Well folks, we are officially halfway through the 2022 NFL season and, despite some recent hiccups, the Buffalo Bills are atop the AFC. The highlights (including beating the Chiefs, Ravens, Titans, and defending SB champion Rams) far outweigh the lowlights (losing to the Dolphins and Jets by a combined five points). But the state of the 2022 Bills is a topic for a whole other article. Let’s get to these major midseason awards!!
MVP: Josh Allen
This award is gonna be a lock for the next decade. While he has struggled as of late, Josh Allen is still the crux of the Buffalo Bills offense. He is the danger. He is the one who knocks, yeets, hurdles, jukes, trucks, and so on.
Honorable Mention: Stefon Diggs
Best Rookie: James Cook
This one was tricky because the most notable offensive rookies, James Cook and Khalil Shakir, were scantily utilized in Buffalo’s first eight games. However, after much thought, I decided to give this award to Cook because he has seen the most action and produced the most on offense. And the most exciting part is, even with Nyheim Hines in the wings, he seems to be trending towards an expanded role in the second half of the season.
Honorable Mention: Khalil Shakir
Most Improved: Devin Singletary
This one was also tricky because most of the players one would consider for this award haven’t actually improved so far this year (i.e. Isaiah McKenzie, Dawson Knox). And yes, Singletary’s rushing stats have slightly declined when compared to the first eight games last year. However, he has significantly improved in the following areas: pass catching and ball security (see tables). Motor is Buffalo’s RB1, full stop!!
MVP: Von Miller
Remember the Divisional Round playoff game last year? Or even last year in general? (Of course you do. Sorry for bringing it up.) How the Bills edge rushers couldn’t consistently get to the QB or convert pressures into sacks? I do. Brandon Beane did when he signed future Hall of Famer Von Miller to a six-year/$120 million contract in free agency.
To say Von has been a godsend for the Buffalo Bills defense would be an understatement. Last year, Mario Addison led the Bills with seven sacks… Von Miller has seven sacks in EIGHT GAMES this year!! Furthermore, Von Miller is a boogeyman for opposing QBs and OCs; he keeps them up late at night. They have to gameplan for him in a way they didn’t have to for Addison and Jerry Hughes. The Bills already had the elite secondary and linebacker duo, they just needed that elite presence on the defensive line to put them over the top (as seen in this year’s Bills-Chiefs game). It’s safe to say Von Miller was worth every single penny.
Honorable Mention: Jordan Poyer
Best Rookie: Kaiir Elam & Christian Benford
I have to give both rookie CBs their credit. They came into 2022 with big shoes (or goalie pads) to fill and have held up admirably through the first half of the season. Most teams missing an All-Pro corner and safety would probably flounder if forced to start two rookies for a prolonged period of time, but the Buffalo Bills are not like most teams. Elam is currently tied for second on the team in interceptions with Matt Milano (2) and is fifth on the team in passes defended (3) and tackles (34).
Most Improved: Greg Rousseau
This one wasn’t really close. Groot has improved exponentially from his rookie year (see table), thanks in large part to his linemate Von Miller. He already has more sacks this year than he had in 2021 (5 vs. 4). He also has almost double the TFLs and QB hits in 2022 compared to his first eight games last year (7 TFLs and 9 QB hits vs. 4 TFLs and 5 QB hits). He is currently on pace for (approximately) 10.5 sacks, 15 TFLs, and 19 QB hits…
Honorable Mention: Tremaine Edmunds
MVP: Tyler Bass
I mean, yeah. Bass wins this award because he is the #NFLsSwaggiestKicker (😉)… and also based on the sheer volume of production kickers get. Bass is currently tied for 10th in the league in points scored with Nick Chubb (62).
Monty Python Guard Award: Spencer Brown & Rodger Saffold
This is the first time in the long, illustrious history of my midseason awards series (three seasons) that a recipient of this award does not play guard. (And I can’t just give it to Bobby Hart because he hasn’t played enough to earn it.) Brown is a Hulk-demogorgon hybrid in the run game. As a pass blocker… not so much. Granted he is still developing his technique, but it’s still rough to see him get beat almost consistently.
Speaking of guards, Saffold was supposed to be the missing link on this offensive line. Instead, he’s playing more like the weakest link. PFF gave him a 48.4 overall grade, the lowest among Buffalo Bills o-linemen… That’s even worse than Animated Saloon Door Bobby Hart. BOBBY FREAKING HART FOR ALL THE EXISTING DEITIES’ SAKES!!!
Needless to say, it’s disconcerting that 2/5ths of the Bills starting OL qualified for this award.
(If it’s any consolation, last year’s MPGA Winner Cody Ford has a 38.0 PFF score. So I guess Brandon Beane “won” that trade 🤷♂️.)
The “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” Award: Siran Neal & Jaquan Johnson
Both Neal and Johnson have been standout special teamers for the past few years. However, when given the opportunity to expand their roles on defense… they’ve blown chunks. How many times will Sean McDermott watch Neal get burned in coverage and Johnson take poor pursuit angles/whiff on tackles before he relegates them back to return coverage duties (where they belong)?
The “Unsung Hero” Award: DaQuan Jones
When most Bills fans discuss the defensive line, DTs in particular, they usually think of Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips (both of whom I love). However, DaQuan Jones doesn’t get a ton of recognition for his contributions to the defense. He is not only a great run stuffing 1-tech (his 43% run stop win rate was tied for fifth-best in the NFL prior to Week 9, per ESPN Analytics), but he has also been an excellent pass rusher. He has basically been what we expected Star Lotulelei to be (x500,000,000).
The “Wait Wut?” Award: Jim Irsay
While this is not Bills-related, Irsay is “fully experienced enough” to get this award.
- Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference (skill positions), PFF (offensive linemen, and ESPN Analytics (defensive linemen).
Featured Image: AP Photo/Seth Wenig