The NFL Honors showcased the best players in the league as well-deserving stars were awarded with the most prestigious individual trophies in the sport. However, the entire event left out some quality people coming off big seasons.
Obviously, Peyton Manning was named the 2013 NFL MVP after a record-breaking year in which he set new highs in passing touchdowns and yards. Most of the other awards featured only one or two realistic candidates before a winner was named.
Still, there were quite a few deserving people who should have been at least in the conversation. These long shots did not have any realistic chance of winning, but they should have had a better opportunity after fantastic years.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Larry Warford, OG, Detroit Lions
No offensive lineman has ever won the Rookie of the Year award, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. It is often too difficult for enough voters to recognize talent when there are no statistics involved.
However, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus believes that Larry Warford was the best rookie in football this season:
According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, at least one voter agreed:
Warford was outstanding for the Detroit Lions this season, clearing space for Reggie Bush and Joique Bell while also protecting Matt Stafford in the passing game.
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated recently examined the first round of the 2013 draft and decided that Warford should have been the third overall pick. He explained that the guard was "simply a revelation for the Lions, going all season without surrendering a sack and providing superb run blocking."
Eddie Lacy has a great year, but Warford deserves more respect than he was given.
Coach of the Year: John Fox, Denver Broncos
Ron Rivera beat out a number of quality candidates for the Coach of the Year award. There were men who exceeded expectations like Andy Reid and Chip Kelly, as well as those who kept their teams together through adversity like Bill Belichick.
However, John Fox deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done with the Broncos. While he does have the best quarterback on the planet leading the offense, the coach has been able to get the most out of his players throughout his career.
Now, he has put together back-to-back 13-3 seasons behind Peyton Manning. Each of these squads had very different styles, but he found a way to win in every case.
It is true that this is not a lifetime achievement award. Still, Fox has done a great job this year to get Denver one win away from a championship. Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey explains why the coach should get more respect:
Now, in what has been Fox's toughest season yet—at least on a personal level—but with the greatest collection of players he's ever worked with, he is going once more to the Super Bowl with aspirations of coming home a champion. Maybe then, he will start to hear his name alongside those of his peers at the top of the game.
The coaches responsible for big turnarounds deserve recognition, but so does Fox for having his squad consistently playing at a high level.
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Peyton Manning was clearly the MVP after an incredible season, which was highlighted by ESPN the Magazine:
Manning received 49 out of the 50 votes, with the only other going to Tom Brady due to his ability to keep the New England Patriots in the win column despite the team's numerous injuries. In reality, Aaron Rodgers should have also been in the conversation.
The Packers quarterback only played in eight games this season, but he finished fifth in the NFL in passer rating while finishing sixth in QBR. Still, his best case for the award comes from how poorly Green Bay played without him.
After the team started 6-2, it went 0-4-1 with Rodgers on the sidelines. ESPN's Trey Wingo pointed out the quarterback's value at this point:
Despite the struggles, the Packers were able to win the NFC North when the former MVP returned in Week 17. His 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter won the NFL's Never Say Never Moment of the Year.
Green Bay appeared to be one of the worst teams in the NFL without Rodgers, yet was a playoff squad with him. This showcased the quarterback as one of the most valuable players in the league.
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