(Image via nfl.com)
Staff Writer: Tom Dunford
With the 2023 NFL season officially five weeks in, it’s time to look at every single quarter-season award. This will involve every season finale award, along with the most surprising and disappointing.
Some players are on pace to break records, and some teams have made experts reconsider everything they’ve ever known about football.
So, without further ado, let’s begin.
MVP (Most Valuable Player): Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills Quarterback
Throughout the first five games, the MVP favorite so far has to be Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
He has a QBR of 73.7% through five games, with a touchdown-interception ratio of 3:1. Allen has also provided additional talent on the ground, averaging 6 yards per carry when rushing the ball.
The Bills have looked almost unstoppable this season, and with a 3-2 record and the AFC wide-open, the first spot in the conferences could be theirs.
OPOY (Offensive Player Of the Year): Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers Running Back
The best offensive player through five weeks of play has been the unicorn of football, Christian McCaffrey. He is listed on the depth chart as a running back, but head coach Kyle Shanahan has utilized his talents beyond simple handoffs.
Christian McCaffery has elevated this 49ers squad to potential Superbowl locks; barring any injuries, with 510 yards and 7 touchdowns in five games, he is on pace for a franchise-breaking record.
The team has yet to lose in the regular season, and it’s all thanks to the uncertain game plan of Christian McCaffrey.
DPOY (Defensive Player Of the Year) Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions Linebacker
Staying in the NFC, the DPOY award through five games has to be in the hands of Aidan Hutchinson.
The former second-overall pick has blossomed into one of the most elite edge rushers in the game, averaging 1.1 sacks per game, along with an interception. He is groundbreaking, getting to every quarterback in under 2.4 seconds.
It’s almost impossible to hold back this 270-pound monster every single play, and he has played a role in the Lions flipping the script and becoming kings of the NFC North jungle.
COTY (Coach Of The Year): Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach
We credited the former running back CMC, but now it’s time to praise the head coach Kyle Shanahan, whose play calling and scheming have formed this 49ers squad into one to be reckoned with.
Shanahan has done everything right, building a stout defense and offense with talent left to spare. Along with his playcalling, he also found the greatest hidden gem in an NFL draft since the goat Tom Brady.
Brock Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft, has made every other general manager look foolish in passing on him, and it’s all thanks to Kyle Shanahan. Purdy has taken an already great offense and proved there’s always room for improvement.
The 49ers are one of two remaining undefeated teams, and it’s all thanks to the football mastermind in Shanahan.
OROY (Offensive Rookie Of the Year): CJ Stroud, Houston Texans Quarterback
The Houston Texans struck gold with the second-overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft when they took Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud.
After being substantially underwhelming in preseason, Stroud has exceeded any and all expectations the Texans set on him. He’s averaged a QBR of 98.4, with 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions through five games this season.
Behind a mediocre offensive line, Stroud has changed his game to evade edge rushes and emphasize keeping his feet moving. This is something learned over years of playing at the professional level, but Stroud has accomplished that seemingly overnight. He is the favorite for OPOY so far, and for good reason.
DROY (Defensive Rookie of The Year): Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Lineman
The NFL should be embarrassed for letting the generational defensive lineman in Jalen Carter go to a star-studded Eagles cast. In five games with the Eagles so far, the former Georgia d-lineman has played outstanding.
Carter has managed 3.5 sacks and 5 assists in five games so far, helping the Eagles shut down opponents rushing attacks and forcing teams to win through the air. This has resulted in the Eagles staying undefeated, with their mindset focused on revenge for last year’s controversial Super Bowl defeat.
Jalen Carter has made a name for himself and will continue to do so for years to come in the NFC.
Most Disappointing Team: New York Giants
The New York Giants have won the title of Most Disappointing Team, which is one of the few victories they’ve had.
The Giants came into last season with no expectations on their back, and they played the underdog role perfectly, going 9-7-1 and winning a playoff game. Heads were turned, and the Giants capitalized by signing their one-hit-wonder quarterback Daniel Jones to a four-year, 160-million-dollar contract.
After retaining the disgruntled running back Saquon Barkley and signing wide receiver Alec Pierce in free agency, they were expected to take a step forward. Now, to be fair, they did take one step forward, but unfortunately, they also took three steps back.
The Giants have been outperformed every single game, and with a 1-4 record, their future looks rather dim. There is a lot of work to do and many fingers to point at, but for now, they will look to finish this season with pride.
Most Surprising Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken the cake for the Most Surprising Team so far. After losing the cornerstone of the team quarterback, Tom Brady, to retirement, the team looked as outdated as a walkman in 2023.
Contract talks stalled with star wideout Mike Evans, the defense looked weaker than ever, and the new quarterback was the NFL’s version of musical chairs in Baker Mayfield. And yet, somehow, the Buccs look somewhat scary after all this.
They currently sit at 3-1 and atop the NFC South division, and with some players treating this season like a tryout for their careers, it feels like the momentum will continue to churn throughout the season.
Tampa Bay may not be as decrepit as people originally thought, and it’s all because of Baker and the rest.