Handing out Awards for the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles' Season
It's been more than a week since the Philadelphia Eagles saw their magical season come to a very disappointing end, as the New Orleans Saints delivered a walkoff field goal to end Chip Kelly's first year as head coach.
Despite the loss, there's no doubt that this was a successful season for the Eagles. After all, the team went 4-12 in 2012, which included losses in eight consecutive games and the firing of two defensive coaches midseason.
Kelly's turnaround has given the Eagles hope for the future, as the Eagles look poised to contend in the NFC for the next several seasons.
Right now, the focus is on remembering the 2013 season, both the good and the bad. So here we go.
1. Most Valuable Player: Nick Foles
There are exactly two choices for the Eagles' Most Valuable Player this season: Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy. You could go with either one, but the Eagles won a significantly higher percentage of their games with Foles than with McCoy.
That makes Foles the most valuable player on the team. In fact, he was one of the most valuable players in the entire league, despite making just 10 starts.
Foles threw 27 touchdowns and two interceptions. He led the NFL in yards per attempt, yards per completion and passer rating. He set a single-season record for adjusted yards per pass attempt. He also tied a record by throwing seven touchdown passes in a single game.
2. Offensive Player of the Year: LeSean McCoy
Nick Foles was more valuable than LeSean McCoy this season, but in terms of pure offensive production, LeSean McCoy was the absolute best.
The fifth-year running back became the first Eagles player to win the league's rushing title since Steve Van Buren in 1949. He rushed 314 times for 1,607 yards—both tops in the NFL—and 5.1 yards per carry. He scored nine touchdowns and led the NFL with 2,146 yards from scrimmage.
He turned in one of the most memorable performances of the year, rushing for a franchise-record 217 yards in a come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions in the snow in Week 14.
3. Defensive Player of the Year: Connor Barwin
You could argue for a number of different players for the defensive player of the year, including Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks, Trent Cole and Brandon Boykin.
But the most impressive defensive player for the Eagles was outside linebacker Connor Barwin, a free-agent signing from the Houston Texans this offseason.
Barwin was extremely versatile this season, playing the Jack role in Billy Davis' defense. That means he lined up at outside linebacker, inside linebacker, defensive end and even cornerback.
The stats don't tell the whole story, although they have been impressive. Barwin collected 47 tackles, five sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 12 passes defensed this season.
His biggest play came in the season finale, when he batted down a 4th-and-1 pass late in the game to help preserve the Eagles' victory.
4. Special Teams Player of the Year: Donnie Jones
This one isn't even close. Donnie Jones was the only special teams player to provide significant value to the Eagles this season.
The veteran punter broke the franchise single-season record for punts inside the 20-yard line (33), while delivering one clutch punt after another. His biggest was a 70-yard bomb in the final minutes of an eventual one-score victory in Week 11 over the Washington Redskins.
5. Offensive Rookie of the Year: Lane Johnson
The only competition for offensive rookie comes from right tackle Lane Johnson and tight end Zach Ertz.
Although Ertz showed lots of potential and may end up taking the starting job away from Brent Celek in 2014, it's Johnson who provided the top rookie season by an offensive player.
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson rated as an average offensive tackle, which is impressive, considering how many rookie tackles struggle.
Over the second half of the season, Johnson rated as a plus-12.9, with positive marks as both a pass blocker and a run blocker.
And here's the most telling stat. When Johnson rated positively by PFF, the Eagles went 9-0, but when he rated negatively, the Eagles went 1-6.
6. Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bennie Logan
Only two rookies played a significant amount of time for the Eagles this season: defensive tackle Bennie Logan and safety Earl Wolff.
While Wolff played decently, he struggled to stay healthy and may not enter next season as a starter. Logan played well enough to convince the Eagles to trade veteran nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots midseason.
Over the second half of the year, Logan collected 21 of his 25 tackles and posted a plus-3.0 PFF rating.
7. Offensive Breakout Player of the Year: Nick Foles
Riley Cooper had an impressive year as the team's No. 2 wide receiver, especially considering his off-field incident in training camp. No one would have expected the fourth-year target to become a reliable deep threat.
But let's be serious. The breakout player of the year in the entire NFL was Nick Foles.
Twenty-seven touchdowns, two interceptions, 119.2 passer rating. Say no more. It really doesn't get any better. Statistically, Foles had one of the best seasons in the history of the NFL.
8. Defensive Breakout Player of the Year: Brandon Boykin
Kendricks improved upon last year's rookie campaign, and Thornton went from virtually unknown to one of the best run-stuffing defensive linemen in the NFL.
But no player exploded onto the scene quite like Boykin, who went from a solid nickel corner to a playmaking star, similar to Lito Sheppard a decade ago.
Boykin barely played in half of his team's snaps, but he collected six interceptions—tied for the second-most in the NFL. Two of his interceptions came in the final minute, including one in the season finale to clinch the division against the Dallas Cowboys. He also recorded 45 tackles (missing just two) for one of the best tackle rates in the National Football League.
9. Offensive Single-Game Performance of the Year: LeSean McCoy
It's hard to believe that a quarterback could tie a single-game record for touchdown passes, as Foles did against the Oakland Raiders, without even turning in the best single-game offensive performance of the year.
But nothing was more special than McCoy's 217 rushing yards against the Detroit Lions in Week 14. He broke Van Buren's single-game record of 205 rushing yards while leading the Eagles to an improbable come-from-behind victory in the snow.
Had the Eagles lost, their entire season would have been in doubt. But they scored a franchise-record 28 points in the fourth quarter, rolling to a 34-20 victory and staying in the hunt for the NFC East division title.
10. Defensive Single-Game Performance of the Year: Trent Cole
No Eagles defensive player turned in a truly monster single-game performance, a la Foles' seven touchdown passes against the Oakland Raiders or McCoy's 217 rushing yards in the snow against the Detroit Lions.
But Cole, who converted to outside linebacker in the offseason, was dominant against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, collecting two sacks, two quarterback hits, three quarterback hurries and a tackle.
His plus-6.7 rating, per Pro Football Focus, was the highest by any Eagles defensive player in one game in 2013.
11. Offensive Play of the Year: LeSean McCoy
It really seems like most of the memories for the 2013 Eagles will involve some version of the Snow Bowl. The best offensive play of the season sure does.
The Eagles trailed the Lions, 20-14, early in the fourth quarter following a blistering 98-yard kick return touchdown by Jeremy Ross.
With their entire season on the line, the Eagles scored in just three plays, the touchdown coming on a 57-yard gallop by McCoy. The touchdown tied the game, and a two-pointer gave the Eagles a lead they would never relinquish.
Defensive Play of the Year: Brandon Boykin
Hollywood couldn't have scripted a more dramatic ending. The entire NFC East division title was on the line. The Eagles led 24-22, but the Cowboys, led by backup quarterback Kyle Orton, had the ball on their own 32-yard line. Just under two minutes remained in the game.
A field goal would give the Cowboys an improbable division title. A defensive stop would give the Eagles the division title.
And then Boykin happened. The sophomore cornerback stepped in front of Orton's errant pass, securing it for a game-winning and season-saving interception that provided a storybook ending to Kelly's first regular season as Philadelphia's head coach.