Before the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers clashed at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS), the NFL’s finest assembled at the Resorts World Theatre for Thursday’s NFL Honors.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson clinched his second MVP award, adding to his 2019 win. San Francisco’s dynamic running back Christian McCaffrey claimed the Offensive Player of the Year title. The Houston Texans saw their rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Cleveland Browns’ formidable defensive end Myles Garrett secured his inaugural Defensive Player of the Year award. Meanwhile, Texans’ defensive end Will Anderson Jr. emerged victorious as the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski was recognized as Coach of the Year for the second time. Additionally, the Cleveland quarterback Joe Flacco was hailed as the Comeback Player of the Year.
MVP Lamar Jackson | QB | Baltimore Ravens
The NFL’s most prestigious individual award, the MVP, held no surprises this season as Jackson clinched the title after dominating the betting boards for the past six weeks.
In securing his second NFL Most Valuable Player accolade, Jackson cemented his name alongside a distinguished group. He joined the ranks of Jim Brown, Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, and Patrick Mahomes as one of just five players to claim multiple MVP honors within their first six seasons in the league.
Guiding the Ravens to an enviable 13-4 record, Jackson showcased his prowess across multiple statistical categories. His Total QBR of 64.7, 8.0 yards per pass attempt, and stellar 3.4 touchdown-to-interception ratio firmly placed him within the league’s top 10 performers. Notably, he also topped the NFL charts in yards per rush with an impressive 5.5 average, a feat rarely achieved by quarterbacks.
Maintaining his reputation as the NFL’s premier dual-threat player, Jackson amassed 3,678 passing yards and an additional 821 rushing yards throughout the season. Remarkably, he remains the sole player to surpass the 3,000 passing yard and 800 rushing yard thresholds on multiple occasions, each time securing the MVP title in the seasons he accomplished this feat (2019-20 and 2023-24).
Jackson’s ascent to the MVP title was marked by standout performances. His defining moment came on Christmas Day when he led Baltimore to a crucial 33-19 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The following week, in a dominant 56-19 triumph against the Miami Dolphins, Jackson sealed his MVP fate with a flawless performance, boasting a perfect passer rating (158.3) while tossing five touchdown passes.
— Adapted from insights by Jamison Hensley
Offensive Player of the Year
Christian McCaffrey | RB | San Francisco 49ers
In his inaugural complete season with the Niners, McCaffrey delivered a historic performance, etching his name into both franchise and league record books. He dominated the NFL, leading in various statistical categories including scrimmage yards per game (126.4), scrimmage touchdowns (21), rushing yards (1,459), first downs (114), and 10-plus yard runs (44), showcasing his versatility and impact on the field throughout all 16 games.
McCaffrey’s outstanding performance earned him a well-deserved Pro Bowl selection and first-team AP All-Pro honors, solidifying his status as one of the premier players in the league. Furthermore, he left an indelible mark in NFL history by tying Marshall Faulk’s record for the most career games with a rushing and receiving score in the same game (15), while also becoming just the third player ever to achieve over 2,000 scrimmage yards in a single season for two different franchises.
Reflecting on McCaffrey’s remarkable contributions, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan praised his unparalleled work ethic, highlighting him as a quintessential example of talent combined with relentless determination.
Defensive Player of the Year
Myles Garrett | DE | Cleveland Browns
After years of being a top contender, Garrett finally clinched his first NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor.
Despite ranking seventh with 14 sacks, Garrett was the linchpin of the NFL’s most formidable regular-season defense. The Browns dominated defensive statistics, leading the league in defensive efficiency, yards per game allowed (267), and three-and-out rate (32.9%), among others. Impressively, Garrett secured second place in pass rush win rate (30.5%) despite enduring the third-highest double-team rate (28.8%).
The Browns surged with a four-game winning streak late in the year, sealing a playoff berth with a crucial victory over the Jets on Dec. 28. During this pivotal stretch, Garrett showcased his dominance with 35 pass-rush wins, significantly surpassing his closest competitor, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt, who managed 26.
General manager Andrew Berry emphasized, “I know the focus is on sack numbers, but that really doesn’t tell the whole story… He played at a consistently high level for us down the stretch.” — Jake Trotter
Offensive Rookie of the Year
C.J. Stroud | QB | Houston Texans
Stroud’s remarkable performance secured him this prestigious award, marked by a slew of rookie records either tied or shattered. The former Ohio State star quarterback propelled the Texans to their first divisional title since 2019, solidifying his place in history as the first quarterback drafted in the top two of the draft since 1967 to clinch a playoff victory in his rookie campaign. This milestone also cemented him as the youngest quarterback to achieve such a feat, surpassing the legendary Michael Vick.
Among his many achievements, Stroud set the record for the most pass attempts without an interception to kickstart his career, an impressive 191 attempts. Building on this early success, he continued to shine, leading the league in touchdown-to-interception ratio with an outstanding 23:5.
Finishing the regular season with 4,108 passing yards, Stroud claimed the third-highest passing yardage for a rookie in NFL history, trailing only Andrew Luck (4,374 in 2012) and Justin Herbert (4,336 in 2020). His standout performance came to a peak in Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he showcased his prowess with a staggering 470 passing yards, setting a new record for rookie quarterbacks.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Will Anderson Jr. | DE | Houston Texans
Upon his arrival at the Texans, Anderson set out to establish a new standard, emphasizing that rookies could help “reshape the culture.” His impact was immediate, highlighted by a pivotal sack of Jackson during Week 1.
While his sack numbers may have tapered off as the season progressed, Anderson remained a force to be reckoned with, consistently ranking near the top in advanced metrics. As the third overall pick, he secured the third spot in pass rush win rate at an impressive 25.8%. Additionally, his influence extended beyond just rushing the passer, as evidenced by his sixth-place ranking in run-stop win rate (36%) among defensive ends with a minimum of 400 snaps.
Despite battling through an ankle injury that sidelined him for two games, Anderson closed out the season with notable statistics: 7 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 22 quarterback hits. His performance underscored his resilience and potential impact on the Texans’ defense. — DJ Bien-Aime
Coach of the Year
Kevin Stefanski | Cleveland Browns
Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have only reached the postseason three times. Stefanski, serving as head coach for two of those appearances, clinched the Coach of the Year title both times, including in 2020.
Despite facing a challenging regular season marred by injuries to key players such as quarterback Deshaun Watson (shoulder) and running back Nick Chubb (knee), Stefanski led the Browns to an 11-6 record. Cleveland encountered adversity, notably becoming the first team since 1987 to start five different quarterbacks in a single season. However, the team displayed resilience, setting a franchise record by securing victory with winning scores in the final two minutes of regulation on five occasions.
General manager Berry praised Stefanski’s leadership amidst adversity, stating, “The way that he was able to lead and manage through challenges this year was absolutely phenomenal… Our organization is in really good hands with him, both now and in the foreseeable future.” — Jake Trotter
Comeback Player of the Year
Joe Flacco | QB | Cleveland Browns
Flacco remained unsigned throughout the offseason, preseason, and the first half of the regular season. However, the 39-year-old former Super Bowl MVP seized an opportunity following a season-ending shoulder injury to Watson.
On Nov. 20, Flacco inked a deal with Cleveland. Just two weeks later, he earned his inaugural start with the Browns, making NFL history as the first quarterback to surpass 250 yards passing and tally multiple touchdowns in his initial five games with a new team. During these five starts, Flacco topped the league with an impressive 1,616 passing yards.
With Flacco at the helm, Cleveland secured victory in four consecutive games, clinching their first playoff berth since 2020.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be embraced by this team,” Flacco expressed following Cleveland’s 45-14 playoff loss to the Houston Texans. “To have the opportunity to contribute alongside these individuals, I am immensely grateful.” — Jake Trotter