We’re roughly halfway through the 2022 season, so it’s a perfect time to give out some NFL awards. Who’s in line to win MVP, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year after eight weeks? Here are our early midseason picks for the 2022 NFL honors.
2022 NFL Midseason Awards
Narratives will change over the second half of the 2022 NFL campaign. But with eight weeks under our belts, we can begin to make arguments about who should win this year’s awards.
Most Valuable Player | Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
With all due respect to Jalen Hurts, the MVP battle is a two-man race between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. The two signal-callers are near the top of the leaderboards in nearly every quarterback metric, and their season statistics are eerily similar.
|EPA Per Play
Allen and Mahomes are within one pass attempt, one touchdown, one interception, and one sack of each other. It’s incredibly difficult to parse their performances. Mahomes has a slight edge in key categories like EPA and CPOE, but we’re talking about a few plays per game.
Wins aren’t a quarterback stat, but it’s hard to say team success won’t factor into the MVP debate. Allen’s Bills defeated Mahomes’ Chiefs in Week 6, and Buffalo currently holds a one-game lead in the AFC standings.
Buffalo currently has a 71% chance to land the AFC’s top seed, while Kansas City is at just 17%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction model. If that holds and the Bills earn a first-round bye, Allen will likely walk away with the MVP trophy.
Honorable mention: Mahomes; Hurts
Offensive Player of the Year | Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins
While the MVP award is tightly contested, the same can’t be said for Offensive Player of the Year. Tyreek Hill has grabbed the lead in this race and doesn’t figure to let up anytime soon.
In his first season with the Dolphins, Hill has helped revitalize Tua Tagovailoa’s career while transforming Miami’s offense. He ranks first in targets, receptions, and receiving yards league-wide. He’s on pace for 2,042 yards, which would set a new NFL record, and he’s within shouting distance of the all-time receptions mark, too.
Hill ranks first in yards per route run, and he’s the only receiver with at least 30 targets with a YPRR of at least 3.0. He’s averaging 3.68 yards per route run, miles ahead of second-place Stefon Diggs (2.98).
There’s an argument to be made that Hill should be in the MVP conversation. I don’t see a non-quarterback winning the MVP award in today’s NFL, but Hill should be a shoo-in for OPOY.
Honorable mention: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants; Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans; Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
Defensive Player of the Year | Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
After winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2021, Micah Parsons is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year in his second NFL campaign.
The versatile Cowboys edge defender ranks second in the league with eight sacks and 39 pressures. Parsons has managed nine tackles for loss, two pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery, which he took 36 yards for a touchdown in Week 8.
Dallas’ defense kept them in the hunt while Dak Prescott was sidelined for five games, and Parsons was the central figure in that effort. His versatility allows the Cowboys to disguise their looks, and he’s helped the unit become utterly dominant over the past two seasons.
Fellow edge rushers Myles Garrett and Nick Bosa can also lay claim to the DPOY award, and Aaron Donald will always garner consideration. But through eight weeks, Parsons is the winner.
Honorable mention: Garrett; Bosa; Donald
Offensive Rookie of the Year | Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
The Saints moved up in the 2022 draft to select Ohio State’s Chris Olave, and he’s made good on that investment through eight weeks.
Even though he missed one game due to injury, Olave still leads all rookie receivers in catches (37), yards (547), and yards per route run (2.42). Olave was supposed to supplement a Saints receiving corps that also included Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. But with those veterans sidelined for large portions of the season, he has quickly become New Orleans’ WR1.
If the season ended today, Olave would take home OROY. But Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III will enter the conversation if he keeps up his current level of play.
Walker, who took over as Seattle’s starter following Rashaad Penny’s season-ending injury, is up to 461 yards and five touchdowns on the season. He’s averaging 5.4 yards per attempt and 1.78 yards over expectation per carry, the latter of which ranks first among rookies and fifth league-wide.
Honorable mention: Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans; Walker
Defensive Rookie of the Year | Sauce Gardner, New York Jets
Just like the MVP debate, the Defensive Rookie of the Year race figures to be a two-man battle that will rage for the rest of the season.
We’re giving a slight edge to Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner over Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen, but it’s extremely close. Woolen leads the NFL with four interceptions, and he’s become less boom or bust over the past month or so. A rare athlete coming out of UTSA, Woolen could become Seattle’s next great corner.
Gardner only has one interception, but he ranks first in the league with 11 pass deflections. He’s given up just 4.3 yards per target, more than three yards better than Woolen. Gardner has committed only one penalty, while Woolen has been flagged six times, with four being accepted.
Gardner comes out on top through eight weeks, but Woolen will be in the running all season long.
Honorable mention: Woolen
Comeback Player of the Year | Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Written off after seven years on the bench, Geno Smith is proving all his doubters wrong with his outstanding 2022 campaign. He has the Seahawks in first place in the NFC West, and he’s right behind Allen and Mahomes in most QB metrics.
Smith is in the second tier of the MVP debate. While it might be easy to think the 32-year-old won’t keep up this performance, he’s looked excellent on Sundays. Smith rips balls into tight windows with confidence, calmly manipulates the pockets, and extends plays when necessary. He’s been a revelation.
We’d be remiss not to mention Saquon Barkley, who looks like his old self after losing several years to injury. He’s second in the NFL in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage, and he makes the 6-2 Giants offense go.
Honorable mention: Barkley
Coach of the Year | Brian Daboll, New York Giants
The Giants looked to be embarking on a total reset this season. With Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen running things, New York was prepared to suffer through a dismal 2022 campaign with the hope things would improve in future years.
But Daboll has made the most of a depleted Giants roster. Big Blue is 6-2 and on track for the playoffs, which no one could have predicted before the season began.
Daboll ceded play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, but he’s been instrumental in rehabilitating Daniel Jones’ career. The former first-round pick is 11th in QBR and is on pace to shatter his previous career highs as a rusher. Jones has also come through in the clutch — leading the NFL with four fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives.
The Giants rank ninth in EPA per play despite having essentially zero receivers and a poor offensive line. New York’s defense is also playing above its weight, and Daboll deserves credit for hiring DC Wink Martindale.
No matter how this season turns out, 2022 has already been a success for the Giants. If Daboll manages to win a playoff game in his first season as a head coach, it will just be icing on the cake.
Honorable mention: Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles; Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins
Coordinator of the Year | Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys
Dan Quinn probably could have landed a head coaching job last offseason had he wanted to. With a second year of excellent Cowboys defensive production on his track record, Quinn should be able to write his own ticket next spring.
Dallas is second in defensive EPA per play and third in DVOA. But they’ve played a more difficult schedule than the Broncos and Eagles, the clubs ahead of them in those metrics.
The Cowboys only blitz at the league’s 10th-highest rate, but they generate pressure at the second-highest rate (27.6%). Parsons has a lot to do with that, but Quinn also schemes up pressures via exotic defensive fronts and creative stunt packages.
Quinn has proven to be extremely adaptable. Once pigeonholed as a product of the Seahawks’ defensive scheme, Quinn ran a ton of Cover 1 in 2021 before showing a lot of Cover 2 looks this season.
There may not be an NFL coach who’s shown more malleability and open-mindedness over the past two years than Quinn, and he should be a head coach in 2023.
Honorable mention: DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco 49ers; Leslie Frazier, Buffalo Bills; Shane Steichen, Philadelphia Eagles