The night before Super Bowl XLVIII, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2013 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event hosted by Alec Baldwin at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Here's all the coverage information:
» Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network: NFL Honors Preview Special
» Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network: NFL Honors Red Carpet Special
» Saturday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX: 3rd Annual NFL Honors
One of the awards that will be presented on Saturday night is the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Who gets your vote?
Keenan Allen's wise beyond his years, and it showed in his magnificent productionThis was hard, because Eddie Lacy gave the Green Bay Packers a new identity and did so much on his own, especially when Aaron Rodgers was injured. Keenan Allen, though, emerged as THE receiving threat outside the numbers for the San Diego Chargers.
Seventy-one catches for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns are huge numbers for a first-year wideout. So is 14.7 yards per catch. A defensive coach told me Allen won't kill you with his athleticism, but that his savvy is extraordinary for a rookie.
Eddie Lacy saved the Packers' season when Aaron Rodgers went downWhen Aaron Rodgers got hurt, Green Bay looked doomed. Except that the offense finally had a running game with Eddie Lacy -- one that became so potent that it helped the Packers stay afloat until Rodgers could return to get them to the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
Lacy finished with 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. Most importantly, the rookie breathed life into his team when it needed it most.
Lacy and Allen each present a legitimate case for the hardwareHard choice between Eddie Lacy and Keenan Allen. Lacy brought a running game to a team that needed one. He was a strong downhill runner, though he was aided by playing with Aaron Rodgers at times (and, inherently, not having to face the eighth man in the box). This is why I am choosing Allen. Despite being the only Chargers receiver threat that defenses had to game plan for, he still gained over 1,000 yards and scored eight touchdowns.
In a tight race, you have to take position into considerationKeenan Allen gets my vote. Learning pass protection is challenging, but generally speaking, it has always been easier for a rookie running back to contribute right away than it is for a first-year wideout. While Eddie Lacy certainly had a fine season, rushing for over 1,000 yards, Allen posted 1,000 yards receiving.
There just haven't been a lot of players in recent history who've been able to step into the lineup at wide receiver and produce like Allen did. Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin and A.J. Green spring to mind, but what Allen did in Year 1 of his career is pretty rare.
After a slow start, Allen established himself as the Chargers' go-to guyThe Chargers loved Keenan Allen's talents when they selected him in the third round of the draft, but they thought he might need some time to develop and mature before becoming a factor in Philip Rivers' offense. And he did. Exactly four games.
The electric Cal product broke out with 80 yards on five catches against the Cowboys in Week 4, and followed that up with consecutive 100-yard performances. Suddenly, he was Rivers' go-to guy, helping carry that offense to the playoffs.
Allen helped revive his quarterback and his teamKeenan Allen should be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. It took him a few weeks, but he eventually established himself as the Chargers' go-to receiver. He also played a major part in the rebirth of QB Philip Rivers and was a key cog in San Diego's playoff run.
Lacy transformed Green BayEddie Lacy simply carried the Packers when they were without Aaron Rodgers, turning a team weakness (the ground game) into a strength by the midway point of 2013. He ran with speed, power, durability and a mean streak. There are plenty of stats to throw around for him, but I'll hang my hat on this one: Lacy carried the football 20-plus times in 10 regular-season games. This on a Green Bay team that only ran the football when it absolutely had to in prior seasons. But suddenly, Lacy was the Pack's best option.
In the playoff game against San Francisco, Lacy had 23 total touches. Aaron Rodgers threw the football 26 times. This is just a different team with Lacy in the backfield.