Most Valuable Player- Kyler Murray
This was by far the toughest one to pick, but I’ll stick with Murray despite his subpar game against the Packers. The Cardinals have one of the league’s best records and Murray has been the catalyst of a potent offensive attack in the desert. Sure, Murray has one of the best receivers in the game in Deandre Hopkins, but he doesn’t have the luxury of an elite offensive line or a legitimate threat out of the backfield. His 20 total touchdowns and 72% completion percentage give him the edge over the other elite players in today’s game. Tom Bray, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford, Derrick Henry, and Dak Prescott were the other names I considered. That shows how wide open this race has been and will continue to be.
Offensive Player of the Year- Derrick Henry
Yes, Derrick Henry is looking to be out for eight or more weeks, but if the season ended today, he’d be the Offensive Player of the Year. Henry has been a one-man wrecking crew. We are witnessing one of the greatest three-year stretches of any running back in NFL history. This year, he is leading the league in rushing and has nearly 300 more yards than the guy in second place. He’s had three games with three touchdowns and has led the Titans in very important wins over the Chiefs and Bills — two of the AFC’s best teams.
Defensive Player of the Year- Trevon Diggs
Seven interceptions is a heck of a season for any defender. Having that many in just seven games puts you on a whole new level. Add in the fact that Diggs has returned two of those interceptions for a touchdown and I don’t understand how you can pick anyone else for this award besides him. Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt deserve a lot of credit and each may end up with close to 20 sacks, but Diggs is on pace to shatter the single-season interception total. Now I know teams will start avoiding him like the plague, but let’s just say he ends up with twelve at the end of the year. That would be the most interceptions in a single season for a player since 1974. I have a feeling this is Diggs’s year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year- Ja’Marr Chase
Do I really even need to explain this one? Chase looks like the complete opposite of how he did in the preseason and he and Burrow haven’t missed a beat from their LSU days. It’s tough for a rookie wide receiver (don’t let Justin Jefferson’s season last year fool you) to step up right away and dominate. Chase doesn’t have the number of receptions like other top receivers, but his yards per catch are among the league’s leaders. Sooner rather than later Chase will be the league’s most feared pass catcher.
Defensive Rookie of the Year- Micah Parsons
In a weak defensive class, the Cowboys surprised many by drafting a linebacker, a position that they seemed to have filled. However, sticking true to the ‘Don’t let good players prevent you from drafting great ones’ philosophy, America’s Team seems to have hit a home run in Parsons. He’s lined up in the middle of their defense and also out on the edge, making big plays every week. There’s not much competition for this award, but it shouldn’t negate the kind of season that Parsons is having.
Coach of the Year- John Harbaugh
No team has been more impacted by injuries this season than the Ravens. Yet, they find themselves once again at the top of the division. It doesn’t seem to matter who the Ravens put out there, everyone is doing their job and producing at a high level. Lamar Jackson is once again leading the high-octane rushing attack and Wink Martindale’s defense is smothering. He may not be the sexy choice based on the success of the Ravens the last few years, but you can’t deny the adversity they’ve had to overcome to start the season 5-2.
Comeback Player of the Year- Dak Prescott
After last year’s devastating leg injury, Prescott looks better than ever before. While his newest calf injury is a bit scary, it doesn’t take away from the fact he’s played like an MVP this year. The Cowboys are clicking on offense and Prescott is leading the league in completion percentage at 73%. So much about this award is about the adversity the player had to overcome as much as about the on-field success (look at Alex Smith in 2020) and that also helps Prescott out in a major way. The image that we all have in our heads of the star quarterback being carted off the field makes even the biggest Cowboys haters happy to see his success in 2021.