At the end of every season, various types of awards and accolades are handed out to various players for their seasonal performances. Those awards/accolades include (but are not limited to) Pro Bowl selections, All Pro selections, Player of the Year awards, and Rookie awards. It doesn't even end there; there's also the comeback player award, which Chad Pennington won in 2008 with us, and before that, in 2006 with the Jets. And lastly, there's the almighty MVP award, given to the best player in the NFL for that given year (usually a QB gets it).
This post highlights players on the Miami Dolphins that are candidates for different awards and honors at the end of the season. Remember, these are only candidates. I'm gonna list anyone on the team that has an outside shot, not necessarily a favorite.
Pro Bowl Watch
Hopefully, we won't have a single player from our team in the Pro Bowl.
Haha, you probably already know what I mean, but it probably took a second to get it. The team that plays in the Super Bowl doesn't have any of its players particpate in the Pro Bowl, because the SB is a week after the Pro Bowl is played.
Henne isn't thought of as a Pro Bowl Quarterback around the league, but alot can change in one offseason where you get some new offensive weapons to help you out. I don't think Henne will necessarily make the AFC roster this year, but it's not impossible. Henne appears to have improved his accuracy since last season, which was arguably his biggest issue. If he can get the ball to Brandon Marshall downfield more often and get some help from Reggie Bush in the short game, he could put up some solid numbers, and make it as the 3rd QB, especially since now a QB in the Super Bowl will be taken off the roster. Unless it's the Jests (the day Sanchez makes the Pro Bowl will also be the day gravity ceases and we begin floating towards the sky), a QB on the AFC Champion team will be in the Pro Bowl, and then taken out, leaving a spot open that could be taken by Henne.
I'm predicting an improved year for Chad, but I think his chances of making the PB are still a slim 20%.
Marshall's Pro Bowl status last season was hurt by the inconsistent QB play. Henne seems to have made the necessary strides to becom better, and that will benefit Marshall. Marshall should be around 85+ catches, 1,110+ yards, and 8-10 TDs. That would likely get him in the game, even with other great campaigns from other WRs around the AFC. If Marshall can stay on the field for all 16 games, he very well could return to the Pro Bowl where he was for years in Denver.
If Fasano can be a bigger target for Henne this season, and be a big factor in the red zone, he has an outside shot of the Pro Bowl. However, he's a doubtful bet, because he wasn't Pro Bowl caliber at any point in his career, and there's no reason his role will expand or he will be far better this season.
Long is virtually a shoo-in as long as injuries don't keep him off the field. If he's healthy and playing, he's amazingly consistent and solid in both pass protection and run blocking. He will also likely be the starting LT of the game. As Long as Long is in Miami, we will have a Pro Bowl (actually All Pro, but I'm not there yet) caliber playing every year.
Pouncey has looked good at center in the preseason, and should look good in the regular season too. If he can stay away from bad snaps, he has a good chance of making the game, because of his great blocking in both the run and the pass. As long as Tony Sparano doesn't decide to move him to RT or something, Pouncey should succeed and be a candidate for the Pro Bowl.
Starks did an excellent job last year of playing against the run, as well as getting to the passer. He only had 3 sacks, as opposed to 7 the previous year, but still made the Pro Bowl. If Starks can keep doing his thing, and get his sack total up around 6 or 7 again, he could be on a flight to Hawaii in no time.
Wake was absolutely dominant rushing the passer last season, finishing with a 14.0 sacks, good for 3rd in the NFL and 2nd in the AFC. Wake will likely be around that total again this year, and will earn himself a spot in the Pro Bowl. The only way he doesn't get in (besides injuries) is if teams compensate for him by using extra protection schemes, including chipping RBs, and TE/OT double teams. But I don't think teams will be able to do that when we have capable rushers across him with Misi and Taylor, and solid guys on the line as well. If Wake can keep on the pressure, he should be a Pro Bowler once again.
Dansby finished the year with a great 95-tackle total, despite missing 2 full games. He got to the QB 3 times for sacks, and forced 2 fumbles. If Dansby can stay healthy for a full 16 games and make a few more big plays, he should would have made a strong case to be in the Pro Bowl come January.
Burnett, a free agency addition this year for the Dolphins, is a legit ILB who had a breakout season last year. He had 95 tackles, along with 6 sacks and 2 INTs. When you combine a high tackle total with big plays like sacks and interceptions, you surely have a shot at the game.
Davis proved to be a very solid corner last season, playing great coverage while also helping in with the run game. However, he didn't make enough big plays to warrant a Pro Bowl selection, with only 1 INT. Nnamdi Asomugha proved that you don't necesarily need interceptions to make the Pro Bowl, but it definitely helps your case. I predict Vontae will get better, and get 3 picks this season, but it might not be enough to get a spot on the team.
Smith, like Davis, failed to force many turnovers last season (only 1 INT, no FFs or FRs, no sacks), but was very solid in coverage and run support. Smith was only targeted 49 times last season, and was 6th in the league in succes rate (Football outsiders). If Smith can sure up his hands and start catching the INTs, he will be a Pro Bowler.
Bell's lone Pro Bowl selection was in 2009. He had a great season, 114 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 INTs. Bell had another solid season in '10 (101, 1.5, 1) but didn't do enough to make the Pro Bowl. This season, Bell will come in as the starting SS once again, and be the guy everyone expects him to be. Expect 100 or so tackles, a sacks, and an INT or two for Yeremiah this season, and will be on the bubble for a roster spot, depending on how other players at his position perform this season.
Denney, the team's long snapper, made the Pro Bowl last season, and will look to do it again. I honestly can't see enough to evaluate a LS, but I guess if he does the same things he did last season, he might be a Pro Bowler again at LS.
If the offense is better this year, Carpenter shouldn't be kicking 40 field goals in a season again. Still he could kick 30, and if he can 26 or 27 of them, he could be headed to the Pro Bowl.
Rookie Of The Year
Thomas surely has a shot at Offensive rookie of the year, especially considering he will have a big role in the running game in his debut season. Thomas could be getting close to 200 carries this year, and if he can get about 4.0 yards per carry, he would get around 800 yards (I'm in Algebra 2 right now so I know my stuff), and could get 5 TDs if he gets goalline touches. Depending on what Mark Ingram does, Thomas could potentially be the leading rusher for rookies. That just means all the rookie QBs need to struggle.
Gates is a long, long shot for this award, but I figured I could list him because he's an offensive rookie. For him to win the award, 2 of our WRs ahead of him would have to get hurt for long periods of time, and then he would still have to be very, very impressive.
We really don't have anyone who could be in the running for Rookie defensive player of the year. I think the only rookie we have on the roster is Jimmy Wilson, who won't be doing anything besides special teams, and dimeback if a few injuries happen. I'm curious to know and I'm wondering if anyone can answer this question in the comments section:
Is Jared Odrick eligible for Defensive Rookie of the Year?
I know that in the NBA, you have to play like a certain amount of games (like 5 or something) for it to count as your rookie season. That's why Blake Griffin was eligible to win the ROY in his sort-of second season, he hurt his knee and missed the entire year. I tried searching it on google but I didn't really find anything for sure.
Defensive Player of the Year
A prestigous award handed out to the league's best defensive player. Jason Taylor is the most recent Dolphin to win the award, doing it in 2006. Before that, it was Doug Betters winning the award in 1983.
Wake didn't get much love for his 14 sacks last season, but let's remember, these awards are still a small percentage popularity contest, and Wake wasn't a common name around the league last season. He's definitely a bigger name now, and if he post 15 sacks and 5 FFs, he won't be ignored. Rush OLBs have won it in the past, and Clay Matthews finished just behind Troy Polamalu last season.
Vontae Davis or Sean Smith
Both of these guys have shots at the DPOY award, and I put them together because they pretty much have the same story. Both of them are young, so they can improve from what they were last season. They were both solid in coverage, Smith a bit better, as he only warranted 49 targets all season. If either of these can put their excellent coverage skills on display, and also get somewhat lucky (INTs are alot of luck, sometimes the QB throws it straight to you, while of course some of skillful) and grab 7 or 8 INTs, he would certainly be in the race for the award.
Offensive Player of the Year
Honestly, we don't have any candidates. Marshall is the first guy I thought of, because it's possible that he and Henne are on point together and he gets 1,400 yards and 12 TDs. Unfortunately though, I doubt that happens, he will be great but the ball will get spread around and Henne won't be able to get him the ball that efficiently. Not to mention, a receiver hasn't won the award since Jerry Rice in 1993. Henne will be improved this season, but won't even touch OPOY.
Most Valuable Player
Similar to Offensive Player of the Year, and we don't have any real candidates, except I guess Henne because they only give it to a QB.
Honestly, Henne's chances are very, very low, and we all know it. The only way I could see it is if the team wins 12 or 13 games (I see 10 the most likely win total) and Henne is absolutely stellar, like 4,200+ and 30+ stellar. I think Henne will be improved, but I see 3,900 or 4,000 yards, and 22-25 TDs with 14-16 INTs. That will get him Pro Bowl consideration, but not MVP discussion.
Comeback Player of the Year
I don't know exactly how they look at the guidelines for this award, but I think I get the gist of it. Chad Pennington won it in 2006 following a season where he only played 3 games before tearing his rotator cuff, and again in 2008 following an abysmal season with the Jets where he lost his starting job twice, and was released.
I asked the question under Defensive Rookie of the Year, if Odrick was eligilble for that award. I guess if he is eligible for DROY, he wouldn't be eligible for this award. But if he is techically a 2nd-year guy, then he has a good shot of winning Comeback Player of the Year. He didn't play at all last season, but comes back this season as a starter, and has looked strong in training camp and preseason games. If Odrick plays 16 games, helps in run support, and gets to the QB for 4 or 5 sacks (I wouldn't mind 10 or 11 though) then he would be a candidate.
Walter Payton Man of the Year
This award is given to the any player at any position, honoring a player's volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field. Jason Taylor won the award in 2007, and hey, looks who's back in town. You can assume that some of our other good players are great people off the field, but I don't know how much charity work and stuff they do or how much they donate, and there can only be one nominee from each team. So I'll just say that Jason Taylor is a candidate.
He won it in 2007 and he's back in Miami. He's likely going to be the guy who is the nominee representing the Dolphins.
Coach of the Year
Pro Football Weekly voted Tony Sparano the coach of the year in 2008, leading the Phins to 11 wins following a 1-win season that none of us will ever forget.
Sparano is the only part of the team that is capable of winning this award. He would need to lead his team to atleast 12, if not 13 wins this season. I'm predicting 10, so I don't see him winning the award, but if we can get some really clutch performances, and gutsy calls that payoff, we win the close games, and gives us a good chance to win 12.
Long is a 2x All-Pro team selection, and there's very little reason to think he won't be a 3x All-Pro selection. If he can stay healthy and on the field, he should be rock solid once again protecting Henne's blindside.
Marshall will have a good chance to put up good numbers if Henne is better at getting him the ball, and he can stay healthy ALL season as opposed to most of it. He will have to be more of a factor in the red zone, after only catching 3 TDs last season, a total that made me regret drafting him for my fantasy team. Marshall will need 1,300+, and 10+ TDs to counteract guys like Larry Fitzgerald (who finally got a QB), Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, and others.
This is the 3rd place I've listed Wake, so you get it by now. Keep getting those sacks, and you'll keep getting love and accolades. However, making the Pro Bowl, and being an All Pro is different. 15 sacks might not cut it for All Pro if you don't also force fumbles, recover them, put up a good tackle total, and play big in big games. I'm looking for Cam to do all those things.
Vontae Davis or Sean Smith
The same as what I said for DPOY. If they keep up with the great coverage, forcing QBs to look elsewhere, while finally starting to pull down some INTs, they are both looking at chances to be All Pros.
Karlos Dansby or Kevin Burnett
Both of these are highly productive, talented ILBs. My doubt is that they will take tackles away from each other, and while they are both good players, neither is a elite player who could put up the numbers that Patrick Willis does year-in and year-out. One of them would have to surprise alot of people, including me, to put up the stats to warrant an All Pro slection.
Recap- Stats, And My Predictions
So as of now, we have 14 Pro Bowl candidates. But the chances are, not even half of them will actually make it. I'm predicting 4 of our guys will make the team, with maybe 5 if Denney makes it but I'm not going to call it because...well, he's a Long Snapper. Anyways, the list. Brandon Marshall, Jake Long, Cameron Wake, and Vontae Davis. And in the case of alternates, with guys not in the game due to injury or playing in the SB, Karlos Dansby and Sean Smith could also be there, making it 7 (I'll go ahead and count John Denney).
Offensive rookie of the Year
Thomas seriously has a very legit chance of winning the award, but a Quarterback like Cam Newton or Andy Dalton will likely get in the way. And also, if the team doesn't run block well enough, it will hurt Thomas' chances of putting up better numbers. I think Thomas will finish 3rd in the voting, behind Cam Newton and Andy Dalton. These guys will probably start all the games, and remember the Quarterback also has the advantage when it comes to getting votes. And it will always be that way.
Defensive Player of the Year
Wake, Davis, and Smith are all candidates for the award, but in the end I think Wake will be the only guy in the running. I seriously think Wake will be the best pass rusher in the league this year. There's very little reason to think he won't. I will be crazy pissed if Troy Polomalu wins it again because of his cool hair and popularity, but I think Polamalu keeps getting hurt. Here we go; Cameron Wake will be the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year.
Most Valuable Player
I'm not here to say Henne will win it. I'm just going to go out on a limb and think who might win it. I really hope Brady doesn't win it again. I'm a Packers fan as well as a Dolphins fan, so I would love to see Aaron Rodgers come home with it, and he has a very good chance (might be the frontrunner) if he can stay away from the concussions. Phillip Rivers is a great candidate, because he always puts up huge numbers, it's just that his team only wins 9 games because the Chargers annually have the worst special teams. And lastly, Drew Brees will have a chance towards the end of the season. But I'm going to have to go hometown with the reigning SB MVP, Aaron Rodgers.
Comeback Player of the Year
Odrick should have a good comeback year, but he will be in a rotation and I don't think he will be spectacular, just solid. I think Matthew Stafford will be the guys who wins it, after missing almost all of last season with a shoulder injury, I think he'll stay healthy and play well.
Walter Payton Award
Jason Taylor probably won't win the award again, since they do take into account on-field performance, and I can't see Jasn getting more than 5 sacks and some 40 or so tackles. Also, I don't think a player has ever won it twice. And I have no suggestions to who might win it.
Coach of the Year
As I said prior, Sparano and the Dolphins will need to win 12 or 13 games this season for him to win it. I predict 10, maybe 11 wins for the team, which doesn't correspond.
I predict we'll have 2 All Pro players this season: Tackle Jake Long, and OLB Cameron Wake. Marshall has too much competition, guys like Fitzgerald and Johnson (and other guys I listed under All Pro section), and Henne will spread the ball between him, Bess, Hartline, Fasano, and Bush. Meanwhile, Davis will be a Pro Bowler and Sean Smith will be the first guy as an alternate (so he'll probably get in), but neither will be able to suffice the likes of Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, Antoine Winfield, and Tramon Williams.
So what do you guys think. How many are we sending to Hawaii? Any Big-time awards going to a Dolphins Player?
Thanks for reading this, and I really hope you liked it.