The first quarter of the NFL season is almost complete and already the award races are shaping up (or already won) in certain cases. Which players and coaches lead the way in the polls for the top honors?
MVP and Offensive Player of the Year – Peyton Manning
Adrian Peterson stole the MVP last year but unless something goes completely off the rails, Peyton Manning will claim an unprecedented fifth Most Valueable Player trophy in his illustrious career, and the Offensive Player of the Year honor certain to come with it. He already has 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions. At the age of 37 he is on pace to challenge Tom Brady for the single season touchdown mark that Brady actually stole from him in 2007. Manning is still the best in the NFL and will continue to prove it.
Comeback Player of the Year – Philip Rivers
It was one of the top reclamation projects to watch at the beginning of the season. The one hope for the San Diego Charges was if new head coach Mike McCoy could help quarterback Philip Rivers rediscover the form that made him a four-time Pro Bowler. Through two games he has almost 1,200 yards passing including two 400-yard games and the Chargers are 2-2 because of it. They are chasing Kansas City and Denver at the moment but if Rivers continues his torrid start there is no question he’s a favorite for Comeback Player of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year – Richard Sherman
A classic superstar who isn’t shy about talking on or off the field and backs up every word. Every time the Seattle Seahawks have needed a big play on defense it seems like Richard Sherman is the guy who provides. In addition to his lock down man coverage, he has proven just as adept at forcing fumbles and intercepting passes. His biggest to date resulted in a pick six touchdown, capping a 17-point rally by the Seahawks to force overtime in Houston. The resulting victory kept his team undefeated and on course for home field advantage, making them runaway favorites in the NFC.
Coach of the Year – Joe Philbin
He’s calm, quiet and doesn’t offer much in the way of pregame speeches but the job Joe Philbin has done with the Miami Dolphins is something to celebrate. Behind second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill the team is 3-0 and a direct threat to the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The team has proven adept at winning tight games and plays equally well on the road, at home, on offense and defense. That is a testament to Philbin’s coaching style and demeanor. Things can still go wrong for his team, but if the trend holds he richly deserves the honor of Coach of the Year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Robert Woods
One could make an argument for his quarterback in this category but it’s hard to ignore how good Robert Woods has been. He has 201 yards on just 11 catches with two touchdowns. That makes him good enough for third on the list of rookie receivers. So what is the reason he gets the honor? The other two have Pro Bowl quarterbacks throwing to them. Woods catches his passes from a fellow rookie. That is the sign of a playmaker and the Buffalo Bills have done a marvelous job utilizing his talents.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Kiko Alonso
Is it become monotonous yet. In addition to possessing the offensive rookie, Buffalo may also have their hands on the best defensive rookie in the league. Not only has Kiko Alonso played so well, he’s really come out of nowhere. A mid round pick out of Oregon, he has made plays all over the field. In just four games he has 32 tackles, four interceptions, a force fumble and a sack. That kind of production through a quarter of the season is unheard of from a veteran, much less a rookie.
Rookie of the Year – E.J. Manuel
Now it’s just getting ridiculous. Somebody should get a raise for the draft class the Buffalo Bills pulled off in 2013. While not the offensive ROY, E.J. Manuel is the overall Rookie of the Year. His value so far to his team has been unquestionable. He’s already beaten Cam Newton and Joe Flacco while coming very close to upsetting Tom Brady. He has five touchdown passes to just three interceptions and has managed games well despite taking his fair share of sacks (11). Some were skeptical when the Bills took Manuel as the only quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft. Already he is showing why and to think he isn’t even close to his ceiling yet.