Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

2011 Football Outsiders Awards

comments by Aaron Schatz

Welcome to the results of the ninth annual Football Outsiders Awards -- the best and worst players of the year, as voted on by you, our readers. For those curious about past years, you will find links to each of the previous FO Awards articles on this page.

Who is your choice as Offensive MVP for 2011? (Last year's winner: Tom Brady)

63.1% Aaron Rodgers
29.4% Drew Brees
7.5% Tom Brady

We had a few people who wanted more than three choices for this award, but were there really any other choices? What we had here were three quarterbacks having three of the best quarterback seasons of all-time. Yes, Rob Gronkowski had the best tight end season of all-time, but even the best tight end isn't going to be as valuable as a top quarterback.

Who is your choice as Defensive MVP for 2011? (Last year's winner: Clay Matthews)

40.1% Justin Smith
16.5% Jason Pierre-Paul
16.1% Jared Allen
9.9% Haloti Ngata
6.7% Darrelle Revis
6.1% Johnathan Joseph
3.4% DeMarcus Ware
0.6% Jason Babin
0.6% Troy Polamalu

OK, so, where was Terrell Suggs? This one was my fault, because I didn't put him on the ballot. I must admit, I didn't realize that Suggs was considered the top candidate for the AP's official Defensive Player of the Year award. Four different players had more sacks than Suggs, although Suggs put up great all around numbers by adding eight passes defensed, two picks, and seven forced fumbles. In general, I try to only list one player per team in the FO awards balloting in order to prevent splitting the vote, and we're all big fans of the idea that defensive tackles are underrated in general, and that Haloti Ngata is pretty awesome in specific. So Ngata ended up on the list instead of Suggs. Had I realized that Suggs would win the official award, I would have had him on the ballot. I'm assuming that the most votes would have gone to Justin Smith anyway, as he won this balloting by a healthy margin.

Who is your choice as NFL Rookie of the Year for 2011? (Last year's winner: Ndamukong Suh)

67.4% Cam Newton
10.3% Von Miller
8.7% A.J. Green
6.9% Aldon Smith
3.3% J.J. Watt
1.5% Doug Baldwin
1.4% Patrick Peterson
0.6% Ryan Kerrigan

This is an even bigger slam dunk than last year, when Ndamukong Suh won with 55.7 percent of the vote.

Who was the best offensive lineman of 2011? (open question, two votes per ballot, top 14 listed) (Last year's winner: Joe Thomas)

13.6% Carl Nicks (LG, NO)
12.1% Jason Peters (LT, PHI)
12.1% Joe Thomas (LT, CLE)
9.3% Jahri Evans (RG, NO)
5.3% Nick Mangold (C, NYJ)
4.7% Joe Staley (LT, SF)
4.4% Chris Myers (C, HOU)
4.2% Logan Mankins (LG, NE)
3.3% Jake Long (LT, MIA)
2.9% Marshal Yanda (RG, BAL)
2.8% Eric Winston (RT, HOU)
2.1% Duane Brown (LT, HOU)
2.1% Matt Light (LT, NE)
2.1% Brian Waters (RG, NE)

Carl Nicks is the first guard to take the top spot in our awards balloting since Alan Faneca back in 2004. The Houston and New England lines get a lot of love here, without one particular player standing out for either team.

Who is your choice for NFL Coach of the Year in 2011? (Last year's winner: Bill Belichick)

77.1% Jim Harbaugh
7.4% Mike McCarthy
7.0% Bill Belichick
3.1% Jim Schwartz
1.8% John Harbaugh
1.3% Sean Payton
1.1% Mike Munchak
1.1% Mike Tomlin

Wowee zowee. Now that is a win. I went back and looked at all eight of our previous award listings. Bill Belichick won coach of the year a couple of times by slightly over 50 percent, but no coach has ever come within 25 percentage points of the 77.1 percent of the votes that Jim Harbaugh got this year for turning around the San Francisco 49ers.

Who is your choice for the Bill Arnsparger Award for Coordinator of the Year? (Last year's winner: Dom Capers)

51.0% Wade Phillips, HOU defense
13.5% Vic Fangio, SF defense
10.6% Rob Chudzinski, CAR offense
7.2% Joe Philbin, GB offense
5.3% Mike McCoy, DEN offense
4.3% Pete Carmichael, NO offense
3.7% Chuck Pagano, BAL defense
3.0% Bill O'Brien, NE offense
1.4% Mel Tucker, JAC defense

The turnaround of the Houston defense was very impressive, but I must admit to being a little surprised that there weren't more votes for the three coordinators who ran those three record-setting offenses. I guess many fans probably think that Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, and Bill Belichick may have a lot to say about how those offenses are structured. We also got lots of votes for Rob Chudzinski, who shepherded Cam Newton into the NFL with an offense tailored to his strengths and brought the Panthers from 32nd in offensive DVOA to fourth in one season.

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Wood Award for 2011 (player who most hurt his team)? (Last year's winner: Brett Favre)

29.9% Chris Johnson
23.5% Santonio Holmes
16.3% Caleb Hanie
12.0% Blaine Gabbert
9.1% Albert Haynesworth
4.5% Terence Newman
2.5% Eric Smith
2.3% Guy Whimper

Take your pick: The player who didn't seem to be trying very hard for most of the season, or the player who got all moody and petulant at the end of the season?

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Game Film Award for the worst coach of 2011? (Last year's winner: Mike Singletary)

27.8% Juan Castillo, PHI defensive coordinator
22.5% Raheem Morris, TB head coach
20.3% Jim Caldwell, IND head coach
10.7% Todd Haley, KC head coach
9.7% Norv Turner, SD head coach
7.2% Brian Schottenheimer, NYJ offensive coordinator
1.8% Steve Spagnuolo, STL head coach

You know I totally agree with this choice. Juan Castillo's defenses for the first half of the year were horrific. Players were totally out of position, guys like Casey Matthews were playing when they weren't ready to be on the field, all kinds of crazy things were going on. And yet... on Numbers Never Lie, when we did a segment on the Eagles' decision to bring Castillo back, I had to grudgingly admit that it wasn't such a terrible decision. The Eagles ranked 23rd in defensive DVOA for the first half of the season. From Week 10 on, they ranked fourth. Their late-season surge would have been even more impressive if their offense had played better. The offense actually got worse in the second half, partly because Vince Young was running it for a while. So for a few weeks there, Juan Castillo's defense was actually carrying the Eagles. And yet, he was still bad enough as a coordinator for half a season to deserve this award anyway.

Who is your choice for the Art Rooney Jr. Award for Executive(s) of the Year? (Last year's winner: Ted Thompson)

23.9% Rick Smith, HOU
18.0% Ted Thompson, GB
17.5% Trent Baalke, SF
16.8% Mike Brown, CIN
11.1% Martin Mayhew, DET
6.2% Ozzie Newsome, BAL
4.0% John Schneider, SEA
2.6% Howie Roseman, PHI

Voting on this award was very even, with no clear favorite. A lot of executives put together good and/or very improved teams this season. Then you have Mike Brown, normally considered one of the worst executives in the league. He does deserve a lot of credit for winning the bluffing game between him and Carson Palmer, and getting some pretty good draft picks out of Oakland for a player he wasn't going to use. The Bengals also had an excellent 2011 draft. 

Who is your choice for the John Elway Award for disappointing highly-drafted rookie who turns things around with an impressive sophomore season? (Last year's winner: Josh Freeman)

28.6% Demaryius Thomas
18.4% Tim Tebow
15.5% Anthony Davis
12.9% Sean Weatherspoon
8.6% C.J. Spiller
8.0% Terrence Cody
4.4% Kyle Wilson
3.7% Jared Odrick

The interesting thing about Thomas is that his regular season consisted of just five good weeks. Still recovering from last year's injuries, he didn't take the field until Week 7. In Weeks 7-12, Thomas caught 7 of 22 passes for 103 yards, with -34.6% DVOA. In Weeks 13-17, he caught 25 of 48 passes for 448 yards and 9.8% DVOA. And, of course, he was huge in the playoffs.

Who was the least deserving pick for the Pro Bowl on offense (not including injury replacements): (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Matt Ryan)

16.9% Philip Rivers
13.0% Frank Gore
9.1% Brandon Marshall
8.4% D'Brickashaw Ferguson
7.6% John Kuhn
5.1% Antonio Gates
4.7% Davin Joseph
4.5% Jermon Bushrod
4.1% Maurkice Pouncey
3.7% Ben Roethlisberger

Once again, we got a lot of votes for people like Andy Dalton who were injury or Super Bowl replacements, rather than players who were originally named to the Pro Bowl. We even got votes for Tim Tebow, who wasn't anywhere near the Pro Bowl roster. (He was something like third alternate.) I tossed those votes out, so these percentages are solely based on players who technically fit the category.

It wasn't Philip Rivers' best year, although I'm not sure who should have gone to the Pro Bowl instead of him. Six of the top seven quarterbacks by passing DYAR were in the NFC this season. Matt Schaub was certainly better on a per-play basis, but he was injured half the year.

I don't understand the votes for John Kuhn at all. What am I missing?

Who was the least deserving pick for the Pro Bowl on defense (not including injury replacements): (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Brandon Meriweather)

15.5% Ray Lewis
14.4% B.J. Raji
12.3% Dwight Freeney
8.1% Champ Bailey
8.1% Charles Woodson
4.9% Troy Polamalu
4.9% Brian Urlacher
4.2% Charles Tillman
3.8% Clay Matthews
3.2% Andre Carter

I guess when there's no obvious pick for a mistaken Pro Bowl pick, we go back to basics. When it comes to the concept of "overrated," the basics means picking Ray Lewis even though Ray Lewis honestly hasn't been overrated for something like eight years. He's very good, but not great, but nobody really thinks of him as great anymore. I'm not sure who should have gone instead. The two most egregious oversights at middle linebacker were both in the NFC, NaVorro Bowman and London Fletcher. They could have taken Brian Cushing, I guess, but I don't know if Cushing is really any better than Lewis. Same with David Harris of the Jets.

The most overrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top eight listed) (Last year's winner: Devin Hester)

15.1% David Akers
12.2% Devin Hester
8.4% Adam Vinatieri
7.0% Bill Cundiff
3.8% Sebastian Janikowski
3.8% Matt Prater
3.5% Josh Cribbs
3.5% DeSean Jackson

Hey, look! Devin Hester didn't win for the first time in four years. Instead, he finished second. FO readers know that while David Akers is a good kicker, opportunity doesn't equal quality.

The most deserving offensive player left off the original Pro Bowl roster is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Aaron Rodgers)

14.8% Matthew Stafford
14.6% Victor Cruz
11.3% Cam Newton
10.0% Jordy Nelson
5.7% Marshawn Lynch
5.0% Chris Myers
3.9% Tony Romo
3.3% Aaron Hernandez
2.8% Eric Winston
2.6% (tie) Vernon Davis and Darren Sproles

One year later, picking Matt Ryan for the Pro Bowl over Aaron Rodgers a year ago looks even more ridiculous. On the other hand, I'm not sure who Matthew Stafford was supposed to replace on this year's roster. He had slightly more DYAR than Eli Manning, after the last few weeks, I think putting Eli Manning on the Pro Bowl roster looks like a good call. Besides, if you want to go by FO stats, Tony Romo was the third-best quarterback in the NFC, not Stafford or Manning.

I would have been fine with Victor Cruz or Jordy Nelson making it over Steve Smith, though.

The most deserving defensive player left off the original Pro Bowl roster is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Tramon Williams)

17.2% London Fletcher
10.2% Julius Peppers
8.5% NaVorro Bowman
6.5% Geno Atkins
6.2% Aldon Smith
4.7% J.J. Watt
3.2% Brian Cushing
2.5% Kam Chancellor
2.5% Ryan Clark
2.5% James Harrison

Fletcher finally got to go to Hawaii this year, as an injury replacement for Brian Urlacher.

The most underrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top eight listed) (Last year's winner: Sebastian Janikowski)

33.2% Devin Hester
6.4% Joe McKnight
5.8% Ted Ginn
4.1% Zoltan Mesko
3.1% Matt Prater
2.4% Rob Bironas
2.4% Josh Cribbs
2.4% Jon Ryan

Yes, Devin Hester is simultaneously overrated and underrated. I guess people chose him since he was left off the Pro Bowl roster. The Pro Bowl folks could solve this problem by inviting separate kickoff and punt returners rather than just one guy for both positions. They really are separate positions, after all.

Which is your choice for Game of the Year in 2011? (Last year's choice: Philadelphia 38, NewYork Giants 31 in Week 15)

53.2% Divisional Round: New Orleans 32 at San Francisco 36
9.5% Wild Card: Pittsburgh 23 at Denver 29 (OT)
6.7% NFC Championship: New York Giants 20 at San Francisco 17 (OT)
6.5% Week 1: New Orleans 34 at Green Bay 42
4.6% Week 13: Green Bay 38 at New York Giants 35
4.6% AFC Championship: Baltimore 20 at New England 23
4.5% Week 14: New York Giants 37 at Dallas 34
10.4% Other

Player most likely to breakout in 2012 (open question, top 12 listed): (Last year's winner: Sam Bradford)

4.9% Matt Flynn
4.5% Julio Jones
3.3% Sam Bradford
3.3% Andy Dalton
3.3% Cam Newton
2.7% DeMarco Murray
2.3% Jake Locker
2.1% Randall Cobb
2.1% C.J. Spiller
1.9% Tim Tebow
1.9% Titus Young
Seven players tied at 1.6%

It will be interesting to see which team takes a shot at Matt Flynn next year, but as we wrote a few weeks ago, there's no record of a quarterback having a game like he had in Week 17 and not putting together a successful career.

Player most likely to significantly decline in 2012 (open question, top 12 listed): (Last year's winner: Michael Vick)

10.7% Tim Tebow
8.8% Ray Lewis
6.8% Cam Newton
4.9% Frank Gore
3.7% Aaron Rodgers
3.5% Maurice Jones-Drew
3.5% Adrian Peterson
2.9% Victor Cruz
2.9% Michael Turner
2.7% Andy Dalton
2.5% Eli Manning
2.5% Willis McGahee

This category usually has some pretty obvious choices. Last year's top two were Michael Vick and Brandon Lloyd. However, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis finished third and fourth, and they were pretty much as good in 2011 as they were the year before. As for Tim Tebow -- can you decline from a 45 percent completion rate? That's got to be pretty tough.

Which of the following teams is most likely next year's surprise Super Bowl contender? (Last year's choice: Detroit)

35.0% Carolina
16.2% Miami
15.6% Seattle
10.2% Kansas City
7.7% Arizona
3.6% St. Louis
3.1% Washington
2.7% Buffalo
2.3% Tampa Bay
1.4% Minnesota
1.2% Jacksonville
1.0% Cleveland

In Cam Newton we trust, plus you have to figure the Carolina defense will improve from being last in the league. I don't know if that makes a Super Bowl contender, but it should make for a team that chases after a wild card.

Which playoff team is most likely to miss the playoffs in 2012? (Last year's choice: Seattle)

54.5% Denver
19.3% Cincinnati
7.1% Atlanta
5.6% Pittsburgh
3.8% New York Giants
3.3% San Francisco
2.9% Detroit
1.5% Houston
1.1% Baltimore
0.5% New England
0.3% New Orleans
0.1% Green Bay

Yeah, the FO readership aren't big believers in Tebow Magic.

The "Get Your Story Straight" Award for best commercial during NFL games this year goes to:
(Last year's choice: Old Spice Ray Lewis campaign)

24.9% Google with the Muppets "Under Pressure"
23.1% Call of Duty: Modern Warfare "veteran vs. n00b"
15.8% Playstation 3 "For Michael"
15.0% Nissan Leaf "What if everything ran on gas?"
13.2% State Farm "That thing does not like Dwayne."
8.1% Volkswagen "Rocket Man"

The "John Mellencamp Must Die" Award for most annoying commercial during NFL games this year goes to:
(Last year's choice: Miller Lite "More Taste or Less Taste")

28.8% Miller Lite "Second unmanly thing you did today."
18.2% Geico "Brian Orakpo plays fake Scrabble."
15.2% Fiat featuring Jennifer Lopez
12.7% State Farm "Discount Double Check"
11.3% Coors Light "Beer Coaches"
9.8% Napa Know-How
4.1% Tostitos talking bag

Muppets, you rule. Miller Lite, you suck. Man card? Forget it, we're revoking your "intelligent human" cards.

We apologize for the lack of a "funniest moment of the season" award this year. We tried to rack our brains and we couldn't come up with a lot of really funny moments from the 2011 season. We had no "Hard Knocks," and we had no fat guys returning kickoffs. I guess we were all so happy that the lockout ended that nobody remembered to do anything goofy.

That does it for the 2011 Football Outsiders Awards. Once again, thanks to all the readers for voting. Next stop: The offseason!


139 comments, Last at 26 Apr 2013, 4:45pm

1 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I must have been the only one to vote for David Harris as" most deserving defensive player left off the original Pro Bowl roster". I would have thought he'd get at least 2.5% of the vote.

2 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

After seeing Suggs wasn't included on your ballot I stopped reading. As a Ravens fan it was easy to see Ngata's performance tail off drastically during the second half of the season due to a leg injury. Although I don't think Suggs was a clear DPOTY winner, including Ngata over him is indefensible.

5 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I agree he should have been on the ballot, but I'm still dumbfounded the AP DPOY didn't go to Justin Smith, and it seems a lot of people here agree with me. I mean no disrespect to Suggs, but I think that was the worst vote since Shaun Alexander over Steve Smith for MVP in 2005.

Was Jason Pierre Paul's rookies season not disappointing enough to be considered for the Elway award?

17 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards


Yeah, I would think he qualifies. I guess it's because he got a lot of press for "coming on" at the end of last season, though at the time I thought he had a total nothing year and was just the beneficiary of some small sample size-luck (one very fluky two-sack game, followed by one legitimately good two-sack game, plus he knocked down a bunch of passes, which apparently is just something he's awesome at doing).

Of course, given what we know now, chances are he really was coming on at the end of last year (even though he accomplished squat for the first 2/3 of it).

107 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Who really expected JPP to start his pro career off with a bang, though? Virtually everyone knew how limited his football experience was coming in - that's why he was a somewhat controversial choice by the Giants. Most people thought he was an archetypal boom-or-bust guy. He barely played early in the season because, of course, the Giants are fairly deep at DE. Most people thought it would take him a couple of seasons before he knew what he was doing out there.

3 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

When three quarterbacks simultaneously have 'the best season of all time' it is probably at least partly due to something systemic.

4 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I think the people voting for Urlacher and Clay Mathews as not deserving to be in the pro bowl are silly.

40 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I suspect that the Urlacher voters simply preferred a different one of the many deserving NFC MLB/ILBs. It's a function of there only being 2 PB spots (and only 1 starting spot) to go between Willis, Urlacher, Bowmann, Fletcher, etc.

6 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Hmmm, when I voted for Justin Smith as DMVP I did it as a homer 49ers fan vote, assuming that Jared Allen and his 22 sacks for an awful pass defense would get a big turnout. I really don't understand why everyone has fallen in love with Smith all of a sudden. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a really great player but he's been playing like this for three years and been relatively ignored before this season. Does nobody watch teams that aren't winning?

Even as a niners devotee I can't understand how 4.7% of FO readers think Joe Staley is one of the top linemen in the NFL. He's a solid left tackle but there are better players.

If I'd have realised that Raji made the pro-bowl I would have an easier time thinking of who to pick for the overrated defender pick. He's big and agile but has short arms and doesn't play with great strength because he doesn't bend his knees. I get the feeling that his reputation was aided by Collingsworth gushing over him in the season opener in a game where he really didn't get much done.

A look at the game of the year voting has made me realise that if the niners had beaten the Giants and then maybe even beaten New England then their title would have looked rather streaky anyway; a last minute shootout versus the Saints, overtime against the Giants and presumably a close game with the Pats. It should have been more flukey than a colossal cetacean.

14 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Don't get me wrong, I think he's a really great player but he's been playing like this for three years and been relatively ignored before this season. Does nobody watch teams that aren't winning?

It's funny you mention this, but no, I don't ever remember watching Smith before this season, and was utterly dumbfounded by how dominant he looked. I actually asked about him in one of the game threads - I vaguely remembered him in Cincinnati back during Carson Palmer's breakout season, but not much.

Living in Chicago, we typically get 1-2 Niners games broadcast per season, with the first being the mandatory night game, and the second being if they played the Bears. Even then, I usually didn't have much interest in watching them. This year was an absolute revelation for me - the only other player I ever saw regularly toss 300-pound linemen around like ragdolls was Reggie White in his prime. The only other player I saw dominate his position like that this season was Revis, and I think Smith plays the more important position.

I got to see Jared Allen many times, and he had a great year, but Smith was absolutely terrifying, sack numbers be damned.

19 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I actually do remember him absolutely destroying the Bears in 2009 I think. However, I wrote it off as the Bears offensive line was so putrid. My thought process was that Smith was a nice player who benefited that day from playing against Frank Omiyale.

21 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Smith line up inside a good chunk of the game, and just whipped Steve Hutchinson of the Vikings in 2009. Now, the nagging injuries had started to take their toll on the perennial Pro Bowler by 2009, but he was still a darned effective player. Smith overpowered him.

23 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Exactly - I've seen Cutler hit & sacked so many times the last few years that I barely even noticed who is doing it anymore. Smith just didn't register for me until this season, when I saw him up against actual professional-level competition. I wasn't even looking for him specifically, but it's hard not to notice someone regularly putting 300+ pound offensive linemen on their backs.

Jared Allen has dramatically improved his all-around game, and I might have voted for him in any other season, but Smith's sheer physical dominance just blew my mind.

15 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

It wasn't just that Smith was playing for a team that wasn't winning. He was also playing for a team that had not won much for nearly a decade, and on the West Coast as well. Bad teams on the West Coast just disappear in the national media, and without any attention from the national media, even terrific players can get lost, especially linemen.

Extremely few people, even among rabid NFL fans, see enough games to have a very informed opinion about which linemen are playing the best. I know I don't.

29 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

FWIW, I learned about Justin Smith a few years ago when people said that he was the best 3-4 DE in the league now that Arron Smith is falling off a cliff. I went and watched a few games, and yeah, he's been good for a few years.

It might have been you talking about him. Not sure.

7 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Minor item: I think in some of the headings you have 2011 where you mean 2012

Agreed with Tuluse. Urlacher was great this season. Clay was constantly double and sometimes triple teamed and still made a lot of plays. Those votes are just dumb.

Thrilled to see JJ Watt doing so well in the NFL.

Raji is the least deserving defensive player in the Pro Bowl and it's not close. I am sympathetic to folks who state that BJ just wore out early because of the Packers only playing 2 down linemen a lot of the time. And BJ did play a lot of snaps. But after about game 5 he was playing pattycake on defense. I don't know how a guy gets on the Pro Bowl when along with hardly making any tackles/stops/pressures he's not even commanding a double team.

78 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I think Raji making the Pro Bowl is mainly an indication that it's really a lagging indicator of performance. Players often get in the year after they should have. Especially if they come off of good late season or post-season performances. Raji's NFCCG pick-6 certainly gained him some Pro Bowl votes for this season.

Raji was snubbed last year (7 sacks, key player against both run and pass on a top defense), but got selected this year instead when he didn't deserve it.

Clay was deserving this year, even if it was a bit of a down year for him. Less sacks than in previous years, but lots of knockdowns in fewer pass rush opportunities due to increased responsibilities and performance against the run and in coverage.

Bottom line, most people, and I'd argue most players and coaches (who mainly watch film of upcoming opponents and especially players in their division) don't really have a clue who is playing the best at any position that isn't supported by a lot of stats. Word gets around slowly and is often out-of-date.

11 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I think the votes against John Kuhn aren't against him in particular, but against the inclusion of a FB on the Pro Bowl roster in general. FBs are on the field for a minority of snaps and really aren't a vital part of any team's game plan anymore. Kuhn may absorb the anti-love because he plays for a team with national exposure and has a personal fan reaction ("Kuuuuuuuhn!"), thus making him seem overrated considering his actual impact on the games.

Also, I'd take issue with David Akers being overrated. While his big numbers were due to opportunity, and FG accuracy comes and goes, his kickoffs were solid all year. In FO's numbers, the 49ers' FGs, XPs, and kickoffs together were worth 13.1 points, tops in the NFC (Tennessee and Cincinnati were the only better kicking teams). It's not silly to think of him as one of the top few kickers in the league, which I think is where most people "rate" him.

12 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Reasonable. And I should have noted this above, the two kickers who were clearly better than him this year on a per-FG basis were both in the AFC, Janikowski and Bironas.

It was a bit of an odd year in that no kicker really excelled on both kickoffs and field goals. SF's kickoff rating is more about coverage than it is about Akers.

50 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I didn't pick Kuhn (I went with Davin Joseph), but he would've been my second choice as least deserving offensive Pro Bowler and it would have been a vote against him personally. He's a fan favorite and a classic "fullback who makes the Pro Bowl because he gets the ball the most", not a Pro Bowl caliber player. He's nothing special with the ball (he had 24 DYAR this season: 2 rushing + 22 receiving), and according to Pro Football Focus's numbers he was bad at his main job, which is blocking.

62 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I did vote for Kuhn, and this is why. When I see him play, he doesn't really impress me. But he gets a lot of opportunities to score because Rodgers likes to spread the ball around a lot, particularly in the red zone.

65 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Seconded. I would turn the question around to Aaron and ask: "What are *we* missing?" I.e., what about Kuhn's play makes him remotely Pro-Bowl-worthy? Shouldn't the Pro Bowl fullback either be a quality offensive weapon or part of a devastating running attack? Kuhn is clearly neither.

88 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I also voted for Kuhn and I'm a Packers fan. I don't know who else I would have picked at FB. But I voted for Kuhn for the same reasons. He's a good blocker, a good runner, a good receiver out of the backfield. Nothing stands out. I'm glad for him for making the roster. I just expect more out of a Pro Bowl player.

10 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Count me in as someone who voted for Smith but would have voted for Suggs had he been on the ballot. As much as it pains me to admit as a Steelers fan, Suggs was pretty awesome this year. Of course, he's always great against the Steelers. But, I saw several other Raven's games and he was dominant.

16 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I actually think Tim Tebow will significantly improve his passing numbers next season, but the Broncos will finish the season below .500. Pundits will jump from "he just wins games" to "He needs more support".

35 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

That sounds reasonable. I did a WPA analysis of the Broncos' plays this season, and was struck at how Denver's "positive big plays" were so much more valuable than their "negative big plays". In fact, Denver's top ten "big plays" were all positive. (And, they were all after Tebow got the starting position.) I guess you could put that on Tebow's impact/influence, but you could also say that Denver outperformed their talent this season and that that is not likely to continue. In other words, I think it's quite possible that Denver could improve their talent next season and end up with a worse record.

I also think that an argument could be made that Ryan Clady was the least deserved pro bowl inclusion on offense, although I don't remember if he was an alternate. He apparently had an awful year, in pressures, penalties (worst on our line), and especially run blocking.

20 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I must have been alone in thinking that Gronkowski will significantly decline from the greatest season ever for a TE. I mostly chose him because a) it is highly likely that someone that posted a "greatest season ever" will not be able to match that and I consider a drop from "greatest season ever" down to "good season" to be a significant decline, and b) I foresee next year's passing number dropping across the board.

It also seems to me that many of the players selected to significantly decline didn't even play well enough this year to significantly decline. Did Tebow really play well enough to significantly decline from? I see him playing exactly the same next year, and the Broncos finishing 6-10. Guys like Newton, Dalton, and Cruz seem like logical choices, though.

26 Re: No OAK players/coaches in ANY of the awards

Say what? Here's the geographic distribution of the award winners:

MVP: Wisconsin
DPOY: California
ROY: North Carolina
OL: Louisiana
HC: California
Coordinator: Texas
KCW: Tennessee
KCF: Pennsylvania
Exec: Texas
Elway: Colorado
Least Deserving Pro Bowl (Offense): California
Least Deserving Pro Bowl (Defense): Maryland
Overrated Special Teams: Illinois
Pro Bowl Snub (Offense): Michigan
Pro Bowl Snub (Defense): DC
Underrated Special Teams: Illinois
Game of the Year: Louisiana, California
2012 Breakout: Wisconsin
2012 Decline: Colorado
2012 Surprise Contender: North Carolina
2012 Miss Playoffs: Colorado

I count exactly 5 awards out of 21 going to the East Coast (Rookie of the Year, Keep Choppin' Wood, Least Deserving Pro Bowl (Defense), Pro Bowl Snub (Defense), 2012 Surprise Playoff Team. 10 out of 32 teams are on the East Coast.

24 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Yes We Cam.

Not sure how my Panthers can be considered a surprise contender next year. The only surprise would be if we didn't make the playoffs. In which case we didn't do something about our lack of a defense during the offseason.

Don't you love how I say "my" and "our" as if I had anything to do with it? What a homer.

28 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Will that offset the likely increase in schedule difficulty? Carolina had the easiest schedule of any team who finished .500 or below last year. You also play in a division with NO and ATL, which will likely be good for 3-4 losses there alone.

25 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

On the other hand, I'm not sure who Matthew Stafford was supposed to replace on this year's roster. He had slightly more DYAR than Eli Manning, after the last few weeks, I think putting Eli Manning on the Pro Bowl roster looks like a good call.

"Sorry Matt, despite passing for the 4th most yards in a season in NFL history, playing without any semblance of running attack, and taking the 8-40 Detroit Lions to the playoffs, we think you're less worthy of the Pro Bowl than a rookie on a 6-10 team. And the other other Manning. And possibly that minor college QB down in Dallas."

Maybe he just needs to liquor himself more frequently, so people will mistake him for Bobby Layne.

31 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

I realize. (He also had a 10 TD lead on Eli, and a better record) I'm ridiculing the end of year statement that Cruz was arguably the larger snub. The same Victor Cruz whom the Giants consider their 3rd best WR.

I'm also ridiculing Stafford being passed over not for Eli, but for Cam Newton. Newton started with a bang, but did not much of note after the bye week.

33 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Cam Newton didn't make the original Pro Bowl roster. Any vote for Stafford being snubbed meant that he should have been picked over one of Rodgers, Brees, or Manning.

"The same Victor Cruz whom the Giants consider their 3rd best WR."

They do?

69 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Cruz had one pass directed his way in wk 1, an easy 3rd down completion and he dropped it. At the time, the comment was made "Eli may not give him another chance". Hixon & Manningham got hurt in wk 2, and the giants picked up Brandon Stokley because they had little confidence in Cruz.

The fact that the team didn't trust him makes what Cruz did in wks 3-17 even more impressive.

54 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Apparently so.

7 starts, which, considering he had fewer starts than Ballard, and that the Giants spend a decent amount of time in the I-formation, indicate he's formation-wise the 3rd WR. He did lead the team in receptions and yards, though. He's a lot like Jordy Nelson, numbers-wise.

56 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

So...correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Victor Cruz lead the Giants in yardage and receptions?

82 receptions for 1536 yards.

Nicks was next at 76 receptions for 1196 yards.

You're sure he's the number 3 WR?

79 Re: 2011 Football Outsiders Awards

Driver is still a nominal starter due to his tenure with the team, but I think Nelson was second (and maybe first after accounting for Jennings' late season missed games due to injury) in snaps played.