NFL dishes out highest honors
Dak Prescott, the rookie quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, edging out teammate Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott had an outstanding year leading the Cowboys to their best record in franchise history. Prescott took over for injured quarterback Tony Romo, and managed to keep his starting spot after Romo’s return to being healthy. The fourth-round pick from Mississippi State threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only had 4 interceptions. But, what is most notable about his performance this year, was his ability to win games as the Cowboys ended their regular season 13-3, tied for the most in their history. Prescott also tied the record for most wins by a rookie quarterback in NFL history (13), set NFL rookie records in quarterback rating (104.9), completion percentage (67.8), fewest interceptions thrown, most games with a 70.0 completion percentage, and most games with a 100.0 rating, which also set a franchise record of most games with a 100.0 rating (11).
Jordy Nelson, Packers’ wide receiver, took home Comeback Player of the Year. Nelson had a season ending ACL injury during the second game of the preseason in 2015, and subsequently missed the entirety of the season for the Packers. This year, Nelson didn’t miss a beat, continuing to be quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receiver, and putting up 97 receptions for 1,257 yards, with 14 touchdowns. Rodgers and Nelson lead the Packers back from the dead with a start of 1-4 to become NFC North Champions ending the season 10-6.
Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders won Defensive Player of the Year. Mack, a linebacker, had 73 tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles. This is Mack’s third season and he has become a forced to be reckoned with. In his 48 career games, he already has 30 sacks and 225 total tackles.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback, took the honors for both Offensive Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player. During the voting, Ryan edged out rival Super Bowl LI quarterback, Tom Brady, getting 25 to Brady’s 10 votes. Ryan became the first player for the Falcons to win an MVP award. Ryan had the best season of his career, posting a 69.9 completion percentage, 4,944 yards, and 38 touchdowns, as well as a career low of 7 interceptions.
Coach of the Year was given to Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys season set all kinds of records. The 13-3 regular season record tied the franchise record for most win. The 9 game difference from 4-12 in 2015 to 13-3 in 2016 was the largest one season turnaround in franchise history. The Cowboys’ 11 game winning streak was the longest in franchise history, and the 7-1 home record and 7-game home winning streak were the best in franchise history at AT&T stadium. Garrett also tied Jimmy Johnson and Wade Phillips for most wins and best record in a regular season by a Cowboys’ head coach.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2017 was also named. The honorees were LaDainian Tomlinson, running back and 2006 NFL MVP; Morten Andersen, kicker and all time leading scorer for the Saints and the Falcons; Jason Taylor, 2006 Defensive Player of the Year; Kenny Easley, 1981 AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year and 1984 NFL Defensive Player of the Year; Jerry Jones, owner of the Cowboys since 1989; Terrell Davis, Broncos’ running back who was named Super Bowl MVP in 1997, 1998 NFL MVP and offensive player of the year; and Kurt Warner, 1999 NFL MVP and Super Bowl winner at quarterback for the St. Louis Rams.