2023-01-12 · 10 min read · NFL/Football
Chiegfs Patrick Mahomes, 49ers Coach Kyle Shanahan, and Seahawks Geno Smith

Paul Abell/AP | Nic Antaya/Getty Images | Thearon W. Henderson

As we head into what should be another exciting postseason, it’s the time of year when all the hardware is handed out.
Many individuals will receive awards in the NFL Honours as the league recognizes some select players and coaches for their outstanding achievements in 2022-23.
Ahead of the 12th annual event hosted by Kelly Clarkson on February 9, I’ve broken down a list of likely candidates for each award and who I believe will win.
Coach of the Year
Doug Pederson- Jacksonville Jaguars
After a year off, the former Super Bowl-winning coach who wowed us with the “Philly Special” came to Duval County and turned around a franchise in disarray following the Urban Meyer disaster.
The Jags were 2-6 at one point this season and seemingly destined for another losing campaign, but now they are on a roll and in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
It’s easy to look at their record and say he’s been a success, but when you also consider how well he’s developed those youngsters, that’s even more impressive.
Trevor Lawrence has grown by leaps and bounds this season and looks like the generational talent we all expected.
Travis Etienne has been a dynamic and versatile running back, Devin Lloyd put together an outstanding rookie campaign, and then there was the banner years of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Foyesade Oluokun, to name a few.
Across the board, Pederson deserves a ton of credit for the harmony and improvements this team has shown.
Nick Sirianni- Philadelphia Eagles
Pederson’s successor with the Eagles had a terrific sophomore campaign on the Philly sidelines.
While his team faltered a little near the end of the regular season, minus Jalen Hurts, Sirianni helped push the Eagles QB to new heights.
Hurts’ accuracy, running ability and decision-making helped him become a frontrunner for league MVP through a good portion of the campaign.
A.J. Brown also had a career year in receiving, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson was putting together a Pro Bowl campaign before suffering a lacerated spleen.
Their secondary, led by James Bradbury, was among the toughest to throw against in the league, and Haason Reddick put together some impressive numbers as an edge rusher.
Established players hitting new heights is the mark of a coach who knows the right buttons to push while constantly improving his team, and that’s what Sirianni has done in 2022-23.
Kyle Shanahan- San Francisco 49ers
It’s no secret that quarterbacks are an integral part of an NFL team, and the Niners were hit hard this season on the injury front at that position but have still managed to stay competitive and thrive.
Trey Lance went down early, forcing Shanahan to turn to Jimmy Garoppolo before he got hurt, and then the Niners coach had to bring in third-stringer Brock Purdy.
Shanahan has turned Purdy into a revelation, with San Fran averaging almost 34 points a game with him behind centre, finishing the regular season on a 10-game winning streak, their longest since 1997.
The Niners, to me, are perhaps the team to beat coming into the playoffs, and that’s because of how well Shanahan has been able to keep this team winning and ready for big game situations, and I haven’t even mentioned their defense who were the best in the NFL, while Nick Bosa led the league in sacks and the 49ers were first in turnover differential (+13).
And the Winner is…
I will go with Shanahan because while Pederson and Sirianni deserve accolades, the Niners head coach has been tossed numerous curveballs and found a way to win.
Comeback Player of the Year
Christian McCaffrey- San Francisco 49ers
The former Panthers running back missed 23 games over the previous two seasons due to injury, but a move to San Francisco has turned his career around.
While it’s unlikely he’ll ever put up the kind of crazy stats we saw in 2019 again, McCaffrey has been a massive addition to this offense, throwing, catching and running for touchdowns.
He can also run routes almost as well as a wide receiver despite being so big and hard to tackle as a runner.
Geno Smith- Seattle Seahawks
Filling the massive shoes of a Super Bowl champion, nine-time Pro Bowler and beloved fan favourite like Russell Wilson is about as tough as it can get, but Geno Smith not only didn’t write back when we all wrote him off, but he was brilliant with his throws for a good portion of the campaign, helping to put Seattle in a position to make the playoffs.
He’s regressed a little near the tail end of the campaign; however, Smith has usually kept them in ball games and come up big in clutch situations, and there was none more significant than his pinpoint TD throw to Tyler Lockett on Sunday, while he also engineered their game-winning field goal drive.
Saquon Barkley- New York Giants
New York is back in the playoffs, and it’s hard to imagine where they might be without Saquon Barkley, who ran for 1,312 yards and 10 scores in the regular season, while he was essential to their success in throwing the ball.
He didn’t always have monster games near the tail end of the season, but only five running backs generated more first downs than Barkley, which after some of his injury-riddled seasons in the past, is an encouraging sign for the G-men heading into the postseason.
And the Winner is…
Geno Smith.
Smith wasn’t even supposed to be the starter by most people’s estimation this season, and yet he’s shown he can still keep this franchise successful.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Chris Olave- New Orleans Saints
This rookie quickly became a primary target for whoever was behind centre for the Saints this season, averaging 2.5 yards per route in 2022.
He made 27 receptions for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns, with an average of 14.5 per catch; safe to say his future is bright.
Garrett Wilson- New York Jets
While Zach Wilson may prove to be an NFL bust, it seems like the Jets picked a pretty good Wilson at the 2022 draft as Garrett put together a stellar campaign.
He led all rookie receivers in receptions (83) and receiving yards (1,103) despite having four different quarterbacks throwing him the ball.
He racked up 60% of his team’s receiving yards in their regular season finale and could be a pivotal point of this offense moving forward.
Kenneth Walker- Seattle Seahawks
While Geno Smith had plenty of veteran receivers to throw to, he could also depend on a solid rookie out of the backfield as Kenneth Walker averaged 4.6 yards per carry and was tied for 10th in running scores (nine) while racking up 1,050 yards on the ground.
Walker was consistently dependable and showed great maturity to step in and add another dimension to the Seahawks’ offense.
And the Winner is…
Garrett Wilson.
I think, given the quarterback carousel in New York and how poor they were running the ball, he had to step up and make plays, and yes, their defense stood out in 2022; but how much worse would Robert Saleh’s offense have been without Wilson’s sure hands.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Sauce Gardner- New York Jets
He had plenty of hype surrounding him before even being selected in the NFL draft, and not only has he lived up to expectations thus far, but the third overall pick in 2022 proved that he was ready for the big time and could handle some of the quickest, most dynamic receivers the NFL has to offer.
Up until Week 17, he allowed a mere 5.1 yards per target in coverage, leading the league with 20 pass breakups and Gardner is already looking like one of the best corners in the NFL.
Aidan Hutchinson- Detroit Lions
The former Michigan Wolverine had a stellar career in the NCAA and was equally as great along the Lions’ line of scrimmage, posting 9.5 sacks while generating 43 initial pressures.
We all knew he’d be a force given his size, but he’s shown he can create turnovers as well, intercepting three passes, including a zero-man rush against the Chicago Bears, where he played as a Cover-2-cornerback and swooped in to jump an out-breaking route.
Tariq Woolen- Seattle Seahawks
Early into his professional career, Woolen is looking like one of the steals of the 2022 draft, at least on the defensive side of the ball, chosen 153rd.
He was one of the most challenging corners to pass against for deep routes, as NEXT GEN Stats says that on throws of 20-plus yards he only allowed one catch for 23 yards on 12 targets.
And the Winner is…
Sauce Gardner.
He was sensational in his rookie year and every bit as good as he was in college though he never looked like a first-year corner most of the season.
Defensive Player of the Year
Micah Parsons- Dallas Cowboys
He was in the conversation for league MVP for a while, putting up 12 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and 21 knockdowns in the first 11 games of 2022.
The numbers have not been quite that eye-catching since then; however, he is still playing at a high level with an outstanding 35.1% pressure rating in his final six games of the regular season and continues to be a handful for offensive linemen.
Chris Jones- Kansas City Chiefs
With 15.5 sacks and 29 knockdowns, Jones matched his totals from 2018 and saved perhaps his best for last, producing 2.5 sacks and six QB knockdowns in the regular season finale versus the Raiders.
He also recorded a pass rush win on 21.5% of his attempts from the interior this season, while no other interior lineman topped 17.5% in that category.
Nick Bosa- San Francisco 49ers
On a stellar defense, Nick Bosa’s star might have shone the brightest as he led the league in both sacks (18.5) and quarterback knockdowns (48).
That kind of dominance is rare at that position, and things we see from only some unique talents like Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt.
And the Winner is….
Nick Bosa.
True he had plenty of help, but Bosa was a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen all year and was as consistent and productive as anyone defensively in 2022.
Offensive Player of the Year
Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs
I don’t think anyone at the tight end position was quite as dominant as Kelce, with the future Hall of Famer racking up 1,338 yards receiving, over 400 more than any tight end in the NFL this season.
No player at his position aged 33 or older had racked up over 1,000 yards through the air since 1965 and Kelce appears to only get better with age.
Tyreek Hill- Miami Dolphins
He left KC to become the showcase player in South Beach, and Hill delivered in a big way this season for Miami, as he racked up 1,710 yards receiving.
Tyreek averaged an impressive 3.4 yards per route run, which was more than half a yard better than any player, plus he had a career season and is a big reason why so many were singing the praises of Miami’s offense for a while in 2022.
Justin Jefferson- Minnesota Vikings
Jefferson stood out in the pass-catching department, and that’s saying something, given how many receivers and tight ends had stellar 2022 campaigns.
His numbers through the air were off the charts as he led the league in receiving yards (1,809), while he had four games with over 150 yards receiving, one shy of the league record, and incredibly dropped just one pass across 181 targets.
And the Winner is…
Justin Jefferson.
It’s one thing to put up those numbers mentioned one time, but Jefferson did it time and again in 2022 and I didn’t even mention his finest outing when he scorched a solid Bills secondary for 193 yards on 10 catches.
Most Valuable Player
Joe Burrow- Cincinnati Bengals
A season after leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl game, Burrow proved in 2022-23 that it was no fluke, as the third-year pivot was 10th in total QB rating, while he threw for over 4,000 yards and had a 2.4% completion percentage over expectation.
His rating was 100.8 with a completion percentage of 68.3, while he threw for a career-high 35 touchdowns despite being sacked 41 times.
Patrick Mahomes- Kansas City Chiefs
Losing a receiver with the game-breaking speed of Tyreek Hill is hard to overcome, but if anybody can do it, Mahomes might be the guy, and he looked just as good without him this year as he did with him over previous campaigns.
The Chiefs’ number 15 still made his share of ridiculous completions that caused us to drop our jaw in amazement, setting the new passing record previously held by Drew Brees in 2011, throwing for 5,570 yards this season, plus he had a rating over 100 and a completion percentage above 65%.
Jalen Hurts- Philadelphia Eagles
Throughout the season, Jalen has looked calm, cool and collected in the pocket, delivering many outstanding performances before his injury.
We were all aware of his breakaway speed, with 13 touchdowns on the ground, but in addition to that, he had a rating over 100 despite missing time near the end of the regular season.
Hurts completed over 65% of his passes while also throwing for over 20 touchdowns, career highs in both departments.
And the Winner is…
Patrick Mahomes.
While there was a time when I had Hurts and Mahomes in a virtual dead heat, Mahomes, to me, was the most consistent all season and shared the wealth with numerous pass catchers throughout the campaign, while he still ran the ball pretty well also, so as a whole, there were not many flaws in his game this season.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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