2012 NFL Awards: Has Robert Griffin III Locked Up Rookie of the Year?
This is the magic of every NFL season.
Players who were thought of as great (i.e. Chris Johnson, Matt Stafford) have shown very little, and some players expected to make limited contributions have shown that they were more than we thought they were.
It happens every year. Some players rise, and others fall off. Regardless, players have established identities.
Though awards can't be won in a month of football, the first four games are taken into account just like the final 12.
So, let's take at who has played well enough to earn NFL awards if they were given after four games.
All statistics compiled from NFL.com.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Patriots Safety Tavon Wilson
Before Dallas’ Monday night game against Chicago, Morris Claiborne would have been the pick here.
People would have complained that he only had seven tackles and one pass deflection (prior to Monday Night), but it would not have deterred the selection.
Claiborne had been everything that the Cowboys drafted him to be, but after giving up a deep touchdown to Devin Hester on a double move, he lost his spot, though he has 12 weeks to make up for it.
Wilson and fellow New England rookie Chandler Jones assume the first two spots for the award after Claiborne’s not-as-great performance against Chicago.
Wilson has been a turnover machine for New England in his first season. He has two interceptions and two fumble recoveries through four games, along with three pass deflections and 11 tackles.
Jones, who is the brother of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, has three sacks and two forced fumbles to his name.
After Wilson, Jones and Claiborne, Tampa Bay’s Mark Barron and Chicago’s Shea McClellin could get into the mix during the season.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Redskins Quarterback RGIII
If there is one award that is locked up in 2012, it is the offensive rookie of the year trophy.
That is going to Robert Griffin III. No ifs, ands, or buts.
The rookie out of Baylor has revitalized the Redskins offense and made the franchise relevant again.
Griffin III shocked the Saints' on opening night, which saw him chin-check the entire league: 362 total yards (320 passing) and two touchdown passes in a 40-32 victory in the Super Dome.
In Weeks 2 and 3, Griffin III lost two games, but he still showed that No. 10 has to be accounted for on every single play. This is especially true in the read option offense that Mike Shanahan has installed this season.
In those two games, he almost brought the 'Skins from behind against fellow youngsters Sam Bradford and A.J. Dalton. Griffin III had 427 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, along with 167 yards and three touchdowns rushing in the games against St. Louis and Cincinnati.
Last week, he marched his team down the field and finished off the Bucs, getting his special teams unit in position to make the game-winning field goal.
Griffin III has been spectacular this season, and barring some major development or injury, he will be the league's rookie offensive player of the year this season.
Stat line: 86/124, 1,070 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT and 39 CAR, 252 YDS, 4 TD
Defensive Player of the Year: Texans Defensive End J.J. Watt
Through a fourth of the season, remarkably, a 3-4 defensive end is the defensive player of the year.
3-4 ends typically eat up blocks and allow their linebackers the freedom to make plays. This is why there are not many stat stuffing players at the position.
Watt has been an exception this season and throughout his career. The former Wisconsin Badger has 7.5 sacks, 20 tackles, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and five pass deflections in 2012. He has been such a disruptive presence at the line of scrimmage that even his great statistics do not tell the entire story of how well he has played.
Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware, NaVorro Bowman, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Patrick Willis are also in contention for the end of the year award.
Offensive Player of the Year: Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch has played like a beast. It’s easy to see how he earned his nickname.
He has consistently been there for the Seahawks. He moves the line of scrimmage himself with his never-go-down mentality.
He’s a closer, as seen in Seattle’s game against the Cowboys. The team had their cleats on Dallas’ neck, and Lynch delivered the death blow.
Lynch leads the Seahawks offense with 92 carries for 423 yards and two touchdowns. His 423 rushing yards are the highest total in the NFL after four games.
It is honestly doubtful that he can win this award at the end of the season, but while it is still relatively close, Lynch gets the nod. Without him, Russell Wilson would be having a much more difficult season as a rookie.
Coach of the Year: Minnesota Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Though the Vikings will more than likely fall apart before the season comes to an end, through four weeks, head coach Leslie Frazier is the clear winner of this award.
To have the Vikings at 3-1, including division wins against San Francisco and Detroit, is a great accomplishment for a team that won just three games all of last season.
Quarterback Christian Ponder has matured, and running back Adrian Peterson is still “All Day.”
Houston’s Gary Kubiak will probably take this award home at the end of the season, but for now, Frazier gets a well-deserved honor for Minnesota’s hot start.
MVP: Atlanta Quarterback Matt Ryan
The Atlanta Falcons are playing great on both sides of the ball. They have gotten out of the gates quick and rolled to a 4-0 start.
Matt Ryan is the main contributor on a team looking to bounce back from a distasteful 24-2 Wild Card loss to the New York Giants last season.
After a quarter of the season, they have done everything they could to put themselves in a position to remove loss from their taste buds.
Ryan has the league’s elite wide receiver duo in Roddy White and Julio Jones. He has the never-aging Tony Gonzalez at tight end, and he uses each of these pieces masterfully—like a chess champion setting up an opponent.
Ryan has posted a 112.1 QB rating, compiling 1,162 yards, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
What the award boils down to is wins. A player can’t be that valuable to a team if the team does not win. The Falcons have won, and Matt Ryan is the biggest reason why.