Stan: Its no secret I’m a big fan of defense. It really started because I hated getting hit as a kid and preferred to be the one doing the hitting. Plus I can’t catch and that kinda limits what I can do on the field. There were a lot of guys I left off for one reason or another and you can tell that I favor guys that aren’t surrounded by the best talent. Should Ndamukong Suh be on this list? Absolutely. But he doesn’t really have to do a whole lot with Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah on the line with him. Earl Thomas is the best safety in football but he’s also sharing the defensive backfield with Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Even Darrelle Revis has Brandon Browner to play on the opposite side. Regardless, I stand by my list and the guys on it.
Rob: Defensive Player of the Year is easy, and even when it isn’t a runaway winner like it will be this year, it is still an easy award to comprehend. Give it to the best player who plays defense. They still get it wrong, but it makes sense.
Offensive Player of the Year is different. It is way weirder. Peyton Manning
won last year, and he also won MVP. Same thing for the year before. MVP is an offensive award, so they should be the same. Except the year before, Aaron Rodgers
won the MVP and Drew Brees
got offensive player of the year. Going back forever, this is how it works, sometimes they line up, sometimes they don’t. Crazy. Well, if we are going to accept that MVP is really “most valuable”, meaning “best quarterback”, then OPOY should be most dynamic and important offensive player.
Rob: Comeback Player of the Year is the wackiest of all the hardware the NFL gives out every year. It goes to a player who has “shown perseverance in overcoming adversity.” Adversity is defined as, well, it isn’t defined. Last year, Philip Rivers overcame the adversity of stinking on stinky teams for two years to win it. The year before, Peyton Manning went from being the best quarterback in the NFL on the Colts to the best quarterback in the NFL on the Broncos. In 2011, Matthew Stafford won it for being healthy for a full season for the first time in his career. In 2010, Michael Vick stopped electrocuting dogs, propelling him to the top of the list. Tom Brady won in 2009 after caming back from missing basically the entire 2008 season, in which Chad Pennington won the award because the Jets dumped him for Brett Favre. All in all, they have given out this award to people coming back from injuries, switching teams, generally improving, or just being a good quarterback who didn’t win the MVP. Like all awards, since 2002, 10 of the 12 years this award went to a quarterback. By that logic, I think it is only a matter of time before somebody makes the case that Aaron Rodgers should win Defensive Player of the Year because he keeps the other team’s offense off the field.
Rob: Of all the awards categories we will be doing, Offensive Rookie of the Year was my toughest spot. Leaving Teddy Bridgewater off the top five was heartbreaking, and I had him in the fifth spot right up until I sent the email to Stan. Bridgewater should have been the third overall pick to the Jaguars. I think he will be terrific, and had he played earlier, he might have vaulted up this list. Still, 2014 was the year of the rookie receiver, and this list should reflect that.
With the regular season all wrapped up, what can we say we learned this year? Rex Ryan learned that the luster of a couple playoff appearances goes away when your offense is so terrible. Mike Smith learned that the window of opportunity can close really quickly. Hopefully the Giants learned a thing or two from the Cowboys. Their success is all on the offensive line. The Lions might learn soon that they might be better off without their best defensive player and the Bears might finally be learning that Jay Cutler
isn’t their guy and no one, not even the quarterback whisperer, can save them from him. Most of all, the fans are learning that the more things change, the more they stay the same. For what its worth, I’ve enjoyed every bit of doing these rankings and I think an official KIRS Top 100 Players of 2014 would be a great way to keep this going.
Rob: Stan, I think you are overrating what everyone has learned. Rex Ryan seems to have his stock higher than ever after being fired. Mike Smith closed his own window by being terrible at his job. Nobody ever learns that offensive lineman are important, they just keep drafting bad quarterbacks. The Lions need Suh, and sadly, the Bears need Cutler. I’d love to keep this going, can’t wait until our next project. While you wait, enjoy Wild Card weekend, and here are the last Power Rankings of the 2014 NFL season.