Steve Serby doles out 2020 NFL awards

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Somehow, the NFL regular season has made it through the pandemic, through more thick than thin, so kudos to all, and especially to the Serby Says 2020 season award winners:

MVP

Aaron Rodgers (QB, Packers): Everyone wondered how he might react to the drafting of QB Jordan Love. Somewhat lost in the gushing over his accuracy is his brain. He is the master of all he surveys in his second year with coach Matt LaFleur. His telepathy with WR Davante Adams is in a league of its own. Rodgers turned 37 last month (119.4 passer rating) and looks like he can make Love wait longer behind him than he had to wait behind Brett Favre.

Because of his late surge, and because his legs are such a weapon, I award Josh Allen the silver medal. No one would have argued with Patrick Mahomes, of course.

Offensive Player of the Year

Derrick Henry (RB, Titans): King Henry bludgeoned defenders (ask Alex Myres) and imposed his will on every game en route to a back-to-back rushing title (1777 yards). Some might be reminded of a bigger Jim Brown with a stiff-arm. A career-best 5.2 ypc and 19 receptions to go with his 15 touchdowns.

Defensive Player of the Year

Aaron Donald (DT, Rams): Impacts every game on every play in the face of constant double teams (13.5 sacks). Joins Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as a three-time winner of the award. Li’l Watt brother T.J. gave Donald a run for his money. Drafted one spot behind Odell Beckham Jr.

Dolphins CB Xavien Howard (nine interceptions) and T.J. Watt (15 sacks, one INT) are worthy.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Justin Herbert (QB, Chargers): A shame that Tyrod Taylor got Wally Pipped when a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung prior to Week 2 game against Chiefs. Did anyone think the kid would show up as The Natural? Raise your hand if you branded him an introvert. Will the Dolphins regret drafting Tua Tagovailoa instead? Will the Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys and Eagles regret passing on our runner-up, Vikings WR Justin Jefferson?

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Chase Young (DE, Washington): A “savage” tweet shout-out from LeBron James — 6.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one scoop-and-score TD.

Versatile Panthers S Jeremy Chinn (110 tackles) scored TDs on back-to-back fumble recoveries against the Vikings. Great job by coach Matt Rhule and fired GM Marty Hurney trading up into the second round to get him.

NFL Television Rookie of the Year

Steve Kornacki (MSNBC): By a landslide.

Coach of the Year

Brian Flores (Dolphins): Flores has been brilliant, making fearless decisions at quarterback that have the Dolphins on the precipice of the playoffs in his second season.

Sean McDermott led the Bills to their first division title since 1995 and dethroned the Patriots, with major assistance from Josh Allen. Consideration was given to Washington’s Ron Rivera, fighting through chemo for his cancer, and the questions at quarterback. Kevin Stefanski has gotten Baker Mayfield straightened out and has the Browns in the playoff hunt adjusting without Odell Beckham Jr. Chiefs coach Andy Reid gets overlooked because he has Mahomes, but there has been no Super Bowl hangover. Saints coach Sean Payton also gets overlooked, but he wins big with Drew Brees and without Drew Brees. Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur has been a perfect match for Rodgers.

Comeback Player of the Year

Alex Smith (QB, Washington): There are no other options. The guy could have lost his life, his leg, his career. The cherry on top of this Sunday would be him beating the Eagles and winning the division. Ben Roethlisberger (33 TDs, 10 INTs) is a distant second.

Executive of the Year

Chris Grier (Dolphins): Doled out $143 million in guaranteed money to rebuild the defense (CB Byron Jones, OLB Kyle Van Noy, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DE Shaq Lawson, LB Elandon Roberts) and has the league’s best scoring defense (18.8 ppg) after fielding league’s worst in 2019 (30.9 ppg). Former Giants bust Ereck Flowers (three years, $30M) has started 13 games at left guard. Favorite Brandon Beane (Bills) follows with the trade for WR Stefon Diggs and free-agent signings of LB A.J. Klein, kickoff returner Andre Roberts and DE Quinton Jefferson.

Cleveland’s Andrew Berry gets the bronze medal (RT Jack Conklin, LB B.J. Goodson, S Karl Joseph, TE Austin Hooper in free agency and LT Jedrick Wills in the draft).

Best Trade

Stefon Diggs (WR, Bills) and Justin Jefferson (WR, Vikings): Beane gifted Josh Allen the Bills’ missing piece in exchange for first-, fifth- and sixth-round 2020 picks and a 2021 fourth-rounder in return for his No. 1 WR and a 2020 seventh-rounder. Vikings GM Rick Spielman landed the best receiver in the draft with the 22nd pick. A trade that benefited both sides.

Worst Trade

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Texans to Cardinals): Houston sent Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to Arizona for RB David Johnson, a 2020 second-rounder (DT Ross Blacklock, 11 tackles) and a 2021 fourth-rounder. It cost then-Texans coach/GM Bill O’Brien his job.

Best Free-Agent Signing

Tom Brady (QB, Buccaneers): He can win a seventh Super Bowl, and Bill Belichick can’t. S Logan Ryan (Giants) is runner-up.

Worst Free-Agent Signing

Vic Beasley (OLB, Titans): Played five games before release by Mike Vrabel after signing a one-year, $9.5 million guaranteed deal and contributing three tackles and one forced fumble. He is now in Las Vegas.

Play of the Year

Hail Murray (Cardinals, vs. Bills): The 43-yard Kyler Murray-to-Hopkins prayer shocked the Bills. Especially the three Bills who were surrounding Hopkins in the end zone.

Games of the Yeae

Week 14 Browns-Ravens, Week 16 Dolphins-Raiders: Lamar Jackson returned from cramping in locker room to win it for Baltimore, and Ryan Fitzpatrick relieved Tua Tagovailoa and completed a prayer while having his head rearranged on his neck to overcome Derek Carr’s last-minute heroics.

Worst Coaching Decision of the Year

Gregg Williams (DC, Jets vs. Raiders): This one is easy, even if it temporarily kept the Trevor Lawrence Dream alive: Cover Zero vs. Derek Carr in the closing seconds.

Best Coaching Decision of the Year (as voted by Jets fans)

Gregg Williams (DC, Jets vs. Raiders): Cover Zero vs. Derek Carr in the closing seconds.

Best Motivational Ploy

Mike McCarthy (coach, Cowboys): Smashing watermelons with a sledgehammer the night before beating Dalvin Cook and the Vikings.

Dunce of the Year

Dwayne Haskins (QB, Washington): Maskless at a strip club during a pandemic. It cost him his job, as well it should have.

Pierre Desire Man of the Year Award

Goes to the late Walter Payton.

The T.O. NO!!!

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, Steelers): Ticked off the Bills and Bengals by dancing on their logos just as Terrell Owens, a 49er in 2000, ticked off George Teague and the Cowboys by celebrating a TD catch on the Dallas star.

The Mr. Loser

Jarvis Landry (WR, Browns): The series of backward laterals that resulted in him being pushed out of the end zone on a kickoff with two seconds left resulting in a 47-42 Ravens win and blowing the Browns’ covering the spread

The Kendall Hinton

Kendall Hinton (QB, Broncos): Also known as the Tom Matte Award. Hinton completed one pass in nine attempts against the Saints with two interceptions when COVID protocols left the Denver quarterback room decimated at the eleventh hour. Not exactly an Elway-esque performance, but when you are an undrafted, free agent, rookie, practice-squad receiver, your game-worn wristband gets sent to the Hall of Fame.

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