3rd Annual NFL Honors 2013 Players of the Year

The National Football League will recognize their best players, performances and plays from the 2013 season in a two-hour prime-time awards ceremony — the “3rd Annual NFL Honors”. The special will air on Saturday, Feb. 1., at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.

NFL Honors 2014 350It will be the first time the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees will be introduced at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Award winning actor Alec Baldwin will return as the master of ceremonies on the eve before the league’s top two teams face off across the Hudson River in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

Along with current and former players, The Associated Press will hand out their annual accolades in an awards show format, just in time for Hollywood’s famed awards ceremony takes place. “NFL Honors”, which debuted two years ago in Indianapolis, is now an annual event from the Super Bowl city.

Among the awards that will be announced will be the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. In addition, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis will be recognized as the winner of the inaugural Deacon Jones Award, given annually to the NFL leader in quarterback sacks. The Deacon Jones Award was created this year to permanently honor the legacy of Deacon Jones, who died on June 3, 2013, at the age of 74.

Seven of the awards will be from The AP. Those awards, which include AP Most Valuable Player and AP Coach of the Year, are voted on at the end of the regular NFL season by a nationwide media panel of 50 people who regularly cover the league. The ballots are tabulated solely by The AP. Four of the awards will be decided by a fan vote.

Below is a breakdown of some of the potential finalists for the major Associated Press awards as seen by Pro Player Insiders writer Wesley Sykes.

peyton manningAP Most Valuable Player:

It’s a one-horse race for 2013’s highest award. Peyton Manning will almost assuredly walking away with his fifth AP MVP award of his illustrious career. But for the sake of fairness, let’s point out some other players who shined in the oversized shadow Manning cast over the rest of the league.

  1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos:

    • Regular Season stats: 450/659 (68.3%) for 5,477 yards | 55 TDs, 10 INTs | 115.1 QB Rating | 82.93 QBR | 2 Fourth Quarter Comebacks, 2 Game-Winning Drives

    • Why he deserves it: Because he does. Manning and the Broncos offense reworked the record books as he passed for more yards, threw for more touchdowns and scored more points than any team in history — taking back his single-season touchdown record that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady kept warm for six seasons. He led the league in eight different passing categories while earning his 13th Pro Bowl and seventh first-team All-Pro selections, respectively.


  1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles:

    • Regular Season stats: 314 attempts for 1,607 yards | 100.4 YPG, 5.1 YPC | 9 rushing TDs | 52 receptions for 539 yards | 2 receiving TDs | 2,146 yards from scrimmage.

    • Why he deserves it: McCoy thrived in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense and proved to carry the Eagles’ offense as they transitioned from Michael Vick to Nick Foles. In an up and down year from nearly every unit on both sides of the ball, McCoy was the constant for the NFC East Champions. He led the league in five rushing categories on his way to earning his second Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selections.


  1. Nick Foles, Eagles:

    • Regular Season stats: 203/317 (64.0%) for 2,891 yards | 27 TDs 2 INTs | 119.2 QB Rating | 69.04 QBR | 221 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs

    • Why he deserves it: The second-year QB started only 10 games but was explosively efficient on his way to an 8-2 record and sparked a playoff run and division title in the process. Highlighted by his Week 14 405 yard, seven touchdown performance, Foles led the league in six passing categories including quarterback rating and TD-INT ratio.


  1. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks:

    • Regular Season stats: 257/407 (63.1%) for 3,357 yards | 26 TDs 9 INTs | 101.2 QB Rating | 58.94 QBR | 539 rushing yards 1 rushing TD | 3 Fourth Quarter Comebacks, 4 Game-Winning Drives

    • Why he deserves it: By simply looking at his statistics, he doesn’t. But Wilson’s importance to the 13-3 Seahawks goes far beyond the box score. You have to watch him play to appreciate his poise amidst chaos, his improvisation and resolve to keep moving forward. The award does go to the most valuable player, not necessarily the one with the best statistics.


AP Offensive Player of the Year:

Admittedly, I’m usually a huge proponent of the phrase “sharing is caring”, but in this case just hand every offensive award to Manning. I know historically the Offensive Player of the Year award is reserved for the runner up in the MVP voting, however Manning had one of those years where they should make up awards just to give to him. Again, for the sake of spotlighting other performances here are the nominees…

  1. Peyton Manning, Broncos:

  2. LeSean McCoy, Eagles:

  1. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs:

    • Regular Season stats: 259 attempts for 1,287 yards | 85.8 YPG, 5.0 YPC | 12 rushing TDs | 70 receptions for 693 yards | 7 receiving TDs | 1,980 yards from scrimmage

    • Why he deserves it: He was the Chiefs offense. With the ultra-conservative Alex Smith managing the game and a lack of explosive receivers, Charles put them on his back and kept running. He scored multiple touchdowns in eight games, scoring four total touchdowns three times and top a 100 total yards 13 times. He earned his third Pro Bowl and second First-Team All-Pro selection.


  1. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns:

    • Regular Season stats: 87 receptions for 1,646 yards | 9 receiving TDs | 117.6 YPG, 18.9 YPR

    • Why he deserves it: Look at what he did in the face of adversity! Giving everyone else a two-game start he still managed to lead the league in receiving yards and receiving yards per game … with the Browns quarterback carousel! He had seven games with at least 125 yards receiving and a two-game stretch where he totaled 24 receptions, 498 yards and three touchdowns. Just imagine what he could do with a steady, competent NFL quarterback.


Chip KellyAP Coach of the Year:

  1. This is a wide open race and it really depends on what you’re looking for in a Coach of the Year candidate. Are you looking for a newcomer who achieved early success or a castaway wily veteran who resurrected his career? What about arguably the greatest coach of all time arguably doing his best coaching job to date? There’s no wrong answer here.
  2. .Chip Kelly, Eagles: 1st Season | 10-6 record | NFC East Champion
  • Why he deserves it: He was the biggest coaching hire last off-season after setting collegiate defenses on fire with his high-octane Oregon offense. He handled media crises, quarterback controversies and a down-right dreadful defense early and turned it into an NFC East crown. It’s rare to get kudos in Philly but this time the cheese steak’s on the house, Chip.

      2. Rivera, Carolina Panthers: 3rd Season | 12-4 record | NFC South Champion

  • Why he deserves it: Stumbling out to a 1-3 start and murmurs of his departure should it continue, Riverboat Ron turned the Panthers in a complete 180. After Week 4, the Panthers went 11-1 to win the division and they did so by a suffocating defense and the maturation of Cam Newton. In a division where they were an after thought behind the Saints, Falcons and money-splurging Buccaneers, the Panthers came out on top.


  1. Andy Reid, Chiefs: 15th Season | 11-5 record | AFC Wild Card 5th Seed

    • Why he deserves it: Reid-emption is a dish best served cold. And while the Eagles went on to win the division in their first Reid-less campaign, the Chiefs shot out of the gates to a 9-0 start as the league’s last team to lose their first game.


  1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots: 19th Season | 12-4 record | AFC East Champion

    • Why he deserves it: The Hooded One strikes again. The Patriots took a lot of hits in the offseason on the offense and took even more on the defensive side of the during the season. Yet, Belichick kept the Patriots ship afloat and found a way to yet again reinvent the identity of his team.


mathisAP Defensive Player of the Year:

The award is up for grabs, but for my money it’s Mathis’ to lose. There are others who can make argument like a former undrafted linebacker who’s not afraid to hit a player with the chip on his shoulder, or a defensive end who put up numbers equal to Mathis in the NFC. Let’s not forget about a cerebral inside ‘backer that can defend the run and pass.  And the nominees are…

  1. Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts:

    • Regular Season stats: 58 tackles | 19.5 sacks | 8 forced fumbles | 1 safety

    • Why he deserves it: In his second year standing up at the outside linebacker position, the 11-year veteran had his highest sack total in his career. He had seven multi-sack games, including a four-game stretch. And he did all this despite being public enemy number one for opposing offenses. He was voted to his fifth Pro Bowl and his first First-Team All-Pro.


  1. Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals:

    • Regular Season stats: 177 tackles | 3 sacks | 1 INT | 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries | 1 TD

    • Why he deserves it: The undrafted linebacker from Arizona State has shaken the off-the-field problems that followed him from college and has turned into a tackling machine. A judiciously intimidating hitter, Burfict locked down a Bengals defense that saw injuries to some of their top players. He had 10 games with 10+ tackles in earning his first Pro Bowl selection.


  1. Luke Kuechly, Panthers:

    • Regular Season stats: 166 tackles | 2 sacks | 4 INTs | 11 passes defended

    • Why he deserves it: In only his second year, Kuechly is the heart and soul of the Panthers defense that finished second in total yards and points. He had six games with 10+ tackles and could be trusted to plug a running lane or stay stride-for-stride with tight ends or slot receivers.


  1. Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams:

    • Regular Season stats: 57 tackles | 19 sacks | 7 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries | 1 TD

    • Why he deserves it: Following up his first 10+ sack season, Quinn was a half sack short of tying Mathis for the top sack artist of the year and was a forced to be reckoned with off the right edge. He loses points for playing opposite Chris Long which forces less double-teams than what Mathis faced throughout the year. Quinn earned his first Pro Bowl trip and his first First-Team All-Pro selection.

ryan mathews 350AP Comeback Player of the Year:

The award isn’t as open and shut as last year when you had your pick of Manning or Adrian Peterson, who both were coming off serious injuries to have spectacular seasons. There are no obvious choices in the 2013 season but we do have a couple running backs finally living up to their first round potential and a quarterback who filled in admirably for a now very rich peer.

  1. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers:

    • Regular Season stats: 285 attempts for 1,255 yards | 78.4 YPG, 4.4 YPR | 6 TDs | 26 receptions for 189 yards | 1 receiving TD | 1,444 yards from scrimmage

    • Why he deserves it: He was selected 12th overall in 2010 and 2013 was the first season he paid big dividends. Coming off a season where he gained 707 rushing yards in only 12 games, Mathews was a big part in the Chargers push for the playoffs. He had eight games with 100+ total yards including four-straight to end the season.


  1. Josh McCown, Chicago Bears:

    • Regular Season stats: 149/224 (66.5%) for 1,829 yards | 13 TDs 1 INT | 109 QB Rating | 85.09 QBR | 1 Game-Winning Drive | 3-2 record in five starts

    • Why he deserves it: McCown is the definition of a journeyman quarterback. The 2002 third round pick has played for five different team and owns a career 16-22 record. His stint replacing Jay Cutler was easily his best performance of his career. He excelled in Marc Trestman’s offense and was able to get more receivers involved than Cutler’s usual go-to-guys, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. In only five games he managed to total his second-highest passing yards for a season. Maybe you have to be at or near the top to actually qualify for a comeback, but if anyone deserves it it’s McCown.


  1. Donald Brown, Colts:

    • Regular Season stats: 102 attempts for 537 yards | 33.6 YPG, 5.3 YPR | 6 rushing TDs | 27 receptions for 214 yards | 2 receiving TDs

    • Why he deserves it: The 27th overall pick in the 2009 draft wasn’t supposed to be a factor this season. The Colts had signed Ahmad Bradshaw in the offseason to be the starter. Then they traded their 2014 first-round pick for 2012 number three overall pick Trent Richardson. But with Bradshaw sustaining a neck injury and Richardson finding a bust label of his own, the ball trickled down to Brown. And he ran with it.


Eddie LacyAP Offensive Rookie of the Year:

This is always one of the favorites, particularly for the self-proclaimed draft gurus who want to prove themselves right. You’d be hard-pressed to find a unanimous decision as many rookies were key contributors in 2013.

  1. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers:

    • Regular Season stats: 284 attempts for 1,178 yards | 78.5 YPG, 4. 1 YPC | 11 TDs | 35 receptions for 257 yards | 1,435 yards from scrimmage

    • Why he deserves it: The Packers offense was decimated by injuries including two quarterbacks, two of their top three wide receivers and their starting tight end. Their playoff hopes were attached to a rookie running back who many had thought would eat himself out of the league alas JaMarcus Russell. But the hefty halfback from Alabama picked up the slack and drove the Packers to a wild card spot and salvaged a season that seemed all but lost.  He had seven games with 100+ total yards including a five-game stretch. He totaled 25+ touches seven different times.


  1. Keenan Allen, Chargers:  

    • Regular Season stats: 71 receptions for 1,046 yards | 8 TDs | 69.7 YPG, 14.7 YPC

    • Why he deserves it: The third-round pick from California emerged as Philip Rivers’ favorite wideout  by season’s end, getting five of his eight touchdowns in the last three weeks of the season. He topped 100 yards receiving five times in 2013.


Photo by Ed RunyonAP Defensive Rookie of the Year:

Another two-man race in the rookie department as there were many good defensive rookies, but only two were great.

  1. Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills:

    • Regular Season stats: 159 tackles | 2 sacks | 4 INTs | 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery | 4 passes defended

    • Why he deserves it: Alonso has a nose for the ball. Follow the ball and you’re likely to find Alonso nearby. He’s a tackling machine, but his Oregon pedigree means he has the speed to hang back in coverage. That versatility made him an immediate plug-and-play three-down inside ‘backer for Mike Pettine and his Bills defense.


  1. Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets:

  • Regular Season stats: 77 tackles | 3.5 sacks | 1 forced fumble
  • Why he deserves it: The 16th overall selection was a starter in the Jets deepest unit from day one. Although he was hyped more for his pass rushing skills coming out of Missouri, Richardson made his paycheck stuffing the run in the second-ranked Jets run defense.


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