With a whole mess of an offseason behind us and camp in full effect, let’s take a look forward to February, where the NFL will announce it’s season awards. Every team and player has a shot to contend for these, but most won’t stand a chance. Still, these players deserve respect and recognition for their contributions to the game. Note: Players cannot win more that 1 award.
Here we break down each teams’ award winner in the AFC East:
MVP – Tre’Davious White – CB
This one should be clear-cut. The most valuable player on the roster is the player with the biggest individual impact and no-one beat’s one of the league’s best CBs in this unit. The Bills may have a stack of talent on the roster but White has locked down everyone from coast to coast, and shows no sign of slowing down. His individual talent marks him as a crutial piece of any team and, though the defense may not be lost without him, likely CB2 Josh Norman makes for a poor man’s substitute.
OPOY – Josh Allen – QB
The only factor this season that truly determines whether or not the Bills are Superbowl contenders is Josh Allen’s progression from year 2 to year 3. His game vastly improved after his rookie season; an extra season under the helm, a vastly upgraded WR core, and the best O-Line he’s ever had will all contribute to his play, but his individual impact on the success of this offense, and that of the team as a whole, cannot be overstated. If he makes the leap, his candidacy for OPOY is undeniable.
DPOY – Jordan Poyer – S
The obvious winner is White but, as he’s our MVP, Poyer underrated and consistently produces more cohesive defensive work than most others in a position such as his. An incredible communicator pre-snap, underrated free pass-rusher, and one half of one of the best safety tandems the East has seen in a while, Poyer clears the field and hawks all but the most uncatchable of tipped INT’s.
CBPOY – Harrison Phillips – DT
After suffering an ACL tear in week 3 of the 2019 season, ‘Horrible’ Harry Phillips sophomore year was cut short. After a promising rookie year, Phillips looks to return to form and fill the hole left by the opting put of fellow DT Star Lotulelei. Given the chance, his play might just elevate the defensive line to greatness, given that after his injury the run-stopping capability of this unit dropped out.
ROY – A.J. Epenesa – DE
This wasn’t as easy a decision as one might think. Whilst 3rd-round RB Zach Moss is a capable and apt player in a good situation, the sheer force that Epenesa brings to the edge is enough to terrify even the more seasoned of linemen. This defensive line saw more changes than the rest of this team combined and Epenesa won’t be competing for snaps for long.
New England Patriots
MVP – Stephon Gilmore – CB
Gilmore is the clear best player on the roster and his impact will be shown in a depleted Patriots defense. It’s sink or swim time in a season where New England saw more opt-outs than any other roster in the league (8), and Gilmore’s proven talent and leadership could keep the Patriots’ heads above water. One of the top CB’s in the NFL, and arguably the best, Stephon will have his hands full as the offense likely won’t be able to stay on the field for as long as one might hope. Expect him to use this stage for glory: The spotlight suits him well.
OPOY – James White – RB
James White is old; at least for a running back. The dependence of a new starting QB on an even-handed running game is well documented and, if Newton/Stidham expects success, they’ll need to lean on the White/Michel combo. He’ll see a lot more of than rock than even he may want as their defense, which still reigns as one of the NFL’s best, keeps on giving the offense chances. White might be in for a career year.
DPOY – J.C. Jackson – CB
In a defense thoroughly depleted by one of the most unusual offseasons in recent memory, the best CB2 in the NFL gets the nod. Admittedly, it’s rare to see someone outside of the top roster spot to get recognized as the best but that’s just how good at his role J.C. is. Jackson can cover any WR2 in the league and provides the kind of help in double-coverage that most coaches and safeties can only dream of. He’ll be needed now more than ever this season.
CBPOY – Cam Newton – QB
There’s only one person on the Patriots roster who truly qualifies for this award. The only thing Cam Newton has to do in order to lock this award down is win the starting job. One mediocre and forgettable year as an NFL starter is enough. Good luck, Cam.
ROY – Josh Uche – LB
With the opting-out of chief LB Dont’a Hightower, there is more room for a rookie in Bill Belichick’s than there has ever been. Josh Uche makes for an interesting pick, but he can help fill the hole nicely, focusing on stopping the rush and covering receivers in short yardage situations. He’ll do nicely, with help, and can make for a good placeholder until 2021, where, he’ll be forced to take either a backseat or a new role.
MVP – Byron Jones – CB
This new signing elevates the defense in ways entirely unexpected. By signing Jones, the Dolphins allow former top CB Xavien Howard to guard WR2s, making for a bewildering secondary that may seem undecipherable. Jones gives the defense extra credibility like they haven’t seen in decades. No-one on this roster gives Brian Flores the room to maneuver the Bryon Jones does, and it will become apparent from week 1. Good luck to the rest of the AFC East. There’s 3 powerhouse secondaries in this conference now.
OPOY – DeVante Parker – WR
Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, DeVante Parker has his sights set extraordinarily high. When Tua Tagovailoa eventually gets the starting nod Parker may see a decline as the rookie takes his place, but his production with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen proves that as soon as any QB is settled in this offense, Parker will take a slant to the house. The dolphins might not win too many games this year, but DeVante will be playing like every game matters.
DPOY – Emmanuel Ogbah – DE
This is an unorthodox pick, but it makes sense. In a new team, Ogbah sees an expanded role for the first time in a number of years. With his notable skill set and well-documented drive to succeed, Ogbah makes for a ferocious pass-rusher who can really carve out his niche in Miami.
CBPOY – Xavien Howard – CB
Xavien Howard suffered a knee injury after becoming leagues highest paid CB in 2019. Having already made his money, many might not see Howard as needed to push himself this season, but he sees things differently. His top CB spot has been taken from him, and the league has largely moved on, with his name falling out of the top CB discussion entirely. That won’t stand for Xavien, and he’s coming back with a vengeance. Expect fireworks.
ROY – Austin Jackson – OT
This pick may be controversial, given the fact that the Dolphins spend the 5th-overall pick on their hopeful future franchise QB, but it’s the most level headed pick available. Tua’s injury concerns and the fact he likely doesn’t even start right away means that his sample size may be too small to really consider him. Fellow 1st-round pick Jackson, however, brings a stone-wall edge to a weak spot in an o-line that felt the absence of Laremy Tunsil in 2019.
New York Jets
MVP – Sam Darnold
If Darnold doesn’t up his game, the Jets are dead in the water. That statement just about sums up 2020 for New York, and it’s not a pretty thought. However, Darnold has shone on occasion, and it doesn’t take an expert to see that he has the capability to be a starting QB with the right help. He got some of it this offseason, which should do plenty to guide him on his way to NFL stardom. His supporting cast revitalized, Darnold may not be seeing ghosts in 2020. He may even be busting them.
OPOY – LeVeon Bell – RB
Last season was Bell’s time to shine but he ended up looking like fool’s gold. This season, he settles into his role and starts to look like the LeVeon of his “Killer B” days once again. He forces defenses to give the run game some credibility, which makes this Jets offense into a more impressive unit than they’ve had in some time. Whether he can keep it up is still a matter for debate, but his relevance to this unit in 2020 cannot be understated.
DPOY – Avery Williamson – LB
A candidate for CBPOY as well as DPOY, Williamson steps up in his comeback season to fill the enormous hole left by the opting-out of C.J. Mosley. Can Williamson handle the pressure? Quite probably. Assuming he stays healthy, Avery can bring his veteran presence to a defense that lacks much in the way of leadership. Level-headed and cool as a cucumber, Williamson bring the heat in 2020.
CBPOY – Chris Herndon – TE
After missing the entire 2019 season, this safety valve brings a little stability to a team that is still trying to find it’s identity. Darnold needs better around him than what he got in 2019 and Herndon’s absence from that offense was noted. The opportunity is too big for Chris to miss, who needs to show that he’s worth keeping around in a new-look Jets offense. Unsurprisingly, he steps up and helps anchor an unstable unit.
ROY – Denzel Mims – WR
Denzel Mims is, to Jets fans, what they’ve been begging their franchise to give Darnold for 2 years. The potential for him to be a true WR1 is significant, and if the Jets want to succeed on Darnold’s back, Mims will have to show out. Easily beating out every other rookie on his team for this spot, Mims brings his physical play and an impressive catch radius to level out his lack of lateral quickness. Even if Mims isn’t WR1 material, his contributions to this team in 2020 will far outweigh every other rookie.