There are plenty of major individual awards given out after a season in the NFL, and it’s time again for Sporting News to present our prestigious honors. The unique process hasn’t changed for SN in 2020 – all major awards were determined by peers of league winners, not based on the opinion of Sporting News staff.
For Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Returning Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, the winners were selected based on those with the most votes from the players. Only Head Coaches could vote for Coordinator of the Year and Coach of the Year. Only front office staff and staff decision makers were allowed to vote for Executive of the Year. Either way, players, coaches and managers have been advised not to pick someone from their own team.
Ballots were sent out electronically across the league, with the majority of teams voting by the early January deadline. Here are those results, including some tight calls and some dominant winners.
MORE PRICES: Sports News 2020 NFL All-Pro Team
Offensive player of the year: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
Mahomes (4,740 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, six INTs, 8.1 yards per attempt, 108.2) wasn’t as spectacular as his MVP season in 2018, but the performance was close. He was still impressive enough to beat Titans running back Derrick Henry and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, although this pair had more notable numbers. Mahomes tight end Travis Kelce was fourth in the player vote.
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
Statistically, Donald (13.5 sacks) also didn’t show off the same astronomical numbers as 2018, but he was a monster in the Rams’ massive defensive turnaround against the pass and under the guidance of now head coach Brandon Staley. of Chargers.
Donald received some good competition from Steelers rider TJ Watt and Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, but he still had a comfortable advantage in the vote.
Returning Player of the Year: Alex Smith, QB, Washington
Smith was not entirely unanimous but garnered 90% of the players’ votes. The veteran QB returned from a frightening leg injury that put career and life threatening. He was a testament to perseverance, simply working to get back on the ground. Smith became a bigger inspiration by starting again and going 5-1 during the regular season to help Washington win the division under new offensive coordinator Scott Turner and new head coach Ron Rivera.
Rookie of the Year: Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings
Jefferson was challenged by Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Washington pass hunter Chase Young, but won the player vote comfortably. James Robinson, the undrafted Jaguars running back, was fourth.
After Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire fell out of the mix with injuries, Jefferson carried the flag for an LSU offensive victory at ROTY. In just 14 starts as a rookie, Jefferson caught 88 of 125 targets for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns replacing All-Pro Stefon Diggs at Minnesota.
Jefferson is the sixth Viking to win SN ROTY and the fifth wide receiver, joining Paul Flatley, Sammy White, Randy Moss and Percy Harvin. The other winner for Minnesota was running back Adrian Peterson.
Coordinator of the Year: Eric Bieniemy, OC, Chiefs
Bieniemy and Andy Reid continue to craft great game plans and Bieniemy has also done well when given the chance to cancel offensive plays. The 51-year-old may be overlooked in another round of head coaching hires, but the rest of the NFL’s big loss only benefits Kansas City and Mahomes.
Bieniemy edged Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll – his counterpart in the AFC championship game – and Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
Coach of the Year: Kevin Stefanski, Browns
Stefanski, 38, cleaned up the mess in Cleveland to produce both a wild AFC 11-5 squad, ending an 18-year playoff drought and the franchise’s first playoff win since 1995 He was a big help in settling quarterback Baker Mayfield and re-established a play and action-based offense with coordinator Alex Van Pelt.
Although the Browns failed in the divisional round, the rookie doesn’t have a long and successful career ahead. Other coaches who received multiple votes from their peers were Reid and Brian Flores of the Dolphins.
Executive of the Year: Brandon Beane, Managing Director, Bills
Beane walked away from another AFC East GM, Chris Grier of the Dolphins, to take the honor definitively, recognized by league officials for the great job he did in Buffalo. Beane had already built a good team around sophomore quarterback Josh Allen in 2019, but took it to another level with the best offseason trade that paired Diggs with Allen.
Beane has always written well and decided to spend wisely, and was rewarded when his gathered talent replaced Bill Belichick’s Patriots as the new AFC East team to beat. This group of Bills won the franchise’s first playoff games since 1996 en route to the AFC Championship game.
Kevin Colbert of the Steelers and Andrew Berry of the Browns were the only two other general managers to receive votes from their peers. Beane succeeds Eric DeCosta of the Ravens in win the prize. Beane is the first Bills general manager to win the award since Bill Polian won it twice in a row in 1991 and 1992.