Week 17 Recap: The Spogo Awards (almost as big as the Oscars)
Welcome one and all to the first annual Spogo Awards. With week 17 in the books, it’s time to reflect on the year that was (or wasn’t, for some). The season started with bounty-gate and ended with the Cowboys collapsing (again) to avoid the playoffs, with plenty of drama in between. Let’s get to it!
Comeback Player of the Year – Peyton Manning (QB, Denver Broncos)
It would be bad if I didn’t mention Peyton Manning somewhere in this article, so why not start with the guy? There were early questions about his arm strength, his rustiness, and his neck, but those questions are long gone. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone mention these, maybe Week 4? He finishes with the second highest QB rating in the league (105.8), while passing for almost 300 yards a game. He led the Broncos to the number one seed in the AFC, a 13-3 record, and finished the year on an 11 game win streak. Yeah, I’d say he’s earned this.
Most Valuable Player – Adrian Peterson (RB, Minnesota Vikings)
The only reason Adrian Peterson wasn’t the Spogo Comeback Player of the Year, is because he is the MVP. The Vikings lost Percy Harvin, who was touted as an MVP candidate around Week 5 (before injury), and it seemed like they had no options in the passing game. That turned out to be true, but did that faze AP? Absolutely not. Even with teams putting eight, nine, or ten guys in the box to stop the run, AP still found a way to break big runs, and keep his team in the playoff hunt. When the Vikings needed to beat the Packers in Week 17 to guarantee a playoff birth, AP ran for 199 yards, coming just nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. Watching AP, you get a feeling like “there is no way I am the same species as this man”. That is how an MVP should make you feel.
Biggest Surprise of the Year – Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks)
With the 75th pick in the draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Russell Wilson, and no one cared. Flash-forward to the end of the pre-season, and no one could shut up about this kid. In a draft class with Andrew Luck and RG III, Wilson has done his share to be mentioned with the number one and two picks of this draft. Not only that, but he threw for more touchdowns than either of them. Hell, he even tied Eli Manning in TD passes this year at 26, while keeping his interceptions down to 10. He led a Seahawks team that was 7-9 last year, to a playoff birth and almost an NFC West title. Heading into Wild Card weekend, who isn’t looking forward to Seahawks vs. Redskins?
Biggest Disappointment of the Year – The NFC East
I couldn’t hang this around one teams neck, they all deserve a slice of this verbally abrasive pie. Coming into the year, everyone was talking up the NFC East like it was going to showcase a level of unparalleled football. The Giants were the defending champions who hadn’t lost a major piece, the Eagles were going to have their issues sorted out, and the Cowboys were a frequent pre-season Super Bowl Champion pick. None of these came to fruition. The Giants, while having stretches of solid football, were the model of inconsistency. They failed to make the playoffs. The Eagles did not change at all from where they were last year, finishing 4-12 with a side of head coach firing. While the Cowboys, going into Week 17 had the best chance to make the playoffs of these three teams, choked when it mattered and made anyone who picked them to win the Super Bowl look foolish. The funny part is even with these collapses, I believe next year we’ll hear more hype about how good the NFC East is… again.
Rookie of the Year – Robert Griffin, III (QB, Washington Redskins)
There are no words to describe how electric this kid is. He has all the talent in the world, and showcased that he is not a Heisman winner to forget. Griffin finished the season with 20 TD passes and just five interceptions. Five. Most rookies make way more than five bad reads in the first handful of games, but Robert went 15 games with just five picks. He completed 65.6% of his passes, putting him at 4th for all QBs in that category, ahead of the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning. He finishes 20th in the league in rushing, averaging 54.3 yards per game on the ground, and seven rushing touchdowns. The sky is the limit for RG III and his talent. He seems poised to lead this group of elite, young quarterbacks for years to come.