The season may be over but all this week Lauren Draper-Wood will be covering the awards handed out the day before the season finale in New York this past weekend.
Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos QB
With end of season player awards, it’s easy to spend hours debating who is worthy of topping each category. Later this week I’ll take a look at Coach of the Year. I’ve had discussions with people championing 6 different coaches- all with worthy arguments as to why their particular choice should win. However with this year’s Offensive Player of the Year award there really is no argument to be had; Peyton Manning was the best. Regardless of the Super Bowl result, this really was a no-brainer.
Manning broke numerous records this year making him not just the greatest this year but one of the greatest ever. The Broncos set their stall out week one with Manning throwing an NFL record tying 7 touchdowns vs Baltimore Ravens. This year he threw for a total of 5,477 yards sneaking past Drew Brees record by just a single yard! Tom Brady’s record of 50 touchdowns in 2007 was eclipsed with Manning throwing 55. The tenacity shown in that week 1 match up didn’t relent and it’s no surprise to see the Broncos head into the Super Bowl.
The target men Manning had at his disposable is enough to make any defence quake. Regardless of the talent throughout the roster, Manning continually delivered and completed pass after pass, touchdown after touchdown and in fact Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Knowshon Moreno and Julius Thomas all finished with 10+ touchdowns each. It’s hard to accept how incredible this really is until you compare it to the other NFL teams. 16 teams didn’t have a single player score 10+ touchdowns; and in fact the Bengals, Bears and Cowboys were the sides closest to the Broncos finishing each with 2 players with 10+ touchdowns.
It would’ve been scandalous had the award gone elsewhere, but were we to exclude Peyton Manning who could’ve won? Tom Brady would obviously enter the argument. With a roster depleted by injuries and experience, Brady still led the Patriots to the Championship game bowing out to (who else) than Mr Manning and the Broncos. As the current NFL quarterback who arguably defines the term ‘clutch’ it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise to see him achieve results with a subpar roster around him. Brady led the Patriots to 4 comeback wins over the year including a quite remarkable overtime win vs the Broncos in the regular season, after being down 24-0 at the half. After that result it was somewhat surprising to see Brady have such an inaccurate day vs the Broncos in the Championship match up; had Brady pulled off the victory and be heading into the Super Bowl maybe the conversation of Offensive Player of the Year would be more open.
If we continue to ignore Manning my personal nods for the award would’ve been for the Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Charles led the Chiefs in both rushing and receiving yards this year scoring a staggering 19 touchdowns. Was it not for a first quarter injury vs Colts in the wild card game, you have to imagine the 45-44 loss would’ve been remarkably different. In a rather forgettable Steelers season, Antonio Brown performed admirably. Leading the team in receiving yards, Brown finished with 9 touchdowns but more impressively was just shy of averaging 100 yards per game. His status within the Steelers is growing year on year, he finished as the 4th most targeted player in the whole of the NFL and for players targeted 100 or more times, only Julian Edelman of the Patriots had a greater completion rate. Brown is undoubtedly a player who has the potential to push for this award in the future.
Peyton Manning has destroyed every record and any rival team’s hopes this year; never has an award winner been so clear cut. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl was just one game too far this season.