The NFL just released their yearly awards for the 2020 NFL season. Aaron Rodgers was the headline of the awards as this year’s MVP.
This got us thinking about assigning these awards to the Chicago Bears. Who would be MVP (Most Valuable Player), OPOY (Offensive Player of the Year), OROY (Offensive Rookie of the Year), DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year), DROY (Defensive Rookie of the Year), COY (Coach of the Year)?
Let’s start with the offense.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Darnell Mooney
This might be the easiest award to give out. Darnell Mooney stood out to Bears fans as the unknown fifth-round pick out of Tulsa.
Mooney immediately became the second-best passing option in the Bears’ offense. He was targeted 98 times and caught 61 passes for 631 yards this season. He recorded a decent 62.2% catch rate, and an even better 1.0% drop rate, dropping just one pass in the entire year.
Mooney shined with the Bears’ offense, especially in his route running. With Allen Robinson possibly leaving Chicago next season because of failed contract extensions, Mooney might slip into becoming a vital piece of the passing game next year.
Offensive Player of the Year – David Montgomery
The last thing that needs to happen in the NFL community is more disrespect to Allen Robinson, but David Montgomery’s season cannot be ignored.
Montgomery faced a lot of obstacles this season: 20th ranked offensive line, minimal playcalling for the run (37.73% 27th in the NFL), and the lack of depth behind him because of Tarik Cohen’s ACL tear.
The sophomore running back ran the ball 259 times (4th) for 1,101 yards (9th), and eight rushing touchdowns (18th). He also caught the ball 54 times for 438 yards and four additional touchdowns.
Montgomery had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and recorded the fifth-most yards after contact (590) and the third most broken tackles (29).
In a struggling offense that put up just 22.4 points per game (23rd), Montgomery shined.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Jaylon Johnson
Jaylon Johnson quickly became a big-time player in the Bears’ defense. He and Kyle Fuller made for one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.
Johnson may not have the most impressive basic statistics. He had zero interceptions and turnovers in any game this season. He had just 15 passes defended, 44 tackles, and one tackle for loss.
Bears fans quickly learned that Johnson is one of the better pass coverage rookies in the league. Johnson was targeted 78 times this season (46th in the NFL), which is about the same as Patrick Peterson. He recorded a 56.4% completion rate when targeted (27th), which was better than last year’s DPOY, Stephon Gilmore. He allowed five touchdowns, the same as Xavier Rhodes and Byron Jones.
Jaylon Johnson deserves this award. He played outstanding for a secondary that needed help after losing Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos in the previous offseason. He stepped up and became an above-average corner immediately.
Defensive Player of the Year – Roquan Smith
Don’t worry, Roquan. Bears fans know the NFL doesn’t appreciate you, after snubbing you out of both a Pro-Bowl appearance and an All-Pro selection. But, we got you here.
Roquan Smith had an outstanding third year in the league. Smith had two interceptions, seven passes defended, one forced/recovered fumble, 98 solo tackles (5th), and 18 tackles for loss (2nd).
Smith allowed a 63.3% completion rate to opposing quarterbacks, 290 receiving yards, and 5.8 yards per completion (2nd). The inside linebacker also recorded just a 6.7% missed tackle rate, which is seriously low for his snap counts.
Roquan was undeniably the most outstanding defensive player for the Bears this past season. He beat out guys like Fred Warner and Bobby Wagner, who made the Pro Bowl for the NFC.
Coach of the Year – Bill Lazor
Offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, took over play-calling duties for the Bears in mid-November of this season. When he took over, the Bears went 3-4 in the back half of the season.
In the first nine games of the year, the Bears put up just 19.7 points per game. In the last seven games, the Bears put up 27.7 points per game.
By the halfway mark, the Bears had the lowest run-play percentage in the league at just over 33% until Lazor increased it by 4% at the end of the season. He was largely the reason David Montgomery had an incredible back half to his season.
Bill Lazor does not have too much competition for this award. It seemed he was the only coach that didn’t deserve to be fired after this season. However, he stepped up big for the Bears and helped their offense dismantle opposing teams.
Most Valuable Player – Roquan Smith
Roquan Smith is easily the most valuable asset that the Bears have. At 23 years old, Roquan should have been an All-Pro linebacker in the NFL. His time will come, but it’s time we appreciate our star-studded players.
*see defensive player of the year for more on his statistics