2019 NFL Season MVP, ROY, COY, DPOY Awards ‘Tournament’ (AFC North)
To name our award winners in the four main categories (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year), we are going to go through an entire division to launch one candidate in each category to a final 8 tournament…battling head to head with candidates, advancing a winner each round until we have one man left standing.
We’re going division by division to find our final eight candidates and then we’ll play it from there to find a winner.
Today’s division – the AFC North
BAL = QB Lamar Jackson
I don’t know who can challenge Lamar for our league MVP vote…he goes without saying.
PIT = OLB T.J. Watt
Another spectacular season for Watt. In a season of no offense for the Steelers…a defender was the best player for sure. Watt over Minkah Fitzpatrick…Minkah had some cool moments, Watt was a machine every play every game.
CLE = RB Nick Chubb
When the Browns were rolling it was usually because Chubb was dominating the game on the ground. The one thing that worked all year pretty much…in a painful year.
CIN = RB Joe Mixon
A wonderful 2nd-half of the year…three of his final 4 games with 130+ yards rushing. 5 TDs his last 7 games. Quietly, a fantastic individual performance.
WINNER: Of course, Lamar Jackson. Not even worth debating at this stage.
Rookie of the Year:
BAL = DT Jaylon Ferguson
Not saying he was the reason, but the Ravens defense started to hum a little bit when various lineup changes were made…and rookie Ferguson injected as a starter was part of it. Marquise Brown barely played in many games, really, due to nagging injuries, so he isn’t as strong a candidate as the very solid+ Ferguson.
PIT = LB Devin Bush
There were times when it looked like Bush was becoming a star, and then there were times when he was a ghost…especially midseason. I saw signs of that at Michigan with him – flashes of great and then a disappearing act. Still, the Steelers defense was their key in 2019 not their offense, so Diontae Johnson just misses out here.
CLE = LB Mack Wilson
Worked his way to the starting lineup and just had a flair about him. He made more of a difference, to me, than rookie CB Greedy Williams. Wilson started 14 games for the Browns.
CIN = LB Germaine Pratt
Not a lot of great options here, but I had to choose someone. Pratt played in a lot of games and was starting later in the season.
WINNER: Mack Wilson looked more impactful to me than Devin Bush did, to me, so I’ll go with Wilson. Bush had better individual plays, cool looking moments but Wilson was a ball hawk and didn’t disappear from games like Bush tended to.
Coach of the Year:
BAL = HC John Harbaugh
I started to go with Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, but really Harbaugh deserves the big credit, even if lucky, to get Lamar Jackson, change your offense around to him and then promoting Martindale a few years ago, and then all the defensive lineup changes to improve the defense as the season went…all the way back to the preseason where Harbaugh hasn’t lost a preseason game in like 4-5 years. He’s pulling all the right strings.
PIT = HC Mike Tomlin
I didn’t agree with most of the moves he made this entire season, but he somehow got this team to the brink of the playoffs. He might be best Coach of the Year and worst Coach of the Year simultaneously. The fact the Steelers nearly got this mess to the playoffs is laudable, but the mess has a lot to do with Tomlin. An odd dichotomy.
CLE = HC Freddie Kitchens
For as bad as this season went, for as plagued with injuries and issues and about every curveball you could have…this Browns team was in position to be a wild card with a few weeks left. This team felt like and operated like a 2-14 team, but had they won their Week 13 game they would have been in prime position for a playoff push. They hung in, somehow, after an awful start. Some credit, in a weird way, to Kitchens…I guess…under a pressure no other coach faced this year (and most all of it his fault).
CIN = HC Zac Taylor
I did not think he should be an NFL head coach when Cincy hired him last season, but his team did play hard most games and right down to Week 17. Of all the bad teams and teams that quit on their coaches/organization as the season faded…the Bengals didn’t appear that way. They put up a fight in most games. Credit to the HC, it would appear. He has a decent staff around him. He’s working better than I thought he would.
WINNER: John Harbaugh, and it’s not even close. One of the best regular seasons, one of the most dominant performances If not THEE most dominant) I’ve seen in the past decade.
Defensive Player of the Year:
BAL = CB Marcus Peters
Things really turned around for the Ravens defense when Jimmy Smith returned and when Peters was acquired. Peters played his best ball in years with the Ravens and his 3 picks, 2 INTs, 10 PDs in 10 his 10 Ravens games were a big key…he even decided to start tackling people (3.1 tackles per game).
PIT = LB T.J. Watt
14.5 sacks, 8 lead the league with 8 forced fumbles…he also picked off 2 passes and had 8 PDs. Just an overall terrific season.
CLE = DE Myles Garrett
Controversial pick, but the more I thought about it – as soon as the Browns lost Garrett, their defense/team went into the toilet. They had a chance at the playoffs at one point but losing Garrett unraveled the whole thing. He was ‘the guy’ for them and he blew it and Cleveland blew it. He was their most valuable defender in 2019.
CIN = DE Carlos Dunlap
Near career-highs in many categories for the underappreciated Dunlap – 9.0 sacks, 20 QB hits, 13 TFLs, 63 tackles, 8 PDs (in 14 games). Just a solid season from a guy thought to be in decline the past few years.
WINNER: T.J. Watt is such a difference-maker. One of the best defensive players, most impactful and versatile in the game. I cast my vote here for Watt.
Tomorrow we look at the AFC South
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