This was my fourth year as an official Associated Press voter for both the All-Pro team and the end-of-season awards. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a long article about my All-Pro votes. With the NFL awards now given out, I wanted to do the same and divulge my award ballot.

MVP

  1. Josh Allen
  2. Dak Prescott
  3. Lamar Jackson
  4. Brock Purdy
  5. Patrick Mahomes

I am generally of the belief that the MVP is a quarterback award. Quarterbacks are the most valuable players in the game. If we wanted to give it to a player at another position, we would need to call this award something else.

My All-Pro article was primarily a long discussion of why I had Josh Allen and Dak Prescott over Lamar Jackson on my All-Pro ballot, so it also serves as a discussion of why I voted for Allen as my MVP this season. That article discusses Purdy as well. I decided to put Patrick Mahomes fifth even though his numbers didn't earn it because he overcame so much adversity from poor teammate performance this year. He's still the best in the game, after all.

Offensive Player of the Year

  1. Tyreek Hill
  2. Christian McCaffrey
  3. CeeDee Lamb

If the MVP award is for the best quarterback, this award has to be for the best offensive player other than a quarterback. Tyreek Hill lapped the field in my new Route DYAR and Route DVOA stats because he is so efficient given that he runs fewer routes than the other top wide receivers. He had 117.5% Route DVOA this season, with Nico Collins second all the way back at 80.7%. Kevin Cole's plus-minus metric, which came out after I had made my votes, also has Hill ahead of McCaffrey. I thought CeeDee Lamb was pretty clearly third.  He was second in Route DYAR and third in regular DYAR (behind Hill and Brandon Aiyuk).

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Micah Parsons
  2. Myles Garrett
  3. T.J. Watt

I think I switched this one back and forth a couple of times between Parsons and Garrett, but I couldn't get away from this graphic from ESPN's Seth Walder.

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year

  1. C.J. Stroud
  2. Puka Nacua
  3. Sam LaPorta

Apologies to Nacua and LaPorta, but Stroud had the third-best rookie quarterback season in history based on adjusted DYAR (passing + 2.1 * rushing).

Defensive Rookie of the Year

  1. Will Anderson
  2. Jalen Carter
  3. Kobie Turner

Don't have much explanation here. Anderson really did revolutionize what the Texans could do with their defense. Carter is one of those players who had more impact than the stats show because there aren't great stats for defensive tackles. But he faded a bit in the second half of the year. Turner had all those sacks for the Rams.

Coach of the Year

  1. Kyle Shanahan
  2. DeMeco Ryans
  3. Kevin Stefanski

I wished I could vote for like nine different guys for this award. It was a good year for good coaching jobs. Teams overperforming expectation, teams overcoming injuries, amazing offensive schemes, and veteran coaches such as John Harbaugh and Andy Reid just keeping the success going year after year.

I don't remember who wrote this online, so apologies, but in the end I went with this idea: Given how efficient the 49ers' passing game was this year, either Brock Purdy was the MVP or Kyle Shanahan was Coach of the Year. I don't believe the former, so I went with the latter. DeMeco Ryans changed the culture in Houston and along with new player additions helped improve that team on both sides of the ball and turn them into a division champion. Stefanski overcame a ton of injuries on offense not to mention overcoming the fact that Deshaun Watson simply isn't good anymore.

Assistant Coach of the Year

  1. Mike Macdonald
  2. Jim Schwartz
  3. Ben Johnson

Pretty simple. Whoever had the better DVOA between the Browns and Ravens defenses was going to get my top vote, the other guy was going to get my second vote, and Ben Johnson still does an amazing job scheming a surprisingly good Lions offense. They're very lucky they get to keep him for another year.

Comeback Player of the Year

  1. Damar Hamlin
  2. Joe Flacco
  3. Brock Purdy

OK, I really had no idea what to do with this one. There's some talk that the Associated Press is going to do a better job next of defining just what it means to vote for Comeback Player of the Year. I was stuck between whether I should vote for the best comeback or the best player. I mean, if you vote for the best players, then you vote for Purdy and Lamar Jackson and Tua Tagovailoa, all of whom came back this year from injuries late last season! So at one point I did a Twitter poll. Who should win this award, I asked: the best comeback or the best player? The winner in the poll was “the best comeback.” And the best comeback was Damar Hamlin coming back from almost dying on the field, even if he barely played any snaps during the regular season. Hamlin either had to be No. 1 on your ballot, or you leave him off. Putting him No. 2 or No. 3 made no sense. I ended up with him at No. 1.