The NFL Offensive Player of the Year award is always an interesting award to consider. In the past 10 years, the MVP has also taken home this award six times. However, glass (almost) half-full — we have also seen a different candidate for MVP win the award 40 percent of the time in the last decade. During the 10th Annual NFL Honors awards ceremony, Derrick Henry was named the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Who won the Offensive Player of the Year award?
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
In order for someone to take the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award away from the MVP, it takes a remarkable season.
In 2019, Michael Thomas broke numerous receiving records. The 2017 season saw Todd Gurley post 2,093 combined rushing and receiving yards with 19 total touchdowns. DeMarco Murray won the award in 2014 with 2,261 combined yards and 13 touchdowns. If we go back to 2009, Chris Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns, with another 503 receiving yards.
The 2020 season was a remarkable one for Derrick Henry. The bruising Titans running back led the NFL in rushing yards (2,027) and touchdowns (17). He became just the eighth member of the NFL 2,000-yard club. Of the other six players to achieve the feat, only Eric Dickerson in 1984 did not win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award.
Other NFL Offensive Player of the Year Candidates
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
When you look at Kamara’s performance from a rushing standpoint, nothing outside of his 16 rushing touchdowns stands out. The Saints’ RB posted just 932 rushing yards at 62.1 yards per game. Kamara finished with 21 total touchdowns and 1,688 combined yards on 270 touches.
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While his numbers do not stand out in the way Henry’s do, Kamara is the perfect weapon in the modern NFL. His best game in 2020 came against the Vikings when he posted 155 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. He may not have had the all-around numbers to win the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year award, but he is definitely one of the best offensive weapons in the league right now.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams had an incredible 2020 season. He led the league with 18 receiving touchdowns, despite missing two games. Adams also posted 1,374 receiving yards on 149 targets and 115 receptions.
He led the league in receiving yards per game, and his candidacy for the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year award would have been even stronger had he played those two extra games. With a 77.2 percent catch rate, he far outpaced his previous career-high of 65.7 percent.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
After being traded for a monster package last offseason, Diggs had plenty to prove in Buffalo this season. He stepped up in a big way, leading the league in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535). He got back to his best in terms of catch rate, pulling in 76.5 percent of his 166 targets.
In some ways, Diggs’ candidacy for the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year award was hurt by just how good Michael Thomas was last year. After Thomas broke records in 2019, it will be hard for Diggs to win the award in his shadow.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
The final nomination had to go to presumptive MVP. As we said in the introduction, 60 percent of MVPs have won this award in the last decade.
With the year that Henry posted, Rodgers did not win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Interestingly, despite winning two MVPs prior to the 2020 season, Rodgers has never won this award. In 2014, he lost out to DeMarco Murray, and in 2011, it was Drew Brees’ turn to win the Offensive Player of the Year.
Who has the most Offensive Player of the Year awards in NFL history?
Since the award began in 1972, eight players have won the Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year on multiple occasions. Six players have won the award twice, with two players taking it home three times.
Three quarterbacks have won the award twice: Drew Brees (2008 & 2011), Peyton Manning (2004 & 2013), and Tom Brady (2007 & 2010). Both times Brady and Manning won the award, they also took home the NFL MVP award. However, Brees won both his awards without winning the MVP award. In 2008, he lost out to Peyton Manning, and in 2011, Rodgers took home MVP.
The two running backs to win the award twice are Barry Sanders (1994 & 1997) and Terrell Davis (1996 & 1998). Between them, they took home the award four times during a spell in which running backs won the award nine times in 10 years. In the 16 years since, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award has been won by a running back just six times.
The only wide receiver to win the award on multiple occasions was Jerry Rice (1987 & 1993). In fact, in the history of the award, a wide receiver has only won the award three times. Prior to Michael Thomas winning in 2019, Rice was the only wide receiver to win the award.
Which two players won the award three times?
Two running backs top the list when it comes to the most AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards. Earl Campbell won the award in three consecutive years between 1978 and 1980. Campbell took home the award in each of his first three seasons in the NFL as he posted a total of 5,081 rushing yards and 45 rushing touchdowns in those three years. He led the league in rushing yards and twice led the league in rushing touchdowns in each of those seasons.
Marshall Faulk also won the award in three consecutive seasons. However, it took Faulk longer to make an impact in the NFL than Campbell. Faulk did not win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award until 1999, his first year in St. Louis.
Across those three seasons, Faulk posted a combined 6,765 yards from scrimmage and 57 total touchdowns. He won the MVP award in 2000 but was beaten to the award by his teammate, Kurt Warner, in 1999 and 2001.
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