You could put Peyton Manning in at MVP and Comeback Player of the Year and I would have no problem with it but Adrian Peterson is much more important to the Vikings than Manning is to the Broncos. After last seasons horrific season ending injury, tearing his ACL and MCL, Adrian’s 2012 season was in doubt. Many people thought even if he came back, would he be as strong has he has been in the past? Well he’s back and better than ever by putting together one of the best seasons by a running back in NFL history. Finishing the 2012 season with 2,097 rushing yards, finishing only 9 yards short of breaking the all time record held by Eric Dickerson with 2,105 yards. Adding on 12 touchdowns, Adrian lead the Vikings from a 3-13 record in 2011 to a 10-6 record in 2012 and a wild card birth. Without Adrian, the Vikings would be nowhere near the postseason making him the most valuable player to any team in the NFL.
Ok, Adrian could and maybe should win this award too but after the season Peyton has had, he deserves at least one award right? And what a season Peyton had with the Broncos. After missing the entire 2011 season by having 4 neck surgeries, his comeback season showed doubters that Peyton could still sling pretty good. Throwing for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns, Peyton lead the Denver Broncos to a 13-3 record and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, even if they didn’t go as planed for Peyton and the Broncos. Even if the playoffs didn’t play out the way Peyton wanted, it takes nothing away from the spectacular season he had.
J.J. Watt lead the terrifying Houston defense as one of the best in the NFL. Leading the NFL in sacks with 20.5, Watt was a nightmare for offenses. Racking up 81 combined tackles, 4 forced fumbles and recovering 2 himself, Watt was all over the field. Even when Watt was getting blocked at the line, J.J. made his presence known, recording 16 pass deflections at the line of scrimmage.
Ok, so technically he was not a head coach last year, but stepping in for head coach Chuck Pagano when he was diagnosed with Leukemia during the season and leading the Indianapolis Colts to a 9-3 record under him and a 11-5 total record, returning the Colts to the playoffs after winning two games last season. Keeping his team focused enough to play football as their leader was fighting a much more serious battle was tough enough, but getting that team to win a lot of games and make the playoffs is impressive. So impressive that he is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, hoping to find success there as well.
I can’t imagine a more difficult situation for a rookie quarterback to walk into than the one first overall pick Andrew Luck had this year. Replacing one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and beloved icon in the Indianapolis area, Peyton Manning, Andrew had ridiculous expectations to meet. Add in the absence of his head coach, Chuck Pagano who was battling Leukemia throughout the season, and it made for one of the most difficult rookie seasons imaginable. But Andrew took all of the obstacles and found great success. Throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns, Andrew lead his team back to the playoffs after the 2-14 debacle of a season for the Colts last year. RG3 and Russell Wilson had equally impressive years as well and all three could and should win this award, I just believe Luck had the better season and was more valuable to his team.
Luke had himself a very excellent year for the Carolina Panthers. Recording a NFL leading 164 combine tackles, Luke showed why the Panthers picked him ninth overall in the draft that year. Luke also had two interceptions and three fumble recoveries to complete his impressive rookie campaign for the Panthers who with Cam Newton on the offensive side and Luke on defense have two young, impressive pieces to build around.