With the 2020 NFL season coming to an end on Sunday, the Pro Football Network’s team voted on their winners for six NFL awards. The six NFL awards that PFN will hand out for the 2020-2021 season are Comeback Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and MVP.
PFN Awards: NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Winner: Alex Smith, QB, Washington Football Team
Alex Smith had this award locked up in the minds of many before even stepping foot on the field in 2020. Smith’s return from a gruesome leg injury has been well-documented, and just simply seeing him on the field in training camp was a major achievement.
However, Smith’s return was not simply a heartwarming story. Smith played meaningful snaps for the Washington Football Team in the 2020 season. He led the team to five wins in his six starts while throwing for 1,582 yards and 6 touchdowns. Smith was almost our only unanimous winner in these NFL awards, with just one vote cast for a different player.
Others receiving votes: Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
PFN Defensive Rookie of the Year
Winner: Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team
Chase Young came into the NFL with a tough task. Coming from the same college as the 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winner, Young was always going to be compared. That is especially the case with both players being selected second overall in their respective drafts.
Related | 2020 NFL All-Pro Team: Defense
2019 may have seen Young finish slightly behind Bosa in terms of sacks and QB hits, but the rookie edge rusher forced four fumbles (recovered three) and even scored a defensive touchdown.
Yet, to truly judge Young’s rookie NFL season and why he is a worthy winner of the 2020-2021 PFN Award, you have to look beyond the box score. Young was regularly double-teamed, yet still managed to register 24 pressures and constantly presented a threat for the Washington defense.
Others receiving votes: Jeremy Chinn (Carolina Panthers), Antoine Winfield Jr. (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), L’Jarius Sneed (Kansas City Chiefs)
PFN Offensive Rookie of the Year
Winner: Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
After it appeared as though Justin Herbert might have to wait to start his NFL career, he was thrown into the fire in Week 2. Herbert threw for over 300 yards in that game, despite finding out he was starting just before the game. He would go on to do so a further seven times in his rookie season.
He finished an excellent rookie season with 31 touchdowns and 4,336 passing yards while throwing just 10 interceptions. His 5.2 touchdown percentage tied for 14th in the league, while he finished sixth in passing yards and tied for 10th best in interception percentage.
Others receiving votes: Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings), Tristan Wirfs (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), James Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
PFN Awards: NFL Coach of the Year
Winner: Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
Despite one of the most disrupted offseasons in NFL history, Kevin Stefanski managed to turn the Cleveland Browns into contenders. Their 11-5 record was their first winning season since 2007 and led them to their first playoff appearance since 2002. Heading into the final few weeks of the season, Stefanski had the Browns within a shot of winning their first division title since 1989.
While they ultimately fell short in a competitive AFC North, Stefanski led his team to the postseason, which appears to have been the clinching factor in the 2020-2021 PFN Awards voting as he narrowly beat Miami Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores.
Others receiving votes: Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins), Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills), Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers)
PFN Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Xavien Howard, CB, Miami Howard
In the closest of votes for the 2020-2021 PFN Awards, Xavien Howard just came out on top as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Howard had an incredible season, with the headline number being his 10 interceptions. That was the first time since 2007 that a player had registered 10 interceptions in a single season, and only the eighth player to do so since 2000.
However, he also led the league in passes defended while ranking 11th in completion percentage allowed at 51.5. With a passer rating allowed of just 48.3, Howard ranked as the second-best in the league.
Others receiving votes: Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams), T.J. Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers), Myles Garrett (Cleveland Browns)
PFN Offensive Player of the Year
Winner: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry was another comprehensive winner in our 2020-2021 PFN Awards. Of the votes cast for Offensive Player of the Year, Henry received 67 percent.
Related | 2020 NFL All-Pro Team: Offense
Henry led the league in rushing yards and became the eighth member of the 2,000-yard club. He added 17 touchdowns while averaging 126.7 yards per game and 5.4 yards per attempt. Henry also led the league in broken tackles with 34; he broke a tackle every 11.1 rushing attempts.
Others receiving votes: Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers), Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints), Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs), Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills), Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills)
PFN Awards: NFL MVP
Winner: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Rounding out our 2020-2021 PFN Awards is Aaron Rodgers, who collected over 90 percent of the MVP votes cast.
The veteran QB led the league in touchdown percentage at 9.1, as he threw 48 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. He also led the league in completion percentage at 70.7, thanks largely to an 81.2 on-target percentage. He finished the season with 4,299 passing yards while leading the league in adjusted net yards per attempt.
Others receiving votes: Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
*All stats are via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise stated.
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