Happy New Year and it’s time to hand out some hardware. Yep, it’s the 2011 Loftys. The mid-season awards were a mixed bag of players who had gone above and beyond the call of duty at the various positions. The end-of-season Loftys look to recognize year-long achievement and amazement. So without further adieu…
MOST OUTSTANDING PERFORMER(S)
DREW BREES — NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
71% completion, 5,476 yards passing, 46 TDs, 13 WINS
AARON RODGERS — GREEN BAY PACKERS
68% completion, 4,643 yards passing, 45 TDs, 14 WINS
I did my “Double Check” and couldn’t separate the two — maybe the NFC Championship game will give us the final nod.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
CAM NEWTON — CAROLINA PANTHERS
60% completions, 4,051 yards passing, 21 TDs, 706 yards rushing, 14 rushing TDs
Newton broke Peyton Manning’s rookie passing yardage mark, but what really vaults him past the Bengals’ Andy Dalton are his style points. I see everyone doing his Superman pose. The bar has been raised and Newton has changed the QB position and what we expect from the next generation of rookies like Luck and RG3.
MOST EXPLOSIVE PERFORMER:
PATRICK PETERSON — ARIZONA CARDINALS
There was a time when you let a punt go if it was going inside the 10-yard line. Peterson’s 99-yard game-winner in overtime flipped the script.
Peterson returned 44 punt this past season with four for touchdowns and a 15.9-yard average. We all thought Devin Hester was a once-in-a-generation return man. Now the question is who will be King?
DEFENSIVE INDIVIDUAL OF THE YEAR:
JARED ALLEN — MINNESOTA VIKINGS
I’d be the first to tell you football is the ultimate team game, but there are individual players we loved to watch.
Allen recorded 66 tackles and 22 of those were sacks. There were 97 penalties accepted against Viking opponents and you can bet plenty of those were false start and holding calls because of the presence of #69. Allen has 105 sacks in his eight-year career so far and for good measure he filled in at long snapper when the Vikings long snapper went down. He’s the ultimate team guy!
DEFENSIVE TEAM OF THE YEAR:
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Yes, they do play defense on the West Coast and this bunch proved it with four Pro Bowl selections who aren’t household names: FS Dashon Goldson, CB Carlos Rogers, DL Justin Smith and MLB Patrick Willis. The 49ers’ D allowed just 229 points (second only to the Steelers 227) and just three rushing touchdowns and none through the first 14 games! Let’s hope they’re not one and done in the playoffs and show us how to play some post-season defense.
ON THE CLOCK:
JIM IRSAY — OWNER, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
No front office. Coaching staff in flux. $28 million due in March to that guy with the bad neck. And, the first pick in the draft with that pick costing about $25 million over the next four years. Plus lots of Super Bowl parties. Should be an interesting off-season in Indy.
MATT FLYNN — GREEN BAY PACKERS
Green Bay is pretty far off-Broadway, but Flynn’s 480-yard, 6 touchdown performance in the regular season finale put him a lot closer to Wall Street when free agency hits.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
JIM HARBAUGH — SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Some would say it takes a village to raise a child — or to get Alex Smith to play like a former #1 overall pick. Maybe it only takes one guy?
Check out a couple of these team numbers:
2010′s on the left and 2011 is on the right…
Passing Off 3,356 2,936
Rushing Off 1,657 2,038
D Sacks 36 42
D Ints 15 23
D FR 7 15
Points diff -41 +151
Wins 6 13
Maybe the biggest difference was the man with the hearty handshake.
- James Lofton
James Lofton is an analyst for Dial Global’s coverage of the NFL. He’ll be on hand Saturday as the Saints and Lions meet in an NFC Wild Card matchup. Coverage begins immediately follow Game One of our Saturday doubleheader, Cincinnati at Houston. The NFL action begins at 4 PM Eastern on Saturday.