The 2015 NFL regular season has come to a close. Before the playoffs get underway, let’s take a look back and hand out some awards for the New England Patriots. —
2015 Patriots Awards:
MVP: Tom Brady
After a tumultuous off-season surrounding the DeflateGate saga, all eyes were on Tom Brady and the Patriots as the team set to defend their Super Bowl title. The 38-year-old QB threw for 4,770 yards, 36 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this season.
While the team cooled off down the stretch, Brady led the offense to a scorching start and a 10-0 record. Despite losing several key players throughout the year, Brady remained focused and was the linchpin to the team’s success.
Honorable Mention: Rob Gronkowski
Offensive Player: Rob Gronkowski
Aside from Brady, there’s no one more irreplaceable than Rob Gronkowski on the Pats. The tight end is perhaps the most difficult match-up across the NFL, consistently dominant in the passing game and also a terrific blocker for the team’s ground attack.
Gronkowski finished the 2015 regular season with 72 catches for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns. He now has 66 touchdowns (including one rushing TD) in 80 career games. He’s truly on a Hall of Fame pace and opens up the offense in a way few players can do in the league.
Honorable Mention: Julian Edelman
Defensive Player: Malcolm Butler
This was a tough choice, so many New England defenders stepped up like Patrick Chung, Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones. But given the importance of the cornerback position in today’s NFL along with filling the shoes of Darrelle Revis, Malcolm Butler gets the nod.
The second-year defensive back rose to the occasion in 2015, with high expectations after making one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history just months before. Butler wasn’t perfect, but showed great development and the makings of a true no.1 cornerback in the NFL. Butler was named to his first Pro Bowl two weeks ago.
Honorable Mention: Dont’a Hightower
Rookie of the Year: Malcom Brown
When Malcom Brown fell into New England’s lap in last year’s draft, it was considered a steal by many draft experts. While some defensive tackles don’t always get the attention they deserve, Brown has put together a strong rookie campaign.
Brown started the year relatively quiet, but has come along and progressed each week. The last half of the season he’s been a force inside, both in the running and passing game. With Vince Wilfork and the Pats parting ways last off-season, Brown did a nice job picking up the slack and he’s showing what an asset he can be moving forward.
Honorable Mention: Shaq Mason
Akeim Hicks was acquired from the New Orleans Saints in late September in exchange for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and was one of the biggest surprises for the Patriots in 2015.
Most Surprising Addition: Akeim Hicks
Another tough choice. Edge player Jabaal Sheard doesn’t quite fit for “most surprising” as he had some buzz around him once he was signed in free agency. Running back Dion Lewis was certainly on track before tearing his ACL earlier this season.
Akeim Hicks was acquired from the New Orleans Saints in late September in exchange for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. Hicks was billed as a talented interior lineman, but disappointed with his time in New Orleans and expectations were low.
As Hicks was thrust into the rotation on a limited basis, he began to thrive. With Dominique Easley on Injured-Reserve, Hicks stepped up and added some interior pressure. He had 3 sacks on the season, creating some push up the middle and collapsing the pocket.
Honorable Mention: Jabaal Sheard, Dion Lewis
Most Disappointing Player: Brandon LaFell
Brandon LaFell was last season’s most surprising addition to the Patriots as the wide receiver helped New England hoist their first Lombardi Trophy in over a decade.
This year has been nearly the complete opposite. LaFell did not reach the end zone once in 10 games, beginning the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a foot injury. Dropped passes were an issue, as was the case with his time on the Carolina Panthers, but he also showed a disconnect with Brady that was not the case last season.
LaFell finished this season with 37 catches on 74 targets for 515 yards.
Honorable Mention: Scott Chandler
Your Turn: What do you think? Agree or disagree? Leave a comment on our Patriots Message Board and share your thoughts!
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary