Skip to main content

Handing out End-of-Season Awards in 10 Categories

There are 10 categories, including MVP, disappointments, surprises, and more

It's time for our Eagle Maven Awards presented by yours truly and my colleague John McMullen.

So, away we go:

ASSISTANT OF THE YEAR

Kracz: Brian Johnson. Going off the board with this one, knowing my colleague would take Jeff Stoutland. Give me the QB coach. Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen get much of the credit for the season-long improvement of Jalen Hurts, and Hurts gets plenty himself, too, but Johnson’s work behind the scenes went unnoticed. He and Hurts have known each other for a long time, and the guess is, that relationship was a plus.

McMullen: Jeff Stoutland. The ability of the offensive line/run-game coordinator to develop offensive line talent is second to none in the NFL, but he's also one of the better teachers when it comes to scheming the run game with perhaps only the San Francisco duo of Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniel in the conversation. 

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Kracz: Jason Kelce. Not his level of play, which led to another All-Pro hone, but his continued good health. There hasn’t been an offensive lineman stay healthy for all 16, now 17 games, in a long time. The center is the exception. His streak of 122 straight regular-season starts is phenomenal, especially when put in the perspective that he last missed a start in 2014.
McMullen: Jack Stoll. The tight end, an undrafted rookie out of Nebraska, proved to be a capable blocker and was one of the reasons Nick Sirianni could shift his offense into a run-first mentality with more 12 and 13 personnel. Once Zach Ertz was traded to Arizona, the Eagles needed a competent option to pair with emerging star Dallas Goedert and Stoll proved to be exactly that.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Kracz: Derek Barnett. Two sacks from a former first-round pick. Really? That’s a career-low for the DE and that’s saying something since his previous career-low was 2.5 but he played in just six games when he did that in 2018. This year, he played in 16.

McMullen: Jalen Reagor, If anything, the WR regressed in his second season after an underwhelming freshman campaign despite the Eagles bringing in a coaching staff with a reputation of understanding and developing receivers. By the time it was over Reagor lost his WR2 status to a sixth-round pick in his same draft class, Quez Watkins, and had GM Howie Roseman admitting the Eagles need more out of Reagor.

MOST IMPROVED

Kracz: Quez Watkins. The second-year pass-catcher went from six games played with seven catches and 106 yards as a rookie to 17 games played with 43 receptions for 647 yards (15.0 yards per catch). He is now the team’s No. 2 receiver on the depth chart.
McMullen: Jordan Mailata. Forget 2018 when the offensive tackle arrived as a king-sized athletic project who had never played a down of organized football in his life and needed help with his helmet. By the end of the 2020 season, Jeff Stoutland had developed Mailata into a competent swing tackle with starting potential. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2021 and it was Mailata vs. Andre Dillard for the left tackle starting job with the secret hope that the latter, the Eagles' 2019 first-round pick, would seize the job. Mailata quickly lapped Dillard, who is solid by the way, and by the end of the season was arguably the second-best LT in the NFL with only future first-ballot Hall of Famer Trent Williams being comfortably ahead of Mailata.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF YEAR

Kracz: Jordan Howard. Nobody wanted the RB in the offseason until the Eagles called with a one-year minimum deal. Then, the Eagles didn’t really seem to want him on their roster until Sanders got hurt in Las Vegas. Promoted from the practice squad, the hard-nosed runner filled his role perfectly and finished with 407 yards and three touchdowns in just seven games.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

McMullen: Lane Johnson. Typically, a comeback is not in-season, but Johnson's ability to rebound from mental health issues that forced him to leave the team for three games, address those problems, and return to be one of the better right tackles in the game is worth noting enough to tweak the conventional wisdom on this kind of award.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF YEAR

Kracz: Milton Williams. Have to agree with my colleague here.

McMullen: Milton Williams. The defensive lineman, a third-round pick out of Louisiana Tech, proved to be a versatile player like the Eagles envisioned with the ability to bounce outside if needed. The rookie played in all 17 games and the playoff encounter in Tampa, amassing 30 tackles - six for loss - with two sacks and two pass breakups while playing 40% of the snaps in the regular season. He also showed the kind of rare explosiveness off the ball that bodes well for the future.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF YEAR

Kracz: DeVonta Smith. The Eagles have a No. 1 receiver. At last.

McMullen: Landon Dickerson. The steak wins out over the sizzle here. There is nothing wrong with going with DeVonta Smith, who was great while breaking DeSean Jackson's franchise rookie record for receiving yards, but the way the Eagles' offense was constructed during the turnaround after the 2-5 start, Dickerson was more important to the bottom line after the second-round pick settled in at left guard in place of Isaac Seumalo.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR

Kracz: Darius Slay. Three defensive touchdowns and a Pro Bowl nod for a player at a position the team typically struggles to find good players is enough for me.
McMullen: T.J. Edwards. Darius Slay was the best Eagles' defender and perhaps Edwards would be better suited for a Defensive MVP award but under this construct, you have to choose, and Edwards taking over the green dot was the turning point for Jonathan Gannon's defense. The former undrafted free agent finished with 125 tackles - five for loss - and proved to be a playmaker with an interception, a sack, five pass breakups, and a fumble recovery.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR

Kracz: Dallas Goedert. It has to be, and my colleague agrees.
McMullen: Dallas Goedert. The best pure football player in 2021-22 was tight end Dallas Goedert, who blossomed into the kind of player the Eagles thought he would be once Zach Ertz was traded to Arizona. Per, PFF Goedert was the second-best TE in the NFL behind only Mark Andrews and was graded out as Philadelphia's best overall player. About the only nitpicking you can do on Goedert was the occasional drop when he would lose focus for a bit.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Kracz: Jalen Hurts. Again, my colleague and I agree. It’s the only responsible choice.
McMullen: Jalen Hurts. You want your quarterback to be your most valuable player and that's exactly what Hurts was to the 2021-22 Eagles. His unique playmaking skills often don't fit into traditional boxes but the Eagles' ability to generate explosive plays with the best offenses in the NFL can all be traced back to Hurts being the vaunted plus-one in the running game, as well as his off-schedule abilities. 

Hurts generated 106 explosive plays this season behind only superstars like Tom Brady (111), Justin Herbert (111), and Josh Allen (109) despite missing two games. When you then factor in Hurts' off-field traits no one was more valuable to this team.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.