Rams, Bengals Lead the Way in 2021 FO Awards

L.A. Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
L.A. Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Welcome to the results of the 19th annual Football Outsiders Awards—the best and worst players of the year, as voted on by you, our readers. For those curious about the FO Award winners in past years, you will find links to each of the previous FO Awards articles on this page. Last year's awards, specifically, are found here.

Who is the 2021 NFL MVP? (Last year's winner: Aaron Rodgers, GB)

32.4% Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
31.7% Tom Brady, QB, TB
17.0% Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
9.5% Josh Allen, QB, BUF
6.2% Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND
3.3% Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC

For the second straight year, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers was named MVP by the Associated Press. For the second straight year, he had the NFL's highest touchdown rate and lowest interception rate. For the second straight year, he was also first in NFL passer rating and QBR, not to mention DVOA. And for the second straight year, he was voted MVP by the readers of Football Outsiders. Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady finishes in second place by a narrow margin after finishing first in passing DYAR (and yards and touchdowns). L.A. Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp finishes in third place; for more information, please see the next award.

Who is the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year (Non-QB)? (Last year's winner: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN)

73.9% Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
11.1% Deebo Samuel, WR, SF
10.4% Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND
2.9% Trent Williams, OT, SF
1.6% Davante Adams, WR, GB

Kupp won the NFL's receiving triple crown, leading the NFL in catches, receiving yards, and touchdown grabs. He also led the NFL with 615 receiving DYAR, breaking the record that had been set by Michael Irvin in 1995. And so Football Outsiders named him Offensive Player of the Year by an overwhelming margin, nearly 3-to-1 over the rest of the field. San Francisco's Deebo Samuel finishes a distant second for his unparalleled combination of rushing and receiving prowess—he's the only player ever to average 80 yards receiving and 20 yards rushing per game in the same season. Jonathan Taylor of the Colts was the first runner this century to top 500 rushing DYAR, and just the sixth in our database dating back to 1983.

Who is the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year? (Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, DT, LAR)

41.4% T.J. Watt, OLB, PIT
36.8% Aaron Donald, DT, LAR
9.8% Micah Parsons, LB, DAL
5.2% Nick Bosa, DE, SF
3.6% Myles Garrett, DE, CLE
2.9% Trevon Diggs, CB, DAL
0.3% Jalen Ramsey, CB, LAR

When you lead the NFL in sacks for the second straight season, tying a single-season record in the process (even if you needed a 17th game to do it), you get named Defensive Player of the Year. That seems like a simple enough rule, and so Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt edges out L.A.'s Aaron Donald for the DPOY award. Beating Aaron Donald is about the highest praise our readers can give—the Rams defensive tackle has finished in the top two in this category for five years running, including three first-place finishes. Dallas' Micah Parsons finishes in third, but like we saw with Cooper Kupp in the MVP voting, the third-place finisher won't have to wait too long for his own hardware.

Who is the 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year? (Last year's winner: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN)

85.0% Ja'Marr Chase, WR, CIN
5.5% Mac Jones, QB, NE
5.2% Creed Humphrey, C, KC
2.6% Rashawn Slater, OT, LAC
1.0% Jaylen Waddle, WR, MIA
0.7% Kyle Pitts, TE, ATL

Cincinnati's Ja'Marr Chase took the early lead in this race, averaging over 100 yards per game through the first seven weeks of the year, but a midseason slump allowed New England's Mac Jones to make his own case as the Patriots won seven games in a row. By season's end, however, Jones and the Patriots were a wild-card team, while Chase and the Bengals were division champions. More to the point, Chase finished with 1,455 receiving yards, an all-time NFL rookie record. (Bill Groman still holds the pro football record with 1,473 yards with the Houston Oilers in the AFL's first season in 1960.) Between his individual numbers and his team's success, Chase finished as a runaway winner. And speaking of individual accomplishments on successful teams, Kansas City center Creed Humphrey started 17 games and helped the Chiefs reach their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game.

Who is the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year? (Last year's winner: Chase Young, DE, WAS)

90.2% Micah Parsons, LB, DAL
5.2% Patrick Surtain, CB, DEN
2.3% Nick Bolton, LB, KC
1.3% Odafe Oweh, ER, BAL
0.7% Jaelan Phillips, ER, MIA
0.3% Jevon Holland, S, MIA

In his pre-draft feature on Penn State's Micah Parsons, Derrik Klassen was optimistic about what the future held for the young linebacker. "Parsons has only been a full-time linebacker for two seasons of play," Klassen wrote, "yet he showed all the processing speed, technique, and demeanor required of a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker. If this is what Parsons can be with limited time at the position, there is no telling where he could be another three years from now." Well, in three years, Parsons may be a full-time edge rusher. Splitting time between the two positions, Parsons led Dallas with 13.0 sacks while finishing second on the team with 84 tackles, the first player to hit those totals since Jason Pierre-Paul, then with the Giants, in 2011. Parsons' dominant versatility keyed Dallas' rise to the top of the defensive DVOA tables and earned him this award in a landslide. For the record, Denver's Patrick Surtain earned silver in this contest by leading the Broncos with 14 passes defensed, while Kansas City's Nick Bolton led the Chiefs with 112 tackles and took home the bronze.

Who is the 2021 Comeback Player of the Year? (New category)

53.2% Joe Burrow, QB, CIN
31.9% Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
12.3% Nick Bosa, DE, SF
2.7% J.J. Watt, DE, ARI

Though Dak Prescott's injury was more gruesomely stomach-churning, Joe Burrow's was actually more severe—historically, torn ACLs have been more difficult to come back from than broken bones. But Burrow returned from his severed ligament to lead the NFL in completion percentage and yards per throw (and sacks taken, but hey, nobody's perfect). Prescott still finishes ahead of third-place Nick Bosa, who returned from his own torn ACL to lead San Francisco with 15.5 sacks.

Who was the best offensive lineman of 2021? (Last year's winner: David Bakhtiari, GB)

42.1% Trent Williams, SF
10.0% Creed Humphrey, KC
9.1% Tristan Wirfs, TB
5.9% Zack Martin, DAL
5.3% Joel Bitonio, CLE
4.4% Quenton Nelson, IND
2.9% Jason Kelce, PHI
2.1% Andrew Whitworth, LAR

Offensive Lineman of the Year, our first "fill in the blank" category (as opposed to our "check one box" awards), has another dominant winner. San Francisco's Trent Williams won over 40% of the vote, but since we asked each voter to vote for two linemen, that means he appeared on over 80% of the ballots. Williams' steady presence at left tackle helped the 49ers finish first in adjusted line yards to left tackle even as they battled through their usual injuries at running back. Elsewhere, voters were also impressed with Kansas City rookie center Creed Humphrey and Tampa Bay right tackle Tristan Wirfs.

Who was the most improved player of 2021? (New category)

13.2% Joe Burrow, CIN
8.6% Trevon Diggs, DAL
8.0% Cooper Kupp, LAR
7.5% De'Vondre Campbell, GB
6.9% Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL
5.7% Jonathan Taylor, IND
5.7% Rasul Douglas, GB
5.2% Deebo Samuel, SF

Remember a few categories back when we mentioned that Joe Burrow led the NFL in completion percentage and yards per attempt in 2021? Well, he had finished 22nd and 25th in those same categories in 2020—good for a rookie, but giving little indication of upcoming meteoric rise. Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs, like Burrow, was a rookie in 2020 who broke out in 2021, going from three interceptions to 11, most by a single player since 1981. And then there's L.A.'s Cooper Kupp, who wasn't even considered the best receiver on his own team coming into the year, but went on to put together a Hall of Fame-caliber season.

What is your choice for Unit of the Year in 2021? (Last year's winner: Kansas City wide receivers/tight ends)

24.0% Los Angeles Rams defensive line
18.4% Cincinnati wide receivers/tight ends
15.5% San Francisco defensive line
14.1% Buffalo defensive backs
11.8% Tampa Bay offensive line
6.3% Cleveland offensive line
3.6% Dallas defensive backs
3.6% Indianapolis running backs

You could probably surround Aaron Donald with five guys off the practice squad and get a reasonable defensive front, but the Rams had a lot more to work with than Donald. There were A'Shawn Robinson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, who often lined up with Donald in a bear front that terrorized guards and centers of the NFC West. There was Leonard Floyd, who added 9.5 sacks off the edge. And as if that wasn't enough, L.A. added Von Miller in the middle of the season, and all he did was rack up 9.0 sacks in 12 games (including the playoffs) in a horned helmet. Cincinnati, the Rams' Super Bowl opponent, helped their young passer maximize his potential by drafting his collegiate teammate Ja'Marr Chase and adding him to a crew that already included Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. And in San Francisco, the 49ers welcomed Nick Bosa back from injury to lead their pass rush while D.J. Jones clogged up the middle of the field and Fred Warner and Azeez Al-Shaair tracked down any running back who managed to make it through.

Who is 2021 NFL Head Coach of the Year? (Last year's winner: Sean McDermott, BUF)

29.2% Mike Vrabel, TEN
20.3% Bill Belichick, NE
18.4% Zac Taylor, CIN
10.8% Matt LaFleur, GB
9.8% Sean McDermott, BUF
3.3% Sean McVay, LAR
3.3% Kyle Shanahan, SF
3.0% Brandon Staley, LAC

Our preseason projections said Tennessee would have the NFL's worst defense in 2021. Then they suffered a myriad of injuries on both side of the ball as Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and others each missed half the year or more. And yet, when all was said and done, Mike Vrabel's Titans had the AFC's top seed, with wins over Buffalo, Kansas City, the Rams, and San Francisco. DVOA was not impressed, and the Titans were one-and-done in the playoffs, but it's a coach's job to win as many games as possible with the talent available, and Vrabel did that better than anyone else. Tennessee won nearly every competitive game they played, going 6-2 in contests decided by one score or less. The two runners-up here also work in the AFC, as Bill Belichick and Zac Taylor took the Patriots and Bengals from a combined 11-20-1 record in 2020 to a 20-14 mark in 2021.

Who wins 2021 Bill Arnsparger Award for Coordinator of the Year? (Last year's winner: Brian Daboll, BUF offense)

34.0% Dan Quinn, DAL defense
32.4% Leslie Frazier, BUF defense
12.1% Dennis Allen, NO defense
10.1% Byron Leftwich, TB offense
8.2% Josh McDaniels, NE offense
3.3% Vance Joseph, ARI defense

We have already discussed the virtues of Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs, but it's not as if the Cowboys defenders coached themselves. Dan Quinn arrived, taking over for a departed Mike Nolan, and got more out of his players than most would have dreamed of. In upstate New York, Leslie Frazier's Buffalo defense quietly finished first in DVOA and carried the Bills back to the playoffs even though Josh Allen's play slipped a notch from his 2021 peak. And in New Orleans, Dennis Allen's Saints defense played well enough to go 9-3 when either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill was playing quarterback.

Who wins 2021 Art Rooney Jr. Award for Executive of the Year? (Last year's winner: Brandon Beane, BUF)

40.5% Les Snead, LAR
15.5% Bill Belichick, NE
14.8% Mike Brown, CIN
8.2% Brian Gutekunst, GB
5.9% John Lynch, SF
5.9% Howie Roseman, PHI
4.9% Jon Robinson, TEN
2.6% Jerry Jones, DAL

Let's see. Les Snead began his wheeling-and-dealing by taking Jared Goff, a quarterback with whom he had just won a playoff game, and packaging him with two first-round picks to acquire Detroit's Matthew Stafford. Then, after Cam Akers went down in the preseason with a torn Achilles, Snead quickly traded for Sony Michel. Even into the season, Snead was a busy man, acquiring Odell Beckham and Von Miller even though neither wide receiver nor edge rusher was an obvious position of need. (Remember, Robert Woods was still healthy when L.A. signed Beckham.) The results? Stafford finished sixth in passing DYAR, the highest rank for a Rams quarterback since 2018 . Michel helped to keep L.A.'s running back committee afloat until the playoffs. Beckham scored seven touchdowns in 12 games (including the playoffs) in a Los Angeles uniform. And we have already covered Miller's exploits as a pass-rusher. Oh, the Rams also won the Super Bowl, which is kind of a big deal. New England's Bill Belichick and Cincinnati's Mike Brown, the runners-up here, had similar resumes: each drafted a Rookie of the Year candidate and also signed a multitude of defensive veterans.

Who is your choice for the 2021 Keep Choppin' Wood Award (player who hurt his team most, on or off the field)? (Last year's winner: Carson Wentz, QB, PHI)

44.0% Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU
22.7% Antonio Brown, WR, TB
14.9% Henry Ruggs, WR, LV
11.0% Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
5.8% Sam Darnold, QB, CAR
1.3% Mason Crosby, K, GB

Deshaun Watson's he-said/she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-and-she-said scandal kept the Houston Texans in limbo, essentially unable to play their franchise quarterback while at the same time unable to trade him away for future assets. A year later, Watson's legal status remains unclear, but it appears that other NFL teams are tired of waiting, and may go ahead and trade for Watson and hope for the best. Elsewhere, Antonio Brown is also facing unresolved accusations of sexual assault. He is also accused of refusal to pay a multitude of his workers (including chefs, lawyers, personal assistants, trainers, car detailers, and piranha aquarium installers), and faking a vaccine card, and finally self-diagnosing an ankle injury, quitting on his team, and streaking off the field in the middle of what we can only hope will be his last NFL game. But hey, neither Watson nor Brown has been accused of killing anyone, like Las Vegas' Henry Ruggs did when he allegedly got behind the wheel of his Corvette with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, plowing into a young woman's car at 100-plus mph, leaving her and her dog to die in a fireball while helpless onlookers listened to her screams. This is miserable. Let's move on.

Who is your choice for the 2021 Keep Choppin' Game Film Award (most ineffective head coach or coordinator)? (Last year's winner: Adam Gase, NYJ head coach)

68.9% Urban Meyer, JAX head coach
10.7% Maurice Drayton, GB special teams
9.7% Joe Judge, NYG head coach

6.5% Matt Nagy, CHI head coach
2.6% Jon Gruden, LV head coach
1.6% Matt Rhule, CAR head coach

What was the worst moment of the Urban Meyer era in Jacksonville? Was it just the 2-11 record before he was let go in December? Was it the extended saga of playing or not playing James Robinson? The comment about how the NFL was like "playing Alabama every week?" Was it the story about kicking Josh Lambo or the decision to hire the disgraced Chris Doyle as strength coach? No, the worst moment was probably Meyer leaving the team to travel home from a loss to Cincinnati on its own while he went to his restaurant in Columbus and got recorded flirting with random women at the bar. That was embarassing but also showed how Meyer saw himself as existing above and separate from the team.

Maurice Drayton gets a mention for the Packers' special teams finishing last in DVOA, although we should point out they weren't historically bad, just run-of-the-mill bad. And Joe Judge's attempt to be a bargain-basement Belichick flopped in New York.

Who was the least deserving pick for the Pro Bowl (not including injury replacements)? (Last year's winner: Evan Engram, TE, NYG)

33.0% Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
19.9% James Conner, RB, ARI
10.9% Matthew Slater, ST, NE
9.1% Bobby Wagner, LB, SEA
7.2% Kyler Murray, QB, ARI
6.2% Denzel Perryman, LB, LV
4.7% Ryan Kelly, C, IND
3.6% Dion Dawkins, OT, BUF

For those wondering why we ask about the Pro Bowl, this is our version of the old question about the "most overrated player." If you make the Pro Bowl and didn't deserve to, you're overrated! Lamar Jackson probably should have given up his spot to one of a number of other AFC quarterbacks, with the main competitor winning the next category in a landslide.

Who is the most deserving offensive player left off the Pro Bowl roster? (Last year's winner: Tom Brady, QB, TB)

50.0% Josh Allen, BUF QB
19.0% Creed Humphrey, KC
10.0% Matthew Stafford, LAR
8.5% Joe Burrow, CIN
5.0% Austin Ekeler, LAC

This is kind of remarkable because this is an open question, not a "select one of the candidates" multiple choice, yet half of the ballots named Josh Allen as the biggest offensive snub of this year's Pro Bowl (i.e. the most "underrated" player). That's a very, very high percentage. It also would have been nice to see Creed Humphrey get some accolades instead of Ryan Kelly, although it isn't like Kelly had a particularly poor year for Indianapolis.

Who is the most deserving defensive player left off the Pro Bowl roster? (Last year's winner: DeForest Buckner, DT, IND)

20.5% Micah Hyde, BUF
15.8% A.J. Terrell, ATL
14.7% De'Vondre Campbell, GB
11.6% Jordan Poyer, BUF
10.0% Jeffrey Simmons, TEN
7.4% Roquan Smith, CHI

There were a lot of really good defensive players left off this year's Pro Bowl roster, starting with the twin safeties of DVOA's No. 1 defense in Buffalo. We're kind of surprised to see Micah Hyde winning this award over Jordan Poyer, since Poyer was the player chosen for the AP All-Pro team, but honestly both Hyde and Poyer deserved plenty of attention for their fine play in 2021. Over in the NFC, the most underrated players were A.J. Terrell, who had fantastic charting stats somewhat hidden by the fact that the rest of the Falcons cornerbacks were not very good, and De'Vondre Campbell, the best off-ball linebacker Green Bay has had for quite a while.

Who is the most deserving special teams player left off the Pro Bowl roster? (Last year's winner: Gunner Olszewski, PR, NE)

28.9% Braxton Berrios, NYJ
18.8% Harrison Butker, KC
8.1% Jake Elliott, PHI
8.1% Kene Nwangwu, MIN
4.0% Andre Roberts, HOU/LAC

Braxton Berrios was chosen to the AP All-Pro Team as the No. 1 kick returner in the league and ranked second in FO's return value on kickoffs behind Kene Nwangwu of the Vikings. He led the league in combined return value, though. Baltimore's Devin Duvernay got the return slot instead.

Harrison Butker is one of a number of good AFC kickers who will always finish second to Justin Tucker in Pro Bowl voting until Tucker retires.

Who is the player most likely to break out in 2022? (Last year's winner: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, MIA)

15.8% Trevor Lawrence, JAX
12.0% Trey Lance, SF
9.2% Justin Fields, CHI
4.3% Gabriel Davis, BUF
4.3% Mac Jones, NE
4.3% Tua Tagovailoa, MIA

Quick, everybody pick a second-year quarterback! Lawrence is probably the best bet since he had the most talent entering last year's draft, but Lance has the advantage of Kyle Shanahan designing his offense. Buffalo receiver Gabriel Davis is the top non-quarterback choice. And a few people even went back to the Tua Tagovailoa well after he didn't exactly enjoy a breakout 2021.

Who is the player most likely to significantly decline in 2022? (Last year's winner: Tom Brady, QB, TB)

16.8% Aaron Rodgers, GB
9.9% Trevon Diggs, DAL
6.8% Jonathan Taylor, IND
6.3% Derrick Henry, TEN
4.2% Matthew Stafford, LAR
3.7% Joe Burrow, CIN

Finally, we won't have Tom Brady winning this "award" every year! Instead, Aaron Rodgers is our new "older MVP quarterback who is going to eventually face Father Time." Will he be able to avoid the ravages of age the way Brady did? Only time will tell. One thing that's pretty much guaranteed is that Trevon Diggs is not going to put up double-digit interceptions in two straight seasons. And Jonathan Taylor's season was so outstanding that it would also be difficult to repeat; after all, he was the first running back to put up a season with over 500 rushing DYAR in the current century. He's probably not doing it twice.

Who do you expect to win Comeback Player of the Year in 2022? (New category)

10.4% Lamar Jackson, BAL
8.6% Christian McCaffrey, CAR RB
8.6% Derrick Henry, TEN
8.0% Russell Wilson, SEA
4.9% David Bakhtiari, GB
4.9% Tre'Davious White, BUF

We added this because we thought it would be a fun question. Can the Football Outsiders readers predict which player will be seen as next year's biggest comeback? What's interesting here is that while the award usually goes to a player returning from an injury, FO readers instead went with a quarterback who struggled in 2021 because of the injuries around him. Lamar Jackson missed a few games at the end of the year, but didn't have the kind of season-ending injury that usually results in a Comeback Player of the Year candidacy. McCaffrey and Henry are much more typical winners of this award. 

Which of the following teams is most likely next season's surprise Super Bowl contender? (Last year's winner: Dallas Cowboys)

47.2% Denver
15.8% Chicago
8.9% Atlanta
8.3% Detroit
7.9% Washington
5.9% Jacksonville
2.3% New York Jets
2.0% New York Giants

FO readers did a good job last year spotting the Dallas Cowboys, although it's doubtful that any of us knew what kind of leap their defense was going to take. Cincinnati, by the way, finished fifth with 7.9% of the vote last year, tied with the New York Giants who definitively did NOT become a surprise Super Bowl contender in 2021.

As for this year, it looks like a lot of readers are expecting a quarterback trade for Denver. They aren't going to be a surprise Super Bowl contender with Drew Lock taking the snaps, but they could be with Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson throwing to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant. Their defense should be better next year with a full year of Bradley Chubb and another year of experience for Patrick Surtain. Another group of readers is looking for the Chicago rebound after Justin Fields theoretically takes a second-year leap forward with a new coaching staff and likely a host of new wide receivers.

Which playoff team is most likely to miss the postseason in 2022? (Last year's winner: Chicago Bears)

37.0% Pittsburgh
20.7% Las Vegas
16.4% Tampa Bay
6.9% Green Bay
4.9% Arizona
4.6% Philadelphia
2.3% Cincinnati
2.3% Tennessee

What, you people do not believe in Mason Rudolph? Nobody knows who is going to play quarterback for the Steelers, who just snuck into the playoffs this year and already saw their defense decline from No. 1 in DVOA in 2020 to average in 2021. A lot of readers went with the other team that just snuck into the AFC playoffs, the Las Vegas Raiders. And while there will be plenty of talent remaining in Tampa Bay, it is time to pay the salary-cap piper, not to mention time to find a new quarterback who will not be as good as Tom Brady.

Which of these turnaround units is most likely to keep its improvement and fight off regression to the mean in 2022? (Listed with DVOA rank in 2020 and 2021) (Last year's winner: Buffalo offense)

23.4% San Francisco offense (20/5)
21.8% New England offense (23/9)
14.5% New England defense (26/4)
13.9% Dallas defense (23/2)
10.9% Cleveland defense (25/11)
9.9% Tennessee defense (29/12)
3.6% Los Angeles Rams special teams (30/4)
2.0% New York Jets special teams (29/2)

The FO readers are Kyle Shanahan believers but a surprising percentage of you are also Mac Jones believers. If Trey Lance can be almost as good as Jimmy Garoppolo -- or, dare we say, better -- the 49ers offense will certainly be among the best in the league next year. The Patriots will have to go without offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels but Mac Jones is likely to remain at least a slightly above-average starting quarterback in the NFL. He was too good to expect a big second-year leap, but not so good that you have to expect major regression in 2022. A lot of FO readers went with the New England defense instead, or the Dallas defense. Both will have to deal with some big free agents in order to prevent regression, although it's a bigger deal for the Patriots (with J.C. Jackson and Devin McCourty unsigned) than the Cowboys (where the top defensive free agents are probably Randy Gregory and all the safeties).

Last year's winner didn't really fight off regression to the mean in 2021, as the Buffalo offense dropped from fifth to 10th in offensive DVOA. Well, that's fighting off some of it, we suppose, since that's still a lot better than Buffalo's offense was in 2019.

Which ad wins the "Get Your Story Straight" Award for best commercial or ad campaign during NFL games this season? (Last year's winner: Progressive's "Don't Turn into Your Parents")

37.7% Progressive "Don't Turn into Your Parents"
19.2% UberEats Marshawn Lynch
11.6% Apple TV Jon Hamm
10.5% Geico "Animal in the Attic"
5.8% Subway Tom Brady fake perfume ad
5.1% Nissan "Tim Tebow Can't Handle The Curve"
4.3% Apple "Saving Simon the Snowman"
4.3% USAA Gronk ads

Progressive Insurance has a real winner with its "Don't Turn into Your Parents" campaign, which has now won this award for two straight seasons. Those are ads that don't make us want to switch the channel in the middle of the game. They're funny! I don't know if they make me want to buy insurance, but they're a lot better than other Progressive ads. Of course, lots of FO readers are big Marshawn Lynch fans. That Apple TV ad that showed up during the playoffs was also very clever. I expected more votes for the Tom Brady fake perfume ad from Subway but maybe people have forgotten it since it mainly ran in the early part of the season.

Which ad wins the "John Mellencamp Must Die" Award for worst commercial or ad campaign during NFL games this season? (Last year's winner: State Farm's "Rodgers Rate/Patrick Price")

24.6% Facebook "Introducing Meta"
22.9% USAA Gronk ads
16.9% State Farm "Rodgers Rate/Patrick Price"
12.7% Verizon Kate McKinnon ads
12.0% Applebee's "Fancy Like"
8.1% AWS "Stat That"

Lots of you are annoyed by the USAA Gronk ads and plenty of readers are still sick of State Farm's Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes ads. Amazon needs to stop trying to make "Stat That" happen. But nothing was as confusing this year as that Facebook ad introducing the company's change to calling itself "Meta." There were some teenagers, and then the animals in the artwork started bobbing their heads up and down, and there were some jungle drums and what was the whole thing trying to say anyway? As J.P. Acosta said in the FO staff e-mail thread, "I've never done drugs but that's what the Facebook/Meta commercial looks like."

Which was the best touchdown celebration of 2022? (Last year's winner: GB: Aaron Rodgers does the Hingle McCringleberry)

29.0% MIA: Christian Wilkins does the worm
22.6% MIA: Jaylen Waddle's waddle
15.1% CAR: Cam Newton's "I'm Back"
14.3% CIN: Ja'Marr Chase doing the Griddy
10.0% SF: Deebo Samuel relaxing
9.0% LAR: Odell Beckham's Detroit Urban Survival Training

Framingham's finest wins our award for this year's best touchdown celebration! Nostalgia for classic breakdancing tops the creativity of a celebration named after yourself, which not every player can pull off.

Thanks to everyone for voting in this year's awards, and thanks for reading Football Outsiders during another season.


45 comments, Last at 24 Feb 2022, 9:47am

2 Yall picked Henry last year?

Over Kelce? 🥴

And people like the USAA Gronk ad more than Stat That? An annoying "most of yall can't have this insurance" commercial over Amazon trying to help analytics in a broad sense for casuals? 😬

And not yall picking a guy that played over half the season for CBPOTY. 

3 But hey, neither Watson nor…

But hey, neither Watson nor Brown has been accused of killing anyone, like Las Vegas' Henry Ruggs

There is no doubt he killed someone. That's fact. He has been accused of felonious homicide.

5 If you make the Pro Bowl and…

If you make the Pro Bowl and didn't deserve to, you're overrated! Lamar Jackson probably should have given up his spot to one of a number of other AFC quarterbacks, with the main competitor winning the next category in a landslide.

Wait, what? Did everyone forget Jackson dragging his ambulance squad to 8-3 before the injury apocalypse hit? Baltimore's collapse was at least explicable. What was Murray's excuse?

The surprise for comeback player of the year was odd, too. Jackson missed one fewer game this year than Burrow did last year. If you add in the games he was playing hurt, it's basically a wash.

And gentlemen, while Detroit being a Super Bowl contender will absolutely be a surprise (they have been legitimate contenders exactly twice in the Super Bowl era -- 1970 and 1991), it will not occur next year.

13 Our voting

included Josh Allens playoff performance. Lamars was more understandable because of the injuries his team had to deal with to his RB room, 1st round WR, etc...

Because how was Ryan Kelly 7th? Well I know because no one care about C, but he was the least deserving by a good margin in the regular season and absolutely shouldn't have been picked over Creed. 

6 RE: Gutekunst

—signed Campbell, selected first team All Pro

—signed Douglas off Arizona practice squad, excellent production

—signed Corey Boroquez at punter who was great for a half season before becoming erratic 

—drafted Eric Stokes, all rookie team at cb

—drafted Josh Myers who after Creed Humphrey was really impressive for interior line

—had a talent base at o line that withstood injuries to two best guys and for December was starting all backup save for Newman

—achieved detente with his twitchy qb

sure Royce Newman started all season but was iffy at best in pass pro

That is a helluva year for an exec



12 Josh Myers is not a prop

In reply to by big10freak

it's a stain. Let's not forget Myers went before Creed (the highest graded C and rookie regardless of position). And it WAS crazy at the time. But it was the 2nd round and they were players at a position that no one cares about so that's why it didn't get much attention.

And he shouldn't be praised for fixing a situation he created with his QB, for no reason (and yes it was no reason, no amount of revisionist history can change that).

7 Denver? Really?

Even if Denver somehow manages to find the right trade chips to acquire a QB (doubtful), they still have to deal with KC and LAC just in their own division.

Meanwhile, Atlanta is looking at a Brady-less TB team, a QB question and salary cap hell in NO and whatever Sam Darnold is in CAR. Really surprised at this vote.

10 I think Atlanta winning the…

In reply to by LyleNM

I think Atlanta winning the division by default technically answers the question, but that's as low a bar as it gets for "improvement" and they still feel miles away from sb contention short of Ryan experiencing a rennaisance. 

In terms of championship equity, the Commands(yuck) have the best roster and one that's ready to win now. I could see Taylor improving enough to ride a game manager role to the division next year. In fact, depending on free agency and the draft, that's my crazy prediction for next year. 

14 Kinda agree

In reply to by LyleNM

The whole improvement for Denver hinges on Rodgers. You can't tell me fans are excited for Hackett sans him...well, they shouldn't be at least. 

17 I take the question to be,…

In reply to by LyleNM

I take the question to be, most likely to win 10 games.  Clearly a SB contender, like the Bengals.

Was WFT, 2020 a SB contender winning the division at 7-9?  Just can not buy ATL winning a pathetic division as a SB contender.  

19 "Was WFT, 2020 a SB…

"Was WFT, 2020 a SB contender winning the division at 7-9?"

No, clearly. But they were getting 0 at qb that year with Alex Smith bravely coming back from injury. I believe the roster and the coaching is good enough such that all they need is below average QB play to be a 10 win plucky team. 

8 One year later and I'm still…

One year later and I'm still not clear what the situation surrounding Watson is. Also, I would love to know exactly what Watson did all year. It must have sucked having to write him checks the whole year.

15 No, the worst moment was…

No, the worst moment was probably Meyer leaving the team to travel home from a loss to Cincinnati on its own while he went to his restaurant in Columbus

His now former restaurant. Shockingly, that incident may have harmed the restaurant's brand. Who would've guessed.

16 while he went to his…

while he went to his restaurant in Columbus and got recorded flirting with random women at the bar.

I think I'm flirting incorrectly if Meyer is the standard.

18 Executive of the year

I'd give some credit to KC's Brett Veach as well. We found *three* starting-caliber guys (Creed, Smith, Bolton) who all had very good seasons without a first round pick.

28 A miniscule -- very small --…

A miniscule -- very small -- amount. 

DAL surprised everyone with the second highest DVOA on defense, including the 2nd highest pass D DVOA. No one thinks the Bengal D got them to the Super Bowl.

41 No one thinks the Bengal D…

No one thinks the Bengal D got them to the Super Bowl.

In the playoffs they absolutely did. Cincy won three straight playoff games and took a lead into the 2 minute warning of the Super Bowl despite not reaching 28 points once. Even the freakin 2000 Ravens had a 34 point game in the playoffs.

29 I'm kinda surprised Jonathan…

I'm kinda surprised Jonathan Taylor was in the running for "player most likely to decline", but Cooper Kupp wasn't.  I mean, Kupp is a great player, but there's no way he doesn't regress from an all-time great season.

40 Looking at the entries, …

Looking at the entries, "loss of physical abilities" doesn't seem to be requisite.  Matt Stafford (34 is not that old for quarterbacks) and Joe Burrow are on the list.  And they specifically say Taylor's decline is merely related to not being able to repeat such an outlier season.  Same with Trevon Diggs.

30 I still don't know what…

I still don't know what Burrow came back from. The arc of a comeback is good-bad-good. His 2 year career was mediocre-injured-good, this seems like a normal career progression

36 I had AJ Terrell as most…

I had AJ Terrell as most improved. Widely considered a reach in the draft, didn't get much buzz as a rookie and it seemed like he might be on his way to being a bust, and then broke out as one of the best corners in the game. Burrow seemed more like normal progression than a sudden breakout.

For Pro Bowl offense I had Creed Humphrey vs Ryan Kelly as the biggest mistakes. Seems pretty straightforward. Maybe people care about quarterbacks more than centers? I don't think positional value matters much for this one or most improved.

I had the Browns O Line as unit of the year. You can see that from how many Pro Bowlers they had, or from how many different RBs were able to run well behind them. Unless you think D'Ernest Johnson is actually good? Rams D Line was a close 2nd in my eyes, so can't really complain about the winner, but I'd put them ahead of the other contenders including the Bucs O Line (the sack difference is all about Brady vs Baker).

37 Agree about AFC Cs

But for Terrell he was like Burrow (albeit a better more impressive version of progress). Devondre was joining his 3rd team in 3 years and was flat bad before exploding in GB. 

I went with Cincy pass catchers but "unit" was such a hard one to think of. 

42 I know the category limits…

I know the category limits it to Touchdown Celebrations, but Antonio Brown celebrating his retirement from the NFL by stripping down and dancing off the field is an utterly astounding story. Everyone here will forget all six of the nominees by next season, but Brown will live in infamy forever.

43 Parsons is on a level of his…

Parsons is on a level of his own, but I don't see how 6+ defensive rookies could be voted better than Jeremiah Owuso-"Polamalu" as I like to call him.