We’re halfway through the 2018 NFL season and while some new players (Patrick Mahomes) are becoming superstars, others (LeSean McCoy) are starting to fade. Here are our midseason award winners, voted by our staff:
Most Valuable Player – Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams) (Unanimous decision)
Gurley won our MVP award last season and somehow looks stronger in 2018. After scoring 19 times last season, he already has 16 in 2018 and could threaten LaDanian Tomlinson’s single-season record of 31.
Offensive Player of the Year – Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) (Unanimous decision)
After spending the year as Alex Smith’s understudy, Kansas City gave Mahomes full reigns of the offense in 2018 and he has responded by throwing 29 touchdown passes on an mind-boggling 9.1 percent of his passes. He also leads the league in passing yards and has been a key factor in the Chiefs owning the best record in the AFC despite their poor defense.
Defensive Player of the Year – Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams) (Unanimous decision)
Donald and Gurley are two of the main reasons why the Rams are so exciting to watch. He leads the league in pressure score by a wide margin and in points per pass rush. He finally got his extension before the season and the new payday hasn’t slowed him down.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Saquon Barkley (New York Giants) (Unanimous decision)
The Giants are 1-7, but Barkley has been every bit as good as advertised. Hopefully New York can find a future franchise quarterback to play alongside him.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers) (2 votes)
James somehow slipped to 17th overall in the draft and has been the stud safety the Chargers have needed since Eric Weddle departed. Browns cornerback Denzel Ward received the other vote.
Most Improved Player – Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears), Adrian Peterson (Washington Redskins) and George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers) (three-way tie)
All three players are deserving of praise. Trubisky went from having the Bears limit their passing offense to trusting him with new head coach Matt Nagy and it has paid dividends. Peterson looked like he was finished after his 2017 season ended with a neck injury only to sign with the Redskins late in the summer and is now fifth in the NFL in rushing yards. Kittle earned a starting job midway through the 2017 season and ha snow become one of the top tight ends in the NFL.
Least Valuable Player – Nathan Peterman (Buffalo Bills) (2 votes)
Peterman has tossed seven interceptions and just one touchdown this year and in his career has three passing touchdowns and 12 picks. This is the man Buffalo decided to keep on the roster over A.J. McCarron and named their Week 1 starter as they hoped to ease Josh Allen into the starting gig. Instead he bombed and the Bills are still forced to play him due to injuries to Allen and Derek Anderson. There is now a GoFundMe encouraging Peterman to retire. Rams cornerback Marcus Peters received the other vote.
Brock Osweiler Award – Sam Bradford (Arizona Cardinals)
Signed to a contract with $15 million guaranteed, Bradford was horrific in three games, throwing for just 400 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt and throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions before getting benched for Josh Rosen. He was released after spending five weeks on the inactive roster and his NFL career may be over.
Albert Haynesworth Award – Damontae Kazee (Atlanta Falcons) (Unanimous decision)
Given to the dirtiest on-field act, Kazee went helmet-to-helmet on a sliding Cam Newton during a divisional contest between Atlanta and Carolina. He was ejected from the game and Newton was evaluated for a concussion, but did not miss a snap.
Tommy Maddox Award – Dee Ford (Kansas City Chiefs) (2 votes)
Given to the year’s one-hit wonder, Ford has emerged as an elite pass rusher in 2018, ranking second in pressure score and third in points per pass rush, both marks are easily his career best, but given that he has never had this kind of productivity until his contract year, we are skeptical this performance repeats itself. Sam Darnold received the other vote.
Dennis Green Award – Vontae Davis (Buffalo Bills) (2 votes)
— NFL (@NFL) September 16, 2018
Given to the person with the worst off-field meltdown, Davis earned this award after quitting on the Bills as the team was down 28-6 at halftime in a Week 2 game against the Chargers and retiring. Davis allowed the only pass targeted his way to be caught by Mike Williams for a 10-yard touchdown. Dez Bryant received the other vote.
Kenyetta Walker Award – Reshad Jones (Miami Dolphins) (2 votes)
This award is given to the player with the biggest on-field meltdown. With Miami working on making rookie Minkah Fitzpatricj a full-time player, the team game planned to rotate their secondary in last week’s loss to the Jets. This apparently didn’t bode well for Jones and after he sat out the fourth defensive series of the game, he refused to re-enter. Michael Thomas received the other vote.
Armchair Quarterback Award – Vance Joseph (Denver Broncos)
Down 13-10 to Houston last week with 18 seconds left before halftime, the Broncos were on the Texans 44-yard line facing on fourth and nine with Houston still having two timeouts to use. Instead of punting and pinning the Texans back, Joseph decided to send out the field goal unit to attempt a 62-yard field goal. Kicker Brandon McManus’ career-long is 57 yards and he has made just half of his field goals from 50-plus yards in his career, so naturally he missed. Houston was able to get the ball back near midfield and travel 20 yards before their kicker made a 46-yard field goal as time expired in the half. Denver lost the game by two points. Jon Gruden received the other vote.
Best Draft Pick – Donte Jackson (Carolina Panthers), Phillip Lindsay (Denver Broncos), Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns)
An award usually given to the best draft pick based on value (typically a player taken later in the draft gets the award), thee just hasn’t been someone who has emerged in the later rounds, which led to a disagreement over who should win. Jackson hasn’t been stellar, but he has been solid and truly encompasses the spirit of the award, Lindsay wasn’t draft, though if he was, he should be the outright winner and Mayfield has shown so far that he’s the best quarterback of the crop.
Worst Draft Pick – Kolton Miller (Oakland Raiders) (2 votes)
Miller was a reach on draft night and has been one of the worst tackles in pro football. Only Julie’n Davenport has a worse pressure score against and he has allowed a league-worst nine sacks. Bills quarterback Josh Allen received the other vote.
Best Coach- Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) (Unanimous decision)
McVay won this award last year and the offense continues to churn even with offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur leaving for Tennessee. The Rams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders in their third season since leaving St. Louis.
Worst Coach – Hue Jackson (Cleveland Browns) (2 votes)
Jackson was fired last week, ending a tenure in Cleveland that saw him win just three games in two-plus years. The Browns have talent, but they have underperformed with Jackson. Jon Gruden received the other vote.
Best General Manager – Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears) (Unanimous decision)
It took a while, but Pace has made the Bears suddenly relevant again and what could be the most iconic move of his tenure is his trade for Khalil Mack just before the season began. Mack got off to a blazing start before injuries slowed him down, but it still a solid player and was the final piece needed for their defense. Additionally, Pace fired John Fox and hired Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, who has been instrumental in the development of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, retained Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, who could become a head coach candidate this offseason, signed a talented Allen Robinson and added Roquan Smith and Anthony Miller in the draft.
Worst General Manager – David Gettleman (New York Giants), Jon Gruden (Oakland Raiders) and Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys)
All three teams get a vote for multiple reasons. Gettleman passed on a quarterback in favor of drafting Saquon Barkley and then overpaid for Nate Solder, Patrick Omameh and Jonathan Stewart in free agency. Gruden traded away Khalil Mack and spent much of the offseason acquiring past-their-prime players as it seems he is ready to blow up the roster and Jones gave up a first round pick to Gruden for Amari Cooper.