By Joe M. ’21
As the NFL season comes to a close, it comes time to determine who receives the end of year awards. While the NFL awards are given out at a phony, stuffy end of year award ceremony, the Joe Moore ™ awards are given out in an exclusive Gryphon Gazette article. The 6 awards I will be giving out are MVP, Offensive Player of the Year (non-QB), Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Play of the Year.
MVP: Lamar Jackson
He’s not exactly a controversial pick: there was simply no other player in the NFL this year who accomplished as much as Lamar. He single-handedly changed the way people think about Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks picked in the back half of the first round, such as Johnny Manziel or Tim Tebow. This year, Lamar set the NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, and if that wasn’t enough, he also led the league in passing touchdowns. He also had one of the highlights of the year, utterly humiliating the hapless Bengals with a dazzling touchdown run. Finally, he led his team to a league-leading 14 wins, and the Baltimore franchise’s first number one overall seed.
Offensive Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey
This year, McCaffrey became just the third player ever to post a season in which he had both 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing. The other two to do it are Hall of Fame finalist and 3-time Super Bowl Champion Roger Craig and Hall of Famer and all-time great Ladanian Tomlinson. He also tied for the league lead in touchdowns with 19, and he did all this in spite of his quarterback turning the ball over 29 times and his head coach getting fired midseason.
Defensive Player of the Year: Stephen Gilmore
Gilmore was the frontrunner for this award all year, and had it all but locked up heading into Week 17. However, he got absolutely torched by Devante Parker in the last game of the season, giving up 137 yards and eight catches. Despite this showing, the lack of viable candidates means that he wins the award almost by default. There was no truly dominant defensive player this year, and nobody took over a game with the consistency that Gilmore did. It doesn’t hurt that he also led the league with six interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
Rookie of the Year: Nick Bosa
No rookie has made as big of an impact on his team as Nick Bosa has on the 49ers. He has the statistics, both basic and advanced (9 sacks, 2 turnovers forced, and 80 total pressures according to Pro Football Focus), and he passes the so-called “eye test.” He took over games, and had two of the best highlights of the year: the flag plant after the takedown of Baker Mayfield against the Browns, and the 46 yard interception return against the Panthers in which he immediately sniffed out the screen and was just five yards away from a touchdown.
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh
The ability of a head coach to adapt and change their playbook in order to fully capture the potential of their players is one of the most important, and least talked about, skills of a head coach, and nobody has done it with more success than John Harbaugh. In 2012, he won a Superbowl with a successful passing attack featuring dynamic running back Ray Rice and gunslinging quarterback Joe Flacco. Seven years later, he has captured the one seed and a 14-2 record with a downhill, smashmouth running attack and the legs and arm of the league’s MVP, Lamar Jackson. While what Kyle Shanahan did with the Niners this year is incredible, Harbaugh’s adaptability ultimately wins him this award, and could potentially win him a second Super Bowl.
Regular Season Play of the Year: Dre Greenlaw’s tackle on Jacob Hollister on 4th and goal
The play of the year goes to the last meaningful regular season play of the year. A 4th and goal play between two of the biggest rivals in sports, with home field advantage and a division title on the line, in the last game of the NFL’s 100th regular season. The stakes don’t get any higher than that, and 49ers rookie Dre Greenlaw rose to the occasion when he pounded Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister inches from the goal line and prevented him from scoring. However, my words don’t do it justice, so why don’t you just watch the play itself, and revel in its glory.