Brooklyn Beat is proud to announce the winners of our inaugural NFL awards. Each selection was made by a four person panel consisting of contributors who have written about the NFL over the course of the 2016 season.
MVP – Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (Unanimous selection)
While Ryan was the unanimous pick, this award ultimately came down to him and Aaron Rodgers, who revived a dead Packers team midseason to bring them back to the playoffs. Ryan, however, was just as important to Atlanta’s success as Rodgers was for Green Bay and dominated Rodgers-led Packers in the NFC Conference Championship game.
Offensive Player of the Year – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (2 votes)
Also receiving votes were Ryan and Cardinals running back David Johnson. Elliott was drafted with high expectations and lived up to the hype in Dallas, leading the league in rushing as a rookie and playing a key role in Dallas’ return to the postseason.
Defensive Player of the Year – Landon Collins, SS, New York Giants (3 votes)
Aaron Donald received the fourth vote. After struggling as a rookie, Collins improved significantly in his sophomore campaign, tallying four sacks, five interceptions and showing that he is stout against the run as well.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (3 votes)
Elliott takes home another piece of hardware, which was won by his teammate, Dak Prescott. Bears running back Jordan Howard received the other vote.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers (3 votes)
Despite missing the first month of the season, Bosa was a force to be reckoned with when he finally suited up. Bosa ended the year with 10.5 sacks and shrugged off talks that he wouldn’t be able to play well in a 3-4 defense. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey received the other vote.
Most Improved Player – Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (2 votes)
Statistically, Carr was pretty much the same player he was in 2015, except with less interceptions, but it was his leadership that put him over the top. Between being a MVP candidate and winning enough games for Oakland that they clinched their first playoff berth in 13 seasons before breaking his leg, Carr has put Oakland back on the map, and has shown they will be contenders for years. Landon Collins and Falcons edge rusher Vic Beasley received the other votes.
Least Valuable Player – Ereck Flowers, OT, New York Giants (3 votes)
Between constantly getting flagged to failing to protect Eli Manning on passing downs, Flowers has been abysmal for the Giants over the past two seasons. If he wasn’t a top 10 draft pick he would have been cut by now. Packers running back Eddie Lacy received the other vote.
The Brock Osweiler Award – Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans (Unanimous selection)
Osweiler was so bad that we actually named the award that he is winning after him, which goes to the worst free agency signing of the year. Osweiler had seven career starts under his belt entering last offseason and was given a whooper of a contract by a desperate Houston Texans, which included $37 million guaranteed. He flopped, ultimately being benched in favor of Tom Savage. Despite this (and losing their best player in J.J. Watt), the Texans still won the AFC South.
The Albert Haynesworth Award – Harry Douglas, WR, Tennessee Titans (2 votes)
Douglas won this award, which is given to the dirtiest player of the year, due to his cheap shot against Chris Harris late in the season. Despite Douglas’ clear attempt to injure Harris, it was deemed a legal hit, since he was in front of Harris, and he was not fined. Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict received a vote apiece.
The Tommy Maddox Award – Lorenzo Alexander, OLB, Buffalo Bills (2 votes)
This award is given to the league’s one-hit wonder. Alexander was a Pro Bowler in 2012, but he made it as a special teamer and was never considered a good player throughout his career. Entering 2016 as a 33-year-old with just nine career sacks, Alexander erupted in Buffalo, racking up 12 sacks and his first career interception en route to a second-team All-Pro nomination. It’s hard to imagine that he will repeat that performance. Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett also received votes.
The Dennis Green Award – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants and Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks (2 votes each)
The award for the biggest off-field meltdown, Beckham won the award after allegedly punching a hole in the wall in Green Bay following the Giants playoff loss. Sharing the award is Sherman, who launched a five-day media boycott last month.
The Kenyatta Walker Award – Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets
Given to the player with the biggest on-field meltdown, Fitzpatrick tossed six interceptions, including three in the end zone, in one game against Kansas City. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers also received a vote.
The Armchair Quarterback Award – Kyle Shanahan, OC, Atlanta Falcons (Unanimous selection)
Shanahan ended his Falcons tenure on a dismal note. His play calling in Super Bowl LI played a key role in the Falcons loss. He continued to call pass plays while the team still had the lead and was in field goal range, which led to the Falcons losing 23 yards on a holding penalty and a sack, knocking them out of field goal range. With under a minute left in regulation, Atlanta got the ball back in a tie game and showed no sense of urgency, allowing the game to go to overtime, where they didn’t even touch the ball. Thought it could have been worse, he could have been the 49ers coach.
Best Draft Pick – Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (Unanimous selection)
While teammate Ezekiel Elliott may have the main accolades, Prescott wins this award due to the sheer value of his selection. A fourth round draft pick, Prescott took over for an injured Tony Romo and never looked back.
Worst Draft Pick – Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams and Roberto Aguayo, K, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2 votes each)
Both players were drafted by teams who moved up to make the selection and both players were dismal in their rookie year. Goff was shelved for much of the season until former Rams head coach Jeff Fisher’s back was to the wall, and Goff responded by showing that he wasn’t ready for the NFL. Aguayo entered the league as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, but it didn’t translate well in the pros, where he converted just 71 percent of his kicks. His roster spot is not guaranteed for 2017.
Best Coach – Bill Belichick, HC, New England Patriots (3 votes)
Notoriously stoic, even Belichick cracked a smile when the Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl under his tutelage, the most of any head coach in league history. What put him over the top this year, however, isn’t the Super Bowl win – it’s the fact that he was able to go 3-1 without Tom Brady at the helm when the season started, instead sending out Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett for a pair of games each.
Worst Coach – Jeff Fisher, HC, Los Angeles Rams
Fisher had a year to forget in Los Angeles and it is likely that his NFL career is over. The Rams went 4-9 in 2016 under Fisher before his midseason firing as he continued to insist on sending out the ineffective Case Keenum at quarterback when they just selected Jared Goff first overall in the draft. Running back Todd Gurley infamously called the Rams a “middle school offense” following their blowout loss to the Falcons, Fisher’s final game. The loss tied Fisher with Dan Reeves for the most in NFL history. Jets head coach Todd Bowles also received a vote.
Best General Manager – Reggie McKenzie, GM, Oakland Raiders (2 votes)
McKenzie’s fingerprints are all over this roster, but this offseason was the one that was crucial to Oakland finally getting over the hump. McKenzie made a splash in free agency, signing guard Kelechi Osemele and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin before selecting Karl Joseph on draft day. Titans general manager Jon Robinson and Giants general manager Jerry Reese also received votes.
Worst General Manager – Trent Baalke, GM, San Francisco 49ers (3 votes)
The deconstruction of the San Francisco 49ers have been two years in the making, beginning with Baakle’s ego being unable to be in the same room as Jim Harbaugh. The quarterback situation was dismal as Colin Kaepernick continued to regress and the 49ers were a team completely devoid of talent, evidenced by Pro Football Focus’ annual top 101 list, which didn’t include a single 49er. On draft day, Baalke traded back into the first round to select Joshua Garnett, a player many didn’t see being selected until Round 3. At least new general manager John Lynch has a lot of cap room to play with. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis also got a vote.