The NFL season is officially over. The playoffs will begin in a few days and we will have a new champion to crown. The defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers are not in the playoffs. They are the sixth Super Bowl winner that didn’t make the playoffs the following season. There were many great stories this year and many disappointing teams that didn’t live up to their potential. Either way it was a great season. Aside from the embarrassing showing of a few teams in the last two weeks, uhhem…the Colts…cough, cough. To go off topic for a second, how do you bench everyone when your winning in Week 16 and keep them out there in a blizzard to pad some stats in Week 17? If you have the answer please let me know. I haven’t been on the radio for almost a month, so I had to get that out. I give you the ones worthy of personal hardware for the 2009 NFL season.
MVP: Peyton Manning Colts
4,500 Passing yards, 33 TD’s Record 14-2
I know. I just criticized them, but it wasn’t his decision to sit. I’m sure of it. His body language told me all I needed to know. However, it can’t be denied how important he is to this team. Just look what happens when you put someone else out there. It doesn’t even have to be Curtis Painter (Who?). The Colts are not the same without Manning. Eight of their wins were come from behind wins. Yes, eight. Remember the Monday night game against the Dolphins. The Sunday night game against the Patriots. Granted Belichick helped, but Manning still had to get the Colts the go ahead score. Also the Thursday night game at Jacksonville to go 14-0. A classic shootout that showed there is no one that can stop the Colts when Manning is on his game. Do I really have to keep going? I could you know.
Defensive Player of the Year: Charles Woodson Packers
74 Tackles, 9 INT, 3 TD’s Record 11-5
I originally had Darren Sharper of the Saints as the Defensive Player of the Year. That was when there was still 4-6 weeks left in the season. In that time Woodson really took off. Literally, he and the Packers defense were winning games not Aaron Rodgers and the offense. Winning 7 of their last 8 games to storm into the playoffs as a Wild Card representative. That is thanks in large part to the defense. Woodson no longer has the speed, but is a crafty veteran who knows how to read the quarterback and jump the receivers route. That helps especially when the starter opposite him, Al Harris, went down with a knee injury just when the streak started. Funny how great players show up when they’re needed most.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Percy Harvin Vikings
60 Rec., 790 yards, 6 TD’s Record 12-4
Harvin is and will always be the steal of the 2009 draft. Everyone knew the potential of him when he was entering the draft. They were all afraid of the stability of his foot. Well, it looks fine to me. He ran all over defenses this year with impressive numbers for a rookie wide receiver. He also ran two kickoffs for touchdowns. Running the ball was a cinch racking up 135 yards on 15 attempts this year. He turned out to be the best performer in a class that had two rookie quarterbacks playing from the start and a slew of running backs that didn’t separate themselves from the pack.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Brian Cushing Texans
134 Tackles, 5 Sacks, 4 INT Record 9-7
Yes, he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year today, but I would’ve given it to him regardless. He led all rookies in tackles. Was third in sacks and second in interceptions. The USC linebacker was the best of the trio in the draft, but Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga were just as important to their teams success as Cushing. The Texans did miss the playoffs, but Cushing, Ryans and Williams will be the backbone of that defense for years to come.
Coach of the Year: Marvin Lewis Bengals
Again, who thought the Bengals would win all their division games? Marvin ceases to amaze me. When it looks like he has lost all control of the team and franchise for that matter, he manages to turn it around. He has a great offense that didn’t live up to expectations for the most part. However, he turned around that defense with the help of coordinator Mike Zimmer who dealt with personal tragedy in the middle of the season. The entire team had to deal with more tragedy with the death of wide receiver Chris Henry. They rallied to make the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years. Amazing indeed. If the Bengals can win one or two playoff games, Marvin will have another three years to work with in Cincinnati.
Stay tuned for the NFL Wild Card Preview later in the week.