr, NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Khalil Mack and pro bowl caliber guard Gabe Jackson all in the first three rounds. Not to mention, he grabbed a solid starting tackle, Justin Ellis, late in the 4th. The next year McKenzie followed it up with another great draft. He got Amari Cooper, a pro bowler, Mario Edwards Jr., looks to be a future star, and Clive Walford, a solid weapon for Derek Carr. This year’s draft seemed to be another solid one. Karl Joseph looks like a very good safety, and he got explosive RB Deandre Washington in the 5th round. However, the rest of the draft class is to be determined. In the end, McKenzie is getting awarded for the success he had in the 2014 draft class. It is possible that he could have two Hall of Famers from that class if Mack and Carr continue to build on what they have started here in Oakland.
“[McKenzie] could have two Hall of Famers from [the 2014] class.”
Comeback Player of the Year: Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson tore his ACL last season and has bounced back to becoming one of the best WR’s in the league once again. He played in all 16 games, caught 97 balls for 1,257 yards and 14 TD’s. He did not miss a step compared to his 2014 season and is still one of the best receivers in the league after his terrible injury in 2015.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Landon Collins
Landon Collins was the leader of the most improved defense in the NFL, the New York Giants. He has now supplanted himself as one of the best safeties in the NFL after a subpar rookie season. In his second season, he improved his interception total by 4 (improving from one INT to five), his sacks went from 0 to 4 (a high amount for a defensive back), and his tackles stayed extremely high at 125, which was 13 better than last season.
Landon Collins intercepts Bengal’s QB Andy Dalton (Bill Kostroun, AP Photo)
Most Disappointing Player of the Year: Brock Osweiler
Yes, this is not a real award, but I decided to throw it in anyways. Brock Osweiler has been the biggest disappointment of the year. They have the number one defense around him, a great WR in Hopkins, and a great RB in Miller, yet their offense was horrible. Their team made the playoffs, but they aren’t a playoff team. Their only reason for their failures, a man they paid 72 million dollars, Brock Osweiler.
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.