NFL Awards Watch: Jalen Hurts Takes MVP Lead; Chris Olave Tops Offensive Rookies

Welcome to NFL Awards Watch, my weekly column that will take a look at the five major awards handed out in the NFL: MVP; Offensive and Defensive Player Of The Year; and Offensive and Defensive Rookie Of The Year.

JONATHAN HUTTON NFL AWARDS WATCH ARCHIVE

Week 4 featured quality comebacks, steady rushing attacks and impact players on defense. I’ll start with MVP, where a new leader emerged due to his consistency throughout the first four games. Let’s get to it:

NFL AWARDS WATCH WEEK 4

nfl awards
NFL awards in their future? Saints wideout Chris Olave and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. (Getty Images)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

QB JALEN HURTS, Philadelphia Eagles 

The former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback is my top player in the league through four weeks. It’s his emergence as a difference maker for the Eagles offense that has elevated him into a true MVP-caliber quarterback.

Hurts makes the playmakers around him better. And it’s all within a system built around his valuable dual-threat skillset.

Hurts has stepped up in big moments in all four of undefeated Philly’s games so far, leaving his biggest doubters without talking points to criticize his game in 2022.

He’s averaged a career-high 280 yards passing per game, and he’s also rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown. This is the first season of his professional career where he’s had the same play caller returning with him for a second year. It’s easy to see a difference in his confidence level, and even easier to notice the team’s confidence level in him. 

Two More To Consider

  • QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs.
    • The former MVP remains completely in sync with with Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy, making the tough throws look easy and the magician-like throws appear routine. Mahomes dissected the top defense in the NFL last week when he faced the Buccaneers. Up next: the Raiders defense.
    • If he throws three or more touchdowns in Monday’s game in Kansas City, Mahomes will tie Troy Aikman with 165 touchdown passes in his career. And it would be on the national stage with Aikman on the call. Now consider Mahomes will have tied Aikman’s TD mark in 100 fewer games. Mahomes hasn’t missed Tyreek Hill to this point, and his play distribution and chemistry with Travis Kelce is unmatched. 
  • QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills.
    • A 17-point comeback for No. 17. Allen played like an MVP against my MVP favorite last week. This week, Allen keeps his spot and unseats Lamar Jackson in the column because the Ravens QB threw two 4th-quarter interceptions while Allen orchestrated a great second half that included the game-winning drive for the Bills first 17-point comeback since 2011.
    • Allen’s receivers dropped some passes early on that deflated his stat line, but he was clutch when it mattered most. He finished with 213 yards passing and a touchdown in a rainy afternoon in Baltimore. Removing the victory formation snaps, Allen also ran nine times for 72 yards and a touchdown.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

RB SAQUON BARKLEY, New York Giants

Barkley leads the NFL with 463 rushing yards and 570 total yards from scrimmage. His rushing total is out-pacing any New York Giants running back in franchise history through the first four games of season.

Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley (26) of the New York Giants carries the ball in the first half of the game against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 02, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

He carried the Giants to another victory this past Sunday even though both quarterbacks were injured. He finished with 31 carries for 146 yards against the Bears defense.

The Giants are 3-1 and have plenty of concerns throughout a banged-up roster, but in their backfield is one of the most outstanding players to begin the 2022 season.

Two More To Consider

  • WR Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins.
    • He didn’t lack any confidence this preseason when he was asked his thoughts on playing with Tua Tagovailoa, but now his starting quarterback is sidelined in concussion protocol. So how does Hill feel about now meeting expectations with backup QB Teddy Bridgewater? “I’ll put up numbers with you,” Hill told ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques.
    • Hill ranks third in the NFL for scrimmage yards, nearly 100 more than teammate Jaylen Waddle and trailing only running backs Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb. His predictions and confidence levels match up. Until they don’t, I’m not going to bet against him or the Dolphins speedy offense.
  • RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns.
    • His rushing total is only four yards less than Barkley’s. If the opposing defense can’t slow down Chubb, the Browns will usually win. He churns yards, moves the chains and keeps the clock moving.
    • Then in the fourth quarter, his carries produce more than five yards on average. Yes, the Browns lost to the run-heavy Falcons last week. In that game the Browns finished with a time of possession advantage of 11:28, in large part because of Chubb’s 117 yards. Last Sunday was the third time he’s topped 100 yards this season, and he can help this team stick around the playoff race much longer than many predicted after Deshaun Watson was suspended 12 games.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

DE NICK BOSA, San Francisco 49ers

He’s back to my top spot this week because he’s the best player on the best defense in the NFL.

Nick Bosa sacks Matthew Stafford
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) sacks Rams QB Matthew Stafford (9) during the first quarter of the game at on Oct. 03, 2022, in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

This past Monday he pressured Rams QB Matthew Stafford 14 times in the game, and his 30 QB pressures in four weeks leads the NFL.

Bosa is relentless in his machine-like consistency of pressuring the QB, but he’s also not slacking in run defense. He’s a tremendous player who impresses me every time I watch him play.

Two More To Consider

  • WLB Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys.
    • The Dallas “Doomsday” Defense helped the 1970s Cowboys win two championships and play in five Super Bowls. Earlier this week, Parsons proclaimed “Doomsday is back,” referring to the Cowboys 2022 defense.
    • That’s in large part due to the Dallas pass rush, led by Parsons. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn deserves major credit for scheming up ways for Parsons to get a free rush on opposing QBs. When he’s doubled, others reap the benefits and pile up big numbers. Expect more stat-stuffing this week in Los Angeles as the Cowboys visit the Rams. Stafford has been sacked 16 times in four weeks.
  • OLB Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers.
    • The fourth-year pro is transforming into one of the top edge defenders in the league. Last Sunday, Gary knocked Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer out of the game, then forced a fumble on a sack of rookie QB Bailey Zappe, which Gary also recovered. He’s sacked the QB five times this season, producing one or more in every game. Up next for him: the New York Giants in London. 

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

WR CHRIS OLAVE, New Orleans Saints

Andy Dalton is now at quarterback in New Orleans but it didn’t factor in to Olave’s production.

Saints' Chris Olave (12) makes a catch
New Orleans Saints’ Chris Olave (12) makes a catch during the game against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 25, 2022. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Veteran wide receiver Michael Thomas’ toe injury increased Olave’s expectations last Sunday in London.

While the Saints lost to the Vikings, it wasn’t because Olave dropped off his productive rookie start. He ranks No. 9 in the NFL for receiving yards and caught his first career touchdown in Week 4. He’s currently averaging 16 yards on his 21 receptions this season.

Two More To Consider

  • WR Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
  • WR Romeo Doubs, Green Bay Packers

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

LB DEVIN LLOYD, Jacksonville Jaguars

The rookie defender remains atop my list here because of how much he finds the football.

Trey Sermon runs the ball against Devin Lloyd
Trey Sermon (34) of the Philadelphia Eagles runs the ball against Devin Lloyd (33) of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field on October 2, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

He’s a playmaker and a difference maker for Jacksonville’s defensive group. Lloyd has 38 total tackles, six passes defensed, and two interceptions so far this season.

The Jags had been good at stopping the run until last week in Philadelphia, and this coming Sunday, Lloyd will face rookie RB Dameon Pierce, a bright spot for a Houston offense that lacks big playmaking ability.

Two More To Consider

  • DL Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions
  • CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

Jonathan Hutton is the host of OutKick 360 and will write weekly about NFL awards. 
Follow Hutton on Twitter.

Written by Jonathan Hutton

Jonathan Hutton hosts OutKick 360 each weekday afternoon. He spent 16 seasons as the gameday host and sideline reporter for the Tennessee Titans Radio Network and covered the biggest NFL events. Follow @HuttonOutKick on Twitter/Instagram.

Leave a Reply