With the 2019 NFL season essentially half-complete, it’s time to start watching the races for the league’s individual awards. A lot could change between now and Dec. 29 when the regular season ends, but here’s a breakdown of who leads who entering November.
MVP: Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
He has limited support in Seattle, and yet he’s the league’s highest-rated passer with 17 touchdown passes, three rushing touchdowns, and only two turnovers. And that team with middle-of-the-pack talent is 6-2, almost entirely because of his heroics.
Runner-up: Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
But it’s basically a toss-up at this point, because Rodgers’ numbers are right there with Wilson, his good-not-great team is 7-1, and he’s been even better than Wilson of late. Remarkably close race to this point.
Offensive Player of the Year: Wilson
If you’re an offensive player who is good enough to win MVP, you should usually be the OPOY. That said, if you want to get away from “value” and focus on pure production, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is on pace for 2,464 scrimmage yards and 22 touchdowns. A season like that would be hard to deny, but it’ll be tough for McCaffrey to maintain that pace.
Same rule above applies here.
Defensive Player of the Year: San Francisco 49ers edge Nick Bosa
Bosa doesn’t just have a shot at becoming the first rookie DPOY since Lawrence Taylor won it in 1981, but he’s leading the pack through eight weeks. The No. 2 overall pick now has a league-high 11 tackles for loss, seven sacks, an interception, a touchdown and a forced fumble while leading one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history to this point.
Runner-up: Cleveland Browns edge Myles Garrett
There were a lot of ways we could go with this, especially because you can’t count out still-dominant former DPOYs Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. Both are strong candidates who could easily run away with this thing, especially if Bosa slows down in November and/or December. But Garrett and Shaquil Barrett are both on pace to tie Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5, and you’d have to think the 2017 No. 1 overall pick has a realistic chance.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Oakland Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
The league’s sixth-leading rusher is PFF’s highest-graded rookie first-round pick through eight weeks, and he’s one of just two qualified backs who have averaged 3.0-plus yards per attempt after contact. The Alabama product is a closer who runs like a beast, and he’s done so successfully despite the lack of a consistent deep passing game in Oakland.
Runner-up: Jacksonville Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew
The sixth-round pick has been a revelation in place of the injured Nick Foles, winning the offensive rookie of the week award five times already. He’s a great improviser, he’s proven to be remarkably clutch and he’s one of the league’s 12 highest-rated passers. The problem is he’s got a bottom-10 completion percentage, and he’s been extremely inconsistent.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bosa
Duh. He’s put fellow early-first-round picks Quinnen Williams, Clelin Ferrell, and Devin White to shame thus far.
Runner-up: Pittsburgh Steelers LB Devin Bush
He’s the only player in the league with at least seven tackles in every game his team has played this year, and he’s tied for the league lead with six takeaways (two interceptions and four fumble recoveries). The dude just flies around the field, and he’s likely to make the Pro Bowl in his debut campaign. He beats out Josh Allen (seven sacks in eight games) and Brian Burns (the September offensive rookie of the month) but he’s still clearly a step back of Bosa.
Comeback Player of the Year: Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp
Kupp doesn’t just look faster coming back from a torn ACL, he actually is faster. The third-year receiver is still less than a year removed from major knee surgery, but he ranks second in the NFL with 792 receiving yards. It’s been a monster season for a dude who never drops passes, which is especially notable considering how much the Rams offense has struggled compared to last year.
Runner-up: New Orleans Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater
It wasn’t long ago when we figured he’d never play again, but Bridgewater is now widely expected to start somewhere in 2020 after winning all five of his starts in place of the injured Drew Brees. He’s back on the sideline now, though, so he’s unlikely to see the field enough to win this award.
Coach of the Year: Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
The man’s franchise quarterback up and retired just weeks before the start of the regular season, and yet his team is still leading the AFC South with a 5-2 record. And that goes beyond scheme and the job he’s done with Jacoby Brissett. Indianapolis is one of the most mentally tough teams in the NFL.
Runner-up: Sean Payton, Saints
Payton also lost his superstar quarterback early in the season, and then he lost superstar running back Alvin Kamara. But the 7-1 Saints just keep winning. He deserves credit for that, and for keeping his team focused after a tumultuous conclusion to their 2018 campaign.