PFF midseason awards

Khaled Elsayed names the PFF midseason award winners, with Luke Kuechly earning Defensive Player of the Year thus far.

| 1 year ago
(Tom DiPace /AP Images for Nike)

(Tom DiPace /AP Images for Nike)

PFF midseason awards


You may have caught our Midseason All-Pro Team earlier on Wednesday; continuing our awards day at PFF, we’re now going to drop some accolades across positions. Who has been the most valuable player? The most dominant defender? The best offensive player? Find out this and more with the PFF midseason awards.

Most Valuable Player: Carson Palmer, Cardinals

First runner-up: Tom Brady, Patriots

Second runner-up: Cam Newton

It’s been quite the year for Palmer, who is thriving after his amazing return from his severe knee injury. It should show you how highly we think of the job he’s doing that; in any other year, Brady or Newton would be worthy winners.

Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown, Steelers

First runner-up: Carson Palmer, Cardinals

Second runner-up: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

The effort of Brown against the Raiders really cemented his place as the winner of this award. You don’t often see performances like that, but given how well Brown has played all year, it’s not really that surprising.

Defensive Player of the Year: Luke Kuechly, Panthers

First runner-up: Josh Norman, Panthers

Second runner-up: J.J. Watt, Texans

A Panthers’ one-two, with the only knock on Kuechly being the time he has missed. So, the fact that he is still our guy highlights what kind of level he’s playing at right now, and “elite” really doesn’t begin to describe it.

Rookie of the Year: Ronald Darby, Bills

First runner-up: Todd Gurley, Rams

Second runner-up: Henry Anderson, Colts

There’s no denying that Darby has been a revelation, taking to the NFL like a fish takes to water. But while he is the top dog right now, he needs to watch out for Gurley, because each week, the Ram looks like he’s getting stronger and better.

  • Blackfive

    Just because a guy is coming off injury and playing well doesn’t make him the MVP. Cam Newton or Brady should be the mid season mvp’s because their team is undefeated.

    • aaronaperson

      I have to say, while it’s pretty clear Cam isn’t refined… Dude plays with fire. Pretty obvious that the Panthers feed off that. Fun to watch this years Panthers for sure.

      • Blackfive

        I agree. Statistically he isn’t great. But when it comes to winning football games, he’s one of the best in the league. As an Eli Manning fan I can appreciate that.

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      • Ronnie Whitworth

        As a Panthers fan, I completely agree. It would be hard for me to put Cam over Brady, but like you said, the fire he plays with and the lack of weapons and still winning regardless puts him in the conversation. He’s getting better every year and if he can get the accuracy just a bit more consistent with some weapons… Look out!!! I get tired of the Patriots but man do they bring it every year just about!

        • aaronaperson

          I’ll put it this way, I would not be shocked if they make the super bowl.

          • Sam Doohan

            Honestly, I wouldn’t be either. And I wouldn’t be shocked if they win.

            Just from their schedule it looks like they’ll go 14-2 at the absolute worst. The Cards would give them a tough game in the playoffs but that’s about it in the NFC. Maybe Green Bay or Seattle could bounce back enough to be a challenge but right now the Panthers could handle them. On the AFC side certainly the Pats would be a very tough opponent but I feel they could handle the Bengals or Broncos just fine.

            Their real strength is balance. They have a monster D, including a great secondary but they can go out and score points too. They can attack whatever weakness the opponent has and that makes them super dangerous.

            Would I want to predict 18-0? Well, no, probably not. But I really feel like they have the best chance of any team in a very long while, assuming they stay healthy.

  • aaronaperson

    It’s Brady’s MVP to lose, anyone floating any other names are just trying to be cool… or deep or something.

    400 more yards, 4 more tds (inc rushing), 4% higher comp. %, 4 fewer picks. All with no deep threat, no X for the first 7 games, and an o-line comprised of randos they apparently found in the parking lots surrounding Gillette.

    • crosseyedlemon

      You forgot to mention the great adjustment he’s made to playing with properly inflated footballs.

      • aaronaperson

        You people are still out there? Ran out of rocks to hide under?

    • Jefferson

      Try watching some Cardinals games and you might see why. Palmer has been the better QB this year, hands down, as much as I hate to admit it. Brady makes a living predominantly throwing 10 yard passes, while Palmer is routinely dropping dimes 40-50 yard down field.

      Palmer’s yards per attempt are higher. PFF signature stats show that half of Brady’s ‘passing’ yards are from yards after contact, while Palmer has one of the highest percentages of yards ‘in the air’ versus after contact. Simply put, qualitatively and quantitatively, Palmer makes more challenging throws in a much more aggressive passing scheme.

      As for the talent which surrounds Brady and Palmer, you have it wrong on this too. First, Brady has a better receiving core especially with King Kong. Brown, Floyd, and an aging Fitzgerald are not more talented than Edelman, Amendola, Gronkowski, etc. Second, Brady’s offensive line is also better. PFF’s stat for Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) clearly shows that, regardless of injuries and substitutions, the Patriots’ offensive line ranks #13 in Pass Blocking Efficiency while the Cardinals’ OL ranks #22. Separately you can confirm that Brady has significantly lower pressure%.

      To respond to one other comment, no, an MVP should not be declared on the basis that his team is undefeated. The question should be how much the player has raised his team’s performance with his own individual contribution. If team performance were the determinant, I guess JJ Watt would look forward to a long career without a single award…

      • aaronaperson

        Brady doesn’t throw it deep because he doesn’t have an X, like I said. That being said, when he does throw it deep he has the highest comp % on balls traveling over 20 yards. Also- sure, taking YAC credit away from most quarterbacks makes sense- using check-downs and screens is often the best way to mask an average quarterback, (Alex Smith anybody?) but when Brady hits receivers in perfect stride so as to maximize YAC, you can hardly call that game-managing. His pre-snap adjustments also tend to be why the receivers are in the right place to begin with.

        Further, Brady’s pressure % is all on him. Ball’s out in 2.13 seconds. They are using their 4th LT (Counting Vollmer sliding from R – L) 3rd RT, and an undrafted rookie is at center with most snaps on the team. Those guys are holding it together because Brady is putting them in a position to succeed, not because they have loads of talent. Reminder again- their rookie starting center from last season is currently playing RT- that’s not a situation ANY team wants to deal with.

        I’m with you as far as team records go, to a point at least. The MVP’s team should at least be a strong playoff contender. It’s the one individual award where intangibles actually do count for something. Palmer, for as well as he’s playing, (and I do think he’s #2 QB wise, especially after two straight clunkers from Rodgers) has never done it on the big stage. Not only does Brady own the big stage, he’s playing under the most scrutiny possible after the most absurd NFL offseason on record. His entire career was thrown under question, and what’s his response? Middle finger to everyone, and a level of play nearly matching ’07 (also happens to be the only season Brady ever had a deep threat…) That’s an MVP.

        • Jefferson

          Agree to disagree, I guess. Beginning with the last point: our subjective assessment of the ‘stage’ and playoff performance are not valid factors for selecting a mid-term MVP for this year.

          And while you raise good points otherwise, they don’t change the reality that Palmer has achieved the top PFF overall rating for QBs and competitive grades for individual metrics *despite* throwing for significantly more yards in the air per throw than Brady, and in a much more aggressive and challenging passing scheme.

          Yes, Brady makes a contribution to his receivers’ YAC but let’s be serious here. We are talking about Edelmen and Amendola (not to mention Gronk and one of the best pass catching RBs who I didn’t even mention in my first post). The YAC is primarily on the receivers and the play design, not Brady.

          As for offensive line, the discussion becomes very speculative beyond actual measurable performance, which favor Brady’s OL significantly over Palmer’s OL as I demonstrated. Yes, Brady releases quickly, but he can only do this because the play design is typically quick developing passes with short throws. The demands on Palmer are simply higher as he is asked to navigate the pocket for longer periods, and the result is more pressure. I don’t therefore see this as a plus in the Brady-vs-Palmer-for-MVP balance sheet: Palmer still performs equally or better with more pressure, pressure that is not caused by holding the ball for the fun of it.

          None of this means that Brady does not perform exceptionally well in his less challenging environment with superior talent, because he does. But for mid-season MVP: I concur with PFF and I don’t think it’s close.

          Dalton is actually a candidate for #2 when you consider the scheme and challenges he operates with, but that’s another story.

          • aaronaperson

            Midseason MVP is a barometer, a hitching post. Both of us can make a case on stats, so I’ll leave it with these two points-

            First, the greatest correlation among MVPs is titles. They may not have done it the year they took the award, but almost all have a ring.

            Second is this- if Brady continues at the same pace, he’ll lead in every major counting stat and the single season yardage record. If that happens, not only does he get the MVP, I’d give him odds for the second ever unanimous vote.

            Palmer’s having a spectacular year, it’s no knock on him. It’s just that the greatest is giving us just that.

      • nossorc

        for what it’s worth Mr. Jefferson, Palmer is 0-5 in 2015 on throws over 40 yards. Has thrown the ball a mere 41 times over 20 yards (12 for 41, 29%). He’s hardly dropping dimes on deep balls.

        Not to say Brady is either though, 10 for 22, 45%.

        Just not a good argument.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I was hoping to see some creative categories listed here instead of the usual boring ones. I have no choice but to give Khaled a negative grade because he failed to mention a defensive rookie of the year as well as a comeback player of the year.

    • bob barker

      A defensive player is the overall rookie of the year. Guess that eliminates the need for a separate category.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Yeah I kinda fumbled the ball on that one not noticing that both an offensive and defensive rookie got a mention. The categories are still not complete though because no special teams players are included in the awards.

        • Nik Hildebrand

          Yeah! Where’s the “Most Valuable Holder” award?

  • JudoPrince

    Can someone please explain how J.J. Watt could have more consideration for defensive player of the year over Kawaan Short? Short has been an absolute game wrecker and arguably the best on that star studded defense. Sure, Watt is consistently good as well but has not had the same level of impact on his team as Short. Besides the Texans have been a catastrophe on defense; they should have no mention for any player as top defender.

    • Sam Doohan

      Well, it’s an individual award, not a team one. Watt can’t do everything himself but as an individual he certainly makes a very strong case for inclusion. I think this year he’s dropped off a little and we’ve seen some other guys really raise their game too so I don’t think he’ll win it this year but it really can’t be underestimated how good he is.

      It’s sad he plays for such a crappy team. On almost any other team he’d be odds on to break the sack record but the rest of the Texans suck so opponents can devote resources to stopping him. I’m absolutely in awe of the guys work ethic though. It doesn’t matter to him whether the team is winning or not, he always brings it.

    • Nik Hildebrand

      Watt has graded as the clear #1 at his position, and Short has not (#3 DT/NT).

  • Brian

    Palmer for mvp would be valid only if u were ignoring cam and brady. Brady is doing more with much less. His o line isnt held together w duct tape, it is duct tape. And as always he makes his crew of castoff rbs and wrs look like stars. And if it’s not brady then it’s cam. Cam has worse weapons than brady. Cam wishes he had brady’s weapons. The panther offense is cam. Meanwhile palmer is not carrying his team near the way cam and Brady are. Palmer is having a great year yes but not mvp worthy when compared to the other two. But what do u expect from an analytic site that doesn’t take into account things like heart, will, control of the offense, smarts, savvy, etc. Things that make brady the greatest qb of all time and things that cam are developing that are pushing him into the next level. Analytics are a great tool, but unlike baseball, they have much less value to the game of football. And many times there is no way u can possibly grade players unless u knew the call and what the coach/scheme wants for that particular play. Analytics are overrated in football.

  • Brian

    Palmer for mvp would be valid only if u were ignoring cam and brady. Brady is doing more with much less. His o line isnt held together w duct tape, it is duct tape. And as always he makes his crew of castoff rbs and wrs look like stars. And if it’s not brady then it’s cam. Cam has worse weapons than brady. Cam wishes he had brady’s weapons. The panther offense is cam. Meanwhile palmer is not carrying his team near the way cam and Brady are. Palmer is having a great year yes but not mvp worthy when compared to the other two. But what do u expect from an analytic site that doesn’t take into account things like heart, will, control of the offense, smarts, savvy, etc. Things that make brady the greatest qb of all time and things that cam are developing that are pushing him into the next level. Analytics are a great tool, but unlike baseball, they have much less value to the game of football. And many times there is no way u can possibly grade players unless u knew the call and what the coach/scheme wants for that particular play. Analytics are overrated in football.

    • Tim Jessberger

      >Analytics are overrated in football.

      Lol. Then why read PFF at all?

      • Brian

        Because I read everything nfl. Good or not, accurate or not, if it’s nfl & I see it then I read it.

      • shaunhan murray

        If ANY of this was analytics that would makes sense

  • Scott

    I hate Tom Brady but I would definitely go with him for mvp. Carson Palmer has way more talent around him and a stud defense. Just because you’re coming off an injury doesn’t mean you should get mvp; thats what comeback player of the year is for. Plus Brady’s numbers are better and lets face it, the only player on their offense who would be good on another team is Gronk. Edelman wouldn’t be shit if he was on another team and Tom makes him look elite.

  • Rob

    Ronald Darby is a BEAST! He put Brandon Marshall on straps last night and he’s pretty much done the same to everyone else he’s covered.

  • nossorc

    can’t get on board with a single one of these

    Brady, Freeman/Brady, Norman, Gurley/Cooper

  • rogue

    Brady’s terrible performance against the Redskins put him below Palmer. Brady might not fare well against the Giants this weekend.