2012 Rookie of the year: Russell Wilson
By: Bob Garcia
This past NFL season there have been a slew of rookies that have had an outstanding 2012, but quarterbacks make up the top-three.
There is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who took a team that finished with the worst record in the league last season to the playoffs this year.
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has had a transcendent impact on his team, by leading them to an NFC East division title and the playoffs.
These two rookies each made hard-to-miss cases this season for the award. Though there is one rookie whose play this year was nothing less than sensational, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson entered 2012 as the 75th overall draft pick, slated to come in and compete for the backup quarterback job. The Seahawks had just given former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn, a 3-year $26 million contract to be their starter.
Unlike Griffin and Luck, Wilson had to beat out Flynn for the starting quarterback position.
Once under center Wilson lead the Seahawks to an unexpected regular season 11-5 record and a playoff berth.
Seattle ended the regular season on a five game winning streak going into the playoffs, which consisted of a 58-0 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals, a 50-17win over the Buffalo Bills followed by a 42-13 thumping of the San Francisco 49ers.
According to ESPN.com, Wilson quarterback passer rating of 100.0 ranked him fourth in the NFL, and was second-highest among rookie quarterbacks behind Griffin III’s 102.4.
WIlson’s 26 passing touchdowns ranked him 12th in NFL, and first for all rookie quarterbacks. His 26 touchdowns tied Denver Broncos quarterback Payton Manning’s rookie record.
Under pressure there was no other quarterback in the league that you would want the ball in their hands than Wilson. Three times during the season, Wilson threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the last two minutes of the game or overtime.
His completion percentage of 64.1 had him ranked eighth in the league, and second for rookies behind Griffin III’s 65.6.
Wilson was also dangerous with his legs rushing for 489 yards and four touchdowns which ranked him third in NFL for quarterbacks, and second for rookies behind Griffin III’s 815 rushing yards.
Wilson’s outstanding performance this season as a rookie quarterback for the Seahawks makes him worthy of this season’s NFL rookie of the year.
MVP: Peyton Manning
By: Ron Rokhy
While Adrian Peterson’s spectacular return from a torn ACL may have most people — and the NFL — thinking he’s the clear-cut MVP, there’s a solid case to be made for Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning to the take the prestigious award over him.
First of all, Manning, like Peterson, also came back from a career-threatening injury. Last offseason, he underwent his third neck surgery in the last two years and wasn’t guaranteed a return to the NFL due to his climbing age (he’s 36).
But get this: Not only did he return, he had his best statistical year since 2004-2005, when he threw a then-NFL record 49 touchdowns in a year. Furthermore, Manning led the Broncos to a 12-game winning streak to close out the regular season, which was sparked by an unbelievable come-from-behind victory against the Chargers in week six, who led Denver 25-0 at halftime.
Manning, who accumulated 4,659 yards and 31 touchdowns during the year, also put up a passer rating of 105.8 (all of which are good for second-highest of his career). He’s shown time and time again that he is an elite quarterback no matter how old he is or what team he plays for — and he’s still deadly accurate, completing a crisp 68.6 percent of his passes.
This season, Manning stacked up well against other quarterbacks, ranking fifth in overall passing yards, third in touchdowns and second in quarterback rating. His presence behind center turned the Broncos’ ho-hum passing game into a top-tier aerial attack featuring two 1,000+ yard wideouts.
Many doubted Manning’s ability before the season, questioning his age and the strength of his throwing arm, but his statistics, wins and clutch play leave no room for doubt: Manning can still play, and at an MVP level.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt
By: Ron Rokhy
There’s really no debate about who the Defensive Player of the Year award should go to.
Houston’s J.J. Watt, who anchored one of the league’s toughest defenses in his second year as a pro, finished the season leading the league with 20.5 sacks to along with four forced fumbles, 81 tackles and an amazing 16 passes defended, which is unheard of for a defensive end.
His presence on the field gave nightmares to opposing quarterbacks. Having to constantly be worried about being blindsided by a near-300 lb. wrecking ball, or having their passes tipped or batted down at the line.
Watt also recorded an impressive three sacks in a game on two separate occasions this season, had a four-game streak where he forced at least one fumble, and became the first player in NFL history to finish a season with at least 16.5 sacks and 15 tipped passes.
His quickness, size and strength make him nearly unblockable to opposing linemen, allowing him to also wreak havoc on the other team’s ground assault. Houston allowed less than 100 rushing yards per game and Watt recorded 23 tackles for losses this year.
Watt, who broke Mario Williams’ franchise record for most sacks, justly received 49 out of the 50 votes for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, completely blowing away the competition.