Analysis  

 

Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota top award races at quarter mark

Print

A quarter of the season is in the books, with dominant teams and players emerging from the fray as the narrative of the 2015 campaign begins to take shape. Who has stood out thus far? Below I've listed my early selections for each individual award, based on what I've seen from Week 1 through Week 4:

MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

The reigning MVP continues to pick apart defenses with exceptional precision and execution. Rodgers leads the NFL with a 125.9 passer rating and has the fourth-best completion percentage (72.4) while sporting a stellar touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11:0. Most importantly, the Packers are off to an impressive 4-0 start and looking like the best team on the planet at the quarter mark.

Contenders: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots; Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals; Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks.

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

The fifth-year pro has been one of the most dominant playmakers on the field this season, despite battling through some nagging injuries. Jones is on track to become the NFL's next "Triple Crown" winner (the NFL leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions). Consider that he's at or near the top in all three categories (first in receptions with 38, tied for first in yards with 478 and tied for second in scoring grabs with four) even after notching just four catches for 38 yards on Sunday, though perhaps that limited output could be attributed to those injuries. Provided he stays healthy, Jones should continue fueling a high-octane Falcons attack that's firing on all cylinders under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

Contenders: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers; Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots; Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons.

Defensive Player of the Year: Josh Norman, CB, Carolina Panthers

The term "elite" is loosely tossed around when describing some of the top cover corners in the game, but it is time for Norman to enter the discussion as one of the premier players at the position. The fourth-year pro leads the NFL in interceptions (four) and pick-sixes (two) while exhibiting exceptional ball skills, awareness and instincts in coverage. Playing behind a ferocious pass rush that forces quarterbacks into errant throws, Norman's swipe skills make him the front runner for this award at the quarter mark.

Contenders: Jamie Collins, OLB, New England Patriots; Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets; DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Denver Broncos.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

Pepsi Rookie of the Week nominees:

Credit coach Ken Whisenhunt for building the Titans' offense around the spectacular talent of his young franchise quarterback. The rookie has responded in splendid fashion by posting the NFL's fifth-highest passer rating (109.2) and a strong touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8:2. Most impressively, Mariota has shown better-than-anticipated pocket poise and awareness, resulting in a number of "splash" plays delivered from the pocket. The Titans' young star is performing like a savvy veteran early in his first pro season, and he deserves this honor at this point.

Contenders: Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams; Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders; Karlos Williams, RB, Buffalo Bills.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs' sensational cover corner has played at an all-star level as the CB1 in coordinator Bob Sutton's defense. He has challenged elite receivers at the line while also showing superb ball skills and awareness in "off" coverage. Peters' willingness to jump short and intermediate routes has produced a pair of interceptions, including a 55-yard pick-six against the Denver Broncos that showcased his advanced awareness and route recognition. The fearlessness and production Peters has shown as the top dog in the Chiefs' secondary make him a good choice here.

Contenders: Hau'oli Kikaha, OLB, New Orleans Saints; Ronald Darby, CB, Buffalo Bills; Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta Falcons.

Comeback Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

It is uncommon for a 30-year-old runner to lead the NFL in rushing, especially when that runner is a veteran back who spent almost an entire season away from the game. But Peterson routinely exceeds expectations, and he's once again become the most dominant rusher in the league. He already has notched a pair of 100-yard games, exhibiting his trademark speed, physicality and burst while shaking off the rust. With Peterson slowly finding his groove as a punishing playmaker, he's the overwhelming favorite to win the award.

Contenders: Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals; James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers; Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals.

Coach of the Year: Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons

There is no disputing the energy and confidence Quinn has given the Falcons with his infectious personality. He has transformed the defense into a hardworking, ball-hawking unit that plays with fanatical effort from snap to whistle. Considering the fireworks produced by the Matt Ryan-led offense and the Falcons' surprising 4-0 start, Quinn is the frontrunner for the honor at this point.

Contenders: Todd Bowles, New York Jets; Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals; Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop