Another NFL regular season came to a close last week, and this year the league was as good as ever. We saw some of the greatest offenses of all time with the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints, while teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears channeled their previous iterations to summon incredible defenses. It was a season that saw young stars emerge at every position. Veteran got in on the action as well, with some longtime stars in the league reaching peaks we never thought could be reached.
Members of the Pride of Detroit staff submitted ballot’s last week to name the best of the best and honor the players who truly stood out this season. Here are the results of the first ever official POD end of season awards:
NFL Most Valuable Player
Drew Brees - Quarterback, New Orleans Saints (49 votes - 5 first place votes)
Patrick Mahomes - Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs (46-6)
Aaron Donald - Defensive Tackle, Los Angeles Rams (23-1)
Philip Rivers - Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers (19)
Russell Wilson - Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks (11)
Also receiving votes: Khalil Mack (6), Todd Gurley (5), Lamar Jackson (3), Andrew Luck (3), JJ Watt (2), Deshaun Watson (2), Ben Roethlisberger (1), Chris Jones (1)
Drew Brees is the most accurate passer in NFL history. While everyone thinks of Tom Brady as the model for longevity, Brees is playing some of his best football at age 39 and continues to shatter just about every passing record. Am I a little bit biased because a Brees MVP is long overdue? Maybe, but you cannot tell me that this season there is anyone definitively more valuable to their team than Brees.
- Hamza Baccouche
NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Patrick Mahomes - Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs (46-6)
Todd Gurley - Running Back, Los Angeles Rams (32-3)
Drew Brees - Quarterback, New Orleans Saints (29-3)
Ezekiel Elliott - Running Back, Dallas Cowboys (9)
Christian McCaffrey - Running Back, Carolina Panthers (8)
Also receiving votes: Russell Wilson (6), DeAndre Hopkins (6), Lamar Jackson (4), Julio Jones (3), Zach Ertz (3), Amari Cooper (2), Juju Smith-Schuster (2), Michael Thomas (2), Deshaun Watson (1), Antonio Brown (1), Baker Mayfield (1), Saquon Barkley (1)
When the Kansas City Chiefs made the decision to move on from Alex Smith this past offseason, there couldn’t have been any more pressure placed squarely on the shoulders of Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs were a 10-6 football team in 2017, winners of the AFC West, but clearly plateauing with Smith as their quarterback. Enter Mahomes under center and he outperformed anyone and everyone’s expectations in his pseudo-rookie season. Throwing for 50 TDs and over 5,000 yards puts you into rarified air no matter how pass-centric this league is now, and Mahomes is just getting started.
- Ryan Mathews
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Aaron Donald - Defensive Tackle, Los Angeles Rams (57-11)
Khalil Mack - Linebacker, Chicago Bears (40)
JJ Watt - Defensive End, Houston Texans (15)
Luke Kuechly - Linebacker, Carolina Panthers (10)
Chris Jones - Defensive Tackle, Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)
Also receiving votes: Bobby Wagner (6), Kyle Fuller (6), Eddie Jackson (5), Damon Harrison (4), Fletcher Cox (4), Danielle Hunter (3), Darius Leonard (3), Leighton Vander Esch (2), Myles Garrett (1), Derwin James (1), Stephon Gilmore (1)
Aaron Donald is a force of nature on the field. When he makes a tackle, it’s almost always in the backfield, as he practically lives there. It’s close for me with Donald and J.J. Watt, but Donald plays on a level we haven’t seen in over a decade from an interior lineman.
- Kent Lee Platte
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Saquon Barkley - Running Back, New York Giants (57-6)
Baker Mayfield - Quarterback, Cleveland Browns (45-5)
Nick Chubb - Running Back, Cleveland Browns (26)
Lamar Jackson - Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens (19-1)
Philip Lindsay - Running Back, Denver Broncos (9)
Also receiving votes: Calvin Ridley (7), Quenton Nelson (7), Kerryon Johnson (4), Josh Allen (1)
Though I’ve always hated the idea of drafting a running back in the first round, Saquon Barkley is maybe the exception to that rule. Barkley became just the third rookie in NFL history to achieve 2,000 yards from scrimmage and basically single-handedly brought the Giants offense to relevancy (13th in offensive DVOA compared to 23rd last year). As much as I would have loved to have voted for my guy Nick Chubb, or for Baker, I don’t think they compare to what Saquon was able to do for New York as a rookie.
- Alex Reno
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
Derwin James - Safety, Los Angeles Chargers (38-7)
Darius Leonard - Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts (36-3)
Leighton Vander Esch - Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys (27-1)
Bradley Chubb - Linebacker, Denver Broncos (17)
Denzel Ward - Cornerback, Cleveland Browns (16)
Also receiving votes: Da’Shawn Hand (10-1), Roquan Smith (4), Tremaine Edmunds (1), Mo Hurst (1), Jaire Alexander (1)
Derwin James was everything you could ever ask for out of an NFL safety, and then some. The rookie lined up everywhere on the field, from a center fielder in coverage to edge defender in the box, and made an impact in every facet of the game. While it seems too early to say for sure, his first NFL season reminded many of the exploits of the legendary Kam Chancellor. James has a long future ahead of him being an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses.
- Mansur Shaheen
NFL Coach of the Year
Andy Reid - Kansas City Chiefs (16-4)
Frank Reich - Indianapolis Colts (11-3)
Sean McVay - Los Angeles Rams (10-1)
Sean Payton - New Orleans Saints (7-2)
Matt Nagy - Chicago Bears (7)
Also receiving votes: Anthony Lynn (5-1), Pete Carroll (4), John Harbaugh (3-1), Mike Vrabel (2), Bill Belichick (1)
The Andy Reid revival hit a new peak in 2018. While younger guys like Matt Nagy (one of Reid’s own apprentices) and Sean McVay take the spotlight for the league’s new offensive minds, Reid has been working on that prototype for years and we’re seeing what it looks like in Kansas City. He’s to be praised for turning Pat Mahomes into a flame-breathing dragon/Kermit the Frog hybrid, and properly utilizing all his weapons. Each time you think he’s hit a peak with the Chiefs, he comes back and shows you a new form.
- Chris Perfett
Most Underrated Player
Damon Harrison - Defensive Tackle, Detroit Lions
Chris Jones - Defensive Tackle, Kansas City Chiefs
Marlon Mack - Running Back, Indianapolis Colts
Snacks wasn’t only snubbed this year, he’s been snubbed through a good portion of his career. Snacks finished the season third among interior defensive linemen by PFF. But sadly, he didn’t have the fancy stats and he plays for the Lions. So, naturally, he was skipped in the popularity contest that is both the All-Pro and Pro Bowl.
- Mike Payton
Most Overrated Player
The media is quick to fall in love with a rookie quarterback that shows early signs of success, and Carson Wentz fell victim to this. In his first four games, Wentz completed 67.4 percent of his passes, had seven touchdowns and one interception (hi, Darius Slay) and a passer rating of 103.5. Everyone seemed to ignore that for the rest of Wentz’s career he was merely average.
The fact that Nick Foles has essentially outplayed him since the 2017 postseason is proof that many fell for Wentz a little too quickly.
- Jeremy Reisman
Game of the Year
Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Rams (Week 11) (35-11)
Los Angeles Rams vs New Orleans Saints (Week 9) (7-1)
New England Patriots vs Detroit Lions (Week 3) (3)
Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers (Week 1) (3)
The Chiefs-Rams Week 11 match will go down as one of the greatest in NFL history—nay, football history. Is this an over-exaggeration coupled with recency bias? Perhaps. Football, in its purest televised form, is supposed to be entertainment. But despite being a regular season game, this has the excitement of a Super Bowl.
- John Whiticar