On our second NFL Thursday miniseries today, we look at the 2015 season, which was the swan song for a very famous quarterback—can you recall which one? Remember, we’re looking here at awarded Super Bowl MVPs (18-for-49 so far) and Rookies of the Year (32-for-58). Those are not very good percentages; we’re learning that the media really didn’t have a good grasp on things, objectively or analytically. But hey, that’s why we’re here … bring on more sports (revisionist) history!
Super Bowl 50 MVP: Von Miller, LB, Denver (original, confirmed)
In a mild upset, the Denver Broncos beat the favored Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl, by a score of 24-10. The Broncos gained just 194 on offense, but they were able to force 4 turnovers on defense—and the Panthers shot themselves in the foot many times with 12 penalties for over 100 yards in damaged field position. Denver linebacker Von Miller was named the MVP at the time for the following stats: 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 pass defensed. That’s a guy who was all over the field.
There were no offensive stars for the Broncos, as quarterback legend Peyton Manning was aging and managed just 104 net passing yards while committing two turnovers (one interception, one fumble). Running back C.J. Anderson was solid with 100 scrimmage yards and a rushing TD, but that’s not quite MVP worthy, is it? Considering Denver managed just over 27 minutes of possession, Anderson’s 27 touches certainly contributed the main thrust of the Broncos’ offensive impact, but … no.
Forcing two turnovers, including one early in the game which led to a fumble recovery TD by a teammate, is what Miller did to truly spearhead the defense here. Nine different players on the Denver defense had at least 5 tackles each, which is amazing distribution. The Broncos also sacked Carolina QB Cam Newton—the voted NFL MVP—a whopping 7 times, and five different players were in on those sacks, led by Miller’s 2.5 sacks. Yet what about LB DeMarcus Ware? He had 2 sacks of his own.
Ware also managed two additional hits on Newton, while making 5 tackles combined, two of which were TFLs, while Miller had no TFLs, other than his sacks (which don’t count as TFLs). It truly is hard to separate the two players for this award, although the fact that Miller’s sacks/strips of Newton led directly to both Denver TDs says a lot in terms of immediate impact. That’s why the MVP vote went to him, as otherwise, all the Broncos managed was three field goals on the day. We confirm the vote.
2015 NFL ROTY: Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis & Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City (original); Peters (revised)
The Rams, in their final season out in St. Louis before returning to L.A., missed the postseason, so RB Todd Gurley is out of consideration here. The Chiefs finished 11-5 to improve 2 games from the prior year and make the postseason, thanks to cornerback Marcus Peters (53 tackles, 8 INTs). He remains a ROTY candidate, but there are usually others to consider, too. Who are they for this season? Just three different offensive guys; however, only one of them made the postseason.
That was Seattle Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls (906 yards, 5 TDs), and those numbers are underwhelming to say the least, especially considering his team won 2 fewer games than it did the prior season. He wasn’t an impact rookie; Rawls was just a stopgap player at a key position for the Seahawks. We confirm Peters as the sole winner of this award, therefore.