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February 10, 2023

Eagles honors: Best players, performances, and plays from the 2022 season

Eagles NFL
013123AJBrown Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles WR A.J. Brown

Each year the NFL televises it's "NFL Honors" award show, during which they recognize the league's best players, performances and plays from the season. That was last night. 

Jalen Hurts was a finalist for MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors, and Brandon Graham for NFL Man of the Year. Neither won, and the Eagles as a team were shut out, so let's have our own Eagles-only version, shall we?

Most Valuable Player: Jalen Hurts

Hurts is one of five finalists for NFL MVP, though the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes is highly likely to take home those honors. Hurts was a flawed player his first two years in the NFL, but he made drastic improvements in Year 3, and the Eagles were 14-1 (plus 2-0 in the playoffs) in games he started. Including the playoffs, he threw 24 TDs vs. 6 INTs as a passer, and he rushed for 833 yards and 15 TDs, cementing his status as a star player and putting himself in a position to cash in with a monster contract extension this offseason.

Coach of the Year: Nick Sirianni

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is an easy answer for this award, and if you would like to mentally substitute his name in there instead of Sirianni's then feel free to do so. I'm going to give it to Sirianni, who piloted one of the best seasons in Eagles history. He oversaw the No. 3 offense in football, he created a winning culture in the locker room, and along with Shane Steichen and Brian Johnson was able to help coax a career season out of Hurts.

Comeback Player of the Year: DE Brandon Graham

Coming off an Achilles tear suffered Week 2 against the 49ers during the 2021 season, Graham wasn't expected to be an impact player in 2022. However, he had a dominant summer in training camp, and had his first ever double-digit sack season despite only playing 43 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. There's a good argument for Graham to be the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, but that award went to Seahawks QB Geno Smith, who was coming back from, uhhh, being a bad player the first nine years of his career?

Offensive Player of the Year: RT Lane Johnson

He's the best offensive lineman in the NFL.

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Haason Reddick

Including the playoffs, Reddick notched 19.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles, both of which lead the NFL. He has also played his best ball down the stretch, as he has 9.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in the Eagles' last 6 games. If they gave out MVP honors in the NFC Championship Game, they would have gone to Reddick, whose strip-sack of Brock Purdy on the 49ers' first drive completely changed the game.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Britain Covey

Covey has been the team's primary punt returner all season long, but has only played 19 offensive snaps, all in garbage time. Still, he has been more of a contributor overall than C Cam Jurgens, who looked great in the preseason but had a redshirt season as Jason Kelce's understudy, and TE Grant Calcaterra.

Covey's rookie season got off to a shaky start, as he had two fumbles and averaged 6.1 yards per punt return in the first five games. Since then, he's been a good returner, with zero fumbles and 11.7 yards per return.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: S Reed Blankenship

The Eagles' most impactful rookie in 2022 wasn't DT Jordan Davis or LB Nakobe Dean. It was the undrafted Blankenship, who played well in an important reserve role when Gardner-Johnson and Avonte Maddox were sidelined with injuries.

Clutch Performance of the Year: The Eagles' come from behind win over the Colts

Remember when the Eagles' almost lost to the Colts? They needed a Reddick sack on 3rd and Goal to keep the Colts from going up by two scores, and an ensuing 11-play, 75-yard drive to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson then sealed the win with an interception of Matt Ryan.

The Eagles' win over the Colts was one of their few unimpressive games, but they rose to moment and avoided a disaster. If the Eagles were unable to make some clutch plays at the end of that game, the NFC Championship Game might've been played in San Francisco.

Celly (celebration) of the Year: A.J. Brown pointing at two Steelers DBs

On his third of three touchdown receptions against the Steelers, Brown hauled in a deep pass with CB Akhello Witherspoon hanging off of his left arm, and S Minkah Fitzpatrick bouncing off him as he made the catch. He then pointed at both players, like, "You can't guard me, and you can't guard me."

Brown did get flagged for taunting, but whatever.

Unstoppable Performance of the Year: Jalen Hurts vs. the Packers and Titans in back-to-back games

In Week 12 against the Packers, Hurts ran 17 times for 157 yards on 9.2 yards per carry. When asked why he had a lot of rushing yards, Hurts explained, "I ran and they couldn't get me." Upon review of the All-22, his #analysis checked out. 

The following week against the Titans, Hurts completed 29 of 39 passes for 380 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, for a passer rating of 130.3.

I thought those two games, back-to-back, best exemplify the unstoppable nature of the Eagles' offense when it is performing at a high level. If there are open spaces to run, the Eagles can exploit that. If you commit too many resources toward taking away the run, the Eagles can beat you just as badly through the air.

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